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. 16 New Mexico (22-4 overall, 9-2 MW, 3 RPI): Remains No. 1 this week with a half-game lead over Colorado State. Junior guard Kendall Williams leads the conference in minutes played and is second in assists (4.67 per game). Other than sophomore center Alex Kirk’s 1.64 blocked shots per game (second in the conference), no other player ranks in the top five in statistical categories it tracks. Shows that this is one of the most complete teams in the conference with several players that can hurt teams. The Lobos play at Colorado State Saturday.
2. No. 22 Colorado State (21-4 overall, 8-2 MW, 13 RPI): If the Rams are going to win the league title, this could be the pivotal week with games at UNLV Wednesday and at home against New Mexico Saturday where they have won 27 straight. A road win at Air Force last week was impressive, but one at UNLV would be even bigger. New Mexico may be the most complete team in the conference, but the Rams arguably have the best starting five, all of which are seniors.
I am still in Orlando, Fla., for the Associated Press Sports Editors winter conference and contest judging event. Not trying to rub it in to those of you back in Wyoming, but the weather is a lot better here. … Windy, but in the 70s.
Anyway, I caught up with Mark Zeigler who covers San Diego State men’s basketball for the San Diego Union-Tribune and I asked him five questions on Wednesday’s Wyoming-SDSU game.
With San Diego State’s recent struggles, is the team wearing down because of a lack of depth with only nine scholarship players? I don’t think anyone knows for sure, but it certainly looks that way. Two things I have noticed that would indicate accumulated fatigue are players getting stuck in screens far more often than earlier in the season, and flatter jump shots. Both point to tired or heavy legs. And the nine scholarship players is deceiving. One rarely plays. Another plays but only because a guard has to come off the bench and there’s no one else. Another is DeShawn Stephens, who was cut from his high school team and, while an incredibly inspirational story, is in just his third year of organized basketball (and first at the Division I level). So when Jamaal Franklin sat out the Air Force game with a sprained ankle and Garrett Green, his replacement in the starting lineup, sprained an ankle midway through the second half, they in reality were down to four experienced players who get meaningful minutes.
I asked Mark Zeigler, who covers San Diego State men’s basketball for the San Diego Union-Tribune, five questions about Tuesday’s game with Wyoming.
After losing so much talent of last season’s team, how has San Diego State been able to simply reload? It’s a combination of rebuilding and reloading. They lost four starters and 72 percent of their offense, but they’ve replaced that with a mix of returning players and newcomers. Xavier Thames and Garrett Green are both transfers, and Chase Tapley, James Rahon and Tim Shelton are returnees. Tapley and Rahon played big minutes last season, but Shelton was limited to about 10 minutes per game by injuries. Having him healthy is like adding a new player. The key thing, though, is that everyone around last year, including the transfers sitting out, was infused with the culture of winning from a 34-3 season. And that, more than anything, seems to have rubbed off. One other thing, and I wrote about this Saturday, is that this is Fisher’s best “film team,” a really cerebral group that is really engaged and attentive during scout and film sessions. Here’s a link, in case anybody is interested: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jan/20/sdsus-secret-weapon/