March 31, 2009
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The 2008-09 season was a very special one for the Cowboy basketball program. Not only did the Cowboys reach at least 19 wins for the 25th time in school history, they also had the best season by a Wyoming team since 2002-03 and reached the postseason for the 23rd time in school history.
The Cowboys concluded the 2008-09 season with a 19-14 (.576) overall record. The season was highlighted by a trip to the semifinals of the Mountain West Conference tournament, as well as an invitation to the postseason and the College Basketball Invitational.
The Cowboys earned their spot in the MWC semifinals with an upset win over New Mexico, one of the Mountain West Conference's Tri-Champions, in the first round of the MWC Tournament. That marked the sixth time in 10 years that the Cowboys have advanced to at least the semifinals of the conference tournament. In MWC regular-season play, the Cowboys won seven games and matched the most wins in league play by a Wyoming team since the conference expanded to nine teams prior to 2005-06.
On the year, the Cowboys beat four different teams that advanced to the postseason. In addition to their MWC tournament win over NIT-bound New Mexico, the Cowboys beat Northern Iowa on a neutral floor in Casper, Wyo. UNI won the Missouri Valley Conference and received an automatic NCAA Tournament berth where they gave Sweet-16 bound Purdue all they could handle in a 61-56 first round loss. The Cowboys also beat San Diego State and UNLV at home, each of whom advanced to the National Invitation Tournament. The Aztecs are currently playing in the Semifinals of the NIT in Madison Square Garden.
In looking toward the future, the Cowboys are poised to continue where they left off as the Wyoming program enters its third season under head coach Heath Schroyer.
"This season was obviously a big step for our program both on and off of the floor, which is evident in our postseason bid," Schroyer said. "We are very excited about the things we have accomplished during our first two years, but we are more excited about what is on the horizon."
The Cowboys will welcome back two starters and three other significant contributors from that 19-win team. Led by the 2008-09 MWC Freshman of the Year, Afam Muojeke, the Cowboys return a core of talented players. Included in that mix will be senior Ryan Dermody, junior Djibril Thiam and two sophomores, A.J. Davis and Adam Waddell.
The Cowboys will also receive a nice boost as two transfers will be eligible in 2009-10. Sophomores JayDee Luster and Boubacar Sylla, who each sat out and redshirted this past season, are two very talented young players. Luster, who will assume the point-guard reigns, transferred to UW from New Mexico State. Sylla, a 7-2 center with a 7-5 wingspan, came to Wyoming from Auburn.
Another player that the coaching staff is excited to get into the mix is guard Arthur Bouëdo. Bouëdo was sidelined in 2008-09 due to a preseason ankle injury.
The Cowboys signed three student-athletes during the fall signing period including Michael Dietz, Thomas Manzano and Amath M'Baye. Dietz, a Casper, Wyo. native, was named the 2009 Gatorade Wyoming Player of the Year after leading Casper Natrona to the 2009 Wyoming State Championship. Manzano, who is transferring to UW from Garden City Community College in Garden City, Kan., had a tremendous freshman season. Manzano was named to the All-Tournament Team of the NJCAA National Championships after averaging 26.0 points a game in the tournament. By scoring 104 points in the tournament, he led all players in scoring. That included a 38-point performance in Garden City's opening round win. M'Baye averaged 18.0 points and 9.7 rebounds a game at Stoneridge Prep this past season.
"When you look at our roster for next year, we will potentially have one senior, one junior and 11 underclassmen," Schroyer added. "I believe the key to winning in this conference is to assemble a group of guys that will be together for three to four years, and we have done that. With that, we have been able to balance our short-term needs and our long-term goals. I believe this is the way to build a program for the long term, and I am very excited about what we have done."
Schroyer also announced that two Cowboys, sophomore Mikhail Linskens and junior Mahamoud Diakite, have decided to leave school to pursue professional careers overseas. Both players will finish the spring semester and leave UW in good academic standing.
Due to those departures, the Cowboys will be able to sign two more players during the spring to complete the 2009-10 roster.