December 14, 2012
Shyatt's Cowboys Off To 10-0 Start
UW head coach Larry Shyatt has the Cowboys on the move once again.
Entering his third season at Wyoming and his second in the new tenure, Shyatt has built an impressive career record at UW of 50-21, while 31-12 in the last two seasons.
Shyatt has accumalated his record during three apparent rebuilding seasons.
The Pokes have climbed to the 10-0 record and 29th in the AP Poll with a slimmed down non-conference schedule, though a win over Colorado and a major comback versus Illinois State on the road has fans and media taking notice.
The two wins of note are over programs with the ability to play in the NCAA tourney has helped grow anticipation for the league play starting in January.
In 1997-98, Shyatt inherited a program that fell on hard times under former head coach Joby Wright and lost their leading scorer Ladrell Whitehead to transfer.
Shyatt immediately in his first year made an impact leading the Pokes to their first postseason in six seasons with an undermanned team that played hard nosed defense and hustle.
He then helped set the stage with the recruitment of likes of Josh Davis, Ugo Udezue, Chris McMillan, Anthony Blakes, and LeDarion Jones, where the Pokes played in an NCAA tourney with two MW Championships and three more NIT's following his departure to Clemson.
The Cowboys in the new era continue to do it with defense under Shyatt and playing within the team concept starting with last season's surprising 21-12 finish.
The Cowboys are off to a fast start in 2012-13 and will have plenty of challenges ahead with the Mountain West slate that features three nationally ranked programs in UNLV, SDSU, and New Mexico, and a few others in namely CSU and Boise State that could make noise.
The key to success during league play will be the development of the bench, especially the hopeful progression of forwards Derek Cooke and Austin Haldorson, guard Nathan Sobey and the return to health of guard Riley Grabau.
"Our bench is going to be important this year," said Shyatt. "We've been in game preparation lately because of the schedule and we'll get back to practicing and working more. They know it's important to get productivity from our bench when we put them in the game and to stay on course, and maintain the defense."
Shyatt's Cowboys have 10 days off preparing for finals and more practice time to hopefully develop the bench and fine tune areas.
The big comback win over Illinois State and a big home win over the previously ranked CU Buffaloes looks to have sparked the fan base some and it will need to continue grow heading into conference play, in turn, bringing back the big homecourt advantage of the AA and helping the Pokes over the hump in competitive games.
Senior Leonard Washington is playing like an all-leaguer early in the season and fellow interior player Larry Nance, Jr. continues to make strides and gives UW promise of a formible 1-to-2 punch inside.
"Larry got frustrated a couple times, but Leonard was the one who got in Larry's head and got him back in the game," said Shyatt following Saturday's win over OPSU. "I believe Larry benefits a lot from having Leonard, who has been around the block, to help him through those difficult times."
Wyoming looks to have more scoring punch since last season. Derrious Gilmore has stepped up replacing graduated Jaydee Luster and giving the Pokes more pop offensively from the point guard position.
"With Derrious being able to be as effective as he has been from three-point range, it forces opposing defenses to play us much different than they did last year," said Shyatt. "That makes things easier for everyone and opens things up for Leonard (Washington) and (Larry) Nance on the block."
Wing man Luke Martinez is a dangerous three point threat and registered nine steals versus ISU, while freshmen guard Josh Adams brings athleticism and spark to the perimeter and should continue to improve as the season goes forward.
The Cowboys have three non-conference games remaining and the expectation is to finish undefeated in non-conference play before heading into a tough Mountain West schedule and then be able to hold homecourt and find wins on the road in MW play.
A good finish in December and early January, coupled with home conference victories and a few road break throughs will put the Cowboys in a good position come March for postseason possibilities.
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