Stop the Presses



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I reported last week that "USA Today" was in Provo for a feature on Bronco Mendenhall and BYU Football, and word is the story could be out in tomorrow's (Tuesday's) paper. Be watching for that...

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There are other national publications that have been researching and preparing BYU Football features, and apparently some of these stories are "on hold," in anticipation of BYU's Thursday game at TCU. A Cougar win in Fort Worth could release the floodgates on some rather prominent articles.

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With LB Grant Nelson's return imminent, freshman Iona Pritchard has given his #39 back to Nelson (the number's previous "owner"), and Pritchard will now wear jersey #37 in games.

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The MWC gave New Mexico head coach Rocky Long a public reprimand for his comments after the loss at BYU on Saturday. Long said the officials "blew" a late penalty call--a call he labeled "criminal," adding that the officials "took the game away" from his team.

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The league tonight unveiled its "all-decade" Men's Basketball team, as detailed in the following release:

The Mountain West Conference announces its Men's Basketball 10th Anniversary Team, as selected by a combined panel of media, institutional and conference personnel and on-line fan poll. In order to be eligible for consideration, candidates must have been an all-Mountain West First Team selection at least once in their careers.

Anniversary teams will be chosen for each of the 19 conference-sponsored sports during the 2008-09 seasons in celebration of the Mountain West's 10th anniversary.

Lee Cummard Guard/Forward BYU

Jason Smith Forward Colorado State

Ruben Douglas Guard New Mexico

Danny Granger Forward New Mexico

Brandon Heath Guard San Diego State

Wink Adams Guard UNLV

Marcus Banks Guard UNLV

Andrew Bogut Center Utah

Marcus Bailey Forward Wyoming

Josh Davis Forward/Center Wyoming

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Interesting to note that BYU has the most regular conference championships (4) and outright championships (2), the most conference wins (87) and the highest overall winning percentage (.661) since the inception of the MWC. Yet, only one Cougar made the 10th Anniversary team, while three teams (New Mexico, UNLV and Wyoming) with a combined three regular season championships (one outright, and none in the last 6 years) were honored with two players each. Utah is second to BYU in conference wins, and also has four regular season championships (one outright), yet was limited to one player on the list.

If I recall correctly, my ballot looked like this:

Jason Smith, CSU

Ruben Douglas, UNM

Danny Granger, UNM

Brandon Heath, SDSU

Marcus Bailey, Wyoming

Britton Johnsen, Utah

Andrew Bogut, Utah

Mekeli Wesley, BYU

Keena Young, BYU

Lee Cummard, BYU

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As you can see, I did not have any UNLV players on the list, nor did I have Josh Davis on my list. In their places, I had Wesley, KT, and Britton Johnsen (all three were MWC Players of the Year). I just happen to think that the two most dominant teams in the league over a nine-season span should be well-represented. UNLV has done well, but the Rebels' success is in part a function of its homecourt advantage in the postseason, and less representative of consistent championship excellence.

I truly did struggle with putting two Lobos on the team, since UNM has not won a regular season championship (UNM did win a tourney title in 2005). But, Douglas was an un-guardable Player of the Year (and the nation's leading scorer in 2003, I believe), and Granger was an NBA guy the minute he stepped on the floor in Albuquerque (and led the Lobos to a 10-4 league mark and the tourney title in '05). Both UNM players were two-time all-MWC first-teamers. As for Johnsen's omission from the 10th Anniversary team, well, that's a tough one. He was the Player of the Year in 2002, and no worse than a second-teamer from his sophomore season forward. I thought he was one of the five best players to play for Rick Majerus.

CSU has the worst 10-year record of any MWC original, but Jason Smith was as good a big man as the league has ever seen, and it was tough for me to leave him off.

As I recall, my toughest choices were for three spots between Smith, Douglas, Granger, Utah's Nick Jacobson, Utah's Marc Jackson, and Air Force's Nick Welch. Utah's Alex Jensen was in the MWC for only the first year of the league, although he was a Player of the Year that season (2000). My choices could be debated, and I might have been persuaded to change a pick or two, but overall, I feel that the best players and players from the best teams made my cut.

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In all, of the 10 Players of the Year (two players shared the award in 2004), only four made the 10th Anniversary Team. The players to win the yearly award but not make the team were:

Jensen, 2000 (only season in the league)

Wesley, 2001

Johnsen, 2002

Welch, Rafael Araujo (2004)

Keena Young, 2007

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The 2008-09 preseason all-conference selections are announced tomorrow, from Las Vegas. BYU hed coach Dave Rose and reigning Player of the Year Lee Cunmmard are representing the Cougars in Vegas.

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