LARAMIE -- Do you ever see a number on a Wyoming basketball jersey and think of all the great players to wear it?

Yeah, me too.

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In this summer series, I’ll give you my take on which Pokes’ hoopster was the best ever to don each number. The criteria are simple: How did he perform at UW? What kind of impact did he have on the program?

 

Bill Strannigan was a former player and head basketball coach at the University of Wyoming./ UW Athletics courtesy photo
Bill Strannigan was a former player and head basketball coach at the University of Wyoming./ UW Athletics courtesy photo
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No. 11 - WILLIAM "BILL" STRANNIGAN

Guard, 1939-42, Dalry, North Ayrshire, Scotland

 

Résumé in Laramie

* Chuck Taylor First-Team All-American

* Two-time Amateur Athletic Union All-American (1941-42)

* Three-time All-Skyline Conference player

* Led UW to a conference championship in 1941

* All-Skyline Conference baseball player

* Tailback on the UW football team

* Won a school record 179 games as the head basketball coach from 1960-73

* 1994 UW Athletics Hall of Fame inductee

 

Why Strannigan?

You might remember this name above for a number of reasons.

Maybe you recall Bill Strannigan's playing days at Rock Springs High School, where he led the Tigers to three straight state titles on the basketball court from 1935-37. "Billy the Kid" claimed 11 varsity letters in orange and black. He used to own the state record in the pole vault, too.

Or perhaps when you think of the name Strannigan your first thought drifts to his time in Laramie as a three-time All-Skyline Conference player and a Chuck Taylor First-Team All-American. He helped lead the Cowboys to a conference championship in 1941. He also lettered in football and was an all-conference baseball player at Wyoming.

If you were a Wyoming hoops fan from 1950 through the 1954 season, maybe you weren't too fond of Strannigan's decision to become the head coach at Border War rival Colorado State. He led the Rams to the Sweet 16 during his final season in Fort Collins. He won just two games against the Cowboys in eight tries.

After a five-year stint as the bench boss at Iowa State, Strannigan finally came home. The native of Scotland was hired to coach at his alma mater. During his 14 seasons in Laramie, Strannigan won a school record 179 games and took the Cowboys to the NCAA Tournament during the 1966-67 campaign. Wyoming followed that up with consecutive trips to the NIT.

Strannigan, who led the Pokes to a pair of conference titles, was named the Western Athletic Coach of the Year in '67. He was inducted into the UW Athletics Hall of Fame in 1994.

Strannigan died in 1997. He was 78 years old.

 

John Pilch (1947-50) was an All-American at UW and helped lead the Cowboys to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances./ UW Athletics courtesy photo
John Pilch (1947-50) was an All-American at UW and helped lead the Cowboys to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances./ UW Athletics courtesy photo
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Honorable mention

John Pilch (1947-50) is one of 38 1,000-point scorers in Wyoming basketball history.

The Thermopolis native, considered to be one of the best big men in UW lore, averaged 10.8 points per game and helped lead the Cowboys to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances during his first two seasons in Laramie.

Famed for his hook shot, the All-American was selected in the second round of the 1950 NBA Draft by the Baltimore Bullets. He played just one professional season for the Minneapolis Lakers.

Pilch was inducted into the UW Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999. His former coach in Laramie, the legendary Everett Shelton, believed Pilch was the "greatest offensive and defensive rebounder" he had ever seen. Now that's high praise.

We need to throw out some love for Afam Muojeke (2008-12).

During his first two seasons at UW, the New York native averaged 15.3 points per game and looked like the next star to lace them up inside the Arena-Auditorium.

A devastating knee injury derailed all that.

Still, Moujeke battled back and played two more years where he was limited to just 23 games. Another unfortunate "Oh-what-could-have-been story."

 

Who else wore No. 11

L. Dowler (30's), Jimmie Reese (40's), Joe Orschanski (50's), Bob Moore (50's), Jim Schell (50's), Don Campbell (50's), Pete Hook (50's), Mike Rawson (60's), Mickey Kaul (60's), Lane Brown (60's), Lawrence Thomas (60's), Kent Best (70's), Rodney Gowens (80's), Kurt Samuels (80's), David Wegenke (90's), Abdullah Lawal (00's), Derek Cooke Jr (10's), Jeremy Lieberman (10's), Trace Young (10's), Kwane Marble (10's), Eoin Nelson (20's)

 

Look who wore the No. 10 best right HERE.

Check out our "Who Wore it Best" football series right HERE.

* All available rosters provided by the University of Wyoming Athletics Department. If we missed a player who wore this number, please email cody@7220sports.com

* A number of players wore different jersey numbers during their careers. From the 1930's through the 50's, players were issued a home and an away jersey.

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