NCAA Tourney Favorites
Hawaii defeated Fresno State on Saturday night, 82-79, to finish in a tie with Tulsa at 15-3 for the WAC’s regular season crown. It’s the second-ever WAC title for the Rainbow Warriors who also tied for the Pacific Division title in 1996-97. It’s Tulsa’s third title as the Golden Hurricane tied for the Mountain Division title in 1998-99, and won the regular season championship in 1999-2000.
Hawaii sophomore guard Carl English averaged 24.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals in a pair of games last week. Coming into the two games, English was averaging 15.4 points per contest, but he began the week by scoring 16 points and pulling down seven rebounds boards against Nevada.
Two nights later at Fresno State, English scored a career-high 33 points in Hawaii’s 82-79 victory, which gave the Rainbow Warriors a share of the regular season WAC title and the number one seed in this week’s conference tournament. English scored 27 of his 33 points in the first half and tied his career-best with five three-pointers, picking up the slack for guard Predrag Savovic who was out due to back spasms. For the week, English was 16-of-33 (48.5%) from the field, 6-of-15 (40%) from three-point range and 11-of-15 (73.3%) from the free throw line.
Other Nominees Included:
Booker Nabors, Boise State – averaged 19.0 points in two games last week and scored a career-high 28 points versus Louisiana Tech.
Melvin Ely, Fresno State – averaged 23.0 points and 9.5 rebounds in a split of two games. He made 18 of 25 field goals (72.0%) and was 11 of 13 versus Hawaii. Ely also matched his career-high with five assists versus San Jose State.
Michael Wilder, Louisiana Tech – came off the bench to average 17.0 points in two road victories over Boise State and UTEP. He shot 80.0% from the field (12 of 15), including 5 of 7 from three-point range. Against Boise State, Wilder was perfect making all seven of his shots from the floor and three free throws to notch a career-high 19 points.
Kirk Snyder, Nevada – averaged 17.0 points in a split of two games. He scored a career-high 22 points in a win over Hawaii, and had 12 points against San Jose State to reach double figures in six straight games.
Brandon Hawkins, San Jose State – averaged 18.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists in two games. In a win at Nevada, Hawkins scored 25 points to go along with six rebounds and five assists.
Quinton Ross, SMU – scored a total of 38 points and pulled down 17 rebounds in two games on the road.
Kevin Johnson, Tulsa – scored a game-high 21 points to go along with six rebounds and four blocked shots in a win at Rice. He was 9 of 13 from the field (69.2%).
The 2002 all-WAC teams, as voted upon by the coaches, were announced on Sunday. For the second year in a row, Fresno State’s Melvin Ely was named the Player of the Year. Rice forward Michael Harris earned Freshman of the Year honors, while Hawaii’s Riley Wallace was chosen as the Don Haskins Coach of the Year.
The championship game on Saturday, March 9 at 9:00 p.m. (EST) will be nationally televised by ESPN2. Terry Ganon will announce the play-by-play and Bob Valvano will provide analysis.
3. Louisiana Tech
6. Fresno State
7. Boise State
9. San Jose State