VIDEO: Cowboys Coaches Clinic series — scouting the opponent

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi presents the third of a season-long video series called “Cowboys Coaches Clinic” featuring aspects of the University of Wyoming men’s basketball program.

In this video, UW associate head coach Scott Duncan and assistant director of player personnel Matt Wise talk about how they go about scouting an opponent. They also give you a hypothetical scenario about how the Cowboys will go about scouting UW’s game at Utah State on Tuesday, following Saturday’s 63-62 overtime win over New Mexico in Laramie.

For more UW and high school sports coverage, see the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, log on to and check back to this blog.


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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What could have been for UW, Muhammad

When the Wyoming men’s basketball team hosts San Jose State at 2 p.m. Saturday in Laramie, the Cowboys will be familiar with the Spartans’ best player.

Rashad Muhammad

Rashad Muhammad

True freshman guard Rashad Muhammad is a 6-foot-6 guard that leads all Mountain West freshmen in scoring (17 ppg). He also leads his team in shots made, shots taken and free-throw percentage.

Muhammad’s final two choices for college came down to UW and San Jose State. He and his mom  made an official visit to Laramie during the recruiting process.

“It’s pretty cool coming back,” Muhammad said. “I liked it there and my visit was great. Coach Shyatt had me over to his house and I hung out with the team a lot. It was a real good time.”

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UW-SMU pregame notes

How Wyoming plays without senior guard Luke Martinez today at SMU has to be one of the biggest questions for the Cowboys.

Martinez fractured a bone in his right hand in an “off-campus incident” according to the school and is out indefinitely. How will UW replace his 14.5 points per game and 25 steals?

It won’t be by one person, although sophomore guard Riley Grabau is expected to start for Martinez today. This will be a chance for Grabau, true freshman Josh Adams and junior-college transfer Nathan Sobey to step up.

Who else do you think needs to step up their game for the Cowboys while Martinez is out?

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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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Shyatt, new recruits talk

New Wyoming men’s basketball coach Larry Shyatt spoke to the media via teleconference for about 15 minutes Thursday about his three latest signees: 6-3  guard Riley Grabau, 6-11 center Lekan Ajayi and 5-9 junior-college point guard Derrious Gilmore. Grabau and Ajayi also joined the call.

Here are some quick hits from the call:

–Shyatt said he has one scholarship left, and hopes to get the best available athlete or a promising wing player/small forward. Shyatt said one recruit is mulling over whether or not to choose UW now, and there is a possiblitly a decision could come in the next five or six days. If not, then he said he will keep looking even if it goes into June.

–Shyatt said he doesn’t expect junior-to-be forward Brian Gibson to return next season. He left school prior to the MWC Tournament in March for personal reasons.

–Shyatt didn’t say if any of the other current players on the team will leave, but would know more in the next 10 days final exams wrap up. Said in the last few weeks the current group have been “punctual, on edge and have improved.”

–Although listed at 6-11, Shyatt said Ajayi is closer to 6-9, and said he would need “extra, extra thick shoes to be 6-11.” Shyatt described Ajayi as a “character.”

–Ajayi said he choose UW because of Shyatt and assistant Scott Duncan. He said Shyatt is like a father to him, and also that Shyatt recruited him while he was at Florida.

–On signing a 5-9 guard in Derrious Gilmore, who was not on the call: “I have never been opposed to having small guards at any postion as long as they’ve had that competitvness and and edge to them.”

–“I’ve probably only had four or five junior college players in 38 years. I’m probably going to get mor familiar in the days and weeks ahead,” Shyatt said.

–Ajayi is the nephew of former UW player Ugo Udezue, who was an influence on his decision. Ajayi feels he’s one of the best rebounders in the nation. He averaged 15.5 boards per game in high school. He said Virginia Tech, Alabama, Florida State, Georgetown, Wake Forest, Tennessee, Auburn and Missouri were among other schools that recruited him.

–“I want to help the Univeristy of Wyoming win championships. I’ll do anything for the University of Wyoming,” Ajayi said.

–Grabau said he didn’t know Shyatt prior to his recruitment, but said that after Shyatt’s first visit to his home, he looked to his dad and said: “he’s the man I want to play for.”

–Grabau said he didn’t sign in the fall because he wanted to focus on winning a state championship his senior year at Boulder High in Colorado. His team lost in the state championship game.

–Shyatt likened Grabau to former UW guard Brett McFall, who Shyatt recuited to UW back in the 1997-98 season. Grabau was the player of the year in Colorado; McFall was the player of the year in Kansas his senior year. Shyatt said Grabau has the ability to play the point and shooting guard spots.

–Grabau said Colorado State recruited him “heavily” as a junior, but said that fell apart when he didn’t attend an elite camp CSU held. Grabau also said Colorado wanted him to walk-on, but he said no thanks. No Division I schools in Colorado offered him a scholarship.

–As soon as Shyatt got off the call, he left to catch a plane for Rock Springs to attend a Cowboy Joe Club function.

For more on the signing of these three players, see Friday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang

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.