The Wyoming men’s basketball team will have a big hole to fill in the offseason. The Cowboys, who did not receive an NIT invite Sunday, will lose four players to graduation: seniors Alan Herndon, Alexander Aka Gorski, Hayden Dalton and Lou Adams.
Herndon led the Mountain West in blocks this season and set the Wyoming all-time record in games played. Dalton was a first-team all-conference selection by league media, scoring 18.4 points per game. Adams was named the Mountain West sixth man of the year by conference media, and Aka Gorski wrapped up his career as 10th in Wyoming history in made 3-pointers.
“Like I told the underclassmen in there, they should go around and thank those four guys for what they’ve done for this program,” second-year Wyoming head coach Allen Edwards said after Wyoming’s season-ending loss to New Mexico. “H., Al, Lou and Alex have done a lot in a sense of helping this program and helping the last two years with me as a head coach and our culture, and what we’re trying to do going forward. Those guys have made a big impression on it, and as we go forward, guys coming into the program and guys that are returning, can look back on what these past two teams have done.”
Herndon scored a team-high 34 points in Wyoming’s two Mountain West tournament games.
“It’s been a crazy year, and not even just this year,” he said. “Just the time spent here at Wyoming with these guys. It really became a brotherhood and something I’m going to cherish for the rest of my life. These guys meant a lot to myself, and me and ... H., I don’t know how many college coaches looked at us and thought we could become what we were today, but this man to our right (Edwards) just really took a chance on us, believed in us and gave us the keys and told (us to), ‘Go out there and do what you do best.’ We’ve just got to thank him so much for that, and I’ll really cherish that.”
Said Dalton: “I’m just very thankful, like Al said, that I had the opportunity to play here. Because I went the junior college route and they took a chance on me. So, just that I was even able to play and step on the court and put on the Wyoming jersey. I’m just very thankful.”
The Wyoming women’s basketball team’s four seniors are likely not finished with their college careers, as Wyoming hopes to receive a WNIT invite Monday. But one chapter of their careers came to a close at the Mountain West tournament.
“I think the biggest thing was their leadership,” head coach Joe Legerski said of his seniors. “They really wanted this group to find success. We finished second last year in the league. We got third this year after being picked second. They accomplished so much, but they refused to give in.”
The class includes Liv Roberts, Natalie Baker, Marleah Campbell and Skyler Snodgrass. Roberts earned Mountain West player of the year honors as a senior after returning from an ACL injury.
“The past two seasons have been incredible and have been something that I’ve wanted for the past four seasons,” Roberts said. “I knew coming in my junior year that we needed a leader, and I looked to step up and be that person. I was that person in high school, and so I felt comfortable in that role, and talking in the locker room, we talked about how we wanted to change who Wyoming is.
“I think our senior class did a tremendous job doing that, and that’s one thing I’m going to miss is just battling out there with them. We never gave up. That’s one thing I loved about this team. Down by 14 (against New Mexico), 17, whatever it was, and battled back, and we did it a few other times this year. And we wouldn’t have done that my freshman and sophomore year.”
Baker saw her numbers dip some as a senior, but played a key role defensively in Wyoming’s first-round win against the Lobos, as Legerski went with two smaller post players during Wyoming’s comeback.
“For Natalie, it was a year she just wanted to have a tremendous year,” Legerski said. “And we sat down and we talked some that she was placing too much pressure on herself and just wants everything to just go right. And I think this is a growing experience for her to understand that you can still compete and not always have it go your way, but that doesn’t mean you give in. And Natalie never gave in throughout this whole year.”