The team was selected by the coaches and selected media, and I was one of those selected to vote.
My first team was the same as the coaches and other media members. I also picked New Mexico junior guard Kendall Williams as the Player of the Year, New Mexico’s Steve Alford as the Coach of the Year, UNLV forward Anthony Bennett as Freshman of the Year and Colorado State’s Colton Iverson as the Newcomer of the Year.
WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Brent Briggeman, who covers Air Force men’s basketball for The Gazette in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Wyoming (18-9 overall, 4-9 Mountain West) plays at Air Force (15-10, 6-6) at 7 tonight at Clune Arena at the Air Force Academy.
Question: Air Force won’t win the Mountain West regular-season title, but remains in the hunt for an upper-half finish. Are the Falcons one of the best stories in the conference after being picked to finish last in the preseason?
Answer: The team clearly thinks it is. Coach Dave Pilipovich has used those conference predictions as a constant motivator throughout the season, posting them in the locker room where they are an ever-present reminder of what others think of the team. The improved performance has led to some of the biggest crowds since Air Force’s NCAA Tournament teams of the mid-2000s. It’s always tricky to build programs at the academy between the academic standards, the disadvantage of not being able to add transfers and the post-graduate military commitment, so anytime a revenue sport can enjoy a resurgence it tends to be a big deal around the institution.
WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Matt Youmans, who covers UNLV men’s basketball for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
UNLV (20-7 overall, 7-5 Mountain West) plays at Wyoming (18-8, 4-8) at 5:30 p.m. today in Laramie.
Question: UNLV has won 14 straight home games but has struggled on the road, especially in league play. What are the main reasons for the Rebels’ road woes?
Answer: When you say “struggled” you’re being too kind. The Rebels are 1-9 in their past 10 Mountain West road games, a pathetic skid that started with a 68-66 loss at Wyoming last Feb. 4. The coaches and players share the blame. The coaches are obviously not motivating the players or making the necessary adjustments on the road, and the players need to be held accountable for a lack of effort and intensity. UNLV’s past three losses at Air Force, Fresno State and Boise State were particularly disturbing because the team’s effort was poor. In addition to those factors, the Rebels have all kinds of problems scoring in their half-court offense, and most of the conference road games are played at a slower pace. Defense travels better than offense, too, and UNLV is weaker defensively under Dave Rice than it was under Lon Kruger. It’s an immature team with a relatively new coaching staff, so some struggles on the road can be expected, but 1-9 is ridiculous.
WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi ranks the nine Mountain West men’s basketball teams. Included are their records and Rating Percentage Index according to RealTimeRPI.com, and rankings are from The Associated Press poll. Look for these rankings every week during the conference season.
Let him know what you think about these rankings — good or bad.
1. New Mexico (19-3 overall, 6-1 MW, 5 RPI): Best overall and conference record, and the highest RPI. Tough to go against those three factors. The only team in the conference with a winning road conference record (2-1), and is 5-2 on the road overall. Best team in the league, without a doubt, right now, even though it doesn’t have any eye-popping statistics.
2. Colorado State (18-4 overall, 5-2 MW, 15 RPI): A 26-game home winning streak, a starting lineup with five seniors and the best rebounding team in the conference — and one of the best in the country. As stated in previous weeks, the Rams need a big conference road win. It plays at Nevada tonight — a game it should win.
Colorado State beat UNLV in Fort Collins last Saturday. This is what CSU coach Larry Eustachy said about Bennett and UNLV this week on the Mountain West coaches teleconference: “(UNLV) was a little bit tired. I think Wyoming is going to get a real fresh UNLV team, along with Bennett. That’s going to be hard for anybody to handle, particularly at their place.”
WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with UNLV men’s basketball beat writer Matt Youmans of the Las Vegas Review-Journal about tonight’s game with Wyoming at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Look for Q&As with writers who cover the Mountain West foes of UW throughout the conference season.
Question: At 15-4 overall and 2-2 in the Mountain West, how would you assess UNLV’s play to this point? What’s been good and not so good? Answer:The Rebels have shown only brief flashes of their potential, but that’s not surprising. From the start, I expected this team to underachieve according to expectations the first two months of the season and begin to peak in February and March. Anthony Bennett, Mike Moser and Khem Birch have started only three games together on the front line. Bennett, Birch and guards Katin Reinhardt and Bryce Dejean-Jones are newcomers. It’s not a young team at this point, but it’s a group still learning how to play together as a team, especially on the offensive end. UNLV’s resume was not that impressive until it beat San Diego State on the road last week. At the same time, the Rebels don’t have any bad losses, and each of their four losses were by six points or fewer to quality opponents — Oregon, North Carolina, New Mexico and Colorado State.