Hill takes pride in how opponents try to defend him

Last season, teams knew Wyoming was going to run the football with running back Brian Hill.

Brian Hill

Brian Hill

As a result, opponents stacked with box with eight or nine guys more often than not. Still, Hill ran for a single-season school record of 1,631 yards in 2015.

“I enjoy the attention, and I like the challenge when teams put eight or nine guys in the box,” Hill said. “I would enjoy to see just seven, but to see teams give me that repsct gives me some pride.

“This year, I’m praying for an eight-man box because we have a quarterback that can sling it, and Im excited to see wht he’s going to do.”

Hill is referring to redshirt sophomore quarterback Josh Allen, the clear-cut starter when fall camp begin Monday, Aug. 8.

But until Allen and the rest of the offense proves otherwise, teams will continue to stack the box against the Cowboys.

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How I voted for preseason All-MW football team

The Mountain West started its two-day football media day activities Tuesday in Las Vegas, and the first thing that was released was the preseason all-conference team and predicted order of finish.

Here is the link to the all-conference team: http://www.themw.com/news/2016-preseason-all-mwfb

And the link to the predicted order of finish: http://www.themw.com/news/mwfb-16-predicted-order

I voted this year, and have every year since the MW was formed in 1999. My ballots were not that much different than the official ones, which were voted on by selected media members around the league.

Here is my 2016 Preseason All-MW Football Team and predicted order of finish:

QB: Brett Rypien, Boise St.

RB: Brian Hill, Wyoming; Donnel Humphrey, San Diego St.

WR: Devonte Boyd, UNLV; Thomas Sperbeck, Boise St.

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Border War basketball Q&A

Here is my question-and-answer session with Kelly Lyell, who covers Colorado State men’s basketball for the Fort Collins Coloradoan, about Saturday’s game with the University of Wyoming.

Tip off is at 2 p.m. MT at Moby Arena in Fort Collins, Colorado.

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Kelly Lyell

Kelly Lyell

After the 72-59 loss at Utah State Wednesday the Rams have lost four of their last six. Are they a good indication of their record (14-12, 6-7 MW) or is his squad better than that?

They’re a good indication of their record on the season, better than half the teams they’ve played and worse than half. They’re capable of playing at a very high level at times, but not on a consistent enough basis to be a better-than-average team in the Mountain West this season.

In the loss to Utah State, Colorado State missed 18 of its last 20 3-pointers. Even though the Rams have been among the leaders in the MW in 3-point shooting this season, is this a team that lives and dies by the 3?

Very much so. The first thing the Rams do when they fall behind is try to shoot their way back into it from 3-point range. It’s worked enough times this season, too, that they keep trying that approach, even if it’s not necessarily the best way for them to get back into a game.

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MW men’s basketball power rankings

Here are my Mountain West men’s basketball power rankings this week.

RPI rankings are from RealTimeRPI.com. Only two MW teams have RPIs in the top 100, and seven are ranked between 113 and 196. As a league, the MW still has an RPI of 12 out of 32 conferences. The Summit, Mid-American and Colonial leagues are currently ahead of the MW.

As always, your feedback is welcome and encouraged.

1. San Diego State (16-6 overall, 9-0 MW, 47 RPI): An impressive week for the Aztecs with road wins over Nevada and UNLV. They have won nine in a row, and they shot less than 30 percent and still won at Nevada. If only this team was consistent on offense.

2. New Mexico (13-8, 6-2, 122 RPI): The Lobos moved into second place in the MW standings, as well to second in this week’s power rankings thanks in large part to their win at Boise State Saturday. We’ve seen a lot of ups and downs from New Mexico, but it has won four in a row.

3. Boise State (15-7, 6-3, 87 RPI): A tough week for a good team after losses at UNLV and at home to New Mexico. This didn’t do the league a lot of good, but the Broncos are still a veteran and solid group. It needs to bounce back Tuesday at home against Utah St.

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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.

http://www.wyosports.net/shyatt-issues-statement-on-behalf-of-mw-hoops-coaches-on/article_642f6f4a-ad82-11e5-b81b-9bd0b26a88d4.html

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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ESPN networks to carry MW football championship game

ESPN and the Mountain West have reached an agreement for rights to the conference’s annual football championship game, enhancing an existing multimedia pact through the 2019-20 season.

The MW title game, played at the site of the divisional champion with the highest College Football Playoff Selection Committee ranking, will be televised on ESPN or ESPN2 every season, beginning with the 2015 matchup on Saturday, Dec. 5, at 5:30 p.m. MT on ESPN2.

The football title contest adds to an extensive deal, which began with the 2013 season, that provides ESPN with exclusive worldwide rights to televise up to 16 Mountain West football games, plus every Boise State home game, as well as up to 31 conference-controlled men’s basketball games annually.

According to the contract with the MW and ESPN, MW football teams that have regular-season games carried on ESPN or ESPN2 during the regular season receive appearance bonuses. If games are televised on Saturdays, each team receives a $500,000 appearance bonus. If the games are on days other than Saturday, they get $300,000.

A spokesperson from the MW office said Friday that there will be no appearances bonuses for teams that play in the MW championship game.

CBS televised last year’s title game, and the game was played at 8:15 p.m. MT — not good for fans or TV ratings.

A late afternoon kickoff is much better for everyone involved. ESPN exposure is always a good thing, although the appearance bonuses would have been even nicer for the schools involved.

Overall, this is a good move for the MW. What do you think, folks?

 

UW football to be on national TV six times in 2015

Wyoming’s football game at San Diego State on Saturday, Nov. 14 will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network. Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m. MT.

The Mountain West released its football schedule of Saturday games that will be televised by CBS Sports Network and ESPN’s family of networks.

UW’s games at Air Force on Saturday, Oct. 10, versus Nevada Saturday, Oct. 17, at Boise State Saturday, Oct. 24 and versus Colorado State Nov. 7 will be carried on ESPN’s family of networks. However, which network and times for those games have yet to be determined.

If any of those games are televised on ESPN or ESPN2, UW and its opponent will receive a $500,000 appearance bonus per the Mountain West’s national television contract.

UW’s game at Utah State will be played on Friday, Oct. 30 and carried by ESPN2. Both schools will receive a $300,000 appearance bonus.

Question now is will UW get any more appearance bonuses for those games against Air Force, Nevada, Boise State and Colorado State. And, what will be the times for those games?

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UW’s nonconference schedule was solid, even if numbers don’t reflect it

The Wyoming men’s basketball team concludes the nonconference portion of its schedule at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Montana State. The Cowboys are 10-2 entering the game, with all 10 wins coming at home. Montana State is 3-8 and all three of its wins have been at home.

UW defeated Montana State 70-61 in Laramie on Dec. 14, and it marks the fourth straight season since coach Larry Shyatt returned to coach the Cowboys that he’s scheduled at least one home-and-home series with a nonconference opponent.

Last season it was South Dakota (the second game was in Rapid City, S.D.), in 2012-13 it was UC-Santa Barbara and Cal-State Bakersfield and in 2011-12 it was Idaho State and Utah Valley.

The Cowboys’ two losses came to quality foes on the road in SMU (8-3) and California (10-1) who have Ratings Percentage Index rankings (RPI) of 43 and 63, respectively, as of Monday morning, Dec. 22).

UW’s RPI is 138 out of 349 Division I teams — fifth-best in the Mountain West.

UW’s best win thus far was a 56-33 home win over Colorado, picked third in the preseason in the Pac-12 and with an RPI of 88. The Buffaloes are currently 6-3, with all of their wins coming at home and two of their three losses coming on the road.

SMU and Cal are a combined 14-1 at home and 4-3 at home or on neutral courts.

Seeing a pattern here?

College basketball teams, if they can, schedule as many home nonconference games as possible. Not all of them can be against the upper-echelon teams in the game — especially at UW.

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Wyoming football preview section comes out Sunday

Be sure to check out Sunday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang for WyoSports’ 2014 Wyoming preview section.

There is 56 pages of contest covering the Cowboys and the Mountain West, and also some fun tidbits on some UW football history.

There are Q&As with MW players, coaches and beat writers as well.

Will work to post the section online later next week, but hope you will buy a newspaper and get a copy for yourself. 2014 Football tab cover.indd

Cowboys’ basketball schedule solid for 2014-15 season

Wyoming’s 2014-15 basketball schedule was released Thursday, and from first glance it is a good one.

Nineteen home games, including 10 of 13 in the nonconference. There is a good mix of quality teams coming to Laramie in Northern Colorado, New Mexico State, Colorado and Denver, and two quality road games at SMU and California.

Eleven teams on the schedule played in the postseason in 2013-14, and 13 won 20 or more games.

Ten games are slated to be on national television as of now. The Jan. 14 home game with San Diego State is slated for ESPN2. Four other games will be on ESPNU or ESPN3 (online only for ESPN3) and five on CBS Sports Network. More TV games will be announced as the season nears.

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