Kind of thought it was odd to hold a press conference for a new basketball coach in the suites in the football stadium, but there was a huge crowd for Larry Shyatt’s introductory news conference Wednesday in the Wildcatter Suites atop War Memorial Stadium. In fact, you could say it was standing room only.
As Shyatt and his wife, Pam, were introduced by athletics director Tom Burman, the UW band played “Ragtime Cowboy Joe” and the Shyatts entered with a standing ovation. They also left the same way.
Thought it was touching that early in his talk, Shyatt got a little emotional about coming back to Wyoming. Say what you want about the guy and the fact he left once for another job and a lawsuit came up over his buyout, but Shyatt seems genuilly happy and humbled to be back. Shyatt isn’t a phoney, and he wouldn’t pretend to get emotional if that’s not how he really felt.
Shyatt told me “a couple of players” will leave, but wouldn’t say who. Not counting those players, UW currently has two scholarships to give and looks like it will have four or five. Sophomore forward Brian Gibson won’t return and forward Djibril Thiam was a senior.
Most of the current players were there, but three were not, most notably juniors-to-be Desmar Jackson and Amath M’Baye. For more on that, see my column/analysis in Thursday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com
Senior forward Afam Muojeke said he’s excited about the hire. He also told me he should be cleared to start running on his surgically repaired knee in a week or so. Good news on both fronts.
Senior forward Leonard Washington, the USC transfer who sat out last season, said he’s coming back. He doesn’t have a lot of options to go anywhere, but he vaults to the top in terms of UW’s best player — especially if Jackson and/or M’Baye don’t return.
UW sophomore guard Joe Hudson on the Shyatt hiring: “I think it’s going to be a good fit with him. He sounds like a good guy and a good coach.”
Assistant coach Jeremy Shyatt, Larry’s oldest son, on the current players: “They are the most coachable group with the best attitudes I have ever been around. Everything is going to be new, and our jobs have been made a lot easier because they have great attitudes.”
Associated head coach Scott Duncan on coming back to UW with Larry Shyatt: “Not often in life do you get to do a journey and a challenge with yoru best friend and his family. Larry and I have been best friends for 26, 27 years and coached a bunch of different schools together. We are at a point in our careers where we looked at each other and said ‘lets do this. We had a lot of fun the last time we were here.’ ”
Duncan on the pressure to have instant success this coming season like he and Shyatt did in 1996-97: “We’re not going to be very patient. We’re want to get this thing turned as quickly as possible, but do it the right way so we can sustain it so it can be at that level for years to come. The first two years are going to be important. We’re going to have to retool the roster and get lucky with some players and take some hard work.”
Shyatt on what he told his players: “Nothing what you’ve done up to this point matters to coach Shyatt. Everything you do from now on, from your academics, to your passion, to your value system and and lastly your basketball abilities. I like the group. I like their openess.”
Shyatt on the current roster: “We need some pieces. “It’s not a mastepiece yet. It’s baby steps. Lets jsut make sure those steps are forwards an not backwards.”