Wyoming’s Un-Sweet 16: No. 3 Rick Majerus vs. No. 14 David Turcotte
LARAMIE -- There's a few things that can land you on a list like this one.
Beating Wyoming with regularity certainly makes you a thorn in the side. Making stupid decisions will also draw the ire of fans. Being an all-round jerk will do it, too.
This is our version of the Un-Sweet 16, pitting the biggest villains in Wyoming Cowboys basketball history against one another and eventually crowning the worst of the worst. This won't be our opinion, it's yours. You can vote for who will advance to the next round by clicking on the box at the bottom of this page.
We did our best to round up the ultimate enemy of the Cowboy State. We reached out to people in the know, from different decades of UW hoops. Don't be surprised to see plenty of rivals on this list.
Here's today's matchup:
No. 3 Rick Majerus vs. No. 14 David Turcotte
Long before the NCAA Transfer Portal became a thing, Rick Majerus was hacking and whacking scholarships left and right.
It was his way or the highway on the court and in the classroom.
Utah's head coach was notorious for his profanity-laced tirades on the practice court. Rumors have it he even dropped his pants once. It was a not-so-subtle way of telling a player to kiss his you know what.
A great majority of Wyoming fans considered Majerus public enemy No. 1 on the basketball court. A Sports Illustrated poll conducted amongst the Pokes' faithful in 2003 said so.
The "Fat man in a little sweater," as the student section would chant, would pound the scorer's table in frustration and was known to toss a haymaker at a Gatorade cooler or two. UW athletics director Paul Roach even demanded a public apology for his temper tantrum, one that also included a heated exchange with the Cowboys head coach, Benny Dees, during a 1992 game in Laramie.
"I think at the very least he should have apologized to the officials at the scorers' table and our fans," Roach told the Deseret News, adding that a one-game suspension also would be appropriate.
Majerus quickly fired back.
"It goes to show you he's played too many football games without a helmet," he said of Roach. "... I didn't know that the (Western Athletic) Conference was operating out of Laramie, Wyo., and that Paul Roach is now the commissioner."
Majerus, who coached the Utes from 1989-2004, capped his time in Salt Lake City with an overall record of 323-95 and a conference mark of 152-43. How many of those losses came courtesy of the Cowboys? Eleven.
None of those 26 meetings were bigger than the March 2, 2002 tilt in Laramie.
With the game on the line, Wyoming's Marcus Bailey toed the stripe and drilled two clutch free throws to give the home team a 57-56 lead with just seconds remaining. Utah got off one desperation heave at the buzzer before the more than 16,000, an arena record, rushed the court.
The Pokes were Mountain West champions.
"Beating Rick Majerus and Utah at home for the conference championship was one of the best things I was ever able to experience playing basketball," former UW star forward Josh Davis said. "... The man is definitely a villain."
Reggie Slater, who played for the Cowboys from 1988-92, agrees with Davis.
"Rick Majerus could fit the bill of a villain, puppet master," he said, adding that he recalls the "many bruises" from those games against the Utes. "He had a brilliant basketball mind that translated to his players playing beyond their capabilities."
There's no questioning the results under Majerus. The future College Basketball Hall of Famer led Utah to the national title game in 1998. The Utes fell to Kentucky 78-69. Majerus won six WAC titles and added three more in the Mountain West. Five times he was named the league's Coach of the Year. He won more than 500 games in stops at Marquette, Ball State, Utah and eventually Saint Louis.
The man could coach. That's what made him even more insufferable in the high country.
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Sean Dent joked that he was glad Jim Brandenburg didn't put him on David Turcotte.
Wyoming's guard said he was too "small and skinny" to go toe-to-toe with the 6-foot-3 Colorado State sharp shooter. That task fell on the shoulders of Dent's roommate, Turk Boyd.
"They were both tough as nails, but Turcotte was a big part of their success, as a team," said Dent, who played for the Cowboys from 1983-88. "He made some big shots on us. I don't remember him talking a whole lot, but he was just a guy who could make big shots. Being from CSU, yes, he wasn't a favorite in Laramie."
Especially on Jan. 7, 1987.
That night inside the Arena-Auditorium, Turcotte netted a game-high 29 points. He hit 7-of-8 3-point attempts, including his final dagger with 53 ticks remaining to give the Rams a 72-68 lead. Fennis Dembo would answer with a three of his own, but Pat Durham finished the job at the free-throw line.
Despite a 10-point lead at the break, CSU went on a 22-8 run to open the final frame. Turcotte was responsible for 13 of those points.
Turcotte (1984-88), an Ontario, Canada, native, averaged double-figure scoring during his final three seasons in Fort Collins, including 15.6 a night as a junior. He connected on better than 48% of his shots from the field. He hit nearly 43% from beyond the arc.
Turcotte finished with a 3-6 mark against the Pokes during his career, but remember, two of those UW teams made the NCAA Tournament, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 1987. He helped lead CSU to the NIT during his senior season.
The Rams made a run all the way to Madison Square Garden where they would fall to Ohio State, 64-62, with a title shot on the line.
Turcotte, who also played for the Canadian National Team and appeared in the 1988 Olympics, capped his career in Fort Collins with 1,508 points, the fifth most in program history. He was a two-time honorable mention All-WAC selection.
After graduation, he attended BYU where he earned his law degree.
Going from Fort Collins to Provo, alone, will land you on this list.
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