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WAC Notebook

January 8, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



WAC Notebook

by Phil Dailey

Last place, Broncos think not

At the beginning of the season the Boise State Broncos (8-4, 2-0 WAC) were picked by most media outlets to finish last in the Western Athletic Conference. Althon, The Sporting News and Street and Smith all picked the Broncos to finish in the cellar. Sure the Media picked them at the bottom, but the WAC coaches wouldn’t do that right?

Wrong, Boise State received only 16 points in the WAC preseason coaches’ poll, leaving them at the bottom of the barrel once again. The Broncos faired a tad better in the WAC media poll ranked ninth-only ahead of a, at the time, a coachless Texas-El Paso team

Knowing this, the Hawai’i Warriors (8-2, 1-1) came to Boise thinking the Broncos would be nothing more than another tune up for the top-talent in the WAC.

Perhaps the Warriors were looking at their first home WAC game of the year this Thursday against Southern Methodist? Or maybe it was the early 1:05 p.m. start time (10:05 a.m. HST) that got to the two-time defending WAC Tournament Champs? Whatever the reason, the Broncos were ready for the Warriors, beating Hawai’i 65-63 in overtime at the BSU Pavilion Saturday night.

The win was one of the biggest in recent years for Boise State. The Broncos beat a tournament-bound Wyoming team early last season, but went south after that stalling to 13-17 record.

What’s this, the two top teams in the conference face off this week and it’s not Tulsa (8-3, 1-1) and Hawai’i. That’s right, and for now, Boise State and Fresno State (9-2, 2-0) should take pride in the fact that they are tied for first place. It’s only fair that the two teams that knocked off the top contenders face off for the right to sit atop the WAC.

No matter what happens the rest of the way for Boise State, they have already exceeded the expectations of the so-called experts.

Slowly falling off the radar

If the Boise State is one of the surprises in the early stages of conference play, then it would only be fitting that there are a few teams that have been sub-par this season.

Two teams that were picked to finish anywhere from 4th to 6th in the WAC this year are Southern Methodist (5-6,0-1) and Nevada (5-7, 0-2). Since SMU has only played one conference game so far, we’ll leave them alone – at least this week. This courtesy will not be extended to Nevada.

After a fairly successful season last year finishing tied for fifth in the WAC with a 9-9-conference record (17-13 overall), the Wolf Pack looked as though they were going to make some noise in 2003. They’ve made noise all right beating teams like San Francisco, and Seattle Pacific. Maybe it’s too early to criticize Nevada, after all both conference losses have come on the road.

The bright side for the Wolf Pack is forward Kirk Snyder. Averaging a hair more than 30 minutes a game, Snyder leads the team in points (16.1), rebounds (7.5) and assist (2.7).

Snyder, a sophomore from Upland, CA., has already been hailed as an NBA prospect, needs a few more contributions on the Wolf Pack squad to help carry the load.

Let’s hope Nevada can get back to respectability this week as they take on UTEP on Thursday and Boise State on Saturday, both games are in Reno at the Lawler Events Center.

All in the family

As mentioned earlier, SMU hasn’t exactly impressed anyone this season, but look out as they have a one of the best guards in the nation. Bryon Hopkins has been said to be the best recruit the Mustangs have ever signed. So far he has lived up to the hype averaging 12.1 points per game in 10 games. Hopkins is also averaging over three assist and rebounds per contest.

If it weren’t enough to a have one of the top-recruits in the nation, how about getting his twin brother as well. That’s right; SMU also has Bryon’s twin brother, Ryan.

Ryan hasn’t made the same impact as Bryan though, seeing limited action playing in only three games. Last season as members of Lincoln High School in Dallas, the Hopkins brothers led their team to a state title and 40-0 record.

SMU has the twins, but they could have three Hopkins on their team. Older brother Leonard opted to play for North Texas where he averages 12.7 ppg for the Mean Green.

Player of the Week

The WAC Player of the Week goes to Boise State guard Bryan Defares. Defares not only hit the game winner against San Jose State, but as well in the overtime win against Hawai’i. Defares scored a combined 33 points in the two wins.

     

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