Clipboard Conversations: Larry Shyatt, new Wyoming head coach

20 Jun

By Josh Baker
National Hoops Report

Larry Shyatt is the new head coach at Wyoming, returning to the school where he coached for one season in the late 1990s. The former Clemson head coach and Florida assistant spoke to the National Hoops Report for another edition of Clipboard Conversations.

National Hoops Report: You have talked openly about the fact that you were in a very comfortable situation at the University of Florida. Why did you want to leave that comfort zone in Gainesville and how successful you guys were on a consistent basis to take on a challenge like the one in Laramie at the University of Wyoming?

Larry Shyatt: “I don’t think anybody ever leaves a comfortable, enjoyable and successful situation without thinking twice. Pam and I wanted to end our basketball coaching career with a heck of a challenge and people that we trust. These people (Wyoming) were wonderful to us, gave us our first opportunity 13 years ago, and never felt good about how we left and want to turn this around and making Wyoming competitive again.”

NHR: How much of the decision to go to the University of Wyoming and take on this challenge had to do with the fact that the landscape of the Mountain West has begun to change considerably?

LS: “The landscape and dynamics of the league has changed considerably in the last ten years, I’m a old WAC guy, with those teams. Over the last decade, the WAC and the Mountain West has taken different shape, but that had nothing to do with me taking this opportunity. I have always respected the league and continue to do so.”

NHR: We now know that five players have left the Wyoming program since your arrival, however you have also added what seems to be a talented group of five new players to the program. Tell us a little bit about that group of guys and what you are looking for from them.

LS: “We have to start by talking about what we came into here and changing the culture and identifying with aggressiveness, discipline and unselfishness. We talked about the definition of insanity, which is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Honestly, we had some young men who weren’t comfortable with those changes and we did lose four or five very talented young men, however at same time, in a short period of time we were able to add some great additions. We were able to meet with families, some of them multiple times and we were able to bring a classy dedicated group to Laramie.”

NHR: I don’t want to spend too much time on this subject, however can you speak to the comments you made about the difference between BCS level recruiting that you have witnessed and the type of recruiting you want you to participate in at Wyoming?

LS: “Lets be perfectly clear that my comments centered around my love of the game of college basketball and working with young athletes, but my disappointments the way in which many of my colleagues are forced to put themselves in because of pressures to win.”

NHR: You have gathered a great group of assistants to your staff, Can you talk about each one of them and what they bring to the table and how they can help make an immediate difference for Wyoming Basketball?

LS: “I think the most important variable in any successful company, that team or family is all the working parts. I first complement our Athletic Director Thom Burman, for me to have the budget to hire these coaches. Scott Duncan, who is a longtime friend and successful assistant at all stops (UCLA Oregon, etc.) and is old school in terms of work ethic and working with players. Allen Edwards, who is synonymous with winning as a player at Kentucky,  two National Championships and third runner up in the Final Four and comfortable with him handling our defense, just like he did for Anthony Grant at VCU. And every fathers dream is to coach with their son and Jeremy has had the experience from South Carolina to East Carolina to VCU and an assistant at North Florida. Greg Zhelesnik (Director of Basketball Operations) has been by my side for over two years helping me with all video needs at the University of Florida. Last but certainly not least, Wes Long who we captured from UCLA, he is our full time strength coach and not far from assistant basketball coach in the not so distant future.”

NHR: Very rarely does a father have the opportunity to coach his son, let alone have the opportunity to coach with his son. Can you talk about the opportunity you have to have Jeremy on the bench with you at Wyoming for your second go around?

LS: “Well, coaches by and large don’t spend the amount of time and don’t spend the time we want with our children during our coaching careers. It is a special time for our family and a very comforting feeling. I have the confidence in his ability to coach and more importantly the confidence in his ability to make adult decisions and that’s what I am most proudest about my partnership with him.”

NHR: Last question, we have asked all coaches during this Clipboard Conversation, What is the DNA of a true competitor in your opinion?

LS: “Well, I would probably start with a work ethic and an ability to understand teamwork and commitment. In our game, a competitor may be different than in an individual sport, and the importance of putting winning absolutely paramount in our sport, is absolutely the difference. What comes to mind is the 04’s at UF who won back to back National Championships (Noah, Horford, Green, Brewer, etc.), they always put winning before anything individually. It dominated their mindset, preparation, work ethic and most of all, individual goals they had.”

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