LARAMIE — Allen Edwards wants his team to be led offensively by a Big Three. The Big Two have been more or less consistent in Edwards’ two years as head coach; Justin James and Hayden Dalton were Wyoming’s two leading scorers last year and they have repeated that feat so far this season.
But Saturday, it was Alan Herndon leading the charge offensively. The senior forward had never scored 20 points in a game, posting 17 on three different occasions. In a double-overtime win over Drake, Herndon crossed the 30 threshold — scoring 32, to be exact.
“It was just my mindset going in,” said Herndon, who sunk a career-high six 3-pointers. “I know that these guys always tell me to go attack and be aggressive, so I know that they don’t mind me attacking and trying to take those shots. They were just finding me in great position.
“It helps to have a hot night like this, but these guys were just driving, getting two on the ball and just hitting me in my spots. So I thank them for that.”
Edwards said he called out Herndon as the team watched the film from its loss Wednesday at Denver.
“To be honest with you, a lot of people got called out,” Edwards said. “He just happened to be one of them. But ... most times you call people out because of your defense. I called him out because of his offense. We needed him to be assertive on the offensive end of the floor.
“You can even look at the stat line against Denver. He had a solid game. But that wasn’t enough for us to be successful.”
It’s not the first time Edwards has mentioned he wants Herndon to play with the same aggression around the rim that he does when protecting it.
“Again, it’s been a long, drawn out process with him,” Edwards said. “The skill set has always been there. The assertiveness, it just hasn’t. But, again, sometimes as a coach, I just called him out, because I just expected more. I could care less about this game. I’m thinking long-term for our success as a team that he’s going to have to be (assertive).”
The night was as much of a prototype for Wyoming’s Big Three as it was for Herndon as a scorer. The team had not had multiple players record double-doubles in a game since 2015. Herndon, James and Dalton all had double-doubles Saturday.
“Those three, for us, should be consistently doing things of that nature,” Edwards said. “Now, the number of points can fluctuate between the three of them, but to be able to go out there and those three play well, we’ve got a chance to win.
“And then what it does, again, (it) allows the other guys opportunities, because of what they’re doing. So you’re spacing the floor. It gives Lou (Adams) an opportunity to put the ball on the floor and drive it now, because guys are so nervous about the 3-point shot. And it spaces the floor with (Alexander Aka Gorski.”
Granted, it’s easier to record a double-double when you play two additional periods. But Herndon scored all but five of his points in regulation. He also tied a career high with five assists.
Herndon might have been hindered later in the game by a jammed finger that he appeared to re-aggravate on a block. When he hit a 3-pointer in overtime that could have won it for Wyoming, had the Cowboys not allowed a Drake 3 on the other end, it was his first and only field goal after regulation.
“You’ve just got to have that mindset of what’s more important,” Herndon said. “Do I want to complain more about my finger or do I want to say, ‘I won, and my finger hurts.’ I just shot it and that’s why I looked up. I was like, ‘Thank you, God.’ Because it took a lot to shoot that one.”
Herndon’s injured hand was a hot one Saturday. But that’s not what was most encouraging to Edwards.
“For him and H.D. to be out on the floor at the same time, you just can’t come away from games only taking eight shots,” Edwards said. “I think he has to be a double-digit shooter, along with H. and J.J., those guys. I thought him being assertive tonight helps us long-term.
“... And I tell our guys, I don’t care about the makes and the misses. I care about it being right. Is that a good shot? I don’t care if it goes in or not. Is that what we’re looking for as a team? And for him, he has to be assertive for us to be good long-term.”