There is no starting five on the 2016-17 Wyoming men's basketball team.
Only a starting one.
"The lineup, to me, doesn’t matter," head coach Allen Edwards said. "I care more about mixing and matching, because I think certain guys need to be on the floor with certain guys. To get best what we’re trying to get across, and that can change depending our opponents.
"So I’ve told our guys there’s no constant. The only constant is Jason McManamen."
One of two seniors on the Cowboys' roster, McManamen has been on the team since 2012-13, longer than any other player. The 6-foot-5, 195-pound guard willl be called on to do even more now that Wyoming is without Mountain West Player of the Year Josh Adams, whose 24.2 points per game last season were third in the country.
"I'm just trying to step up in that leadership role a little bit more," said McManamen, a Torrington native. "I’ll always be more of a leader by example, but I’ve been trying to be a little more vocal. That’s what Coach Edwards wants me to do. Trying to be positive with guys. Always talking, helping them in whatever way I can at practice. Little things like that."
Like he said, McManamen leads more by example. So we'll let him stop talking and instead give you a few examples.
McManamen is coming off a season in which he hit 92 of 209 attempts from 3-point range. Good for 44 percent, that led the Mountain West and was 15th best in the country.
McManamen averaged 14.4 points per game last year, second on the team behind Adams and 11th in the Mountain West.
McManamen scored a career-high 28 points last year against Fresno State, hitting eight 3-pointers on 15 attempts.
McManamen hit an average of three 3-pointers a game, second best in the conference and 27th nationally.
McManamen was named All-Mountain West Honorable Mention by both coaches and media.
His actions might speak even louder this year, now that there will be more scoring to go around without Adams.
And, yes, he might just have to speak up, too.
"He is a quiet guy," Edwards said. "He’s a quiet guy in a sense of off the floor. What I mean ... when I want him to speak, I just want him to hold other guys accountable. He’s a very talkative guy on the floor in the sense of calling out responsibilities. But at the same time, I’ve always been a firm believer in the best teams are able to coach themselves."
Edwards, in his first year as Wyoming's head coach, can relate.
"I always revert back to myself, because I’m pretty quiet away from the floor until you get to know me and I loosen up a bit," he said. "But my thing is when we get on the floor, it’s just a different personality."
It's a fairly new role for McManamen, who, even in high school, had a number of other seniors surrounding him.
"It’s a little different," he said. "But I think I’m getting better at it every day."
His teammates have noticed the effort.
"I think he’s actually stepped up a lot more this year into that leadership role," redshirt freshman Cody Kelley said. "He knows that he’s our senior. He’s our guy. He knows he needs to have that leadership role. I’ve seen him step up a little bit."
Added redshirt freshman Andrew Moemeka: "Yeah, I feel like once you get to know him, he talks as much as he needs to."
And his actions are speaking as loud as ever.
"He really doesn’t say much, but we know what to do and what we expect of him," junior guard Lou Adams said. "He expects the same out of us, so we don’t really need him to so much tell us what to do. His presence is enough for us to know what we need to do."
When you shoot like McManamen does, people tend to pay attention.
"He’s a great leader," sophomore guard Justin James said. "He knows how to pump people up. It’s great having him on the floor, because that’s an easy assist. I love having him on the court."
Though he is the most veteran of this year's Cowboys, McManamen will still get some help.
Morris Marshall, the team's other senior, is only entering his second season at Wyoming, but he's a senior nonetheless.
"I feel like a lot of the guys, they look up to me in a way," Marshall said. "And I kind of have a voice, so just being able to echo what Coach wants (is important)."
McManamen will have a slew of juniors by his side as well.
"I think all of us upperclassmen have just got to step up and take more of a leader role and show the new guys what needs to be done and stuff like that," said Alexander Aka Gorski, one of six juniors eligible to play this season.
Forward Alan Herndon isn't a senior, but as a redshirt junior he is the second-longest tenured Cowboy.
Herndon represented Wyoming at Mountain West Media Day this year with McManamen and last year with Adams.
He and McManamen are in the same boat in some respects.
"I think we’re both definitely trying that, us being the oldest guys of the group now, being here the longest," Herndon said. "I think we’re both trying to be more vocal and I think it’s kind of hard for both of us just because we were so used to a different style.
"We both came out of our redshirt years, you had Larry (Nance) and (Derek Cooke Jr.) and all of them, so you didn’t really have to worry about that and you had Josh last year. But now we’ve got to definitely get out of our comfort zone and definitely try to lead these guys to the best of our abilities."
That can take some getting used to.
"The most difficult part is just getting out of yourself and actually doing it," Herndon said. "Because I think sometimes in your head you’re thinking, ‘Well, I’m messing up, too. How am I going to get on another guy?’ But you’ve got to get out of that, and you’ve got to think, ‘OK, what’s best for this team and what needs to be said at that moment?’ And hopefully the guy will take it the right way."
Edwards preaches that "uncomfortable becomes comfortable after a while."
"I think for us to continue down that road, they have to kind of get out of that comfort zone and be able to speak up," Edwards said. "Because I think they’re respected within the group, because of how they carry themselves, and the team needs for them to say things."
Why so much emphasis on being vocal?
"What I’ve been hitting the team on is them being able to hold themselves accountable with what we’re trying to do going forward and not always waiting on a coach to say something," Edwards said.
That means when a player points out something to another player, Edwards is there to back him up.
"Because I want to hear more of it, rather than less," he said.
He has told his staff to act the same.
"Then the guy who was being confronted with that information (will) be able to respond in the right way," Edwards said. "Versus it being macho and acting like, ‘Don’t talk to me that way,’ type stuff."
That way, the new comfort zone can come to McManamen without too difficult of a transition.
"I think it’s a process," Edwards said. "And with this one, you would hope that the process happens a little quicker than later."
And though he may never match a leader like Adams with his words, there's no doubt McManamen's teammates are sold on his actions.
"Josh was very emotional, Jason not so much," Aka Gorski said. "But he’s a leader by example for sure."