MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE MEN'S TEAM CAPSULES


(1) BRIGHAM YOUNG

RECORD: 25-6, 14-2 MWC

KEY NONCONFERENCE WINS: Louisville

PLAYER TO WATCH: Lee Cummard. The 6-foot-7-inch junior guard, averaging 15.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game, was voted MWC co-Player of the Year. He was the only player in the conference to rank in the top 10 in nine statistical categories during league action.

FAST FACT: The Cougars are the first team to win back-to-back outright Mountain West regular-season titles.

COACHSPEAK: "As far as playing UNLV in the championship game on their home floor, that's what we hope happens." -- Dave Rose

 

(2) UNLV

RECORD: 23-7, 12-4

KEY NONCONFERENCE WINS: San Diego, UNR, Minnesota

PLAYER TO WATCH: Curtis Terry. The senior point guard led the conference in assists with 5.9 per game in league play. The Rebels were 7-0 in games in which Terry scored at least 15 points.

FAST FACT: At the Thomas & Mack Center this season, the Rebels posted double-digit victories over Brigham Young (70-41), New Mexico (79-60) and San Diego State (68-58).

COACHSPEAK: "I think the conference tournament will be outstanding. There are going to be some really interesting matchups." -- Lon Kruger

 

(3) NEW MEXICO

RECORD: 24-7, 11-5

KEY NONCONFERENCE WINS: San Diego, Texas Tech, New Mexico State

PLAYER TO WATCH: J.R. Giddens. A transfer from Kansas, the senior guard led the MWC in scoring (18.3) and rebounding (8.3) in league games. He was the only player to record two 30-point outings in conference play, including a career-high 36 against Wyoming.

FAST FACT: The Lobos tied the school record for regular-season wins shared by the 1977-78 and 1995-96 teams.

COACHSPEAK: "I think it's very, very important for our league to really look closely at what we're doing with our league tournament. The league tournament needs to be at a neutral site. Right now, it's not fair to the other eight teams in our league." -- Steve Alford

 

(4) SAN DIEGO STATE

RECORD: 19-11, 9-7

KEY NONCONFERENCE WINS: San Diego, Sam Houston State

PLAYER TO WATCH: Lorrenzo Wade. A Cheyenne High School product, the 6-6 junior was voted first-team all-conference after finishing league play as one of three players to rank in the top 10 in scoring, rebounding, assists, blocked shots and field-goal percentage.

FAST FACT: The Aztecs are looking for their 20th victory, and the 25 teams that won at least 20 games all advanced to the postseason in the first eight seasons of the Mountain West.

COACHSPEAK: "We're going to put in a whole new offense and hopefully that will trick them a little bit." -- Steve Fisher, whose team scored 49 and 43 points in splitting two games this season against Air Force, the Aztecs' quarterfinal opponent in the MWC tournament.

 

(5) AIR FORCE

RECORD: 16-13, 8-8

KEY NONCONFERENCE WINS: None

PLAYER TO WATCH: Tim Anderson. The senior guard was named MWC Defensive Player of the Year. The Falcons led the league in scoring defense (57.3 points per game) for the sixth straight season.

FAST FACT: The Falcons, 0-8 all time in the MWC tournament, have lost 15 straight opening-round conference tournament games.

COACHSPEAK: "Before this season, I don't think anybody thought we would have three teams deserving of an NCAA bid and this conference would be as strong as it is top to bottom. Next year, I think it will be unbelievable." -- Jeff Reynolds

 

(6) UTAH

RECORD: 16-13, 7-9

KEY NONCONFERENCE WINS: California, Utah State

PLAYER TO WATCH: Luke Nevill. The 7-1 junior center from Australia averages 15.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game and is shooting 54.6 percent from the field.

FAST FACT: The Utes' sixth man, senior guard Johnnie Bryant, is their No. 2 scorer at 14.2 points per game. Bryant started all 30 games as a junior and made 27 starts as a sophomore.

COACHSPEAK: "We feel we can play with anybody. We've put ourselves in position to win a lot of games that we haven't won." -- Jim Boylen

 

(7) TEXAS CHRISTIAN

RECORD: 14-15, 6-10

KEY NONCONFERENCE WINS: None

PLAYER TO WATCH: Kevin Langford. The junior forward, who graduated in December with a degree in sociology, averages 13.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.

FAST FACT: Ten different players have started at least one game for the Horned Frogs. Only Langford and senior guard Brent Hackett have started all 29 games.

COACHSPEAK: "They have interchangeable parts and they are able to put up great defensive pressure." -- Neil Dougherty, on UNLV, which beat TCU twice by an average of 15.5 points per game.

 

(8) WYOMING

RECORD: 12-17, 5-11

KEY NONCONFERENCE WINS: Colorado

PLAYER TO WATCH: Brandon Ewing. The junior guard was the MWC scoring leader as a sophomore. He ranks second in scoring in all games this season, averaging 16.8 points. He ranks fourth in conference play at 16.2 ppg.

FAST FACT: The Cowboys were the No. 7 seed when they reached the 2006 tournament title game, losing to top-seeded San Diego State in overtime.

COACHSPEAK: "When you're playing your rival for the third time, it's really difficult." -- Heath Schroyer, whose team beat Colorado State by 15 and 10 points this season.

 

(9) COLORADO STATE

RECORD: 6-24, 0-16

KEY NONCONFERENCE WINS: Portland State

PLAYER TO WATCH: Marcus Walker. The junior guard led the MWC in scoring in all games, averaging 17.2 points. In conference games, he finished No. 2 at 18.1 ppg, three total points behind New Mexico's Giddens (293-290).

FAST FACT: The Rams' 17-game losing streak, which includes a home loss to Oklahoma Panhandle State, is the longest in school history.

COACHSPEAK: "I want to put this season behind me, but I fight that urge. I want to give the kids the best shot to win." -- Tim Miles

MATT YOUMANS/REVIEW-JOURNAL

 

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