University of Wyoming men’s basketball coach Allen Edwards has a word with a referee during the Border War game against Colorado State on Saturday at Arena-Auditorium in Laramie. Michael Cummo/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

LARAMIE – Following last weekend’s shocking loss to archrival Colorado State, a game that his team led by as many as 19 points during the second half, University of Wyoming men’s basketball coach Allen Edwards discussed his job security and whether he felt he was coaching for his job.

Edwards is in his fourth season leading the Cowboys. After two successful seasons to start his tenure (43-28), UW has won just 14 games the past two seasons to go with 44 losses. The Cowboys have lost 20 games in consecutive seasons for just the second time in school history.

After the Border War collapse, Edwards said he is focused on finding the right type of players for his program, rather than the ones with higher talent that could potentially have character issues.

The decision of whether he will continue to be the coach, he said, is out of his hands.

“If you’re talking about building, then I think the core group is in place for this program to be successful,” Edwards said. “I like these guys – they fight, they’re ready to go. I go to sleep fine every night because I’m doing it the right way. Bringing in the right kids, no issues off the floor, they’re doing great in school. They have great attitudes.

“So, if you’re talking about building something, I think that’s how you build it. If we’re saying we just want to win, then maybe. But that’s just not who I am. I’m trying to build it the right way.”

One statement in particular – “I go to sleep fine every night” – garnered criticism on social media and local sports radio. During his weekly teleconference, Edwards was asked to clarify what he meant.

“When I say, ‘I sleep well at night,’ I said I’m not worried about having kids that are going to put a bad light on this program. If there’s anything that keeps me up at night, it’s what’s going to make us better,” Edwards said Tuesday. “When you’re talking about your conscience, I get caught up in doing things the right way. If you really look at our sport right now, and things that have happened in our sport, I don’t do those type of things. I’m more of trying to find good-character kids that are going to do well in the community.

“I don’t understand how that comment could have gotten misconstrued … I wanted it to be a positive … we are always in the community, we are always trying to promote our program… and again, our guys have done a great job .. when I said ‘sleep well,’ I sleep well because this staff and these young men are doing the best that they could do, and we’ve been thrown some curve balls. … I thought that was the most positive thing you could say.”

With just four regular-season games left, UW (6-20 overall, 1-13 Mountain West) has its work cut out for it if it hopes to make noise in the upcoming Mountain West Tournament.

First up is Utah State, led by reigning Mountain West Player of the Year Sam Merrill. The Aggies (21-7, 10-5) have won seven of their past eight games, including a 68-45 win in Laramie in late January. UW trailed by just nine at halftime, but was outscored 43-29 in the second half.

Edwards noted that, after a brief midseason skid where the team lost four of five games, Utah State is playing like the team that analysts predicted would make a second-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament come March. Edwards had particular praise for Merrill, who averages 18.6 points per game on 44.2% shooting from the field.

Wyoming is 17-20 all time in Logan, Utah.

“(Merrill) knows how to get where he wants to get to,” Edwards said. “He utilizes his IQ.”

Michael Katz covers the University of Wyoming for WyoSports. He can be reached at mkatz@wyosports.net or 307-755-3325. Follow him on Twitter at @michaellkatz.

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