Despite giving football a try, Conway with high praise of new UW hoops coach

Two questions came to mind when Wyoming basketball player Austin Conway decided to give football a try were:

Austin Conway

Austin Conway

Is Conway still on the basketball team after being one of five players cited for drug use by police prior to the Mountain West Tournament? All five were suspended for the rest of the season?

Was his decision based on coach Larry Shyatt stepping down and the hiring Shyatt assistant Allen Edwards?

“Not at all,” said Conway during a recent interview.

I will have more on Conway’s decision to give football a shot in Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and the story also will be posted at

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VIDEO: Cowboys Coaches Clinic series – UW men’s basketball

This is the fourth of a season-long video series called the Cowboys Coaches Clinic.

In this edition, University of Wyoming assistant men’s basketball coach Jeremy Shyatt demonstrates with some of the players some of its main concepts of its offense.

Check out and the University of Wyoming men’s basketball tab for previous Cowboys Coaches Clinic videos.

UW got their man in Williams

How bad did the Wyoming men’s basketball program want to sign 6-foot-8, 225-pound forward Tyrell Williams from Norland High in Miami, Florida?

Bad enough that once UW assistant coach Allen Edwards got the recruiting process started, the rest of the coaching staff followed.

Tyrell Williams

Tyrell Williams

Williams signed with the Cowboys Tuesday.

Head coach Larry Shyatt made two trips to Miami to watch Williams play, and to also meet with Williams and his mother. Assistant coaches Scott Duncan and Jeremy Shyatt also made trips to Miami.

The relationship the UW coaching staff built with Williams and his mother, LaShante Gay, was crucial, but so was the relationship it built with Williams’ high school coach — Lawton Williams (no relation).

Williams and his mother visited Laramie last weekend.

Williams averaged 7.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots per game as a senior. He also helped Norland win three consecutive state titles in Class 6A.

Here is a link to some video highlights from Williams as a senior:

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UW-New Mexico postgame thoughts

No head coach and without one of its best guards.

Outrebounded 43-22.

That’s what Wyoming faced Wednesday night at The Pit against New Mexico. Yet, the Cowboys had a chance to win the game in regulation, but junior forward Larry Nance Jr.’s fade-away jumper in the key didn’t fall.

Not much else fell for UW in overtime in a 66-61 loss. The game was tied at 57 in regulation. The Cowboys (14-8 overall, 5-4 Mountain West) made only one basket in overtime.

Here are some video highlights from the first half. Sorry, no second half or overtime highlights because I had to re-write my story for the newspapers about six different times on a tight deadline.

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UW-Utah State postgame thoughts

Attack the rack.

That’s what the Wyoming coaches describe as attacking and being aggressive offensively. It worked Saturday in a 74-57 home won over Utah State at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie Saturday.

Sophomore guard Josh Adams was masterful at that with a game-high 19 points for the Cowboys in a game it never trailed and was tied just three times.

Here are some video highlights from the game:

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Cowboys continue to get ready for Calgary

The Wyoming men’s basketball team practiced for the second time this week Tuesday afternoon in preparation for its exhibition trip to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, next week.

The 2.5-hour practice included some scrimmaging with referees. The Gold squad got the best of the White 28-23. The Gold consisted of mostly newcomers, other than senior forward Leonard Washington and sophomore walk-on guard Jack Bentz. Washington looked good in stretches, as did true freshmen guards Josh Adams and Jason McManamen of Torrington.

The White squad featured more veterans like senior guards Derrious Gilmore and Luke Martinez, and sophomore forward Larry Nance Jr. The White was down 10-0 to start the scrimmage, but played better as the scrimmage progressed.

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UW men’s hoops adds Alabama transfer

The Wyoming men’s basketball program added Alabama transfer Charles Hankerson Jr. Monday. Here is the official release from UW. For more on the story, see Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang.

LARAMIE — University of Wyoming head basketball coach Larry Shyatt announced Monday that Charles Hankerson Jr. has signed a scholarship offer and will transfer to UW from the University of Alabama. He will sit out the 2012-13 season to fulfill NCAA transfer rules, and will have two years of eligibility remaining.

“[Hankerson] Junior is as mature a young man as we’ll have at Wyoming,” Shyatt said. “Most importantly, he embodies everything we are about on and off the court. Our coaching staff is excited that we’ve got a young leader that is going to have 15-16 months to get acclimated to our program and give us a huge boost when Luke [Martinez] graduates.”

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Shyatt presser quick thoughts

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 and Laramie Boomerang

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.”

Just a matter of time now for Shyatt hiring

Just got off the phone with a source very close to the situation, and was told Wyoming and Larry Shyatt are “finalizing the paperwork” right now in Atlanta for Shyatt to be the Cowboys’ next men’s basketball coach.

An announcement could be made later today or sometime Friday.

The source also said two of Shyatt’s assistant coaches will be Scott Duncan and Shyatt’s son, Jeremy. Duncan was with Shyatt at UW during the 1997-98 season, and spent the last four seasons at UCLA. Like Larry Shyatt, Duncan has 30-plus years as a college coach and also is known as a good recruiter.

Jeremy Shyatt has been an assistant coach at North Florida the past two seasons for another former assistant of Larry’s — Matt Driscoll.

A formal annoucement at UW hasn’t been set, but a source said it could be Wednesday.