Aug. 18, 2008
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
On Monday, the University of Wyoming announced its 2008-09 men's basketball schedule which is highlighted by 16 home games, a road game against UCLA and Saturday home games versus Colorado State, Utah, TCU and New Mexico.
"We are excited to offer 16 home games to our fans this season," said UW head coach Heath Schroyer. "It will be great to play a Final Four team in UCLA, a top ranked Missouri Valley Conference team in Casper like Northern Iowa and some other very good programs like Boise State and Loyola Marymount during the non-conference. We are also looking forward to renewing an old rivalry with Utah State by traveling to their tournament just after Christmas.
"I think that there is better balance on the schedule with some very good home and away games. I believe that this schedule will really benefit our RPI with the likes of UCLA, Loyola Marymount, Boise State and Utah State in addition to our conference schedule."
The non-conference schedule is highlighted by a Dec. 23 meeting on the road with UCLA, a team who has reached the Final Four in each of the past three seasons, while also winning the Pac-10 regular- season title in each of those years. The last time Wyoming faced the Bruins in basketball was in the second round of the 1987 NCAA Tournament. Behind 41 points from Fennis Dembo, the Cowboys won that game by a score of 78-68 to advance to the Sweet 16.
The Cowboys will have the luxury of playing their first six games of the season at home in the Arena-Auditorium. They will open the season with an exhibition game against the Colorado School of Mines on Sat., Nov. 8. The other November home games include meetings with Cal State Bakersfield, Prairie View A&M, Johnson & Wales, Texas State and Denver.
"I think that for this team to be able to play our first six games at home in the Arena-Auditorium will be big in a lot of ways," said Schroyer.
In addition to UCLA, the Cowboys will also face three other NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago in Boise State, BYU and UNLV. The Pokes will travel to Boise on Dec. 3 and play a home and home series in conference play with BYU and UNLV.
Another highlight will be the 2008 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Wyoming Shootout in Casper, Wyo. on Dec. 13. The Cowboys will face Northern Iowa, a Missouri Valley Conference team that reached the NCAA Tournament in 2004, `05 and `06.
The Mountain West Conference portion of the schedule features Saturday home games against Colorado State, Utah, TCU and New Mexico. During the conference season, 15 of UW's 16 games will be televised on either The Mtn. or CBS College Sports.
"The league is as strong as ever," said Schroyer. "It will feature a senior laden group with a lot of experience. Thirteen of the top-20 scorers from last year will be back this season. There is no doubt that UNLV, San Diego State and BYU will be very good teams. I truly feel the rest of the conference teams all have a chance to challenge for a spot in the top half of the league.
The Cowboys will welcome back four significant contributors, including three starters, from the 2007-08 season. The group will be led by senior Brandon Ewing, the MWC's leading scorer in each of the past two seasons.
"We are excited for the upcoming season," added Schroyer. "I think our talent has increased, we have better character and a better attitude. It will also be very nice to bring back four guys with a great deal of experience in Brandon Ewing, Tyson Johnson, Ryan Dermody and Mikhail Linskens.
"After having to sit out last season, we are really looking forward to getting Sean Ogirri and Djibril Thiam on the floor. Sean will be a big part of our team throughout the season, while Djibril will be eligible to compete at the end of the first semester after transferring from Baylor last December. We are also looking forward to bringing two redshirts into the lineup in Afam Muojeke and Adam Waddell. All four of these guys were able to practice with us last season and learn our system. They will contribute greatly this year."
The Cowboys will begin practice for the 2008-09 season on Fri., Oct. 17.