Larry Shyatt continues to discover things about his basketball team.
After the Wyoming Cowboys improved to 13-0 -- the best start in program history -- with a 59-56 victory at SMU on Wednesday, Shyatt was impressed with the Cowboys’ ability to overcome the absence of starting guard Luke Martinez.
Martinez, who was averaging 14.5 points per game, broke the fourth metacarpal (ring finger) on his shooting hand in an off-campus incident Saturday night.
Without him, the Pokes went with a three-guard lineup of 5-foot-10 Derrious Gilmore, 6-2 Riley Grabau and 6-2 Josh Adams. Martinez, a two-year starter, is 6-4.
“We were put in a defensive dilemma because of size,” Shyatt said, “but I thought what helped us a little bit in Luke’s absence was that we had three point guards on the floor. So utilizing ball screens and ball movement was as good if not better in the SMU game.”
The Gilmore-Grabau-Adams triumvirate combined for 23 points and 12 assists. Meanwhile, forwards Leonard Washington and Larry Nance Jr. combined for 31 points and 16 rebounds, with Washington scoring 13 of UW’s final 17 points to help the Pokes overcome a 50-46 deficit in the final 6 minutes, 43 seconds.
As of Friday, Shyatt still didn’t have a timetable for Martinez’s return.
“If Dr. Shyatt was in charge, he’d be in practice [Friday],” Shyatt said.
The Cowboys’ latest victory -- their fourth true road victory this season -- was the third time this season they have overcome a second-half deficit to win on the road. Wyoming won 69-60 at Northern Colorado on Nov. 21 after falling behind 36-28. And on Dec. 4 the Cowboys trailed 50-31 at Illinois State before rallying for an 81-67 victory.
“I like the fact that we’ve been in some atmospheres with some adversity,” Shyatt said, adding that few Division I teams played four true road games in the non-conference. “Fortunately, the NCAA committee made the decision that anything done in November is equal to what is done in February. With that said, it’s nice to see that those people that aren’t biased -- called computers -- have us in a position where we can trust these guys.”
Shyatt added that the Cowboys have been unfazed by the distractions that come along with being one of just four unbeaten teams remaining in the country; top-ranked Duke, No. 2 Michigan and No. 3 Arizona are the others.
“Our guys have taken a real mature approach to distractions in general,” he said. “They’ve been laser-focused on what’s important now. They’ve adopted the saying that ‘Happy is for March.’
“I don’t expect us to win all our games; I just hope that if we ever fall short that all that’s happened that particular night is we ran out of time.”