LARAMIE -- "Your guess is as good as mine."

Wyoming's new head basketball coach Jeff Linder doesn't know how the newest version of the Mountain West schedule will play out, but there's at least a theory now.

The conference Monday laid out a new plan. It goes something like this:

  • All league teams will play 20 games.
  • Each team will face off in a two-game series with a one-day break in between.
  • This will all take place in 11 weeks.

Why the extreme change? In a word: coronavirus.

This schedule, according to a MW press release, will limit travel by four weeks. It also leaves time each week to reschedule contests in case a team is forced into COVID-19 protocol.

"This is a one-year model adopted specifically to address the unique challenges of the current COVID-19 pandemic," the release states.

Linder, who spoke to the media Wednesday about his two newest signees Ben Bowen and Nate Barnhart, also touched on the challenges his team will and has already faced during this odd time.

The Cowboys were forced to shutdown camp Oct. 30 because of COVID-19. Wednesday, Linder said he had his entire team -- aside from one player -- on the court for the first time since.

It showed UW's first-year head coach just how quickly the season can take a left-hand turn.

"The biggest thing -- the ultimate goal -- is just trying to play as many games as we possibly can," he said. "(Coronavirus) is evolving right now. It doesn't look good for a lot of games ... I think the Mountain West made a smart decision."

The school did announce the Cowboys' seven-game non-conference schedule Tuesday afternoon. Wyoming will host the first three games against Mississippi Valley State, Texas Southern and Incarnate Word before hitting the road Dec. 6 to play Oregon State of the Pac-12 Conference.

Linder's squad will head home to face Denver before hitting the road for the final time in a trip to Orem, Utah to face Utah Valley. The Pokes wrap up the non-league slate at home against Omaha.

Was that a challenge to put together that schedule?

You bet.

"Scheduling, like recruiting, it can be a mess," Linder joked, adding that the university has the recourses to bring five teams to Laramie for the non-conference season. "It provides a safer environment for our players."

Linder said the trip to Corvallis, Ore., was approved because of the stipulations involved: The team will be able to charter a plane directly into Oregon, not fly commercial from Denver to Portland and bus to the venue.

"If we are going to play a team like Oregon State, the guarantee has to be as much," he said.

As far as the trip to Utah, Linder smiled an posed this question: Is it safer to fly commercial or drive across I-80 in December?

Good point. That decision has yet to be made.

* Bowen, Barnhart sign on dotted line
* Road tilt at Oregon State highlights UW's 7-game non-conference slate
* UW to allow 25% capacity inside Arena-Auditorium
* MW hoops schedule moves from 18 to 20 league games

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