Fans love the games, as do the players.
Wyoming men’s basketball coach — not so much.
“I love everything about the profession except the games,” said the 61-year-old Shyatt during Monday’s Mountain West coaches teleconference.
“Wins don’t seem to last too long. When you lose, it lasts forever. I love the game, the kids, this team and the level we are at now. I love being the underdog, but I don’t enjoy the games too much any more.”
I think a lot of coaches have similar feelings. Still, Shyatt has a deep passion for basketball. That will be a part of him long after he’s done coaching.
There will be two contrasting styles tonight when the 25th-ranked and 13-0 Cowboys host the 12-2 Boise State Broncos in the MW opener for both teams tonight in Laramie.
Boise State’s strength is its guards, UW’s is its inside combination of senior forward Leonard Washington and sophomore forward Larry Nance Jr. Which of those strengths plays best could determine the final score.
It is not that the Cowboys’ guards are bad, but the group is down a key guy with senior Luke Martinez out indefinitely with a fractured bone in his right hand. Also gone is Martinez’s 14.5 points per game, along with being the team leader with 2.08 steals per game. Sophomore Riley Grabau and true freshman Josh Adams — both 6-2 — are starting with 5-10 senior point guard Derrious Gilmore for one of the smallest backcourts in the MW right now. For more on that, see Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Laramie Boomerang and www.wyosports.net.
One thing Shyatt said he would like to do better as a coach as league play begins is have more confidence in his bench. With Martinez out, Grabau and Adams will log more minutes. Junior-college transfer Nathan Sobey could see more time, and Shyatt didn’t rule out playing true freshman Jason McManamen and sophomore walk-on Jack Bentz more. But that’s easier said then done when the games begin. That will be interesting to watch as conference play continues.
Shyatt said prior to the season he thought it best if 45 percent of the Cowboys’ shot attempts were 3-pointers this season. This included his guards and interior players (Washington and Nance in particular) if they were open.
So far, 43.1 percent of UW’s shots have been 3s.
Washington and Nance saw the most minutes in conference play among UW’s available players tonight. Gilmore missed the first half of league play last season because of academics. Grabau and Bentz saw limited time.
Everything gets magnified when conference play starts. So, did any of UW’s veterans offer any advice to those that will either experience MW play for the first time in their careers, or those that have new and expanded roles?
“Respect every opponent,” Washington said. “Every game is going to be tough no matter what teams did before conference play. We just need to keep our level going and keep fighting for the Cowboys.”
The estimated crowd tonight is between 6,000-7,000. Not great, but expected since this is an 8 p.m. game during the middle of the week. The game is on TV (ROOT) and students are not back from holiday break.
Here is some irony for you: The last time Wyoming played a home game as a nationally-ranked opponent was on March 4, 1988. The 17th-ranked Cowboys beat Boise State 56-50. Earlier that season, UW won at Boise State 59-55 when it was ranked fifth in the nation on Dec. 22, 1987. The Cowboys are 2-0 against the Broncos as a ranked team. UW has never played a game when ranked No. 25 according to its media guide.
Irony No. 2: Boise State is just 6-34 all-time against ranked teams, and 2-18 on the road. However, it won its last game against a ranked team when it won at then No. 11 Creighton 83-70. That is the highest ranked team the Broncos have ever defeated.