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-CSU postgame thoughts

I’ve been covering Wyoming men’s basketball for about 15 years and have been to games the last 20. It’s been at least seven years since I heard the Arena-Auditorium that loud (at least at times) in UW’s 70-51 win over Colorado State.

Attendance was 7,901. Thought there might be more, but it was a great atmosphere.

Speaking of great, how about Leonard Washington?

32 points, 14 rebounds, two steals and one blocked shot. Many of us media folks thought he might have got short changed on some blocks and steals.

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UW-CSU Q&A

I asked Colorado State men’s basketball beat writer Kelly Lyell five questions about Saturday’s game with Wyoming.

Colorado State seems to be able to score in a lot of different ways, but in your opinion what are their strengths offensively? CSU’s offensive strengths are its shooting accuracy, particularly from 3-point range, its ability to get to the free-throw line and the offensive balance. All eight players in the Rams’ regular rotation average 5.9 or more points a game, and four of the eight have led the team in scoring in various games this season. When leading scorer Wes Eikmeier has an off night, others have picked up the slack without there being any obvious drop-off in the offensive production.

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Familiar faces for Lester, Ogbonna

They may not have an advanced scouting report, but Wyoming junior receivers DeJay Lester and Mazi Ogbonna are familiar with some of the Southern Utah players when the two teams play Saturday in Laramie.

Lester and Ogbonna came to UW last winter from Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, which isn’t that far from Southern Utah in Cedar City.

Starting right tackle Brandon Beddes, starting defensive end Tyler Osborne and starting punter/kicker Ryan McNamara were teammates of Lester and Ogbonna at Snow.

“I talked to a couple of them (Sunday) night,” said Lester, the backup behind sophomore Chris McNeill at one of the four receiver spots. “They texted and said they were ready to come up here and play. (Southern Utah) has some good persoonel. Some of the players we played with at Snow that are there are high-caliber players.”

Ogbonna is listed as a starter in this game.

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On his radio show Monday night, UW coach Dave Christensen said UW has 71 players on scholarship right now. The maximum for a FBS program is 85.

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After 10 starts as a true freshman last season, you would think UW quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels has a better feel of what to expect in his first start of 2010.

Maybe, but that doesn’t diminish his excitement.

“It’s incredibly different and really exciting starting a new chapter with a whole new team, and me being a major part of it,” he said. “Every year is a different year and for me my year really started against UNLV last year (his first ever start). I have that  same feeling in my stomach now.”

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This will be UW’s first true night home-opener since 1988 when it beat Brigham Young 24-14. It also will debut its new suites and club seats, and the hype seems to be at a similar level for this opener that the one in 2007 when  a sellout crowd watched the Cowboys beat Virginia 23-3.

But that game was played during the day.

“You can’t get caught up in the hype, but it adds excitement to the whole thing,” Carta-Samuels said. “College football is more exciting because more people are involved and  more is riding on each game. But high school football is the most fun to play because you’re playing at night under the lights. You have everyone you know there.

“It’s going to be awesome under the lights in our home stadium. I will have my family there behind me, as well as the student body who is like my new family. It will be really exciting.”

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The first Mountain West Conference coaches teleconference was Tuesday morning. It went about 30 to 40 minutes long due to the influx of questions.

BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said he knows nothing, and likes it that way, in terms of whether or not his school will leave the MWC. BYU has until Wednesday to decide if it wants to be elsewhere next season.

MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson wasn’t available for comment on the call. He often is at the end after all the coaches are done.

TCU coach Gary Patterson put his teams through the heat this summer, and Colorado State looks to be the only FBS team to start a true freshman at quarterback.

For more on that, see Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com.

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I made a mistake in my post yesterday. My live chat to talk Wyoming football, or anything for that matter, will be at 3 p.m. THURSDAY. Not Friday as I stated yesterday. Here is a direct link to the chat http://wyomingcowboysblog.com/2010/08/31/live-chat-cowboy-football/

On Friday, our special UW football section comes out. I think you’re going to like it. You definitely need to pick up a copy of the Tribune Eagle or Boomerang that day to check it out!