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Mountain West Notebook

December 3, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments

Mountain West Notebook

by Bob Thurman

Holiday Tournament Updates

The Mountain West was represented in three major tournaments the past week, with mixed results at best. Two of the conference’s premiere teams, Wyoming and Utah, participated in the Great Alaska Shootout and the Maui Invitational, respectively. Unfortunately, neither team performed well, which I’ll talk about more later. The good news came from the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands, where BYU captured the title to remain unbeaten. The Cougars first beat Kansas State, 73 – 64, despite the ejection of star Travis Hansen. In the championship game, BYU beat a tough Saint Bonaventure team, 66 – 57. BYU won by clamping down on defense, holding the Bonnies to 25 percent shooting in the second half. Amongst all the MWC teams, BYU might be playing the best basketball so far this season.

Up in Alaska, Wyoming had a good opportunity to shine on a national stage. However, that never materialized as the Cowboys lost their first game against College of Charleston, 81 – 72, who later captured the tournament title. Wyoming bounced back to win their next two games, but missed the opportunity to play against some of the tournament’s best teams, such as Michigan State and Villanova. The Cowboys may regret this past week come March.

On the beautiful island of Maui, Utah had the opposite problem. They ended up playing some quality teams, but only managed to win one of the three games. In their first game against Gonzaga, the Utes played well the first six minutes, but then became unraveled by Gonzaga’s defense. Meanwhile, the Zags kept pounding it inside and dominated the boards. As the game progressed, this opened up their outside game, where Gonzaga took advantage by knocking down numerous three pointers. The game was not as close as the 71 – 52 score indicates. Utah won the next game against Massachusetts 69 – 53, but lost the finale to an underrated Arizona State team in overtime, 83- 79. With only four returning lettermen, the Utes are not in sync and struggling to score at times. Freshman point guard Tim Drisdom has been erratic these first few games and needs to settle down. In addition, Utah’s frontcourt needs to beef up and improve its rebounding if they want to compete in this tough conference. On a positive note, it is quite obvious all the newcomers on this team have some talent and should improve as they gain experience. Of course, this does not help ease the pain Ute fans are feeling at this moment.

More Stumbles Along the Way

The rest of the conference did not fare too well either. San Diego State continued its woes with a 91 – 86 loss to Portland (No, not my local team the Jail-Blazers, but the University). The Aztecs finally got a win against Cal Poly, 65 – 62, but still struggled early on as they were down by 13 at one point. Colorado State started off the season with four straight wins, but lost their last two against Southern Illinois and Arkansas – Little Rock. Besides BYU, only UNLV continues to play well as they posted wins over UAB and Washington. They’ll get their first big test of the season Saturday when they travel to Madison to face Wisconsin.

New Mexico Loses Another

The Lobo program took another hit this past week when starting guard Senque Carey went down with a spinal cord injury in their game against Northwestern State. Carey lay motionless for 10 minutes before being carried out on a stretcher. Carey is confined to a wheel chair due to the lack of feeling in his legs, so returning this season is unlikely. However, Carey has a positive outlook and has not given up hope of returning to the court. During his career at New Mexico and Washington, Carey has been a class act both on and off the court. I wish him only the best of luck in his recovery and look forward to writing about his return to the court someday soon.

This Week’s MWC Heat-Miser Award

Uche Nsonwu-Amadi, Wyoming
23 points, 8-13 FG, 18 rebounds, 2 blocks versus Loyola Marymount

The Cowboys’ big center was the difference in their close win against the Lions. Wyoming’s backcourt struggled throughout the game, so it was up to Uche to carry this team to victory, and he succeeded. However, the Cowboys can’t rely on him to produce numbers like this every game, so he better start getting some help.

This Week’s MWC Snow-Miser Award

Brian Greene, Colorado State
3 points, 1-4 FG, 5 rebounds, 5 turnovers versus Arkansas-Little Rock

After a great start last week, the Rams’ top player suddenly has gone MIA. This weak performance was on the heels of a similar 2-point outing in their loss to Southern Illinois. As shown in these first two weeks, Colorado State lives and dies on Greene’s performance. He has to get back in gear if the Rams want a shot at postseason play.


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