LARAMIE, Wyo. — When the Wyoming men’s basketball team wrapped up its Jan. 24 win against then-No. 23 Nevada, the Cowboys did so largely without a traditional point guard down the stretch. Neither Cody Kelley nor Nyaires Redding played in the final 11 minutes of regulation.
Wyoming doesn’t anticipate that being the case very often this season.
“It wasn’t that I was unhappy with either one of those guys,” said head coach Allen Edwards, who used Justin James at the point to give Wyoming more size against the lengthy Wolf Pack. “I just thought that was a better matchup for that time and point in the game.”
Wyoming’s point guard spot has gone through a few changes in the last year. Jeremy Lieberman started all but one game at point guard for Wyoming in 2017-18 but then chose to transfer after the season with one year of eligibility remaining.
“I’ve never really based my efforts on other guys around me,” said Kelley, who was Wyoming’s first point guard off the bench last season. “I just bring it each and every day no matter what, no matter who’s in front of me or behind me.
“So even with Jeremy leaving, it’s not like my eyes got big and I got all excited, because it wasn’t about that. It was about me just putting in my effort and letting everything else fall into place.”
Redding, a Washington State transfer, began the season as Wyoming’s starting point guard in his first year of eligibility with the Cowboys. Kelley took over as Wyoming’s starting point guard in the 10th game of the season and has held that spot since.
“It hasn’t really been tough,” Redding told the Casper Star-Tribune. “I started out starting. I was playing good, and then I had some down games. I was playing inconsistent, and I was dealing with some health things, too. So I feel like Cody should have been moved to that spot. But now that’s not really my focus. It’s doing what I can to help the team win.”
The experience isn’t entirely new for Redding, who started the majority of his freshman year with the Cougars but was a backup as a sophomore.
“Through the second half of (my freshman) season, my production, I want to say, kind of dropped,” he said. “But it’s not really the same situation. It’s two different situations regarding that. That’s in the past, and I don’t really concern myself with who’s starting and who’s not starting. I’m still trying to keep getting better every day and then continue to keep bringing more to the team as well.”
Redding said he has had some breathing issues this year as well as the stomach flu and an ankle injury he suffered in practice before Wyoming’s game at Utah State.
“I couldn’t really catch a break, I want to say,” he said. “But (I’m) just focusing on everything I can control, the stuff I’m eating, making sure I’m getting enough sleep every night and just managing my time better.”
In his nine starts, Redding averaged 4.3 points and 1.1 assists in 16.9 minutes per game. He went scoreless in three of his final four starts and didn’t play more than 15 minutes in any of those games.
Kelley, meanwhile, saw his offensive production grow along with his role, especially early in conference play. He made multiple 3-pointers in three of his first five starts and is fourth on the team in 3s made with 22, just three off his total from last year.
“I mean, I’ve always focused on shooting,” he said. “I think it’s a huge part of the game, just to make open shots in general. I’ve always prided myself on that, so it’s no surprise. I still work on it every day. As long as you work on something, then you can’t ever be surprised when you get results. So it feels good.”
But Redding’s role has not been reduced to cheerleader. The 86.4-percent free throw shooter sunk key shots at the line late in Wyoming wins at Utah State and against Nevada. And Edwards has highlighted Redding and sophomore forward Andrew Moemeka as two players who will need to give the Pokes a lift off the bench for the team to succeed.
“It shouldn’t matter whether I’m starting or coming off the bench,” Redding said. “I’ve got to do what the team needs me to do to win, and that doesn’t change whether I’m in the starting lineup.
“… That doesn’t really change what I need to bring to the team. All that stuff kind of stays the same whether I’m starting or not.”
Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com