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WAC Notebook

December 27, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments

WAC Notebook

by Phil Dailey

Tough times in El Paso

From the start, it looked as though the Texas-El Paso
Miners (2-5) were in for a long season. Now, in addition to the
controversial departure of their former head coach Jason Rabedeaux, there is
the recent loss of their senior leader Roy Smallwood. Thus, the road to
success looks to be a longer journey than previously anticipated.

Smallwood is out for the remainder of the 2002-03 season after tearing
the ACL in his left knee during the first half of 80-58 loss at New Mexico
State. The injury will require surgery, which will be performed in 2003.
The tear is in the same knee that he injured during his prep career at Milby
High School in Houston.

Smallwood ranks 16th on the Miners’ all-time scoring list with 1,119
points, as well as sixth in blocked shots with 99. He was averaging 6.0
points and 7.2 rebounds (ranked second on the team) and tied for the team
lead with seven blocked shots and six steals–before suffering the injury.

Smallwood is one of just 18 players in school history to score 1,000
points and grab 500 rebounds. In 2000 he was named WAC Freshman of the Year.
UTEP athletic department officials are currently investigating the
possibility of a medical redshirt year for Smallwood.

The good news for the Miners is that they notched their second win of
the season last week against Tennessee State. After a date with Columbia
this weekend, UTEP will start the WAC season against one of the preseason
favorites, Hawai’i on Jan. 2 in Honolulu.

Nevada’s Snyder honored by WAC

Nevada guard Kirk Snyder has been named the Western Athletic Conference
men’s basketball player of the week for December 16-22. Snyder, a sophomore
averaged 21.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in a pair of wins last
week against Seattle Pacific and Portland on Saturday.

As goes Snyder, so goes the Wolf Pack. (4-5). Nevada started out the new
season projected as one of the better teams in the WAC, but have
struggled in the early going against mediocre teams, going 2-5 on the
year until recent wins over Seattle Pacific and Portland State. Snyder led
the Wolf Pack to victory in both contests, scoring 24 and 19 points,

Nevada looks to close out its non-conference schedule against San Diego
this weekend and then will travel south to Rice and Tulsa for it first two
conference games.

Tulsa Keeps Moving On

When the season began, it was no secret that Golden Hurricane (7-1) was
considered to be one of the best teams in the nation, and they have lived
up to the hype so far. After losing to Kansas, Tulsa avoided a let down
with two solid wins against cross-town rival Oral Roberts and former WAC
member Texas Christian.

Despite only scoring five points in the win at Arkansas, Jason Parker
has been Mr. Consistency this season for the Golden Hurricane. Parker, a
native of Tulsa is averaging 17.6 points per game, including a season high
30 points against Wichita St.

Tulsa will put its top 25 ranking on the line one more time as they play
host to Iowa this weekend before they defend their championship against the
rest of the WAC on New Year’s Day against Fresno St.

Louisiana Tech back to .500

The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs have made it back to respectability, winning
their last two games. Although the victories came at the expense of
inferior teams, the Bulldogs are preparing themselves for the upcoming WAC
season once more, as they gear up for their final non-conference game of the
season against top-rated Texas.

Antonio Meeking continues to dominate against all opponents and leads
the Bulldogs in points per game (18.7) and boards per game (8.5). Meeking
is a 6-foot 8-inch senior from Farmerville, La. The Dec. 30 game against
the Longhorns will mark the third game against a top 25 foe for the Bulldogs
this season. They lost earlier to Florida in the Preseason NIT and fell to
Mississippi St.

Could they be the Mighty Owls?

What’s this?…The Rice Owls are getting ready to head into WAC play on a
five game winning steak? With a win over Louisiana College on Dec. 30, the
Owls (6-2) just might be the hottest team in the WAC when the conference
season starts up in less than a week.

The Owls’ current winning streak includes wins against Lamar, St.
Edward’s, Colorado and Navy. Sure, their not playing the toughest schedule,
but they have won their last four games by an average of 28 points per game.

Omar-Seli Mance, Michael Harris, Brock Gillispie and Jason McKrieth are
all averaging double-digits in points for the Owls. Harris leads the team in
boards with over eight per game.

Can they win on the road?

One of the true tests of a good team is their ability to win tough games.
But more than that, it’s about winning games on the road against mediocre
opponents. Fresno St.(6-2)has played three games on the road so far this
season, winning only one. The Bulldogs beat San Francisco back on Dec. 7,
but have failed in their last two attempts against a tough Oklahoma State
team and an average-at-best Washington State team.

The Bulldogs should be able to handle Sacramento St. on Dec. 29 before
their showdown with conference front-runner Tulsa, next week.
Looking past the letdown against the Cougars, Fresno St. has been off to
a solid start, considering all the distractions of the NCAA investigation
and the new faces on campus. Look for Ray Lopes to have his team at the top
of the WAC standings by tournament time in March.


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