Mountain West Men's Basketball Weekly Release

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WELCOME TO THE MOUNTAIN WEST
San José State and Utah State officially became members of the Mountain West on July 1, 2013. While the Spartans and Aggies are official newcomers to the Mountain West, both squads are certainly not strangers to the league. San José State has faced four MW opponents at least 60 times in its history, including Fresno State (152), Utah State (69), San Diego State (64) and Nevada (60). In addition to the Spartans, Utah State has squared off against Colorado State 83 times and has met Wyoming on 66 occasions. The addition of the Spartans and Aggies brings the full-time membership of the Mountain West to 11 institutions and 12 football-playing members.

LOBOS DEBUT IN PRESEASON RANKINGS
Defending Mountain West champion New Mexico enters the 2013-14 campaign ranked No. 20 and 23, respectively, in the USA Today/Coaches’ and Associated Press polls. Boise State and UNLV also garnered some preseason attention, with the Broncos collecting 22 votes in the AP poll and 11 from the coaches, while the Runnin’ Rebels received eight votes from the AP panel and one from the coaches. This marks the second straight year at least one Mountain West team has appeared in both preseason polls.

AZTECS AND RUNNIN’ REBELS AMONG ELITE COMPANY
San Diego State and UNLV are two of 10 teams nationally (Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas State, Missouri, Ohio State, Syracuse, Temple, Wisconsin) to have won at least 23 games and advanced to the NCAA tournament in each of the last four seasons.

MW TRIO NAMED TO BOB COUSY AWARD WATCH LIST
Three Mountain West men’s basketball student-athletes - Boise State’s Derrick Marks, New Mexico’s Kendall Williams and Utah State’s Preston Medlin - are among 46 individuals who have been named to the 2014 Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award Watch List. The Mountain West is one of seven conferences (ACC, American, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC) with three or more players on the initial list. Named for Hall of Famer and former Boston Celtic Bob Cousy, the annual award recognizes the top point guard in men’s college basketball.

TWO NEW HEAD COACHES JOIN MW RANKS IN 2013-14
The Mountain West welcomes two new head coaches in 2013-14. Dave Wojcik brings more than two decades of coaching experience to his first season as a collegiate head coach, taking over the reins at MW newcomer San José State. Wojcik spent the past three seasons (2010-13) as the associate head coach on Leon Rice’s staff at Boise State. He has also served on the staffs at Tulsa (2006-09), Dayton (2004-05), Navy (2003-04), Wake Forest (1994-98; 2009-10), Loyola (1993-94; 1998-01), West Liberty State (1992-93) and James Madison (1991-92).

New Mexico will be under the direction of Craig Neal, who moves into his first head coaching role after serving as the Lobos’ associate head coach for the last six years. Neal began his collegiate coaching career with a three-year stint as an assistant at Iowa (2004-07) under former Lobo coach Steve Alford before making the move to New Mexico with Alford prior to the start of the 2007-08 season. Before entering the collegiate ranks, Neal served as an assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors of the NBA from 2000-03.

400 WINS AND COUNTING
With the addition of Utah State’s Stew Morrill, the Mountain West is now home to three 400-win head coaches. Morrill has amassed a 584-267 (.686) record over a 27-year head coaching career, while San Diego State’s Steve Fisher is 465-253 (.648) in 22 seasons as a head coach. Colorado State’s Larry Eustachy has compiled a 428-267 (.616) career record, also over a 22-year span.

MOUNTAIN WEST IN NON-CONFERENCE PLAY
The Mountain West posted the best composite out-of-conference record in the league’s 14-year history in 2012-13, as its .761 (105-33) win percentage surpassed the .756 (102-33) clip MW teams compiled in 2011-12. The Mountain West has finished with a .700 or better win percentage in non-conference play each of the last three seasons and four times overall.

BEST IN THE WEST
Over the last four seasons, the MW owns a mark of 34-34 against the Pac-12. During that four-year span, the MW has also gone 36-8 against the Western Athletic Conference; 25-7 vs. the West Coast Conference; 36-8 against the Big West Conference; and 31-8 vs. the Big Sky Conference.

UNLV’S BENNETT TAKEN AS NO. 1 PICK IN 2013 NBA DRAFT
The Cleveland Cavaliers selected UNLV freshman forward Anthony Bennett with the first pick of the 2013 NBA Draft on June 27. Bennett became the second player in the 14-year history of the Mountain West to be picked No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft, joining Utah’s Andrew Bogut (2005). The Mountain West is one of three conferences (C-USA, SEC) to have multiple No. 1 NBA draft picks in the 14 years since the Mountain West began operations in 1999-00.

Bennett, a 6-8 forward, garnered MW Freshman of the Year and Associated Press honorable mention All-America accolades in 2012-13. He ranked seventh in the league in scoring (16.1) as a rookie, while setting MW freshman class records for most points (564), field goals made (202), field goal attempts (379) and free throw attempts (177) in a season. The Brampton, Ontario, Canada, native was also second in the Conference in field goal shooting percentage (.533), fourth in blocked shots (1.2) and fifth in rebounding (8.1). Bennett became the first player to be drafted from UNLV since Marcus Banks was selected No. 13 overall in 2003, and is the highest a Runnin’ Rebel has been taken since Larry Johnson was also selected No. 1 by Charlotte in 1991. Bennett, the first Canadian to be picked higher than No. 4 in NBA history, is the Rebels’ eighth top-10 pick in history and fifth to go in the top five.

Overall, four Mountain West players were chosen in the 2013 NBA Draft, surpassing the previous high of two (2005, 2011). New Mexico junior guard Tony Snell joined Bennett as a first-round selection, going to the Chicago Bulls as the 20th pick. In the second round, San Diego State guard Jamaal Franklin was the No. 41 choice by the Memphis Grizzlies, while Colorado State center Colton Iverson was picked No. 53 by the Indiana Pacers.

MW CHAMPIONSHIP RETURNS TO LAS VEGAS
The Mountain West Championship returns to the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nev., (March 12-15) for the 12th time in the league’s 15-year history. The MW Tournament was held in Las Vegas from 2000-2003 before moving to Denver’s Pepsi Center for three years (2004-06).

WELCOME BACK
The Mountain West returns five of 15 All-Conference performers from the 2012-13 season, including one first-team selection, three second-team picks and one third-team honoree. The group is led by MW Player of the Year Kendall Williams (Sr., G, New Mexico). In addition, four Mountain West honorable mention honorees from last season also return to the hardwood, including MW Defensive Player of the Year Khem Birch (Jr., F, UNLV).

Mountain West newcomer Utah State returns two second-team all-conference performers in Spencer Butterfield (Sr., G/F) and Jarred Shaw (Sr., F/C).

2013-14 PLAYERS TO WATCH
Here is a breakdown of the returning All-Mountain West performers:

First-Team All-Mountain West
Kendall Williams, Sr., G, New Mexico

Second-Team All-Mountain West
Anthony Drmic, Jr., G, Boise State
Derrick Marks, Jr., G, Boise State
Alex Kirk, Jr., C, New Mexico

Third-Team All-Mountain West
Deonte Burton, Sr., G, Nevada

Honorable Mention All-Mountain West
Tyler Johnson, Sr., G, Fresno State
Hugh Greenwood, Jr., G, New Mexico
Cameron Bairstow, Sr., F, New Mexico
Khem Birch, Jr., F, UNLV

RETURNING STARTERS AND LETTTERWINNERS
Team Fr. So. Jr. Sr. Starters Letterwinners
Air Force 9 2 6 1 1 8
Boise State 3 3 5 4 5 9
Colorado State 3 2 4 2 0 5
Fresno State 5 4 3 2 2 5
Nevada 3 4 4 3 3 6
New Mexico 4 4 3 3 4 6
San Diego State 3 2 5 2 2 6
San José State 6 1 3 1 2 4
UNLV 6 1 6 2 2 6
Utah State 6 2 3 5 4 8
Wyoming 4 4 6 2 3 10
Totals 52 29 48 27 28 73

LOBOS CLAIM 2013-14 MOUNTAIN WEST REGULAR-SEASON TITLE
New Mexico claimed its fourth MW regular-season crown with a 13-3 record in 2012-13. The Lobos were the only team to go undefeated at home in Mountain West play (8-0) during the 2012-13 campaign and were also the only squad to post a winning road record against MW opponents (5-3).

NEW MEXICO CAPTURES 2013 MW TOURNAMENT CROWN
New Mexico claimed its second-straight and third overall Mountain West tournament crown, defeating No. 3 seed UNLV, 63-56, in the 2013 championship game. The Lobos began their run to the title with a 59-46 win over No. 8 seed Wyoming in quarterfinal action before holding off fourth-seeded San Diego State in the semifinals, 60-50. New Mexico became the second team in MW history to win an outright regular-season crown and the MW tournament title in the same season. San Diego State was the first team to accomplish the feat during the 2005-06 campaign.