MW, CUSA to form new conference

Here is the news release from the Mountain West on the forming of a new conference with Conference USA:

UNIVERSITIES ANNOUNCE PLANS TO FORM CONFERENCE

DALLAS, Texas – Presidents and chancellors from 16 universities met in Dallas Sunday to discuss future conference membership plans and agreed to work on forming a new intercollegiate athletic association that would begin competition in the 2013-14 academic year.

This presidentially led association will ensure stability and be built upon the principles of operating at the highest level of integrity and sportsmanship, enhancing the student-athlete academic and competitive experience, bringing fiscal discipline into athletics and ensuring competitive fairness.

“This is an exciting development that will stabilize the current conferences and create the first truly national conference with members in five time zones and television viewership from coast to coast.  This partnership brings together like-minded institutions to improve the integrity and stability of intercollegiate athletics,” said UNLV President Neal Smatresk. “We are moving our plans forward rapidly and expect to complete our conversations in the near future. Look for further announcements soon as we work together on this exciting new venture.”

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Shyatt has high priase for Martinez

Wyoming junior guard Luke Martinez leads the Mountain West with 64 3-pointers, and is the Cowboys’ leading scorer at 13 points per game.

Coach Larry Shyatt likes that, but likes something even more about the 6-foot-4 Martinez.

His defense.

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Coaches like MW balance at midway point

The second half of Mountain West play begins Saturday for the league’s eight men’s basketball teams, and the eight coaches have been impressed with what the league has done so far.

“You don’t see a huge separation,” said San Diego State coach Steve Fisher, whose team is ranked 13th nationally and is in first place in the MW at 20-3 overall and 6-1 in the league.

“Even though a team like Boise State has yet to win (a league game), they’ve without any reservation could e 3-4 or 4-3 with a blink of an eye. That’s good.”

Boise State lost to at San Diego State by two last week, and at home to No. 14 UNLV in overtime. 

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UW-Boise State postgame thoughts

Wyoming may not shoot the ball that well most games, but it certainly did in its 75-64 win at Boise State Saturday.

The Cowboys recorded season-bests with 65.8 percent from the field and 57.1 percent from 3-point range. They’ll win a lot of games doing that.

Seven players scored at least seven points.

All that was impressive, along with the fact UW has won four straight road games and five this season.

But the two things that really struck me in this game:

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UW-Boise State key to the game

Here’s my No. 1 key for the Wyoming men’s basketball team in today’s game at Boise State:

Play within themselves: The Cowboys were out of sorts offensively most of the game in its 52-42 loss to No. 13 San Diego State Tuesday. Give the Aztecs credit for some of that. But aside from shooting a season-low 30.6 percent from the field, UW had problems finishing shots both inside and outside and players seemed like they were trying to do too much at times. The Cowboys need to trust themselves and the offense.

Thoughts or opinions?

See today’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang for my story on freshman forward Larry Nance Jr. where he talks about the progress he’s made so far this season, and of course, his highlight-reel dunk Tuesday against San Diego State.

UW-Boise State Q&A

Nick Jezierny covers Boise State men’s basketball for the Idaho Statesman newspaper in Boise. He answered five questions on Saturday’s game with Wyoming.

As always, I welcome your thoughs and opinions.

Do you think the 77-72 overtime loss Wednesday to No. 12 UNLV will boost the Broncos’ confidence heading into Saturday’s game with Wyoming? More than anything, do you think the team will be tired coming off that overtime game? I would think that taking the No. 12 team in the country to overtime would be a confidence boost. Fatigue is going to be a factor. With only 10 healthy players, and only seven saw extensive minutes against UNLV, there could be some issue there. But this is a team that is well conditioned. What hurts is Wyoming had an extra day to recover from its past game.

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UW picked sixth; Biezuns All-MW

The Mountain West preseason media poll and all-conference teams just came out from here at Media Day in Las Vegas.

Wyoming was picked sixth, which didn’t surprise me. I had the Cowboys fifth, but you can argue that the fifth through eighth-place teams could finish anywhere in that grouping.

Senior defensive end Josh Biezuns was the only UW player on the all-conference team. I also had senior cornerback Tashaun Gipson on my ballot, but Air Force senior Anthony Wright got the majority of the votes from the media. I had TCU linebacker Tanner Brock on my ballot, while the rest of the media had CSU senior Mychal Sisson. My all-conference kicker was Ross Evans from TCU, the rest of the media had James Aho of New Mexico.

Other than that, my ballot and my predicted order of finish matched everyone else. See that list below.

An interesting note on the predicted order of finish: Boise State is the clear-cut favorite in its first year in the league. The last time a new team joined the MWC was in 2005 with TCU, and the Horned Frogs won the MW that year. They were picked to finish sixth.

Nineteen of the 25 players on the all-conference preseason team came from the top four teams in the preseason poll. Boise State had the most with seven.

2011 Mountain West Preseason Media Poll

(first-place votes)                           Points

1. Boise State (28)                           236

2. TCU(3)                                              208

3. Air Force                                         176

4. San Diego State                           160

5. Colorado State                             104

6. Wyoming                                         80

7. UNLV                                                     77

8. New Mexico                                    39

 

2011 Preseason All-Mountain West Team

Offense

QB Kellen Moore                             Sr.           Boise State

WR Phillip Payne                             Sr.           UNLV

WR Josh Boyce                                  So.          TCU

RB Ronnie Hillman*                        So.          San Diego State

RB Doug Martin                                                Sr.           Boise State

OL Nate Porter                                  Sr.           Boise State

OL A.J. Wallerstein**                     Sr.           Air Force

OL Kyle Dooley                                 Sr.           TCU

OL Thomas Byrd                               Sr.           Boise State

OL Paul Madsen**                           Sr.           Colorado State

TE Lucas Reed**                               Jr.           New Mexico

Defense

DL Billy Winn                                     Sr.           Boise State

DL Shea McClellin                            Sr.           Boise State

DL Stansly Maponga**                   So.          TCU

DL Josh Biezuns**                           Sr.           Wyoming

LB Tank Carder#*                             Sr.           TCU

LB Mycal Sisson**                            Sr.           Colorado State

LB Miles Burris                                  Sr.           San Diego State

DB George Iloka                                               Sr.           Boise State

DB Leon McFadden*                       Jr.           San Diego State

DB Anthony Wright                         Sr.           Air Force

DB Jon David                                      Sr.           Air Force

 

Specialists

P Brian Stahovich*                          Sr.           San Diego State

PK James Aho                                    Sr.           New Mexico

Ret. Jonathan Warzeka                 Sr.           Air Force

 

Offensive Player of the Year: QB Kellen Moore, Boise State

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Tank Carder, TCU

Special Teams Player of the Year: Jonathan Warzeka, Air Force

#Unanimous 2011 preseason selection

*2010 All-Mountain West first team

**2010 All-Mountain West second team