LARAMIE, Wyo. — A basketball season is a game of runs.
Like a cross country course, it has peaks and valleys for each team and player — mud spots and straightaways, obstacles and encouragements littered throughout the terrain.
Perfect consistency is a fool’s dream, even for the best players at the pinnacle of college basketball.
Wyoming’s starting guards are proof that the road from the season-opener to the Mountain West tournament cannot be traversed in a straight, tidy line.
Right now, Riley Grabau is up. The senior guard at Wyoming has rediscovered his shooting stroke, knocking down eight 3-pointers on 16 attempts in his past two games.
The change in production, though, wasn’t preceded by a change in routine.
Sometimes you’re up, and sometimes you’re down.
And heading into Saturday’s game against Nevada, Grabau’s arrow is pointing skyward.
“That’s the way it goes,” Grabau said with a shrug. “It’s all mental, and my mental state has been fine. People have been telling me that my shot looks the same, and it’s been the same all year. Some of them go in and out. I’m not really thinking about it too much, and they’re starting to fall, so that’s good.”
Josh Adams and Charles Hankerson Jr., on the other hand, are down.
Adams — a springy 6-foot-2 junior guard — paired arguably his best game of the season against New Mexico (20 points, three 3-pointers, 7-7 free throws) with his worst, scoring just two points in Tuesday’s loss at Utah State. He connected on just 1 of 6 field-goal attempts, missed his only free-throw attempt and committed six turnovers, often taking the ball in transition and losing it on the other end.
Adams was a man possessed — in all the wrong ways.
“You can’t play well in all of them, and you can’t win them all,” Adams said. “Me personally, I know I forced a lot of stuff in that game and didn’t play my best. I know a lot of the team aspects didn’t go as well as we planned, either.”
— Josh Adams, Wyo. Guard
Hankerson’s shooting slump has been more pronounced. Since he drilled a 3-pointer late in triple overtime to bury Fresno State on Jan. 17, the senior guard hasn’t scored in either of the past two games. That includes 11 missed shots, nine of them coming from beyond the arc.
It would be ill-advised to conclude that because Adams struggled on Tuesday or Hankerson’s jump shot has recently eluded him these players are incapable of contributing to a victory on Saturday afternoon.
If a season really is a game of runs, their next surge may be coming.
But regardless of who’s scoring, the fact remains:
Someone not named Larry Nance Jr. needs to.
“Like all teams, we have to have at least five or six jump shots go in to open up four or five drives, to then open up some post feeds to Larry [Nance Jr.],” Wyoming head coach Larry Shyatt said. “They work hand-in-hand.”
Today, Grabau is up, and Adams and Hankerson are down.
Saturday, the opposite might be true.
Thus far in a 17-4 season, the Cowboys’ defensive discipline and flair for the dramatic has allowed them to overcome any momentary inconsistencies.
And even now, when the road may be muddy for a few, the right mindset can turn the tide.
“There’s no reason to make any drastic changes,” Adams said. “We just have to settle back into our groove.
“Just like in a game of basketball, a season has runs of ups and downs. It’s how you respond to those ups and downs that really decides what kind of team you are.”
This article was written by Mike Vorel from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.