Season Preview: CHD sits down with Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt

 Jon Teitel continues our season preview series by chatting with Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt about winning back-to-back titles as an assistant at Florida.


Last year you were 16-2 in non-conference play, does that give you extra hope when you head to Boulder and Columbus next month? It gives us better balance and “learning experience”. If you had asked me last October if I thought we would be ranked in the top-25…I think we both would have gotten a good chuckle out of that! We had a great start, then lost our top player Luke Martinez to a fistfight and just could not recover.

One of your assistant coaches is also named Shyatt, how do you like having your son Jeremy on your staff? I love it. It means a great deal to my wife and I because we have spent so much time away from our boys in the past. It is a thrill that only a father can understand. He can say things to me that the other assistants do not feel comfortable saying!

What are your expectations for the upcoming season? We chose to play nine seniors over the past two years so we are almost starting from scratch with a new group. We are better off seeing if we are getting better and doing the right things on and off the court.

In the 1987 NIT as an assistant at New Mexico under Coach Gary Colson, Eric Knox scored 15 points including a double-pump three-point shot off the glass with one second left in a three-point win by Oregon State in Albuquerque.  Where does that rank among the most amazing shots you have ever seen? After 39 years I have seen a lot…but that one was a dagger because it ended our season. We had a similar one last year at Lehigh.

In January 1989 as an assistant at Providence under Coach Rick Barnes, Sherman Douglas tied an NCAA record with 22 assists in a four-point win by Syracuse.  Did you try switching defenses or double-teaming him or was he just unstoppable that night? When Rick and I were in our mid-30s we were pretty stubborn and decided that we were going to run with Syracuse.  We went up and down like a cyclone and there were plenty of assists that night: Sherman just got a few more than the other players.

In the 1994 Big East tourney Rob Phelps scored 23 points (10-11 FG) in a two-point win over UConn.  Was it just one of those scenarios where every shot he put up seemed to go in because he was “in the zone”? I would not disagree with that. Everyone was so proud of Rob because he had lacked confidence for a long time, so it was fun to see him play well in front of the home crowd.

In the 1999 NIT title game in your 1st year as coach at Clemson, Geno Carlisle scored 16 points including a three-point play with 4.7 seconds left in a one-point win by Cal.  What was the reaction like in your locker room afterward? My reaction was the same as the rest of my team: I thought they should have called a charge. It is such a long season that it is an endurance contest, so I do not know if emotions are at such a high pitch at the end of the year: they just linger a little longer.

In 2006 and 2007 you won NCAA titles as an assistant at Florida under Coach Billy Donovan, what did it mean to you to win a pair of titles, and what makes Donovan such a great coach? Billy is a great person who puts family first, church second, and basketball third.  He does not have a lot of hobbies. It was truly a highlight for me because getting fired from a BCS school is a very hard thing to go through, and until the fireworks went off after the 2006 title you still have a chip on your shoulder.

In the 2010 NCAA tourney Jimmer Fredette tied a tourney-school record with 37 points in a win by BYU.  Where does Fredette rank among the greatest scorers you have ever seen? He is one of the best I have ever seen, along with Jay Williams at Duke. I told my team to never double or triple-team Williams because we were not good enough to stop him. We beat BYU the next year: thank god Jimmer was fatigued!

In the 2013 CBI Nathan Sobey scored 12 points including a three-point shot at the buzzer in a one-point win over Lehigh.  How much of a home-court advantage do you have while playing at an altitude over 7000’, and did it feel to get to host a postseason game and then only have 1500 fans show up because it was over spring break? I think 75% of home teams win in college basketball, although nobody can put a finger on it as to exactly why that is. A well-conditioned young person who travels her to play at our altitude will not feel right for about a week. I think the more the merrier in terms of a home crowd during the regular season, but when you are playing a game in March to continue your season I do not think it is as much of a factor.