In my mind, a series of unfortunate events sounds something like a black cat on Friday the 13th walking under a ladder that’ll soon fall over breaking a mirror on its way down. The phrase originally comes from 13 children novels that have since been made into a TV series and a major motion picture.
The phrase couldn’t fit the University of Wyoming men’s basketball team more appropriately. This season for the Pokes isn’t going well at all, and while some of that is simply the talent on the roster, some of it can be attributed to a slew of bizarre and unlucky injuries that have plagued the Pokes.
Players can injure themselves in a variety of ways. Whether it’s on the practice floor or in the weight room or in game action, basketball — while not a collision sport like football — is a contact sport that features all kinds of ailments.
Getting injured while stretching, well, that’s a new one. Prior to the season starting, Jordan Naughton — likely the starting center for UW — tore a tendon in his knee stretching out his back that he had surgery on.
Ever since, UW has simply been snake bitten.
In the first game of the season, Hunter Thompson — the pride of Pine Bluffs and a four-star big man — received an elbow to the face and was lost for the next couple of weeks with a concussion. All of a sudden, Wyoming’s frontcourt simply didn’t have enough bodies. Austin Mueller — a 6-foot-6, 210-pound small forward — was starting as the Pokes’ primary big man.
Just as soon as Thompson made his way back after missing five games, the frontcourt took a couple more blows. Lwal Dung, a bench player, elected to move back to his homeland of Australia, claiming homesickness, and Mueller tore his ACL in practice.
This shortened the bench significantly, especially, the big-man rotation. That afforded Thompson more floor time, and his play has been one of the few bright spots this season. Thompson has showcased his prowess to score from the block to the arc, averaging 13.4 point per game. The redshirt freshman still needs plenty of work on his rebounding ability and defensive positioning, however.
The backcourt hasn’t been immune to the injury bug either. Hunter Maldonado — a budding sophomore star averaging 13.8 points per game — with a capacity to score in variety of ways much like Justin James, has battled back spasms since the beginning of the season.
The back problems forced Maldandao to the sidelines during many of the road contests that required a plane ride. The injury got a whole lot worse against Denver.
Maldonado came down awkwardly against the Pioneers and exited the game in a wheelchair and will either sit for the next month or so or seek a medical redshirt.
The most recent injury occurred last weekend when Jake Hendricks — a JUCO transfer who averages 11.4 points per game — left the game, unable to put any weight on his ankle. This injury hasn’t been officially assessed yet but in any event it’s another blow to an already depleted and struggling team.
So far, this season has been one to forget for Wyoming. Justin James is fantastic and some young players have shown flashes. But in large part, the season has been marred by injuries that don’t seem to be slowing down.
Someone find some bubble wrap and protect James before it’s too late.
• University of Wyoming wrestler Sam Turner was named Big 12 Wrestler of the Week after winning the 141 championship at the Reno Tournament of Champions.