LAST SEASON: 24-12; lost to Ohio State in NIT final.
GOODBYE TO: g Les Bolden (12.6 ppg).
SUPPORTING CAST: 6'11" c Eric Leckner (15.8 ppg); g Turk Boyd; g Sean Dent (school-record 156 assists).
INTRODUCING: Juco transfer f Willie Jones.
SEE YOU IN THE SUPERDOME IF: Team improves perimeter defense and Dembo betters 17-ppg and 6.7-rpg averages.
Someone forgot to tell Fennis Dembo that southerners are supposed to hate harsh winters. Especially in places like Laramie, where the joke goes: What's there to do in the summer in Wyoming? If it falls on a Sunday, have a barbecue. So imagine the surprise of his hosts when Dembo arrived from San Antonio for his first visit in the midst of an April blizzard and promptly hurled himself into the snow and made an angel. He loved it. He was sold.
It took a little longer for Cowboy fans to warm up to the 6'5" Dembo and his fist-pumping exuberance. "You might think it's hotdogging," says coach Jim Brandenburg, "but it's genuine. He's an emotional player." Now the fans call him Electric Fennis.
Wyoming missed the NCAAs by a point last season as Dembo's buzzer shot in the WAC tournament final wouldn't fall, but that wasn't the first close call of his career. At the end of that first recruiting visit, the Laramie airport was snowed in, so Dembo was driven to Denver for his flight home. Assistant coach Kevin McLeod was at the wheel when, in heavy fog, he barely missed taking a charge from an oncoming train in Fort Collins, Colo. While Brandenburg was sure he had blown his chance at signing the player, Dembo couldn't wait for the real commotion to start. On the court.
Fennis and his twin sister, Fenise, are the youngest of 11 children. Older sister Zona chose their names as a play on the French finis, as in "Mom's finished having kids." This year Fennis should take care of some unfinished business of his own—namely, saying au revoir to a few teams in the NCAAs.