LAS VEGAS — Wyoming men’s basketball has not won a game at Thomas and Mack Center since defeating San Diego State in 2015 to win the Mountain West championship. The Cowboys have lost every game to UNLV on the Rebels’ home court since 2003, and they have exited the conference tournament here in the first round each of the last two seasons.
But Wyoming head coach Allen Edwards doesn’t think there’s anything particularly challenging about playing at the venue itself.
Well, except for last year.
The Mountain West tournament took place at the same time as the Conexpo-Con/Agg construction trade show in Las Vegas, which increased the logistical difficulty of hosting a basketball tournament. Monday, Edwards had some harsh words regarding the situation.
“To be honest with you, I thought last year we had pretty handedly beat Air Force twice,” said Edwards, referring to the Cowboys’ first-round loss to 10th-seeded Air Force in 2017, his first year as head coach. “And to be honest with you, I thought the whole year was a debacle with the hotels, catering, food, all that stuff. To me, I’m a big routine guy on game day, and when you knock us off routine, I don’t feel good as a coach.
“But I didn’t think our guys mentally came in with the right mindset, and I thought Air Force just played harder and was playing like wounded dogs in the sense of being beat twice. But I don’t think there’s anything (difficult) with Thomas and Mack.”
The conference has made adjustments to its schedule so as to avoid overlapping with Conexpo-Con/Agg in 2020. A similar solution might have made things easier in 2017.
“Everybody was in the same hotel,” Edwards said. “Not enough space for meeting rooms, to get your meals catered, going to restaurant. It’s just different. Even in the sense of watching film. We had to watch it in a suite, because we were just all crowded.
“And, to me, like I said, maybe other coaches are different, but I’m a very, very routine guy on game day, in the sense of eating, watching film, shootaround, pregame. All that stuff, to me, I like for it to go as smooth as possible. Day before, two days before? Yeah, I’m fine (adjusting). But the day of, I’m more smooth as possible.”
This year’s tournament does not conflict with the enormous trade show, which brings upwards of 100,000 participants to Sin City.
“We’re back at the Hard Rock (Hotel), which is fine,” Edwards said. “I’m not saying that makes a difference with winning or losing. I’m just a routine guy.”