MW men’s basketball power rankings

One week into conference play, and the Mountain West is just as baffling as the nonconference portion of the schedule was.

A decent amount of movement this week, and I would expect more in the coming weeks. But here is how I think the MW ranks this week.

RPI rankings are from Nothing really stands out as far as the RPI goes, but it does indicate that from top to bottom, the MW is a solid league. Its RPI of 11 out of 32 conferences isn’t all that great, and it looks like the MW could be a one-bid league to the NCAA Tournament as of now.

Call it mediocre or poor, but this league isn’t as bad as many national people think.

I still think the league will get at least two teams to the NCAAs, and possibly three if all works out well.

As always, your feedback is welcome.

1. Boise State (10-4 overall, 1-0 MW, 70 RPI): The Broncos have the longest winning streak in the league at seven, and may have the Player of the Year in the MW in junior forward James Webb III. A tricky game awaits at Utah State Tuesday.

2. San Diego State (9-6, 2-0, 81 RPI): The Aztecs played like the Aztecs last week in a home win over Wyoming and an impressive road win at Utah State last week. The offense is still an issue, but the defense is not.

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Coaches weigh in about keeping MW Tournament at Thomas & Mack Center

Wyoming men’s basketball coach Larry Shyatt spoke for a little more than 20 minutes Monday on behalf of the other 10 Mountain West men’s hoops coaches about the league’s decision to change the format of the MW Tournament to eight teams for both the men’s and women’s events starting in 2017.

Larry Shyatt

Larry Shyatt

In the past, and for the 2016 event, all teams were allowed to participate.

Here’s is Shyatt’s full statement from Monday. Quick hint, he didn’t hold anything back and needless to say, he wasn’t happy.

The MW decision, which was released on Dec. 18, also included keeping the MW Tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas — the home court for UNLV — through 2019.

UNLV has won three MW Tournament titles there, with the last one coming in 2008. The MW gets a good deal in terms of “rent” for the facility, which was the driving force to keeping it there.

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Cowboys say they will be more focused in regular-season opener

I don’t think anyone felt good about Wyoming’s 77-69 overtime loss to Division II Fort Lewis last Saturday.

Yes, it was an exhibition game. Even though the Cowboys’ three best players — senior guard Josh Adams, junior guard Jason McManamen and sophomore forward Alan Herndon — didn’t play the last 15 minutes or so based on the decision coach Larry Shyatt made earlier in the week, there was a level of disappointment.

Talking to the players this week, they seem determined that won’t happen Friday when the Cowboys open the regular season against Bristol University out of Anaheim, California.

Alan Herndon

Alan Herndon

“Increased focus,” said Herndon on what practice has been like so far this week. “Coaches have been more on edge. We know we have to prepare a lot better. We know we have to prepare and respect every single team we play no mater what their name is.”

Added McManamen: “It was tough. You don’t want to lose any game no mater who you’re playing. We have to learn from it. It will make us hungrier for this game Friday. We’re going to be ready.”

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UW football-basketball doubleheader – postgame thoughts

Football and men’s basketball doubleheaders for Wyoming are rare, but there was one this past Saturday in Laramie and the results were equal on both accounts — disappointing.

Let’s start with football.

The Cowboys lost to Border War rival Colorado State 26-7, but to me the score felt more like it was 46-7.

UW was dominated in all aspects. Colorado State scored the first four times it had the ball. The Rams were conservative after that, and even then the Cowboys couldn’t do much.

Here’s coach Craig Bohl after the game:

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UW, Shyatt agree on contract extension

April 22.

That’s when Wyoming announced it was in negotiations for a contract extension for men’s basketball coach Larry Shyatt.

July 15 was when the school announced the deal was done.

Larry Shyatt

Larry Shyatt

Shyatt’s contract was extended through April of 2020. He will receive a small bump in his base salary through the end of the contract. Although his base salary will be between $210,000 and $230,000 through life of this contract, UW athletics director Tom Burman said Shyatt made “north of $800,000” this year. Most coaches contracts at UW are low on base salary, but heavy on other bonuses and incentives.

In other words, Shyatt won’t be the highest paid men’s basketball coach in the Mountain West, but he will be in the upper half . Basically, Shyatt’s new contract is not much different than his old one.

But why did this take so long? UW has been very generous and speedy in handing out extensions to coaches in the past. Since Burman became the AD in October of 2006 that has been the case, and it also was the case from ADs before him.

This was different because of a couple of factors. One being the retention bonuses for assistants Jeremy Shyatt (Larry’s son) and Allen Edwards.

This is a new thing for UW. Burman said there was a retention deal in place not long after became the AD in 2006, but that was funded by the Wyoming Legislature, but that soon went away.

Jeremy Shyatt and Edwards will, in the simplest terms I can express, receive $50,000 bonuses apiece for the next two years if they remain on the staff, or at least are on staff after a certain day in the year. Both make at or just over $100,000 a year.

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Thoughts on UW men’s basketball schedule for 2015-16

The Mountain West released its conference schedule for men’s basketball Wednesday morning, and not long after that Wyoming released its entire schedule for the upcoming season.

Here is a link to the Cowboys’ schedule:

First, some thoughts of the conference slate:

–I’m not a fan of the Cowboys playing New Mexico and Utah State once apiece. UW will play at New Mexico and gets Utah State at home. Missing a trip to Utah State isn’t the worst thing in the world as the Spectrum in Logan is one of the toughest places to play in the MW. But the league needs to keep regional rivalries in place the best it can on a home-and-home basis. Who cares if UW plays, for instance, Nevada or San Jose State once — home or away. Not getting New Mexico at home will hurt UW’s overall attendance numbers as that normally is a good draw whether the game is in the middle of the week or on a weekend. Games in Logan against Utah State are good because it gives fans in the western part of the state a chance to go see the Cowboys play.

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Shyatt contract extension still in the works

Larry Shyatt

Larry Shyatt

On April 22, Wyoming announced it was in negotiations with men’s basketball coach Larry Shyatt on a contract extension.

More than a month later — 40 days to be exact — and there has been no announcement on a contract extension, but negotiations are still on going.

“We are still a ways away, both Larry and I have been traveling a bunch. Hopefully we will get something final before the middle of July,” UW athletics director Tom Burman said via text message Monday.

“We will get it done. We just need to work the details with (Shyatt’s) representatives as well as (UW’s legal staff).”

Tom Burman

Tom Burman

Burman would not comment on specifics about the negotiations, but if this were simply an extension for Shyatt it likely wouldn’t have taken this long. Security and/or incentives for his assistant coaches could be one of the areas that is being negotiated.

Shyatt has a 103-80 record at UW. The Cowboys went 25-10 last season, won its first-ever Mountain West Tournament title and played in its first NCAA Tournament since 2002.

Nance Jr. measures up at NBA Draft Combine

Former Wyoming men’s basketball player (kind of sounds weird to read that, doesn’t it) Larry Nance Jr. is currently at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago and will be there through the weekend.

Larry Nance Jr.

Larry Nance Jr.

Similar to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, players go through a wide range of sport-specific tests. With the NBA Draft Combine, players also will play games for scouts and NBA team officials to watch, and interviews will be held.

Here are some of Nance’s specifics:

Height without shoes: 6-7 1/2

Height with shoes: 6-8 1/2

Weight: 226.6

Body fat percentage: 6.4

Hand length: 9.0 inches

Hand width: 9.75 inches

Standing reach: 9 feet

Wingspan: 7-feet, 1.5 inches

Lane agility time: 10.89 seconds

Shuttle run: 3.01 seconds

3/4-court sprint: 3.25 seconds

Standing vertical jump: 29 inches

Maximum vertical jump: 37.5 inches. That tied for the best jump among all power forwards at the combine.

Here’s the link to all the measurables for all the players at this year’s NBA Draft Combine:!/anthro/?ls=iref:nba:specialst3b

Nance played in the Combine’s first 5-on-5 game Thursday afternoon, and finished with eight points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots in 21 minutes. He was 3 of 6 from the field and had five offensive rebounds. Nance was 2 of 7 from the free-throw line, which is uncharacteristic of him as he was well over a 70 percent free-throw shooter at UW.

Friday, Nance had four points, seven rebounds (four offensive), four turnovers and three fouls. He was 2 of 5 from the field.

Nance received some high praise from the broadcast team from ESPN2 during Thursday’s game. Friday, ESPN’s Fran Frachilla said he thinks Nance will be drafted in the second round, but may spend some time in the NBA’s Developmental League..

Nance will not be with four of his senior teammates in Laramie this weekend for graduation ceremonies. However, UW sent this picture of those guys along with coach Larry Shyatt.

From left to right, Jack Bentz, Charles Hankerson Jr., Derek Cooke Jr., Larry Nance Jr. and Riley Grabau pose with coach Larry Shyatt as all five Wyoming men's basketball seniors will receive their degrees this weekend. Photo from UW.

From left to right, Jack Bentz, Charles Hankerson Jr., Derek Cooke Jr., Larry Nance Jr. and Riley Grabau pose with coach Larry Shyatt as all five Wyoming men’s basketball seniors will receive their degrees this weekend. Photo from UW.

Northern Iowa 71, Wyoming 54: 3 takes, notes and quotes

Tough way for Wyoming’s season to end with a 71-54 setback to Northern Iowa in the second round of the East Regional of the NCAA Tournament Friday at Key Arena in Seattle.

The No. 12 seed Cowboys (25-10) led for a total of 1 minute, 2 seconds of the game, which was early in the first half.

Here are my three takes from the game:

1. Too many shooters: Northern Iowa shot 46 percent from the field, but was 9 of 18 from 3-point range. Five different players made at least one 3-pointer, and five players also scored in double-digits. The Panthers just kept running shooters out on the court. Ten players got into the game, only one played 30-plus minutes and eight logged between 16 and 28 minutes.

Josh Adams

Josh Adams

2. Too many lulls: UW gave up runs of 10-0 in the first half and 13-3 to start the second half. Against a team like Northern Iowa, which is now 31-3 and 11th-ranked in the nation, that is too much to overcome. The Panthers also did a good job of doing what UW takes pride in doing — playing good defense. They took junior guard Josh Adams out of the game as he was just 2 of 9 from the field and had four points. They also did a good job of taking senior forward Larry Nance Jr. out of the game until the second half. Nance sparked a 14-0 UW run with 10 straight points during that spurt. But Northern Iowa did a good job of doubling Nance with two guys about 6-foot-8 to 6-9.

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Jack’s Journal: Day 2 take from Wyoming senior guard Jack Bentz

University of Wyoming senior guard Jack Bentz will provide WyoSports and this blog with a daily diary of his thoughts as the Cowboys go through the process of preparing for the NCAA Tournament. Here’s the second installment from Tuesday, March 17:


“Win the day.”

Jack BentzThis has been the team’s motto for the past month. As the season progresses, coaches and players are determined to take advantage of every day and make the most of each opportunity we take the floor.

Coach (Larry) Shyatt’s message was to not look backward and only focus on what’s ahead of us — today’s practice and Northern Iowa. We had a great practice, film session and team dinner. The team is definitely locked in and we’re starting to learn more about Northern Iowa through film and scouting reports.

We are very fortunate to have a coaching staff as experienced and accomplished in the NCAA Tournament. Their history and expertise in the tournament is invaluable to us. We are able to learn from them about the ins and outs of the tournament and how to effectively prepare as well as game plan for our opponent.

Today we will have practice in the morning and then it is wheels up to Seattle. The team will be chartering out of Laramie in the afternoon and we are packing for five days. We all have our raincoats ready and I’m told Papa Shy’s gold sweaters are waterproof — so don’t worry, Poke Nation.