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.
“If you have a couple of road wins at the first turn you’re in good shape, if you don’t you need to find a couple. You lose ground when you lose at home,” TCU coach Jim Christian said.
No MW team finished the first half of league play with an undefeated road record. New Mexico was 3-1. UW and San Diego State were 2-1 and UNLV was 2-2. Half the teams (San Diego State, UNLV, Colorado State and TCU) went undefeated at home. Only Air Force and Boise State failed to win a home game.
UNLV coach Dave Rice was complimentary of UW in its 68-66 win over his Rebels last Saturday in Laramie, which dropped them from 11th to 14th in the AP Poll this week.
Rice said one key for the Cowboys was turnovers. UNLV forces nearly 16 turnovers per game, but UW had only eight. UW continues to be the MW leader in turnover margin at +3.22 per game.
Rice also said Cowboys junior forward Leonard Washington was a big factor in the Cowboys’s success. Washington had 16 points but he made only 5 of 13 shots. But because Washington athleticism and quickness, Rice felt UNLV needed to pay more attention to him and that opened things up more for UW guard Luke Martinez and Francisco Cruz. He’s right as those two combined for 31 points.
Going to do something new starting today and through the rest of the season. Here is my MW power poll and why I went with who I did. Would love your thoughts and feedback:
1. San Diego State (20-3, 6-1): The 6-1 conference record says it all. Wins over New Mexico and UNLV were impressive.
2. New Mexico (19-4, 5-2): Has won four in a row and only losses coming to two of the better teams in the league — San Diego State and UNLV. Freshman point guard Hugh Greenwood was hurt during those games, but is back now.
3. UNLV (21-4, 5-2): There isn’t much separation between one and three here, but Rebels need more of a sense of urgency on the road.
4. Wyoming (18-5, 4-3): Beating a nationally-ranked team like UNLV last Saturday vaulted the Cowboys up to here. Depth is still an issue, but this team is a grinder and finds ways to win.
5. Colorado State (15-7, 4-3): No road wins in league play yet, and four of seven down the stretch will be away from Fort Collins.
6. TCU: (13-9, 3-4): Like CSU, Frogs need to find ways to win on the road in league play. Been better than most thought so far this season.
7: Boise State: (10-12, 0-7): Nearly a dozen different starting lineups due to injury and other issues. Close games with UNLV and San Diego State are enough to keep it out of the cellar for now.
8. Air Force: (11-10, 1-6): After an impressive win at Boise State to open league play, things have gone downhill for the Falcons. Lopsided losses to New Mexico and CSU last week has this team reeling.
For more UW and Mountain West hoops news, see Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang.