Since Edwards first season with the program in 2011, Wyoming has had 5 20-win seasons, 2 were with him as the head coach.
Wyoming’s 8 wins in 18-19 were the lowest total since 1973
Last season was a disaster, there is no way around it. The Cowboys stumbled to an 8-24 record and were uncompetitive for huge chunks of the year. With an abnormal amount of transfers, injuries and off the court issues, Allen Edwards spent much of the season unable to run full drills in practice. Is Edwards to blame for all of these issues or was it possibly a series of unfortunate coincidences?
The Cowboys were 43-28 in Edwards first 2 seasons
In addition to having the best 2-year start in program history, Edwards was highly responsible for recruiting one of the best players to ever suit up at UW, Justin James. With Jeremy Shyatt by his side, they were able to build off of the lackluster season of Josh Adams and Larry Shyatt’s final season (14-18).
Rightfully so, Edwards wanted to place his own stamp on the program. The coach decided that it was important to recruiting and an advantage at the school to change to a more uptempo style. In his first season, the style was a refreshing change but the inability to improve the second season (20-13) started to cause some grumbling among the faithful. I get it, it’s frustrating going from having one of the top defenses in the nation to having one of the worst shooting teams in the country but it increased their recruiting profile.
Many players have passed through Laramie without hanging their coat at the door.
Let’s take a look at a few guys who have passed through.
Wyoming snagged four-star forward Brodricks Jones as well as 3-star guard Anthony Mack. Jones and Mack (transferred to Miami) didn’t last long. Tariq Johnson and Trace Young were good pickups from Mt. Zion Prep in Maryland. Johnson had a heart condition that ended his playing career before it started and Young took his successful freshman season and moved to John A. Logan CC.
Ny Redding was dismissed for an off the court issue, a charge he was eventually found not guilty of in court. Players entering and exiting the program before they spend any considerable time in the program leaves a bad perception of the philosophy.
Shyatt loved to recruit Colorado and valued players who were committed to the entire development cycle while Edwards has seemed to look for a higher upside athlete with more risks. When you pull players further from home, it’s easier to lose them. The high attrition rate within the program has caused the team to lack depth. So far, the risk-reward relationship has been more negative than positive.
Wyoming will be much better this season
The 2019-20 Wyoming Cowboys have a lot of holes in their roster right now, primarily size and depth. That being said, I don’t see the Pokes finishing 10th in the conference again. The Sophomore Hunters, Thompson, and Maldonado, are being overlooked. Maldonado was expected to be one of the top guards in the conference last year before injuries forced him into a medical redshirt while Thompson had some growing pains but still managed 8.8 ppg. I expect a huge jump from Thompson with his year to get stronger and hopefully get some help in the interior while Maldonado is one of the more explosive guards in the conference when healthy.
Wyoming’s leading returning scorer is senior Jake Hendricks (10.8 ppg, 40.6% 3pt). Hendricks was still an offensive threat despite playing the last 11 games with a torn LCL. It was painful watching him try to defend on the perimeter last season but his defense should be much improved with 2 healthy knees.
If AJ Banks continues his growth from the end of his junior season to lead at the point and one of the new bigs 6-9 220 junior Tyler Morman or 6-11 230 freshman Javier Turner become a rim protector, you have a team that could finish in the top 6. Trevon Taylor and Brandon Porter have great size and while it’s unfortunate that injuries forced them into burning their redshirts, they were able to get great experience last season and should be solid contributors. Austin Mueller returns from a torn ACL and the Cowboys add Kenny Foster from Aurora, CO (Smoky Hill) and Kwane Marble from Denver (East) to add to the Colorado pipeline.
Don’t overreact to one bad season
Wyoming basketball doesn’t have 8-24 seasons but a perfect storm allowed for it to finally happen. There are a lot of pieces in this program and if they come together the way they can, there is no question they can be a top 6 program. Coming off a miserable 8 win season, they are being overlooked and that should be expected. I have no doubt in my mind that Wyoming will not finish 10th in the conference in 2019-20.