The unassuming and consistent winner

Home|Sports, Sports Editor's Column|The unassuming and consistent winner

Apparently reaching 300 wins Saturday wasn’t impressive enough, because just four days later Joe Legerski outdid himself. The University of Wyoming women’s basketball head coach logged win No. 300 in impressive fashion, downing league-leading Boise State Saturday.

If Legerski were playing poker against himself Wednesday in Fresno, he not only called his raise, but subsequently raised himself. Legerski and the Cowgirls went to Fresno State — which sat tied atop the Mountain West Conference at 6-1 — and beat the Lady Bulldogs 63-56.

The victory marked UW’s first in Fresno since 1996, first in the Save Mart Center, and first under Legerski — which is impressive when considering not one of his 300 wins in 16 years happened in Fresno.

Success has become old hat for UW. At this point, I’m pretty certain Legerski could find a whisper in a whirlwind. The Cowgirls are the purest form of consistency that exists, and much of that credit goes to Legerski.

Taking into account the last decade, UW has averaged north of 18 wins per season. Half of those years have seen the Cowgirls reach the 20-win mark and only two of them have resulted in a record below .500.

While UW hasn’t won the conference in any of those seasons, it has factored in most races. Last season, the Cowgirls held the top spot in the league with just a few games left before finishing third.

Two seasons ago, UW took runner up, and in all but one season within the last 10, the Cowgirls have finished no worse than fifth.

That’s about as steady as you can be. That’s about as steady as Marta Gomez at the charity stripe — the Cowgirls’ leading scorer who has connected on 94.1 percent of her free-throw attempts.

Gomez, who’s averaging 15.3 points per game, has received plenty of help this season. Bailee Cotton adds 11.2 points per contest, while Taylor Rusk and Karla Erjavec chip in 10.5 and 9.7 points per game, respectively.

All four of those have had to elevate their respective games this season after reigning MWC Player of the Year, Liv Roberts, exhausted all of her eligibility. They have stepped up, as have other Cowgirls, and Legerski deserves a great deal of credit for not only keeping Wyoming competitive, but a contender, as well.

In his 16 years, Legerski has had offers and opportunities to leave the Gem City of the Plains. He’s had chances to chase larger jobs, but fortunately for Wyoming, he has elected to stay.

And the fans have shown their gratitude. The Cowgirls ranked 46th in the nation in home attendance last season, averaging 2,757 fans per game, and second in the MWC. Only once in the last decade has UW ranked outside the top 50 in home attendance — there are over 350 Division I teams.

The Cowgirls are currently giving the their fans a reason to brave the cold and make their way to the Arena-Auditorium this winter. UW boasts a 12-5 overall record and a 5-3 mark in MWC play. The Cowgirls have already defeated two of the top three teams in the conference and took the other, New Mexico, down to the wire a couple weeks ago.

The remaining schedule sets up favorably for UW. The Cowgirls host the Lady Bulldogs in a few weeks and still have a home game against Utah State — which is tied with UW for third in the conference.

Legerski reached a milestone over the weekend, and if recent history is any indication, he’ll reach many more in his illustrious head coaching career.

 

Pokes Notes

The University of Wyoming wrestling team won its eighth straight dual Sunday, toppling West Virginia 33-15. The Pokes battle Fresno State and Cal State Bakersfield this weekend.

UW football promoted Jake Dickert, who coached the secondary last season, to defensive coordinator. AJ Cooper, who coached defensive ends in 2018, was elevated to defensive run-game coordinator.

UW’s men’s basketball team dropped a home game to Fresno State Wednesday 75-62, falling to 5-16 on the season and 1-7 in Mountain West Conference play.

By |Feb. 1, 2019|

About the Author:

Bud Denega joined The Sheridan Press in November 2017 as the primary sports reporter. He is a native of Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated from the University of Wyoming. Prior to working in Sheridan, Bud spent time as a sports reporter for the Minot Daily News in Minot, North Dakota, before being a sports reporter for the Laredo Morning Times in Laredo, Texas. Email Bud at: bud.denega@thesheridanpress.com

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