Luster, Hudson questionable for UW

Wyoming interim men’s basketball coach Fred Langley said Monday morning that junior point guard JayDee Luster (hip) and true freshman guard Joe Hudson (concussion) are questionable for Wednesday’s home game against Air Force.

UW practiced Sunday night, the first time since early Friday morning, and Langley said Luster started out looking good but was later pulled after the injury flared up. Langley said Hudson experienced a headache running up and down the court, which ended his practice early. If Hudson experiences a headache later today he likely won’t play Wednesday.

Langley added junior center Adam Waddell’s Achilles is swollen, but expects him to play.

Monday was the Mountain West Conference’s weekly coaches’ teleconference and here’s a few notes and quotes:

–San Diego State moved up to No. 4 in the  coaches’ poll and BYU is No. 7. The two teams play at noon Saturday in San Diego in a game televised nationally by CBS.

–San Diego State coach Steve Fisher on if he thinks his team should have been ranked No. 1 or closer to No. 1: “That I don’t know.”

–Fisher on if his team should be a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament: “That I have no clue on. I think we would have a case and hope we would be in the talk for a one or two seed.”

–New Mexico was 13-1 in games decided by six points or less last season en route to a 30-5 record and 14-2 conference mark. This season the Lobos are 2-7 in those games, including three straight losses.

–Colorado State coach Tim Miles on his teams’ RPI of 47 according to Jerry Palm of CollegeRPI.com: “I wish it was 27.”

For more on UW and MWC men’s basketball, see Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com

Cowboys to continue with aggressive defense

If there’s one thing Wyoming interim men’s basketball coach Fred Langley has established in his three games is that the Cowboys will play aggressive defense, whether it’s full-court or half-court.

The result has been a 1-2 record, but the hustle and effort on that end at very least seems to be more consistent than in the past.

UW (9-17, 2-10) is off this weekend and hosts Air Force Wednesday in Laramie. Air Force (13-11, 4-7) likes to be deliberate in its half-court offense and will test even the most aggressive of defenses.

“We’re going to be aggressive because that’s who we are,” Langley said Friday. “However, it’s a little different in the half-court. We will get after them in the full-court, but in the half-court you have to be patient and that’s easier said than done.”

See Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com on why Langley has leading scorer Desmar Jackson coming off the bench. Hint: it has something to do with that aggressive defense.

After a weight-lifting session and some shooting in the Arena-Auditorium Friday morning, Langley gave the team the rest of the weekend off. It will return to practice Sunday night.

“I want the guys to get away a little bit and clear their head for the stretch run,” said Langley, whose team has four regular-season games left before the MWC Tournament. “As for the coaches I told them to get done what they needed to get done because by this evening at 5 I don’t want to see anybody until Sunday.”

Langley said junior point guard JayDee Luster (hip) is feeling as good as he did prior to the injury in early January since he didn’t play in Wednesday’s loss at Utah. True freshman guard Joe Hudson (concussion) didn’t do anything Friday, and Langley said junior center Adam Waddell (Achilles) is “so-so.”

Rice responds

Been trying to get a hold of BYU assistant coach Dave Rice to gauge his interest in the Wyoming men’s basketball coaching job. His name is one of the many being thrown out there. Here’s what he said via e-mail Monday night:

“I was part of 2 interim staffs during my 11 years as an assistant at UNLV and so I understand that Coach Langley and his staff are working hard to help the players have a strong finish to their season.  In my mind there is currently a staff in place at Wyoming.  The players and staff don’t need the distraction of coaching speculation.  While I know that is inevitable, I have always made it a point to never comment on a job that is not available.  Likewise my entire focus now is helping Coach Rose and our staff prepare our team to play TCU on Saturday.”

Any thoughts? It’s been a week since UW fired Heath Schroyer. I’ve received no comments from Rice and Kansas assistant Joe Dooley, a no comment from the lawyer of Billy Gillispie (and he still hasn’t returned my phone calls) and have been turned down for an interview request from Florida assistant and former UW coach Larry Shyatt.

Got an e-mail today from a fan who thinks BYU women’s basketball coach Jeff Judkins should be considered. He played college hoops at Utah.

A fan pulling for Bradley

I have received a lot of e-mails over the last few days from fans and their take on who should be he next men’s basketball coach at Wyoming.
This one was one of the most interesting ones. It was addressed from Bill Garnett. Now, I find it hard to believe that Garnett, a former UW great in the early 1980s, wrote this based on the grammar and wording. I’ve talked to Bill before and he’s not only a great guy, but is much more eloquent than this e-mail.
Anyway, he is pulling for his former UW teammate — Charles Bradley — to be UW’s next coach. Bradley last year as a head coach was the 1999-2000 and in three years he was 20-62. That would be an easy sell to UW higher-ups and fans, wouldn’t it?
Here’s the exact and unedited e-mail, and the list he refers to is my list of possible candidates for the Wyoming job:
That list is ordinary ! We want a Coach with connections to the University-“Charles Bradley” would be one hell of a hire. He is a born leader was on his way up the ranks before Loyola Marymount. In short put him on the list-this hire is very important to the program. All Cowboy faithful need to know Charles is available and would bring excitement and pride back to the program. Lets all broaden our scope-Wyo is unique and most want to use it for their personal gain and leave. Consider the Coach right in front of us-Charles Bradley !!!!
Enough to make you laugh, doesn’t it?
Any thoughts?
No new news on the coaching search today, and that will likely will be the case more often than not for a while. But I am in Indianapolis for the Associated Press Sports Editors winter convention and annual contest judging. I will be around sports editors from all over the country so maybe I will hear a thing or two. I will keep you posted.

Trying to get to Gillispie

Stuart Campbell, the attorney for former UTEP, Texas A&M and Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillispie offered no comment when asked if Gillispie was interested in the Wyoming job. Gillispie has been out of coaching since he was fired from Kentucky in 2009 and has a 140-85 career record.

A source who knows Gillispie told WyoSports Thursday the UW job “would be a place he would probably consider.” The source later added: “I think he’ll be interested.”

Phone messages for Gillispie were not returned Thursday.

In some other team news, junior point guard JayDee Luster didn’t practice because is hip was “really, really sore” after Wednesday’s loss at New Mexico.

Coaching search update; Langley quotes

I received a “no comment” from Kansas assistant coach Joe Dooley when I asked him for an interview threw an e-mail. Former Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt declined my interview request this morning.

Not surprising.

Many of you many have seen this already, but here is a good read from my colleague Ed Graney a great columnist at the Las Vegas Review-Journal on potential UW coaching candidate Dave Rice. http://tinyurl.com/4cpcaeb

One person on Twitter asked me if UW fans could stand having a BYU assistant as its next coach. Rice has been at BYU for five years with current cach Dave Rose. Some of you have already commented on this, but I would love to hear more.

Here is the bio of another name that has surfaced as a candidate: North Texas coach Johnny Jones: http://www.meangreensports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?SPSID=9107&SPID=564&DB_LANG=C&DB_OEM_ID=1800&ATCLID=67779&Q_SEASON=2010

Thoughts?

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UW interim coach Fred Langley held a teleconference with the media Thursday morning, about 15 hours after it lost 68-57 at New Mexico.

On a letdown coming off the New Mexico game

“You’re always a little concerned that you might backslide, but we’re not going to have that. The expectations are really, really high for this group. We’re going to keep moving forward to represent the University of Wyoming and the fans the best we can.

“I think we need to raise our expectations. I think we need to raise the bar. I think coming (off the New Mexico game) it’s a natural that guys  going into practice are going to be a little banged up and want a little time off. As a coaching staff we’re going to raise the expectations higher.

“I want today to be a great day, and today is going to be a great day one way or antoher or we won’t have a day.”

On  UW’s improved defensive play the last three games

“Early on we played a lot of match-up zone because our basketball IQ wasn’t high enough to understand some of the rotations we needed to do.

“Our basketball IQ risen the last month. We’ve raised the bar and getting into people. We’re not letting the officials dictate the game. We’re going play how we play. If that means  we’re fouling, then we’re fouling. We’re going to try and do what we do to take them out of their stuff.”

Langley said one player who has really improved his defense is junior guard Francisco Cruz.

What’s changed for you the most since the firing of Heath Schroyer Monday?

“I’m a huge film guy and that hasn’t changed. The only thing that’s changed is this right here (talking to the media).”

Langley also pulled out a surprise at New Mexico to help his players deal with a tough crowd and the obvious adversity that’s hit the team. See Friday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com for more on that.

Cox interested in UW job

Been making a lot of phone calls and sending a lot of e-mails to gather information about the search for a new men’s basketball coach at Wyoming.

It’s early in the process so I better pace myself.

South Florida assistant coach Jeremy Cox told the St. Petersburg Times “there’s no question” he would be interested in the UW job. Cox was a graduate assistant at UW in 1991-92, and his wife went to school at UW. Cox also has and has been an assistant for another well-talked about candidate for the UW job — Billy Gillispie — at Kentucky and Texas A&M.

“I’m from the Rocky Mountains, my wife graduated from Wyoming, I can tell you probably everything there is to know about the history of Wyoming basketball,” Cox told the paper. “It’s a special place for me and my family. But at the same time, I hope whoever is there gets that thing really rolling like I remember it happening.”

Former UW player, Pinedale native and former College of Southern Idaho coach Steve Gosar reportedly isn’t interested in the job.

A source told me yesterday me former Laramie County Community College basketball coach Rodell Davis, who is an assistant at Providence, also is interested.

I’m sure there are a lot of coaches “interested” in the job. Wonder how many will get a serious look.

A darkhorse candidate I have: Stew Morrill of Utah State.

Morrill has things rolling at Utah State and is 316-101 in his 13 seasons, including 11 straight 23-win seasons and 11 straight NCAA or NIT tournaments appearances. But the WAC is falling apart. It will add some schools to keep it alive, but it took a big hit with the losses of Boise State, Hawaii, Nevada and Fresno State. Morrill was 121-86 in seven seasons at Colorado State but finished no higher than fourth in the WAC. Still, is 534-239 in 25 seasons as a college head coach at Montana, CSU and Utah State. Utah State will remain the WAC’s kingpin, but what kind of future does it hold?

The Mountain West is a better league and UW would pay Morrill at or a little higher than what he makes at Utah State. However, Morrill is 59 and getting close to retiring. Would he want to spend his final years rebuilding a program or cruising to what looks to be lots of easy victories in the new-look WAC?

Thoughts on that?

See my column in Thursday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com for more on UW’s search for a new men’s basketball coach.

Langley talks

Just talked to Wyoming interim men’s basketball coach Fred Langley. He and the Cowboys arrived in Albuquerque a couple of hours ago for Wednesday’s game at New Mexico.

The first question I asked him was how he and the team’s mood was after head coach Heath Schroyer was fired Monday.

“The toughest thing for everybody is we know how great of person Heath is and how much he cares and still cares about this team and this staff,” Langley said. “The feeling is mutual. That’s what makes it tougher on everybody.”

Langley said the team was told Monday afternoon, and both Schroyer and athletic director Tom Burman talked to the players. After about a two-hour break, the team met again Monday night and then practiced for about 1 hour, 15 minutes.

“That’s what you do when you have adversity, you get knocked down and you get right back up,” Langley said. “If this is the worst thing that happens to these players in their lives then I think it will probably be a good thing.”

Langley talked more about keeping this team together and focused than specific game plans for New Mexico. He also said there is no new news injury-wise heading into the game.

I also asked Langley if he would be interested in this job full-time. He said he would comment on that at a later time, but not now.

“It’s about the players and this game’s always been about the players,” he said. “You do what you have to do to get their mind set right. I think you cut the stuff we do in half and add some wrinkles so they can focus on playing hard rather than having a specific game plan.

“We’ll have a game plan, but it’s more about us right now and our mind set of how we approach (this game).”

For more from Langley, see Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com

Thoughts on Schroyer being fired

Can’t say it was surprising to hear Wyoming fired Heath Schroyer.

But the timing was surprising as UW pulled the plug on Schroyer late Monday afternoon.

Athletics director Tom Burman told me last season at about this time, and as recently as a couple of weeks ago he would wait until the end of the season to make a decision on Schroyer, or at very least evaluate where things stand.

It’s safe to say that Schroyer would have been fired at season’s end if the team continued its losing ways. UW is 8-15 overall, 1-8 in the Mountain West and has lost six straight. Even if UW won out I don’t know if that would have saved Schroyer’s job.

But something happended recently to change Burman’s mind to let Schroyer go now. What that was remains a mystery. Maybe he will tell us during a teleconference Tuesday at 11 a.m.

What do you all think of the timing of this firing? I know many of you have expressed that you wanted it done sooner than later? Now that it’s done, what do you think?

I tried to get a hold of numerous players tonight, but all I got was voice mail. Will be interesting to see how they react here on out.

I liked Schroyer and liked what he tried to do. His best years were supposed to come with strong sophomore and junior classes. Injuries derailed some of those goals, and perhaps poor judgement and decisions as well by Schroyer and even Burman when he extended Schroyer two years back to a five-year contract after a 19-14 record in the 2008-09 season.

Burman has fired three coaches with three years left on contracts — Schroyer, former men’s hoops coach Steve McClain and football coach Joe Glenn. Not a good precedent to set, but in Schroyer’s case Burman hired him.

Fred Langley will coach the team the rest of the season. He’s been Schroyer’s top assistant since both arrived in March of 2007. How do you think he will do? Do you think he can get this team to play any better?

Funny thing is, despite home losses to No. 7 BYU and Colorado State last week by a combined 10 points, UW played some of its best basketball in those games — at least defensively. The after-the-game handshake between Schroyer and CSU coach Tim Miles was longer than normal with some dialogue, and Miles came out and defended Schroyer to the media saying Schroyer needed more time with all the injuries he’s had to endure.

Perhaps the CSU game was the do-or-die game — beat your rival at home and live to see another day, or lose and hit the road.

But if that was the case, then why would Schroyer be on the Monday MWC coaches teleconference like normal? Schroyer was on the call and it was business as usual. There was no hint in his voice that something like this was going down.

Several names have been thrown around as possible replacements for Schroyer. See Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com for some names I believe UW should and will look at, and for more analysis on this firing.

More from UW’s new football coaches

Had a chance to speak with new offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Gregg Brandon and defensive line coach Danilo Robinson today.

As you would expect, both were excited for the opportunity, and for Brandon this opportunity came up fast. On Wednesday when UW announced its 2011 signing class, there was no indication a change was coming. Offensive coordinator and QB coach Marcus Arroyo introduced the players he recruited, and also talked to me about working with more young quarterbacks (a previous blog post http://wyomingcowboysblog.com/2011/02/02/arroyo-knows-young-qbs/).

In case you missed it, Arroyo is now at California, who was looking for an offensive coordinator after Andy Ludwig took a similar job at San Diego State.

You would think if this was in the works for a while Arroyo wouldn’t be talking about these recruits, or there at all on Wednesday. Then again, if he wasn’t there would be some suspecion.

Nonetheless, Brandon described the whole process to me as “bang-bang.”

Brandon was the receivers coach at UW for Paul Roach from 1987-90, and the Cowboys won WAC titles in 1987-88 and played in three bowl games during that time. He knows what it’s like in Laramie and all that. His connection with coach Dave Christensen was the biggest factor, having helped Christensen implement a spread offense at Missouri early in the 2000s, and their relationship goes back the better part of a decade.

Brandon was the head coach at Bowling Green from 2003-08, and his 2008 Bowling Green team embarrased UW 45-16 in Laramie — coach Joe Glenn’s last season. He said what’s impressed him the most about Laramie since he was a coach here is the facilities. He said the indoor practice facility is a heckuva upgrade from practicing in War Memorial Fieldhouse. He also was impressed with the Rochelle Athletics Center and the new Wildcatter suites.

“Wyoming wants to win and it shows with the upgrades in facilities,” he said.

Brandon said the task of finding a starting quarterback among redshirt freshman Emory Miller Jr., and true freshmen Adam Pittser and Brett Smith is “scary” based on their inexperience, but also exciting. Brandon added he will have the biggest learning curve because he needs to learn the terminology. He said the offense Christensen brought here is basically the same to the one he taught him at Missouri. There are some tweaks and changes that Brandon said he likes. But for the players, they will continue to learn what they’ve been learning.

As far as recruiting goes, Brandon said he recruited the Chicago area when he was at UW and said he still has ties there. He expects to recruit in the Houston area, where Arroyo recruited. He also said he has recruiting ties in Colorado.

Like I said in my previous post this morning, the timing of this seems odd since this all went down less than 48 hours after Wednesday’s signing day, but that’s how college football works sometimes. I like the fact Brandon, 55, brings more experience to the table. Not a knock on Arroyo, but it’s nice when your coordinators are the senior members of your offensive and defensive coaching staffs. Arroyo was only 31.

Robinson, 36, came to Laramie as an assistant at Louisiana-Monroe and twice as one at Utah State and lost to the Cowboys when Glenn was the coach.

He told me schemes don’t matter to him in terms of a 4-3 or 3-4 defense, but has worked mostly with the 4-3 which is what UW runs.

Robinson said he’s recruited all over the country in his career and feels comfortable where ever Christensen puts him. He came off as a young, enthusiastic and confident coach, much like Montgomery. This hire didn’t come as fast as Brandon’s. Montgomery’s been gone for nearly a month now. This was in the works for a while.

One last thought from this latest coaching shake-up. I know fans don’t like to see coaches leave UW for bigger and better things — even assistants. But this is a good sign for UW. If coaches are leaving for jobs in conferences like the Pac-12 (Arroyo to Cal) and Big Ten (Montgomery to Indiana and then Michigan) then that means UW is bringing in good coaches and Christensen knows where to find good coaches.

If assistants were leaving for lsimilar jobs at lower division schools then that would be a problem.

For more on UW’s two new assistants in Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com.

Also see my mid-season analysis piece on UW men’s basketball.