All-MW men’s basketball team announced

Here is the link for the 2012-13 All-Mountain West men’s basketball team.

http://www.themwc.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/031113aah.html

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.

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UW-Colorado St. postgame thoughts

Colorado State was good, senior center Colton Iverson was dominant and there wasn’t much Wyoming could do about it.

The Cowboys lost their regular-season finale 78-56 to the Rams Wednesday night at the Arena-Auditorium. They finished the regular season on a five-game losing streak, and with a record of 18-12 overall and 4-12 in the Mountain West.

It looks like UW will play Nevada at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the play-in game at the Mountain West Tournament.

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Border War Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Matt Stephens, who covers Colorado State men’s basketball for the Fort Collins Coloradoan.

Wyoming (18-11 overall, 4-11 Mountain West) hosts Colorado State (22-7, 9-5) at 8 tonight at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.

Question: Air Force’s Michael Lyons, New Mexico’s Kendall Williams and Boise State’s Derrick Marks have had huge games the last couple of weeks against the Rams. Is there a big concern about Colorado State’s perimeter defense, or do you chalk it up to three very good players having very good games?

Answer: I only get concerned when CSU is playing on a Saturday. The Rams held all UNLV and Fresno State players to less than 20 the past two Wednesday, so there must be some voodoo going on.

But really, I don’t see what CSU is missing in terms of on-ball defense. Williams and Lyons each had a hand in their faces on most shots, but they were allowed to catch the ball. The Rams have really focused on “no catch” defense the last week or so, and against Fresno State it worked, as they denied Kevin Olekaibe the ball in the second half to shut him down.

It is hard to really figure out what else CSU can do. Even Larry Shyatt noted it Monday that opponents were just having big games. No rhyme or reason.

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UW-Air Force Q&A

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.

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UW-Colorado State postgame thoughts

One of the first plays of the game was indicative of how this game would go for Wyoming

After the Cowboys missed their first shot, Colorado State got the ball down low to senior center Colton Iverson, who made a strong move the basket and tried to dunk over UW senior forward Leonard Washington. Iverson missed the dunk, but he was fouled.

About two hours later, CSU beat UW 65-46 in a game where five CSU players scored in double figures compared to one for the Cowboys.

UW was outrebounded 42-28, outscored 20-5 at the free-throw line and had a season low three assists on 17 baskets.

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UW-Colorado State Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Matt Stephens, who covers Colorado State men’s basketball for the Fort Collins Coloradoan in Fort Collins. Wyoming plays at Colorado State at 5 p.m. today at Moby Arena.

Look for Q&As with beat writers of Wyoming’s conference foes throughout the rest of the season.

Question: What are the biggest differences or changes with the team this season with first-year coach Larry Eustachy compared to how things were with former coach Tim Miles?

Answer: Defense, defense, defense. When Miles arrived in 2007, he also wanted to build CSU as a defensive power, but he quickly realized that there wasn’t really anyone on the team who could shoot the ball that season outside of Marcus Walker. Instead, CSU had to find ways to score points and as the years went on and Miles recruited better talents to Fort Collins, coaching shooters paid off.

Eustachy is all about defense and rebounding. Call it luck of the draw if you will, but having five seniors as his starters made this easier. We all knew the scoring ability of guys like Wes Eikmeier and Dorian Green, but this year we’re seeing them as more complete players. Look at Colton Iverson and Pierce Hornung. Both of them do most of their work inside on both ends, but almost never get in foul trouble because they’ve been coached defensive positioning.

No team has out-rebounded the Rams all season.

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UW-New Mexico pregame notes

Tonight’s game for Wyoming, along with Saturday’s at Colorado State, will provide another test defensively for the Cowboys.

UW must contend with New Mexico sophomore center Alex Kirk, a 7-footer who also is 250 pounds. He averages 11.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots per game. Kirk is a good story in the league after missing last season due to back surgery.

Does UW put senior forward Leonard Washington on Kirk, or sophomore forward Larry Nance Jr.? Not sure if Nance is physical enough to contend with Kirk.

Saturday, the Cowboys must deal with CSU’s 6-10, 260-pound senior Colton Iverson. He averages 14.3 points, 9.5 rebounds and shoots a league-best 56.1 percent from the field.

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MW men’s basketball power rankings

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. No. 20 New Mexico (17-3 overall, 4-1 MW, 7 RPI): The conference race got interesting again after the Lobos went 1-1 last week with a home win over Colorado State and a 55-34 loss at San Diego State. The loss to San Diego State wasn’t surprising, but scoring 34 points was. That is the lowest for New Mexico in the shot clock era. New Mexico beat ranked teams at the time following its previous two losses. It should get better this week with games at Wyoming and at home against Nevada.

2. No. 22 San Diego State (16-4 overall, 4-2 MW, 29 RPI): The Aztecs moved up by being the only team to win both games in league play last week, and they did it in impressive fashion. San Diego State is the most versatile team in the conference. Why? Six-foot-7 sophomore forward J.J. O’Brien started at point guard in both games last week, and earned MW Player of the Week honors. The team’s 0-2 mark the week before last is a distant memory.

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