LARAMIE, Wyo. Dave Rose and Heath Schroyer are blood brothers.
Today, both men will try to get their respective teams to successfully pound away at each other in what is sure to be an emotional battle as Wyoming tries to elevate its status in the league and the Cougars hope to keep perched atop the Mountain West.
Back in 1997, Rose and Schroyer became the chief lieutenants of Steve Cleveland, a regime that replaced the one vacated by Roger Reid and his assistants, Tony Ingle and Lynn Archibald.
Cleveland, Rose and Schroyer all came from the junior-college ranks, something a few critics said would not work in BYU's favor. But since that hire, Cleveland and Rose have won MWC titles at BYU, and Schroyer has been a head coach at Portland State and now is in his first year at Wyoming after following Cleveland to Fresno State.
I first met Schroyer covering the hire of Cleveland at a game in San Jose where Cleveland's Fresno City College team was in the state championship tournament and Schroyer was at his side, his patented loud voice booming throughout the arena.
Since that time, both have kept in contact. They frequently call one another and trade philosophies and offer each other support and advice. When they aren't talking, they're text messaging each other. At conventions, they seek one another out, and their paths cross all the time while recruiting.
Schroyer and Rose are cut from the same cloth. They're intense, smart, competitive and unafraid to make tough decisions on and off the court.
A year ago, Rose booted senior point guard Rashaun Broadus off the squad for breaking team rules right after he'd scored 18 points in a win over SDSU. Broadus did not return, although he stayed in school and graduated last April.
Rose could have used Broadus' talents at the end of 2007 when the Cougars lost second-half leads against UNLV in the MWC Tournament and Xavier in the first round of the NCAA at Lexington when defensive point guard issues, in part, led to an 0-2 finish.
Schroyer also showed an ability to make a point, regardless of the cost.
The Cowboys haven't had the best of starts in the Mountain West this winter, but an early decision by Schroyer may have hurt his team and cost him a game if not traction. Schroyer believed the principle involved would pay higher dividends in the long run.
The incident took place the first week of January, at home, in crunch time against New Mexico, with Schroyer's Cowboys holding on to a 66-63 lead.
Schroyer's senior guard, Brad Jones, ran past the Lobo bench after UNM shooter Darren Prentice buried a 3-point bucket and said something that earned him a technical foul. Schroyer immediately benched Jones. He refused to put him back in the game that went to two overtimes and ended in a loss.
Jones, one of the best guards in the league, sat out 4:41 of regulation and both overtimes, or about 15 minutes.
Schroyer told reporters after the game, "We're not going to have a team this year like that and we're not going to have a program like that. I know there are certain things (and) he probably could have helped us a little bit. But, the integrity of this program and how we're going to play this game, not only this year but the years in the future, is really important to me."
Schroyer said this week he hates coaching against friends. Rose agreed but said buddies simply have to put it all behind them when the ball goes up for a tip.
It will be an interesting match-up today when these two men meet for the first time as head coaches. Rose is a two-time MWC coach of the year. Folks in Laramie, who hired Schroyer from Fresno State, believe he is in that same mold.The smartest move Cleveland ever made in Provo was bringing Rose and Schroyer into the arena of Division I basketball.