NCAA Seattle: Larry Shyatt, Wyoming Players

The Wyoming head coach and players talk about the Cowboys 71-54 loss to Northern Iowa in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Seattle...


THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with an opening statement from Coach and then take questions for the student-athletes.

COACH SHYATT: Well, the last one's always hard unless the streamers come down. First thing out of my mouth is definitely going to be compliments to Northern Iowa. They're terrific. I always thought if we could keep these guys in the low 60s we would have a chance, but to do that, they can't knock those shots in that they did. I am so proud, I told these guys they have set so many records and ones that count, actually, like academic records and things that really matter, besides wins and championships. But I told them the most impressive thing for me personally was to be down 21 going to 50 for them to fight like heck and get back together and knock in a shot to cut it to seven. At that point, if you want to one the game, with six or seven to play, they got to miss a few. And you know what, kudos to them, Washpun and Jeperson hit some big shots. I love these guys. I trust these guys. These guys are going to really be successful when they leave Wyoming. And our senior class are all going to graduate in May; that makes me proud too.

THE MODERATOR: Take questions for the student-athletes, please.

Q. Larry, obviously it's tough for all you guys. I guess when it comes down to it, what did this season mean to you to go out this way?
COACH SHYATT: Well, they went out as champions. That's how this season went. These guys went out as champions. They played the ninth ranked team in the nation, and we're very proud of that.

LARRY NANCE JR.: I've had the best four years.

THE MODERATOR: Next question.

Q. Riley, I know it was tough, but when you guys were able to make that run, what changed? Larry made some baskets there, kind of consecutively, but what kind of changed that enabled you to go on that run to cut the lead?
RILEY GRABAU: We played defense and rebounded. Coach's big emphasis at halftime was don't get outrebounded. Guards got to rebound. We got to be more physical and a better team. I think we were for a small part of that game. You got to give them credit, like Coach said. They hit big shots, and we didn't get the stops to be able to get a win.

Q. You mentioned they would have to miss some shots. Did they hit some tough shots, or did you feel like your defense was there and they made shots?
COACH SHYATT: I thought Washpun's were on our terms. He had to put it on the deck, step back a few times, and he knocked in two or three big shots. Jesperson's was a down screen and we were late on the switch. They still have to go in. And we were fortunate on that Cinderella run in Vegas. The other guys missed some shots. So, it's a combination of good defense, missing shots. This is a really, really good team, a really well-coached team, and an ultra disciplined team. When we did cut it to seven, there was very little rattle by them.

Q. Junior, you didn't have to come back this season, but you did. What did it mean to you to be a part of a run like this?
CHARLES HANKERSON JR.: I'm just so thankful to get this opportunity. I've never in my life been around a group like this, a group who genuinely loves each other. I'm so thankful. I wish I had more to give the university. I'm just very thankful right now.

Q. Junior, I know that points were tough to come by in the first half, but you made four threes to keep this team in the game. What did you see that they -- you just knocked down the shots that you've knocked down in practice and in games before? What did you see that enabled you to make some shots there?
CHARLES HANKERSON JR.: It was my teammates constantly believing in me all season. There was a lot of highs and lows for us, but we just kept fighting. This team fights no matter what. I'm just so sad that it's over, man.

Q. You mentioned how much pride you have for these seniors, not just on the hardwood but academics as well. Can you elaborate on that. A lot of crowd support here from Wyoming. Just how proud are you for their support for these student-athletes?
COACH SHYATT: Let's start with the crowd. The weather's a little bit better than it was in January and February. They like Vegas, and they got to Seattle. So I think a lot of people, maybe a little envy in our league because a lot of people found out there's a lot of brown and gold who care. What was the first part of the question? I'm getting old.

Q. You mentioned the pride.
COACH SHYATT: Yeah, I got it. When I interviewed for this job four years ago, they weren't talking National Championships. Can you find some guys that want to be a piece? Can you clean things up? You got about a 1.9 GPA; that's not something to be proud of. We have got eight straight semesters over a 2.8. And we don't have all geniuses. They work hard, they care, and they want to be at Wyoming, which is impressive nowadays. But they were able to do both, which is a coach's dream. They were able to be good human beings and have their priorities right, and they were able to play pretty good basketball and win a championship, which hadn't been done for a long time.

Q. It was a close game and then they had a 11-1 run late in the first half. What was going on there that they were able to get it to the double digits?
COACH SHYATT: I think that, if memory serves me correct, we mishandled about three or four. They grabbed the ball and they really forced three or four turnovers and converted them. Like I said before, I think the most impressive thing to me, the thing probably I'll always remember about this team, because it's synonymous with who they are, the entire team, we're down 21, I'm telling you, I have seen a lot of my friends groups crushed. These guys weren't crushed. When they made it a seven-point game with about six or seven to play, I mean, there's more than enough time, but you have to continue to crusade. Like I said, I would rather compliment Northern Iowa than criticize and get fined.

Q. You talk about how these seniors really changed the culture of Wyoming and some would say maybe turned it into a basketball school. Can you talk about how supportive the fans were and how times have changed for Wyoming basketball.
COACH SHYATT: Yeah, I was disappointed once in a while during the season because you forget when that white stuff comes down and the streets freeze -- Wyoming's pretty spread out, but what we all found out is, in some tough times, with oil not doing quite like we would like, it was a great rallying point. And, boy, did they come out to Vegas and, boy, did they come out here. I wish we could have given them more. These guys wish we could have given them more, but I don't know if there was any more in the tank. It's a pretty good ball club we played today. Really, really well coached.

Q. I wanted to ask you Jake ran a lot of substitutions there in the first half, and it seemed like his guys had fresher legs. Could you sense your guys a little -- as hard as they were playing with their legs, maybe getting a little tired?
COACH SHYATT: No. I think he's done that all year. We watched about 11 or 12 tapes. He was playing nine and he was subbing in the first five minutes of almost every game. They did really good at that. We won a championship in three straight nights. We played similarly. We trained at altitude, the highest in America, 7500 feet above sea level. I don't think fatigue was a factor; I don't think we would have cut that thing from 21 to 7.

Q. You spoke a lot about what this team means to you and doing things the right way. How much are you just going to miss this group and how much will you cherish this season?
COACH SHYATT: I'm going to miss coaching them on the floor, but I'm not going to miss them. I'm not that old. We're going to spend some good times together and we're going to share some more successes down the road.

Q. Larry Nance, what kind of change were you able to get your shots? You looked a little bit frustrated, maybe a little bit tentative, and maybe talk about that and talk about what is the biggest thing you take from this experience here in Seattle.
LARRY NANCE JR.: My teammates did a great job of finding me. Coach did a great job of drawing up the plays. I had the easy part. Just throw the ball in the hoop. This has been a blast. I love these guys, the entire organization. So I can't put it to words how important this has been to me and how much fun.

THE MODERATOR: All right, thank you very much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


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