Jim Brandenburg was the head basketball coach of the University of Wyoming Cowboys men’s basketball team when I became the radio play-by-play voice of the program in 1984.
He had coached the Cowboys for six seasons by then, having already won WAC championships and a lot of basketball games. Overall, he coached nine seasons for UW and left with a 176-97 record.
He died Sunday at age 87.
It was my privilege to call the last three seasons coach Brandenburg was at Wyoming. In those final three seasons under Brandenburg, the Cowboys would win 59 games, win a conference championship and make NIT and NCAA tournament appearances.
The Cowboys were winning, and it was Jim Brandenburg who drove that bus.
Brandenburg was a hands-on head coach. He did a bunch of it at every practice, and certainly during games.
Cowboy players would take on the personality of their head coach.
The Pokes were especially proficient on defense. Brandenburg was widely known for his teams and the way they played defense. Brandenburg’s defense — the Cowboy defense — was a hard-working zone. The Pokes were known for that Brandenburg 2-3 zone defense.
Jim Brandenburg was an outstanding head coach, and he was tough.
Wyoming practices were always full-speed and tough, and often physical. The head coach wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Cowboys were trained by the best at being difficult to play.
And under Brandenburg the Cowboys would learn how to win.
Jim Brandenburg’s Cowboys would win 176 games in his nine seasons, a .645 winning percentage.