A new season bring renewed excitement and some heightened expectations for the Laramie Plainsmen basketball team. They make their season debut today.

Laramie struggled in Travis Brown’s first year as head coach. The Plainsmen finished with an overall record of 5-17, which included a 2-8 mark in conference play. They lost in the first round of the regional tournament and did not make it to state.

Brown knows his first year was tough, but he feels there’s been a lot of maturity for both coaches and players, as they approach this season.

“I learned what it means to be a high school coach a little bit better, and they’ve learned the expectations. It’s a lot of fun this year. It’s been a blast, actually. Got a really good senior group. The leadership has been nothing short of fantastic, and it’s really made my job pretty easy, to be honest.”

The Plainsmen return four starters and eight lettermen from last year’s squad. That includes returning All-State performer Nathan Burman and All-Conference honoree Frank Crum. Those two seniors are part of six on the team, who are expected to lead the charge.

Crum and fellow senior Asa Williams joined KOWB’s David Settle to preview the new season. They both feel good about the team’s prospects, but also understand the higher expectations, and believe they can handle the pressure that comes with it. They also had some fun discussing random items.

Laramie was picked No. 4 in the Preseason Wyopreps.com Coach’s and Media Basketball Poll. Coach Brown does feel his squad will be improved, but he also says they still have to learn how to win.

“We were 5-17 last year. We did improve I felt like throughout the year. Winning’s cultural, and so I think these guys, not that they necessarily have a target on our chest just yet, but I don’t think we’re flying below anybody’s radar either.”

Brown likes that because they’ll get challenged and see other team’s best effort against his squad. He likes this first tournament, since it features quality competition.

“This nice thing is this is a good time to come together, see the things we’ve got to work on and give us a couple of weeks after this to find out where we’re strong and weak at.”

Brown believes their strength lies with their experience, plus they’re have size and length, but he comes back to learning how to win, particularly finishing games strongly.

Laramie will probably be pushing the tempo more than last season, but Brown says we’ll have to understand when to take advantage of our size in the half-court.

He also knows they must improve on the defensive end to have a chance to win more games. The Plainsmen finished last in class 4A in points allowed last season at 63.4 per game.

“Defense is nothing more than effort and communication in some ways. Yes, we work on technique, but its little things, so we’ve been spending a lot of time on communication.”

Brown says they’ve spent about 70 percent of their practice time in preparing for this season on the defensive end. Add in a second year in the system, plus improvement Brown saw in the off-season during camps, and that’s why Laramie has higher aspirations.

The Plainsmen begin the new season at the Fremont Motors Tournament in Casper hosted by Kelly Walsh. LHS will play Evanston at 7:30 tonight from Casper College. Then it’s Rock Springs at noon Friday, followed by Natrona at 7:30 p.m. with both games at NCHS. Saturday Laramie plays at No. 3 Kelly Walsh with tip-off at 6 p.m.

KOWB (AM 1290) will broadcast all the games this weekend live on the radio, or you can listen online or take the games mobile with our new KOWB app. David Settle and VerDon Hoopes will call the games. Coverage will begin at 5:30 tonight, 10 a.m. and again at 5:30 p.m. Friday, plus 4 p.m. Saturday.