Aug. 24, 2007
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
With the beginning of a new school year comes the beginning of a new era for the University of Wyoming men's basketball program. First-year head coach Heath Schroyer welcomed six new recruits along with eight lettermen for the beginning of the fall semester at UW.
The six new recruits have all met their NCAA and University of Wyoming admissions requirements and are now enrolled at UW. The class includes: freshmen Afam Muojeke Of Jamaica Queens, N.Y.; Mikhail Linskens of West-Vlaanderen, Belgium; Marios Matalon of Thessaloniki, Greece; and Adam Wadell of Cody, Wyo. The other two members of Schroyer's first recruiting class at Wyoming are: Tyson Johnson from Blinn Community College in Texas and Sean Ogirri a transfer from Wichita State. Ogirri will have to sit out of competition this next year to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, but he will be able to practice with the team.
"It's an exciting time for me personally, for our coaching staff and for our players," said Schroyer, who originally coached at Wyoming as an assistant back in the 2001-02 season. "We're looking forward to a great year on and off the floor."
The six new recruits join a group of eight returning lettermen, led by one of the best backcourts in the country in junior Brandon Ewing and Brad Jones. Ewing led the Mountain West Conference and ranked 28th in the nation in scoring last season averaging 19.9 points per game. Jones was perhaps the most versatile guard in the MWC a year ago. He was the only player in the conference to rank in the Top Five in both scoring (18.1 ppg) and assists (4.5 apg).
"The thing that I've been most pleased with, in the short time we've been back here in Laramie, is our returning players," said Schroyer. "They've had a great work ethic this spring and summer in our conditioning program. All of our returning players attended summer school and did an outstanding job of focusing on their classwork.
"But maybe the most impressive thing I've seen is the way they've welcomed our new players to campus over the past couple of days. For Brandon (Ewing), Brad (Jones) and all the vets to help our new guys settle in and feel welcome is exciting to see. A team is kind of like a family -- there are going to be good times and difficult times but we're in this together. I believe our players are beginning to buy into that concept."
His first recruiting class is a very diverse group, including international players, a Wyoming native and two individuals who have previous college playing experience.
"First and foremost, I wanted to bring young men into this program who can succeed both on the court and in the classroom," said Schroyer. "All six members of our first recruiting class were initial NCAA academic qualifiers coming out of high school, which I believe is really important for the direction we want to go as a program. The other thing we had to balance was short-term needs and long-term goals. We were also looking for kids who really wanted to be at the University of Wyoming, while at the same time understood the responsibility that went with wearing the Brown and Gold.
"In recruiting players to fit into our system, it is important to me to recruit perimeter players who can shoot. With our four freshmen, we were able to sign one guard, one wing player, a four-five player (power forward-center) and one five (center). Those four young men will be the staple of this program over the next four to five years. At the same time, we were able to meet some short-term needs with the addition of Tyson Johnson and Sean Ogirri. Tyson has proven at a high level that he can score. He also has the physical abilities to play both inside and outside. The addition of Sean Ogirri is really, really big for this program. Even though he has to sit out of competition this year, he will push our other players in practice, and a year from now when Brad Jones graduates, Sean can help fill that role on our team."
Schroyer said the team will begin lifting and conditioning four days a week in the mornings. The NCAA also allows individual workouts between players and coaches, and that will begin as soon as allowed. Practice as a complete team is not allowed until Oct. 12
"We have a lot to do this fall," added Schroyer. "Although we have a number of key players returning, everything will be new to everybody as we install our new offensive and defensive systems. Offensively, we will be changing from a three-out, two-in offense like our veterans were used to last year to a four-out, one-in motion offense with only one post player. Our offense will involve a lot of screening, cutting and ball movement. We want to get up and down the floor, but we want to be disciplined in our shot selection.
"Defensively, we're going to be primarily a man-to-man defense. We want to try and extend the floor as much as possible after made baskets.
"Finally, we need to build a mindset that we can win on the road, and our players have to learn how to do that. Winning on the road requires understanding that we have to take good shots, and we have to defend. My philosophy is built around getting as many high-percentage shots as we can on offense and limiting high-percentage shots by our opponents."
The Cowboys first game of the 2007-08 season will be an exhibition against Regis University in Laramie on Saturday, Nov. 3 at 3:30 p.m.