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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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-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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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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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. 15 New Mexico (16-2 overall, 3-0 MW, 8 RPI): The only undefeated team in league play after two weeks, and the only team in the AP poll. The Lobos also have the conference’s longest winning streak at three, which says a lot about how tough all the teams are. Faces a big home game tonight against Colorado State where both teams are equally as good in the backcourt and frontcourt.

2. Colorado State (15-3, 2-1, 17 RPI): An overtime loss at San Diego State is the only conference loss. This is the most veteran team in the league, and perhaps the most physical. Senior and first-year center Colton Iverson and senior forward Pierce Hornung combine to average 19.1 rebounds per game, and the Rams are the conference’s best rebounding team. CSU needs a signature road win in league play, and tonight it gets a shot at New Mexico.

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MW men’s hoops 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. Look for these rankings every Tuesday during the conference season.

Let him know what you think about these first rankings heading into league play.

1. San Diego State (12-2, RPI 42): The most complete team in the MW with a good mixture of veterans and newcomers. The Aztecs’ two losses have been against top 10 teams (Syracuse and Arizona), and they are the highest ranked MW team in both polls at 15th (coaches) and 16th (AP). They are second in the MW in scoring defense (57.9 ppg) and field-goal percentage defense (38.1 percent).

2. UNLV (13-2, RPI 24): The elbow injury to junior forward Mike Moser hasn’t slowed the Rebels down much, and they also are in the top 25 in both polls (19th coaches) and 24 (AP). Freshman forward Anthony Bennett leads the league in scoring (19.9 ppg) and is third in rebounding (9.1 rpg) and blocked shots (1.47 bpg). UNLV also leads the MW in assists (18 apg) and steals (9.13 spg).

3. Wyoming (13-0, RPI 25): The Cowboys broke into the top 25 in the coaches poll Monday, and are ranked for the first time since 1988. UW will be more challenged to win games without senior guard and second-leading scorer Luke Martinez. Still, the Cowboys lead the MW in scoring defense (54.6 ppg). Senior forward Leonard Washington, the MW Player of the Week, has emerged as a Player of the Year candidate.

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UW-CSU Q&A

Kelly Lyell of the Fort Collins Coloradoan answered five questions I gave him on Saturday’s Wyoming-Colorado State men’s basketball game.

Let me know what you think.

What’s been Colorado State’s biggest hang-up on the road this season? Maintaining the kind of defensive focus and intensity that the Rams play with at home, particularly as fatigue sets in as games wind down. CSU has a short bench this year, because coach Tim Miles committed scholarships to two transfers who have to sit out under NCAA rules – Colton Iverson (Minnesota) and Daniel Bejarano (Arizona). The Rams are basically playing an eight-man rotation when everyone’s healthy and have had as few as six of those players available in some conference road games.

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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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