Posted on: February 22, 2012 8:30 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 12:40 am

Poppin' Bubbles: Avoiding bad losses is key

Wyoming saw its bubble burst with an overtime loss at San Diego State. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

Tuesday was a prove-it day for bubble teams, as seven of them played ranked teams and another two had to pass road tests. Only three teams out of that group came out victorious. Wednesday is another huge night for bubblers, but in a different ways. Only a few have a chance to get statement wins, but nearly a dozen teams have to avoid bad losses. With so many different things at stake, we’ve expanded our categories too. 

Note: This page will be updated throughout the night, with bubble discussion and analysis. 

Status quo

Purdue: The Boilermakers didn’t suffer the same fate as Illinois over the weekend, throttling Nebraska out of the gate en route to an 83-65 win. The win moves the Boilermakers to 8-7 in the Big Ten heading into their final stretch against Michigan, Penn State and Indiana. If Purdue can get one of the two road games (Michigan, Indiana), it will feel awfully comfortable heading into the conference tournament.

Memphis: The Tigers suffered a really bad loss at home over the weekend to UTEP, so they could not afford to lose another questionable game. That wasn't a problem, as Memphis handled East Carolina with ease in the second half. The Tigers also took over first place in the league standings after Southern Miss' loss, but their Selection Sunday fate will be decided down the stretch. They have road trips to Marshall and Tulsa sandwiched around a home against UCF. The Tigers need to prove themselves in those three games.

Iowa State: Heading into a very difficult three-game stretch to finish the season, the Cyclones needed to beat Texas Tech on Wednesday to get to 10 wins in the Big 12. It wasn't as easy as expected, but they still dominated the final 10 minutes en route to an 18-point win. With road games at Kansas State and Missouri and a home date with Baylor still on the docket, Iowa State will have chances to seal its bid. One win would make the Cyclones feel pretty good.

Hurt itself

West Virginia
: The Mountaineers hung with Notre Dame for a half, but the Fighting Irish came out of the break with a bang and simply ran away with the game. The loss is West Virginia's sixth defeat in eight games, and drops them to 7-8 in the conference. On Friday, Marquette comes to Morgantown in a game that would really solidify the Mountaineers' at-large hopes. If they drop that one, they need to win the final two games of the regular season and then do some damage in the league tourney.

Southern Miss: Things are getting dicey for the Golden Eagles. They survived a loss to Houston over the weekend and remained in pretty good shape, but Wednesday's double-overtime loss to UTEP (by the way, when did the Miners become such a giant-killer?) moves them into suspect territory. They are now tied for second-place with Tulsa in the standings and have three sub-100 losses. Southern Miss has to survive its next two games -- Rice and SMU -- before the season finale against Marshall. The Golden Eagles are still in, but nowhere near as safe. 

South Florida: Despite a gaudy Big East record, the biggest knock on the Bulls is their lack of good wins and their soft conference schedule. They jumped out to a double-digit lead at Syracuse, but couldn't make plays late in the game and fell short. They are now 10-5 in the league with three games left. They have Cincinnati, Louisville and West Virginia remaining -- two of them coming at home -- so there are still chances. Right now, though, one good win over Seton Hall isn't getting it done.

Saint Joseph's: The Hawks were one of the final teams out of the bracket this week, but that will change next week after their loss at home to Richmond, which came into Wednesday with an RPI nearing 150. Unless the Hawks beat Temple and St. Bonaventure to finish the season and then get a couple quality wins in the Atlantic 10 tournament, Phil Martelli's club won't have a happy Selection Sunday.

Minnesota: Farewell, at-large hopes. The Golden Gophers have now lost four in a row and six of their last eight, and suffering a heartbreaking loss to Michigan State. Tubby Smith's troops had the game in their grasp, but completely malfunctioned in the last three and a half minutes and will now be relegated to the NIT. Barring a crazy run the rest of the season, Minnesota is done. 

UCF: The talk of the Knights as an at-large team seemed to be jumping the gun a little bit in the past couple weeks, and Wednesday's horrible second-half loss to Rice pushes them further out of the field. They now drop to a fourth-place tie in the league standings, and still have to go to Memphis in next-to-last game of the season. 14 of their 17 wins are sub-100. 

Still alive

The Flyers made it into several brackets this week on the basis of their seven top-100 wins and victories over Temple and Saint Louis. However, they are only one questionable loss from falling from the picture. They survived on Wednesday, going on the road and beating Duquesne. They still probably need to win their final three regular-season games.

The Thundering Herd shook off a double-digit first half deficit to dominate Houston in the second half. It is their third straight win, and with chances sitll remaining against Memphis and Southern Miss, Marshall has the opportunity to play itself into the league title -- and at-large -- race.

Drexel: The Dragons still have plenty of work to do to move into consideration for an at-large berth, but the Dragons stayed alive with a win over James Madison. An outright regular-season title could really help their profile, so they need to win at Old Dominion on Saturday and also hope George Mason drops one to VCU.

VCU: Like Drexel, VCU just needs to keep winning and hope quantity of wins is enough for the Selection Committee. The Rams survived a trip to UNC-Wilmington on Wednesday night, and now get a shot at co-league leader George Mason this weekend. A win there and a Drexel loss to Old Dominion would give the Rams a share of the regular-season title.

LSU: The Tigers popped on the radar in the past week, and they kept their winning ways going with a victory over Georgia on Wednesday. That's now four straight victories for the Tigers, leaving them 7-6 in the SEC -- good enough for fourth in the conference standings. If they can win out in the regular season, LSU will have an interesting at-large case. It owns wins over Marquette, Alabama and Mississippi State.

Bubble Popped

The Cowboys looked like they were about to revive their at-large hopes by leading at San Diego State for most of the game. However, the Aztecs tied it late and then dominated the overtime period. Wyoming is now 4-7 in the Mountain West and in sixth place. Their at-large hopes are likely gone. 

Ole Miss:
The Rebels have completely fallen off since getting some serious consideration a couple weeks back. Their 13-point loss at Tennessee on Wednesday night was their third in a row, and fifth in their last six games. Barring an amazing run to -- at least -- the SEC title game, no NCAA for them. 

La Salle: If the Explorers could have won out and then done damage in the conference tournament, they had a chance. Their overtime loss to Temple on Wednesday ends their at-large hopes.  

George Mason: The Patriots can still win a share of the CAA title with a win over VCU this weekend and a Drexel loss, but their loss at Northeastern on Wednesday night ruins their at-large hopes. Despite their 14 CAA wins, they have just two top-100 wins and four sub-100 losses. 

Posted on: January 24, 2012 2:14 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 3:06 pm

It took SDSU 20 hours to get to Laramie

By Gary Parrish, Jeff Goodman

Steve Fisher told the San Diego Tribune on Sunday that his team's chartered flight for tonight's game at Wyoming had the "potential to be a huge advantage." It was just the second charter in the program's history.

Turns out, it's just been a huge pain in the ass.

“Landed to get gas and now we’re stuck in the snow,” SDSU's Garrett Green Tweeted Monday. “Not looking good.”

Credit Green with an accurate assessment.

The 13th-ranked Aztecs left San Diego around 2:30 p.m. Monday and got stuck in Cedar City, Utah after they were grounded by a snowstorm while stopping to refuel.

"We tried to land and refuel in St. George, but the weather was so bad we had to land in Cedar City," San Diego State spokesman Darin Wong told CBSSports.com on Tuesday afternoon.

They checked-in at a Cedar City hotel, spent the night there and finally reached Laramie today around 1:30 p.m. ET after another stop to refuel, this one in Grand Junction, Colo. That was, as the San Diego Tribune's Mark Zeigler put it, about 20 hours after they left San Diego and just seven hours before their 8:30 p.m. ET tip at Wyoming's Arena-Auditorium.

"Our guys seem to be taking it in stride," Wong said. "Their spirits are high." 

Wong said Fisher scrapped the team's scheduled shootaround, allowing the players to rest in their hotel room prior to the game. The team will get to the arena about 30 minutes before normal so the players can get up extra shots. 

So are the Aztecs about to take their first MWC loss?

Man, I don't know.

But they've got an excuse if they do.
Posted on: May 27, 2011 10:51 am
Edited on: May 27, 2011 10:54 am

Wyoming's Shyatt slams coaching 'sellouts'

Posted by Eric Angevine

In spring and summer - the time when college hoops goes on the back burner for most sports fans - it pays to keep an ear to the ground. Or, more realistically, to stuff one's RSS reader with so many local newspaper feeds that even blips of salient information end up being read.

That's how the Wyoming Tribune Eagle ended up in my purview, and that's where I read this tidbit, from new University of Wyoming head coach Larry Shyatt, who came back to Laramie to a job he held previously in 1997-98. Shyatt left to become head coach at Clemson and also served as an assistant at Florida from 2004-2011. Wyoming beat reporter Robert Gagliardi asked Shyatt how it felt to be back in charge of recruiting at the MWC level after having been in the power conference world for so long, and got this interesting answer:

"Coaches are under a great deal of pressure to make a couple of key decisions. One, do I go after the most amount of talent that the eyes tell me and maybe look the other way in terms of either academics or value system? Or do I try to get a better combination?

As much as I want to win and as much as I distaste losing, I can assure you I'm not going to look the other way. That's not a direction I'm comfortable with. Early in my career I was confronted with some of those decisions. It's a lot easier now for me."

Gagliardi: Why is that easier for you now?

"I would say it's mostly been me. It's mostly been my distaste for the BCS-level basketball world.

Most of the people I admired most in my career I don't really admire anymore. (F)or the analysts or the writers or the public or our wives, sometimes, they have a warm, fuzzy feeling for some people that if they knew what I knew, they wouldn't have such a warm, fuzzy feeling. It's disappointing. I'm one of the few basketball dinosaurs. I love the profession. It hurts me to see at that level the sellouts in that regard."

Shyatt's no dummy. He doesn't come right out and say who he's labeling a 'sellout', or which coaches have fallen from grace in his estimation, but he does the next best thing. He gives Gagliardi a list of coaches he does admire. "The people I talk the most to, whether I'm looking for advice or friends, would be (current UW assistant head coach) Scott Duncan. Matt Driscoll, Donnie Jones, Anthony Grant, Billy Donovan in the Florida family. Then Rick Barnes, Gary Colson and probably Herb Sendeck and Jeff Van Gundy." Within the MWC, he cites Air Force head coach Jeff Reynolds as his closest friend.

Famous people often do such a good job of managing their images that we in the general public have no idea what they're really like. Top-level basketball coaches are essentially celebrities, who spend much of their time selling a persona to recruits, donors and the general public. It's interesting to hear from a coach who's been to the mountaintop (two national championships as a Florida assistant) and come back home to finish his career, reveal that some of those sterling faces might be just masks.

Wyoming is always going to be a tough place to recruit, no matter who's coaching there, so it'll be interesting to see how far Shyatt gets with his stated commitment to doing things the honest way.

Photo: Getty Images
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 21, 2011 10:07 am
Edited on: February 21, 2011 1:27 pm

Coach Speak: Billy Clyde Gillispie to Wyoming?

Could Billy Gillispie make his coaching comeback at Wyoming?

Posted by Eric Angevine

Coaching Search

I’m happy to report that, as of this morning, no other coaches have been fired. Wyoming’s Heath Schroyer is the only DI head man to be sent packing in such a disrespectful – and, it should be said, damaging to the school’s reputation – manner. I thought today I’d look and see who the locals are hoping to hear from regarding the vacancy.

Robert Gagliardi, who writes the Cowboy Chronicles blog for the Laramie Boomerang, lists former Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie (above), current Kansas assistant Joe Dooley, Florida assistant Larry Shyatt and BYU assistant Dave Rice. Let’s rate the likelihood of each:

Billy Gillispie: Low

I firmly believe Billy Clyde will coach again, and probably do quite well, but this is not the job for him. Things went wrong for Gillispie – a native Texan -- the minute he stepped foot outside of his home state. Even a great recruiter is going to have difficulty selling the high plains experience to talented players. Gillispie seems tailor-made for C-USA, where image rehabilitation is all the rage.

Joe Dooley: Low

Slick-haired Dooley is Bill Self’s top assistant, and as such, he can afford to wait for an offer from a front-running mid-major program. He was considered for several low-profile rebuilding jobs over the summer and chose to stay at KU. He’s probably much better off waiting out the Jayhawks’ tourney run and hoping for a shot at an established bracket buster.

Larry Shyatt: Medium

Bringing back a former head coach to the same job is not unheard of (see South Alabama’s Ronnie Arrow) but it is incredibly rare. Shyatt left Wyoming on a high note in 1998 to take over for Rick Barnes at Clemson, and is now a highly valued assistant to Billy Donovan at Florida, but he is a little over a month away from his sixtieth birthday, and may be interested in returning to Laramie to finish out his career.

Dave Rice: Medium

This is another case of an assistant who might be better off waiting for a better gig. The factors in favor of jumping now include the fact that BYU is headed to the WCC next season, and the certainty that the Cougars have all eyes on them as the Jimmer Fredette era winds up. It could be tough to decide how best to use that mojo.

Interestingly enough, Rice was the only member of this short list who responded to Gagliardi’s inquiries. His email was as noncommittal as you’d expect, but it was a response:

I was part of 2 interim staffs during my 11 years as an assistant at UNLV and so I understand that Coach Langley and his staff are working hard to help the players have a strong finish to their season.  In my mind there is currently a staff in place at Wyoming.  The players and staff don’t need the distraction of coaching speculation.  While I know that is inevitable, I have always made it a point to never comment on a job that is not available.  Likewise my entire focus now is helping Coach Rose and our staff prepare our team to play TCU on Saturday.

Coach Langley is Frank Langley, who was named the interim coach when Schroyer was fired. Interim coaches rarely take over full-time, and the scenario that seems most likely is that Wyoming will court some rainmakers, though they will give Langley the courtesy interview. Obviously, nobody is going to express open interest in the job as long as there's basketball left to play, so the value of making the early move seems negligible, if it exists at all.

Obviously, I can't rank any current candidate as High probability. This is a tough job in a conference in flux, and a coach with juice isn't going to be thrilled at the notion of working for an employer who just pulled the rug out from under another member of the coaching fraternity. Someone will eventually take the job, but this has the potential to be an embarrassing, drawn-out process for the Cowboys brass if they don't act decisively.

Quotable Coaches

Today's quotes belong to the coaches who made a twisted mess out of the top 5 this week.

"We had time to work on things when Rob was injured. There really wasn't an adjustment. There was an adjustment last year because of the timing. As a coaching staff, we adjusted at the first practice. This is who we have. This is how we have to push forward."

-Matt Painter still has to downplay the impact of Robbie Hummel's season-ending injury in the wake of a win over No. 2 Ohio State
"No one ever asked him to play in the low post before he got here. He couldn't catch the ball last year. Last year we never passed it to him. He could be unguarded and nobody would pass him the ball. Now people are frustrated because he's not finishing. Well, that means that someone is throwing him the ball. That's because guys are starting to trust him and he's learning how to play in there."

-Frank Martin talks about sophomore Jordan Henriquez' sudden emergence in a huge upset of No. 1 Kansas
"My hope was that by March we'd have a dangerous, scrappy, opportunistic team that could beat anybody in the country if they didn't bring their 'A' game or if they overlooked us. It appears we've hit that in late January and February."

-Steve Lavin discusses his rapid turnaround of St. John's following an upset of No. 4 Pitt

“With us making only four 3s, I'd have said ‘No way,' and I thought if it got out of the 50s, we'd be in trouble.''

-Nebraska coach Doc Sadler still can't believe his team's 70-67 home victory over No. 3 Texas

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: February 8, 2011 2:11 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2011 2:12 pm

Will Billy Gillispie find a home this summer?

Posted by MATT JONES

One of college basketball’s biggest recent mysteries has been the status of Billy Gillispie. The former Kentucky coach has been missing in action for two years since his dismissal in Lexington and his name has bizarrely never been seriously linked to any other job in the country in the interim. Even though we have seen coaching retreads churned out at a number of schools and the man they call Billy Clyde has publicly stated he wants to get back into the coaching game, no University has given him a call.  And unfortunately for Gillispie, it seems that few have even truly given him much consideration.


But all of that may be about to change. As after every season, a number of coaching vacancies will occur this year, and this particular group seems to be particularly compatible with Gillispie. The first actual opening took place this week when Wyoming dismissed Heath Schroyer and immediately a set of Wyoming fans went to Facebook to begin suggesting Gillispie as their future coach. His name has also been associated with what is likely to be an opening at Texas Tech, a school with a history of dealing with controversial coaches.


Gillispie is often seen as an attractive candidate at schools such as Wyoming and Texas Tech because they share a common environment to his previous successful stops. Like the schools where Gillispie made his coaching name, UTEP and Texas A&M, they have a Western sensibility and are primarily football schools with a quiet, low-pressure environment where the media spotlight is far from bright.


Contrast that with the basketball-crazed culture where Gillispie’s career took a stumble at Kentucky. The Wildcats job is not for everyone and with it comes likely the brightest local spotlight of any college coaching gig in America. The UK media glare is stronger than with many NBA franchises and Gillispie’s weaknesses, which include media interaction and the public figure role of a college coaching job, were highlighted to an extreme degree in such an environment. Combine those problems with a public perception that he was consistently aloof and could not interact well with fans and players, and UK-Gillispie were destined to be a failed public marriage.


The question then remains whether Gillispie’s problems at Kentucky were simply due to a bad fit or have greater resonance beyond the Big Blue Nation. Former Kentucky basketball player Mark Krebs recently did a long interview on his time playing for Gillispie at Kentucky and highlighted all the struggles the coach had in Lexington. He expressed surprise that the coach had not been hired yet for a new position but acknowledged that there were many troubling moments while at UK that would give him pause if he were an Athletic Director. However, he did say that in the end he would let a certain type of son (one that was not a stary player and was mentally tough)of his play for Gillispie despite all of his difficulties.


After his two-year flameout in Lexington, where Gillispie was fired not so much for his inability on the court but the problems off, it is easy to forget how successful he was at his previous stops. Billy Gillispie resurrected the UTEP basketball program from nothing and began a turnaround at Texas A&M that led the university not only to the Sweet 16, but to a relevancy nationally that it still enjoys today.


However that success has been forgotten by most of college basketball, who instead remember his captaincy of the only Kentucky team not to make the NCAA Tournament since 1991 and the embarrassing way in which he departed Lexington.  For two years, Gillispie has been unable to bounce back and find a way to re-enter the college basketball game at a University for which he is a better fit. This summer may change that as programs such as Wyoming and Texas Tech re-examine a program with Gillispie at the helm. If not, one has to wonder when he will ever find a way back into big-time college basketball or if that ship has unfortunately permanently sailed.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 7, 2011 7:12 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2011 1:45 am

Wyoming fires its head coach

Posted by Matt Norlander

We have our first in-season coaching casualty of 2011. Earlier today, according to SPORTSbyBROOKS, Wyoming Cowboys head coach Heath Schroyer notified to his team he was done coaching them.

A few hours after Brooks' report, the AP confirmed his story.

Wyoming athletic director Tom Burman sent out a release late Monday afternoon in which he said, "I regret having to make this decision to terminate Heath’s contract at this time, but I feel it is in the best interest of our program. We are grateful for the time Heath has been our coach."

With an 8-15 record overall and a 1-8 mark in the Mountain West this season, Wyoming wasn't even as good as its ledger might indicate, as two of the eight wins came against opponents who weren't Division-I caliber and the team was 0-9 away from home. One of the team's wins came against Centenary, which is 0-25, the only winless team remaining in D-I. The Cowboys haven't won since Jan. 8, a 67-66 win against New Mexico.

Here's Brooks' lede:
I’ve learned today that Heath Schroyer has been fired as head basketball coach at the University of Wyoming. The coach, who told his players of his ouster this afternoon in a team meeting, will be replaced for the balance of the season by associate head coach Fred Langley . Schroyer had three years on his contract remaining at a Mountain West-low $160,000 per season - all of which will be bought out by the school’s boosters.
Schroyer did have a winning season two years ago (19-14), but his overall record with the club ends at 49-68 since taking over.

As noted in the linked story, Schroyer's primary goal was to turn around a program that had a lot of academic and behavioral problems at the fundamental level. While it seems that was a success, everything else wasn't, so Schroyer's going to be seeking a new gig once the season ends.

Photo: AP

Category: NCAAB
Tags: firings, Wyoming
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com