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March 24, 2013
Q & A with GoWyoGo.com
BroncoBlitz.com exchanged a series of questions and answers with Publisher Ian McMackin of GoWyoGo.com, leading up to WMU's second round CBI match-up against the Cowboys Monday night in Laramie. You can follow Ian and GoWyoGo.com on Twitter @GoWyoGo_com.
BroncoBlitz: Tell us a little bit about this Wyoming team. Generally, what have been some of Wyoming's strengths and weaknesses this year? How did the regular season go overall for the Cowboys compared to preseason expectations?
GoWyoGo: It's been a strange year for Wyoming. The Cowboys started off 13-0 and were nationally ranked in January before they lost their top perimeter player in senior Luke Martinez to suspension and have battled through nagging injuries and illness to their top two interior players in Leonard Washington and Larry Nance, Jr. No question, these issues derailed a promising season, though playing in a competitive Mountain West didn't help the situation where they were picked 6 out of 9 teams.
Wyoming is well coached by Larry Shyatt, who was at Florida under Billy Donovan's two national championships. Shyatt gets the most out of his team, especially on the defensive end and teaches tenacious defense, where the Cowboys were among the best the league. They held San Diego State to 9 first half points in Laramie and also troubled Colorado when they beat them in December.
The Pokes have struggled to score at times this season and don't breakdown defenses well down in penetrating scorer mode. Shyatt will look to play slow ball, while playing tough defense. They like to play the game in the 50's and 60's.
While the status of Leonard Washington is up in the air, an inside player with a big future is Larry Nance Jr., a long, athletic forward who is the son of the former NBA player and first NBA dunk champion.
BB: What is your opinion of the Cowboys participating in and paying to host two home CBI games? What are the fans opinions?
GWG: After a strong start but disappointing league play, the CBI is a good tournament for the Cowboys since it could be a springboard for momentum heading into next season. Wyoming will return nine players and the experience should help a team dominated by freshmen and sophomores.
The fans are lukewarm toward the CBI appearance, though have shown a history of growing in enthusiasm as the team wins games during a tournament. The Wyoming woman's team sold out the 15,000 seat Arena-Auditorium a few years back when they beat Wisconsin for the WNIT Championship. The first game versus Lehigh was the smallest of the season and with students back from spring break, the crowd should be a little better for WMU.
BB: What is the view of this Western Michigan team like from Laramie?
GWG: Educated Wyoming fans generally have respect for the toughness of MAC schools whether in football or basketball, and know schools from the league have the tendency to beat big named schools. I'm not sure how familiar the fans are with Western Michigan but I assume the fans expect one of the better non-conference opponents to visit Laramie this season based on the Broncos record and winning their first round game against a tough North Dakota State team, a program the Pokes barely escaped last year in the CBI.
BB: Leonard Washington seems like an absolute beast down low, but it looks like he's been struggling through some back problems recently. Do you think he plays on Monday? If so, can he still be a significant factor in the game?
GWG: Not sure the status of Leonard Washington and he is said to be day-to-day. If Washington is 100%, he is an absolute difference maker in the games he's played. One of the top five players in the Mountain West and league's top defender when healthy. Leonard hasn't been full go since early February and it's effected the Cowboys. He may play, though not sure he'll be at his maximum. He can be effective less than healthy but not nearly as dominating.
BB: Prediction time: Who do you have and why?
GWG: I'll give the edge to the Cowboys because the game is in Laramie, which is not an easy place to travel and at 7200 feet above sea level effects opponents. The key could be how well Washington plays or if he plays, and who shoots better between the Cowboys and Broncos.
I see the team that is more motivated to move on in the tournament having an important edge, which is tough to call sometimes. Since Wyoming is playing at home and doesn't have to deal with the travel issues, I'll give them the edge, though it wouldn't surprise me, if this game went either way.
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