Wyoming hopes to get back on track behind Edwards | NevadaAppeal.com

Wyoming hopes to get back on track behind Edwards

Darrell Moody
Jason McManamen

Allen Edwards brings with him an impressive pedigree to the head coaching job at the University of Wyoming.

Edwards, who came to Wyoming as an assistant coach in 2011, was named the new head coach replacing Larry Shyatt after the Cowboys finished 14-18 last year.

Edwards played at Kentucky from 1995 to 1998. The Wildcats made three straight Final Fours, including winning national titles in 1996 and 1998. He has been in the post-season eight times as an assistant at Kentucky, Morehead State, Virginia Commonwealth, Towson University, Western Kentucky and Wyoming.

No doubt the Cowboys administration is hoping some of his past work gets Wyoming back on track after a losing season in 2015-16. Wyoming played 17 games decided by single digits, and in 13 of those games, the Cowboys were within two possessions of the lead in the last 10 minutes. Break that down, and it’s a missed shot here or a turnover there.

“We are thrilled to place its future in the hands of Allen Edwards,” athletic director Tom Burman said. “His basketball pedigree is undeniable. We believe Wyoming basketball has an extremely bright future.”

“I’m thankful for the opportunity to lead the Wyoming Cowboys,” Edwards said at Mountain West Media Day in Las Vegas.

Edwards returns four starters — 6-5 guard Jason McManamen (14.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg), 6-9 forward Alan Herndon (7.8, 4.8), 6-10 forward Jonathan Barnes (1.9, 1.7) and 6-1 guard Jeremy Lieberman (4.0, 2.1).

The only starter lost was a big one — 6-2 guard Josh Adams, who averaged 24.7 points and 5.9 rebounds a contest.

Alexander Gorski (5.6, 2.0), who made 10 starts, Hayden Dalton (3.8, 3.3), Justin James (5.2, 1.9), Morris Marshall (0.6, 0.3) and Jordan Naughton (3.0, 1.9) also return. Sam Averbuck, Cody Kelley and Andrew Moemaka are redshirt freshmen. Edwards has two four-year transfers — 6-2 guard Nyaires Redding from Washington State and Brodricks Jones from UTEP. The only true freshman on the roster is Austin Mueller from Colorado’s Thunder Ridge High School. Redding and Jones will sit out this year as per NCAA rules. Louis Adams, a JC transfer, should help right away.

“Obviously we lost Josh which is tough,” McManamen said. “I think every guy individually got better during the off-season.

With (Josh) Adams gone, Edwards will be relying even more on McManamen and Herndon, his top two returning scorers not only for points but for leadership. Edwards said he wants both guys to be more vocal leaders.

“I’ve just been trying to improve my game in every way,” McManamen said. “I’m trying to work on moving without the ball to get some easy baskets. I’ve also been working on ball handling.”

One area McManamen doesn’t need to improve in is 3-point shooting. He knocked down 92 triples and shot 44 percent from beyond the arc; 46 percent overall.

“Most people see Jason just as a shooter, but we are adding some more dimension to his game,” Edwards said. “We are trying to make him more diverse.”

Edwards believes Herndon can be a double-double sort of player for the Cowboys.

“He (Herndon) has good length,” Edwards said. “He’s 6-10, and I want him to play inside and outside. He is very skilled and has the ability to guard smaller players and shoot the 3. His basketball IQ is very high. He has to be assertive and understand what we’re trying to do.”

“I want to improve defensively,” Herndon said. “I need to use my height to my advantage.”

Edwards landed Louis Adams late in the recruiting wars, and thinks the 6-4 guard from Odessa College can help, especially on the offensive end.

“He showed us flashes of what he can do on our trip to the Bahamas,” Edwards said. “If he continues that trend, he can really help with what we’re trying to do.”

What the Cowboys want to do is be more assertive on both sides of the ball, but especially on offense.

“We want to create more opportunities on offense,” Edwards said. “We want to have more games in the mid-70s or even 80s. We want to play faster. In the Bahamas we got to test it out. We had a few games in the 70s and a game in the 80s.”