Getting teams to play in Laramie no small task for Linder and Co.
LARAMIE -- If you don't think Jeff Linder is trying to bring quality non-conference opponents to Laramie, you'd be wrong.
Bottom line: It's not easy.
In fact, Wyoming's second-year head coach said location -- along with 7,220 feet of elevation -- is enough of a deterrent. When the Cowboys are perceived to be good, Linder said, scheduling becomes downright impossible.
"It's not from a lack of trying," Linder said Thursday during his first official press conference of the 2021-22 season. "... It's probably the worst thing that we have to do. There's a lot of moving parts in scheduling. Just, a lot of lies. It's probably more dirtier than recruiting."
Of course, this issue isn't a new one for Linder and his staff -- or anyone who has been at the helm of Wyoming's basketball program.
The last time a Power-5 program stepped foot inside the Arena-Auditorium came back in November of 2019. That was Oregon State. The previous season, the SEC's South Carolina Gamecocks came to town.
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You'd have to go all the way back to 2014 to find the last one before that. Colorado made the 130-mile trip from Boulder only to leave with a 56-33 loss.
A loss in Laramie far outweighs a victory for visiting teams from major conferences, Linder said. So, why take the risk?
Most teams won't.
"We, as a program, have to continue to build our reputation," Linder said, adding you have to beat good teams on the road to accomplish that. "... So, now you can go play maybe an Arizona on a neutral court, or you can try to get a home and home with Colorado, knowing that if they win a game like that, it's like a Top 100, tier-1 game as opposed to where they lose a game like that, that could be the difference between them not making the NCAA Tournament."
Colorado State is a prime example of that.
The Rams, who have won 20 games in back-to-back seasons, will play Mississippi State this winter in Fort Worth, Texas. CSU also has a date with Alabama. That game isn't in Tuscaloosa, it's in Birmingham. The Crimson Tide were a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament last March.
For now, the Cowboys will mostly have to face the big boys on the road.
Wyoming will travel to Washington and Arizona during the non-conference slate. Linder and Co. have a third game against a PAC-12 opponent, too. That will happen in Hawaii when the Pokes play Stanford in the opening round of the Diamond Head Classic Dec. 22.
The Cowboys will also play at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. The Antelopes won the WAC last season and played in the NCAA Tournament.
You probably noticed none of those game are happening on the high plains.
Those slots are reserved for Detroit Mercy, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Hastings College (Neb.), Denver, McNeese State and Utah Valley.
Not exactly a who's who of college hoops.
"You're going to have a hard time finding the teams that the fans want to see come here. Those teams aren't coming here," Linder said, alluding to teams like Michigan State, Duke and North Carolina, who play all big games at home or at neutral sites. "... So, we'll continue to try to do it. Like I said, it's been really, really hard. When the winning percentage of (the Arena-Auditorium) is about, what 75% for the home team, it's tough. It's hard to get teams to bite and come here."
The Cowboys will kickoff the regular season Wednesday Nov. 10 against Detroit Mercy.
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