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Preview: Las Vegas Sun Blogs: 'The Greene Room'

Las Vegas Sun Blogs: 'The Greene Room'

Latest ten entries from 'The Greene Room'


UNLV fan trying to go viral to help Rebels land Shabazz Muhammad

Mon, 18 Jul 2011 18:00:00 -0000

Apparently, UNLV fan Josh Meeter is taking the 'enough screwing around' approach when it comes to doing his part to help his beloved Rebels lure in the biggest hoops recruit in the city's history.

Meeter, who by trade is an art director, created a 30-second fake Nike commercial set to a T.I. track, portraying Shabazz Muhammad waving his arms to a crowd while wearing a No. 15 UNLV jersey. It's a spinoff from the Jordan Brand's 'Become Legendary' campaign, using that slogan early, followed by 'Become a Runnin' Rebel,' and then a little wrinkle with Muhammad's name at the end following the Nike 'Just Do It' branding.

Muhammad, a 6-foot-6 wing from Bishop Gorman, was recently bumped up to the prestigious No. 1 spot in the Top 150 rankings for the 2012 senior class. So far in the crucial July evaluating period for college coaches, Muhammad's done nothing but solidify that standing. In his first July game at the adidas Invitational in Indianapolis two weeks back, he scored 42 points.

Every major program in the country, obviously, is after him. UNLV will be competing with the likes of Kentucky, Duke, UCLA, Louisville, Arizona, Memphis, Kansas and many more for his services. While Muhammad and his father, Ron Holmes, have not given up much information so far during his recruitment, they've both long hinted that UNLV will be in the fight until the end. Right now, that's about the most that the UNLV faithful, such as Meeter, can hope for.

In this recruitment, it will be the little things that matter, it appears. UNLV got a nice little bonus on Sunday night, when Muhammad tweeted that he'd be spending the next few days in California with longtime family friend Bryce Jones, who this summer transferred from USC to UNLV. When he returns, fans can get a closer look at the always improving Muhammad and his loaded Dream Vision squad at the adidas Super 64 in Friday and Saturday's pool play at Rancho High.

Those games will be Friday at 10:20 a.m. vs. the Atlanta Celtics in the Rancho main gym, Friday at 5 p.m. vs. Indiana Elite in the Rancho auxiliary gym and Saturday at 1 p.m. vs. Double Pump Elite in the Rancho north gym. Click here for more info on the Super 64.

Mountain West hoops power rankings: Feb. 28

Mon, 28 Feb 2011 08:00:00 -0000

Mountain West hoops power rankings: Feb. 22 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Feb. 17 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Feb. 8 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Feb. 3 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 24 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 17 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 11 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 4 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Dec. 27 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Dec. 21 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Dec. 13 For the first time this season, we have a change atop the rankings, and really, there's very little debating it. Meanwhile, the middle of the pack continues to be a jumble, and will be the most interesting portion to watch as we head into the final week of the regular season. Let's get down to it ... 1) BYU (27-2 overall, 13-1 Mountain West) In the first meeting with San Diego State, Jimmer Fredette scored 43 points and carried BYU to a 71-58 win. On Saturday, his 25 points were nice, but his nine assists, which tied a season high, were even more profound. Fredette has carried the Cougars for much of the season by playing the role of the nation's leading scorer to perfection, but this around, in an 80-67 blowout of the Aztecs, he helped his teammates shine. In the process, BYU flexed its muscle, showing once and for all that it could be more than a one-man band. By drawing in defenders, Fredette kicked out several times to the likes of Charles Abouo and Noah Hartsock, who combined to go 7-of-9 from 3-point range. If that keeps up, it's hard to imagine who can beat the Cougars. With the win, BYU also made its path to the MWC tournament title game two weeks from now a bit easier, as it will now likely be able to avoid UNLV in Friday night's semis. Last Week: 2 2) San Diego State (27-2 overall, 12-2 Mountain West) Meanwhile, San Diego State gets the consolation prize of knowing that it will likely now have to face UNLV for a third time a week from Friday night on the Rebels' home floor. The Aztecs likely played themselves out of contention for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, despite their still-incredible record. I, for one, am very interested to see how they respond on Tuesday night in a trip to face lowly Wyoming. Off of such an emotional letdown, can they deliver like they should? After losing to BYU the first time, SDSU slugged the Cowboys four days later, 96-57, so we shall see. Last Week: 1 3) UNLV (22-7 overall, 10-5 Mountain West) Despite a very sloppy second half on Saturday night, UNLV was never in danger against Wyoming, controlling things the entire way in a 90-77 victory. The most impressive thing to come out of it was the fact that the Rebels didn't show any letdown from a crucial sweep on the road in the previous week of Colorado State and New Mexico. Are the Rebels peaking at the right time? The shooting touch across the roster is back, that much is for sure. Last Week: 3 4) Colorado State (18-10 overall, 8-6 Mountain West) The only reason Colorado State hangs onto the fourth spot in the rankings is because there's no one else who legitimately deserves it right now. It was a little over a week ago when the Rams were 8-3 in the league, destined for a third place finish and maybe even an NCAA tournament berth. Now, after three consecutive losses, it appears the NIT is the likely landing spot for Tim Miles' club in the postseason. Again, that's nothing to scoff at, considering that they were 0-16 in conference play just three years ago in Miles' first season at the helm. Also, losses to UNLV and BYU in close games are nothing brutal. However, a 17-point loss at Air Force could be a bad sign of things to come. The Rams have Utah at home on Wednesday and are at SDSU this Saturday. Let's hold off a bit before dropping down a final verdict. Last Week: 4 5) Utah (13-15 overall, 6-8 Mountain West) The Utes are not the MWC's fifth-best team, but their three consecutive wins earn them the bump this week. Plus, two of those wins have come in the game's closing moments — at New Mexico last Saturday [...]

Mountain West hoops power rankings: Feb. 22

Tue, 22 Feb 2011 08:00:00 -0000

Mountain West hoops power rankings: Feb. 17 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Feb. 8 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Feb. 3 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 24 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 17 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 11 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 4 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Dec. 27 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Dec. 21 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Dec. 13 The top two spots are again solid, but under the surface, the rest of the league continues to shift around. UNLV's monster win at Colorado State over the weekend and Utah's wild buzzer-beater to upset New Mexico in The Pit forced a decent amount of movement. If you're wanting to see San Diego State's stranglehold of the No. 1 ranking loosen, check back in a week, because it will if the Aztecs don't take care of BYU on their home floor next Saturday. For now, on to this week's rankings … 1) No. 6 San Diego State (27-1 overall, 12-1 Mountain West) Instead of falling apart following a 71-58 loss at BYU on Jan. 26, San Diego State made it a perfect 7-0 between that meeting and the rematch, which comes next Saturday. It's going to be the biggest game in the history of Viejas Arena, and the first game in Mountain West history on CBS. Apparently, some of the nation still needs to see the Aztecs, who as the only one-loss team in the AP Top 25 only got three first place votes this week. Seriously, what's up with that? If SDSU wins this game, it likely finishes the regular season 30-1. Last Week: 1 2) No. 7 BYU (25-2, 11-1) OK, now seems like the right time to come out with it … Last week, while sitting at my desk, I dug up a copy of my preseason Mountain West Conference poll and award nominees. I picked BYU to finish fourth in the league. Boy, was I wrong. I may as well apologize right now. But don't call me a BYU hater, because I voted Kyle Collinsworth as the preseasons Freshman of the Year. Again: Boy, was I wrong. On a more relevant note, BYU's Wednesday home game with Colorado State should be interesting. The Rams played the Cougars close in a 94-85 loss on Jan. 22 in Fort Collins, and Jimmer Fredette might be protected a bit with a left calf contusion — Especially with Saturday's monster clash looming. Last Week: 2 3) UNLV (20-7, 8-5) Barring two losses in their three remaining regular season games, the Rebels should finish the season here in the No. 3 perch, which is not too shabby. But credit in these rankings don't mean anything compared to an NCAA tournament berth, which UNLV is now safely in line for after securing a gritty road win at Colorado State on Saturday. Last Week: 4 4) Colorado State (18-8, 8-4) As for the Rams' NCAA tourney hopes, they're not dead yet. But while UNLV has all winnable games remaining, CSU has to play at both BYU and San Diego State. Tim Miles' club likely has to win one of them to get back into the projected field of 68. Even if they don't, they're NIT-bound, which is just fine for a program that was 0-16 in Mountain West play only four years ago. Last Week: 3 5) Air Force (13-12, 4-8) The once-promising Falcons have dropped four of their last five, but continue to play tough, disciplined ball. They almost pulled off a road win at UNLV last Tuesday, forcing the Rebels to play a slowed-down game that was in the academy's favor. Four days later, they led San Diego State by a point at the half before bowing out by 12. Credit Air Force for not throwing in the towel amidst the struggles. Last Week: 6 6) New Mexico (17-10, 5-7) It's all but official now that New Mexico's only way back to the NCAA tourney is by winning the Mountain West tournament. That became the case on Saturday, when the Lobos dropped a 62-60 buzzer-beating heartbreaker at The Pit to Utah … who was playing without leading scorer Will Clyburn. Between that and the loss at Wyoming, it's been a conference season to forget for the Lobos. Last Week: 5 7) Utah (12-15, 5-8) The Utes winning at New Mexico is something I'm sure[...]

Mountain West hoops power rankings: Feb. 17

Fri, 18 Feb 2011 07:30:00 -0000

Mountain West hoops power rankings: Feb. 8 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Feb. 3 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 24 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 17 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 11 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 4 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Dec. 27 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Dec. 21 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Dec. 13 We're entering the stretch run, and the top of the league is still intact. Behind San Diego State and BYU, though? It's still a jam. Let's explore … 1) San Diego State (26-1 overall, 11-1 MWC) The Aztecs just keep winning, and with their toughest remaining game — BYU on Feb. 26 — being at home, there's a very real chance that they'll be 30-1 when the regular season draws to a close. It's not just the fact that SDSU keeps winning anymore, though, that makes this all so impressive. It's how the Aztecs are doing it. In a 63-57 victory at UNLV on Saturday, they won in a hostile road environment despite converting only one field goal in the game's final 10 minutes. That was followed up with a strong home victory over New Mexico on Wednesday night. SDSU is not just winning like the No. 6 team in the country should be, but it's playing up to the ranking on a nightly basis. Last Week: 1 2) BYU (24-2, 10-1) Nothing new here, and Jimmer Fredette is still the nation's leading scorer. They had the mid-week off and will play at TCU on Saturday. One can only imagine what a bloodbath that could turn into. Last Week: 2 3) Colorado State (18-7, 8-3) Colorado State jumps UNLV because the Rams keep winning. The Rebels' loss to the Aztecs is nothing to be completely ashamed of, but their performance against Air Force was brutal … but more on that in a second. When it comes to CSU, it's hard to ignore the fact that Tim Miles' club is simply working everyone its supposed to be beating. They've lost three times, but haven't been blown out by anyone. Should Miles be the MWC's Coach of the Year? To tell you the truth, he would have my vote if the season ended today. Last Week: 4 4) UNLV (19-7, 7-5) The Rebels can reclaim the No. 3 slot by beating Colorado State in Fort Collins this weekend. It will take a much more inspired performance than the one they put on Wednesday night against the Falcons to do so, though. They only produced 14 field goals and tied a season low with 49 points. If it wasn't for their defense of late, UNLV might be in more trouble in terms of NCAA tournament aspirations. As it stands now, they've still got a great shot to finish third in the league. Last Week: 3 5) New Mexico (17-9, 5-6) Following a four-game win streak, New Mexico lost back-to-back games at Colorado State and San Diego State. Both games were close and the Lobos still look much better than they did three weeks ago. But, unfortunately, No. 5 is about as high as they'll probably get in these rankings the rest of the way. Last Week: 5 6) Air Force (13-11, 4-7) The Falcons lost their last two, and now get a home date with SDSU on Saturday, but they're still not deserving of a drop into the lower third. Last Week: 6 7) Utah (11-15, 4-8) Defeating Wyoming at home — as the Utes should — on Wednesday night gives Jim Boylen's struggling group the minor bump. Last Week: 8 8) Wyoming (9-17, 2-10) Since Frank Langley took over on an interim basis for the ousted Heath Schroyer, the Cowboys have put together two decent performances, downing TCU at home and then fading late in a loss to Utah. Gotta give the Pokes credit for not throwing in the towel at least, right? Last Week: 7 9) TCU (10-17, 1-11) In the six games since Ronnie Moss was placed on indefinite suspension, junior point guard Hank Thorns Jr. has 47 assists and 15 turnovers. A 3:1 ratio ain't bad. But TCU is 0-6 in those games. So, yeah … that means the cellar spot doesn't change. Last Week: 9 [...]

Mountain West hoops power rankings: Feb. 8

Tue, 08 Feb 2011 08:01:00 -0000

Mountain West hoops power rankings: Feb. 3 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 24 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 17 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 11 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 4 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Dec. 27 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Dec. 21 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Dec. 13 Once again, San Diego State and BYU have separated themselves from the pack a bit. And, again, the league's most intriguing race is between the Nos. 3 and 5 slots in the league standings. Colorado State is back up to third, UNLV has dropped to fourth and New Mexico's off weekend kept them right there at fifth. But did they move around at all in this week's Power Rankings? Well, that's why you look here every week, right? 1) San Diego State (23-1 overall, 8-1 MWC) The Aztecs slipped by TCU on Saturday, but the more interesting angle is the team's general health moving forward. Sophomore guard Chase Tapley and junior forward Tim Shelton left the game two minutes apart, with Tapley hurting his left ankle, while Shelton's issue was a right foot injury. X-rays on both revealed no broken bones, and they're likely out for Tuesday's game against Utah. As for Saturday at UNLV, their statuses are cloudier. Without Tapley, more pressure is put on reserve guard James Rahon to produce, and it also thins the Aztecs out at the point. Last Week: 1 2) BYU (22-2, 8-1) Yes, Fredette found ways other than hitting ridiculously-long jumpers to take over a game on Saturday against UNLV, winning 78-64. But if his supporting cast plays like it did in this weekend's outing, BYU becomes a legitimate threat to make a deep tourney run. The 22 points off of the bench from Charles Abouo and Stephen Rogers were just as huge as Jimmer's 29. Last Week: 2 3) UNLV (17-6, 5-4) Nope, not going to drop the Rebels just yet behind either Colorado State or New Mexico. The Lobos were off this weekend, and the Rams struggled to get by Wyoming. In my mind, that's on par with playing a tough game at BYU and losing (And keep in mind, not many visitors win at the Marriott Center). Lost in the brutal offensive performance was that the Rebels actually defended Fredette very well, and it was his supporting cast that did a lot of work. However, if the Rebels continue to shoot like they did on Saturday, they won't get on that roll that they've been hoping to find here in league play. So are they still No. 3? Yes. But the ground is a little softer. Last Week: 3 4) Colorado State (16-7, 6-3) Don't read too much into this bump ahead of New Mexico, as it mostly stems from CSU winning over the weekend while the Lobos were off. But, still, Colorado State is beating the teams it's supposed to beat. A 10-6 MWC season very likely will happen. If BYU and SDSU weren't Top 10 teams right now, Tim Miles would be the frontrunner for the league's Coach of the Year honers. Heck, he still might get some votes. Last Week: 5 5) New Mexico (16-7, 4-4) Is the Lobos' recent surge for real? They've won three in a row, the young guys are now up to speed and the team is rested. The upcoming 3-game stretch should be pretty telling as to how legit it is. New Mexico hosts Wyoming, who upset the Lobos in Laramie to open league play, on Wednesday night. Then comes back-to-back road trips to face Colorado State on Saturday and San Diego State next Wednesday. A 2-1 finish in that stretch, and I'll buy it some more. Last Week: 4 6) Air Force (13-9, 4-5) Even though Utah is down a bit, Air Force's regular season sweep of the Utes is quite impressive. Wednesday night ought to be fun when BYU heads to Colorado Springs. There might even be a sell-out crowd at Clune Arena. How much of it is because of The Jimmer Show coming to town? Last Week: 6 7) TCU (10-14, 1-8) TCU didn't win a game in the last week, and hasn't done so since Jan. 12, actually. But you've got to give the Frogs some credit, because after getting slapped around by New Me[...]

Mountain West hoops power rankings: Feb. 3

Fri, 04 Feb 2011 06:00:00 -0000

Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 24 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 17 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 11 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 4 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Dec. 27 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Dec. 21 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Dec. 13 Apologies for the delay this week with the rankings, but I've got a good excuse in tow, folks … As of late Wednesday night, Mountain West Conference play hit its official mid-way point for all nine league teams. So, you can essentially consider this mid-year report card of sorts. The cream is now starting to rise, and we're seeing the true identities of the league's contenders and pretenders. And … here … we … go … (Pardon me, just watched The Dark Knight the other night. Channeling the inner Joker here) 1) San Diego State (22-1, 7-1) The Aztecs lost to BYU, but dropping them here would make no sense. There are several reasons. One would be that SDSU hardly got embarrassed in Provo last Wednesday, playing neck-and-neck with the Cougars for 35 minutes before The Jimmer Show was just too much to handle. Then, the Aztecs, like any good team would, bounced back in rebellious fashion by stomping Wyoming by 39 points three days later, showing no signs of an emotional hangover. That was followed with a tough, 2-point victory at Colorado State on Wednesday night. Topping it all off, BYU lost its next time out at New Mexico. There's no shame in losing at The Pit, but the Cougars' supporting cast around Jimmer Fredette couldn't help out much, exposing a clear sign that the Aztecs are still the better team, top to bottom. Last week: 1 2) BYU (21-2, 7-1) As long as Jimmer Fredette is averaging his unconscious 34.4 percent points per game in league play and bombing 25-footers in opponents' faces at will, the Cougars appear locked in at No. 2 at the very least. Last week: 2 3) UNLV (17-5, 5-3) The Rebels are back up to No. 3 after Colorado State just couldn't capitalize on the opportunity at hand against San Diego State on Wednesday. UNLV has a golden shot at getting back into the MWC regular season title race. Lon Kruger's club is only two games out, has won three in a row and can make up even more ground by pulling off an upset at BYU this Saturday afternoon. The key for the Rebels the rest of the way might be whatever Tre'Von Willis can add, now that their senior leader appears to be as healthy as he's been in a month. Last week: 4 4) New Mexico (16-7, 4-4) The Lobos are back where they belong after winning three straight heading into the mid-way stop. Out of nowhere, it's all come together for Steve Alford's group. Freshmen Kendall Williams and Tony Snell are coming into their own, and UCLA transfer Drew Gordon has firmly established himself as the best non-Aztec big man in the league. The key, though, is the strong play of late from Dairese Gary. He's not scoring a ton, but his defense on Fredette was a huge key last Saturday, and during the current 3-game win streak, he has 26 assists and only seven turnovers. Last week: 7 5) Colorado State (15-7, 5-3) If you read this blog regularly, you know I'm quick to elevate the Rams and coach Tim Miles. It really looked like they were ready for primetime after beating UNLV by 15 in Las Vegas, but home losses to BYU and now San Diego State since then by nine and two points, respectively, show you how slim the margin for error is in these rankings. The Rams need as many marquee wins as possible in league play to get into the NCAA tournament at-large discussions, since their non-conference résumé leaves a bit to be desired. Had they been on the other end of that nail-biter on Wednesday with the Aztecs, a 16-6 overall record and a 6-2 league mark would have them right in the thick of the race. Now they've got some work to do, and the rematches with BYU and SDSU will both be on the road. Good luck, fellas. Last week: 3 6) Air Fo[...]

Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 24

Mon, 24 Jan 2011 08:00:00 -0000

Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 17 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 11 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 4 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Dec. 27 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Dec. 21 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Dec. 13 The boldest moves this week involve Colorado State and New Mexico, who continue to be heading in opposite directions. The Rams are tougher than they've gotten credit for, while the Lobos, it appears, might have some chemistry issues behind their slide away from solid NCAA tournament at-large status. Here we go ... 1) San Diego State (20-0, 5-0) Well, the eyes of the nation will be watching on Wednesday night, when the Aztecs get their toughest challenge yet this season at BYU. They should be rested after having the weekend off. SDSU needs this win, though, for reasons beyond just staying ahead in the race for a Mountain West Conference title. Their non-conference résumé is now looking pretty flimsy, mostly thanks to Gonzaga's fade from relevance. Winning in Provo would potentially silence whatever critics are left. Last Week: 1 2) BYU (19-1, 5-0) Oh, you know, a ho-hum 42-point performance from Jimmer Fredette on Saturday night at Colorado State. That win looks great, as Moby Arena is quickly becoming a much tougher place for MWC teams to visit, and the Cougars rolled in and pretty much controlled the game for a full 40 minutes. We keep saying that BYU will be vulnerable if Fredette has an off-night, but the problem there is that he's just not showing any signs of having one in the foreseeable future. Scary. Last Week: 2 3) Colorado State (13-6, 3-2) You can't really blame the Rams for falling to a red-hot BYU club on Saturday night, plus they closed it in late and actually had a shot to overcome a 15-point halftime deficit. Winning at UNLV on Wednesday night was enough to give Tim Miles' squad a lift into the league's upper-third for the first time this season. Last Week: 4 4) UNLV (15-5, 3-3) Both teams almost gave the game away multiple times in the final two minutes of UNLV's 63-62 triumph over New Mexico at the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday afternoon. The Rebels were this close to being 2-4 in the league instead of having new life again at 3-3. But it was a win, and they'll take it, no matter how ugly it was at times. The key is building off of it, and they could really use a big, convincing win at Wyoming on Tuesday night before getting a week off to help get some swagger back. Last Week: 3 5) Air Force (11-7, 2-3) Air Force's three league losses are to BYU, UNLV and San Diego State. No shame in that. What the Falcons are proving, though, is that they will handily take care of the opponents they should be wiping away. That was reinforced with a thorough 72-51 whipping of Wyoming at Clune Arena on Saturday. A winning record is looking very possible for Air Force this season. That's quite a step forward. And how about a fist bump for the league's most underrated performer to this point: Tom Fow? The 6-foot-6 junior is averaging 14.4 points per league game and is a combined 15-of-25 from 3-point range. Yes, 60 percent. Last Week: 5 6) Utah (10-10, 3-3) Could Jim Boylen's team be turning a corner here? They've won three league games in a row by an average margin of 13.3 points. Athletic 6-foot-7 wing Will Clyburn is leading the way, averaging 18.3 points per effort in conference games. I said could be turning the corner, and that will be more concrete if the Utes win next Saturday at home against upstart Colorado State. Those three aforementioned victories were against Wyoming, TCU and fading New Mexico. Last Week: 7 7) New Mexico (13-7, 1-4) This slide has not been pretty. Here's the question, though, as the Lobos are 0-3 on the road in MWC play: How many away games will they win from here on out? Remaining are games at SDSU, BYU, CSU and TCU. I'm setting the over/under a[...]

Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 17

Mon, 17 Jan 2011 20:00:00 -0000

Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 11 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 4 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Dec. 27 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Dec. 21 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Dec. 13 Sorry to disappoint those looking for a bunch of shake-up near the top this week. Most of the movement is among the league's current bottom-feeders, but a couple of early upstarts are holding strong in the middle of the pack. Lets get to it. 1) No. 6 San Diego State (19-0, 4-0) This No. 1 ranking is more solid than ever before. Personally, I was about 85 percent sold on the Aztecs until this last week, but a tough 55-49 home win against UNLV and then an 87-77 result at New Mexico did it. I always believed that SDSU was the best team in the Mountain West, but now I agree that it's legitimately one of the top five teams in the nation. In those two games, super sophomore forward Kawhi Leonard combined for 34 points and 32 rebounds. That's just sick. 2) No. 9 BYU (17-1, 3-0) A weekend off made it a pretty blah week for the Cougars. Well, of course, there was Jimmer Friedette's 47-point explosion on Tuesday night at Utah. But what else is new? (Sidenote: I have major beef with Fredette being named the league's Player of the Week. 47 points is beyond impressive, I know. But it was against Utah, who, well, isn't the most defensively sound team in the world. Leonard posted his numbers against two teams that could very well end up in the NCAA tourney. One was in arguably the toughest venue in the league — The Pit. Case closed. That's all.) 3) UNLV (14-4, 2-2) The loss at San Diego State was expected, but UNLV played the Aztecs tighter than many expected. The win at Air Force wasn't the prettiest, but that 19-2 run to close out things at Clune Arena helped the Rebels end a tough week with a bit of a spring in their steps. That was badly needed, considering how up-and-down the start to MWC play has been for Lon Kruger's club. 4) Colorado State (12-5, 2-1) In the actual Mountain West Standings, CSU is third. To this point, they've beaten who they're supposed to beat. But now we'll see if the Rams really belong in the conversation with the league's cream. This week, they play at UNLV (where they lost 70-39 last year) and host BYU (who slugged them 92-70 at Moby Arena last February). Tim Miles really could use a win in one of those, or at the very least, single-digit losses in both. 5) Air Force (10-6, 1-2) Mark it right now: Air Force will pull off an upset that no one expects at some point this season in Colorado Springs. I couldn't tell you who it'll be, but it was almost UNLV on Saturday. The final margin of 12 points was a bit skewed, as the Rebels flexed some muscle late with that run, but make no mistake: Air Force is much more formidable it was in the last two seasons. The weird thing is that it's pretty much the same cast of characters, only they're all healthy now. 6) New Mexico (13-5, 1-2) The home victory over Colorado State was strong, but the 10-point loss to San Diego State on Saturday at home looked closer than it actually was. There were two positives to come out of it for the Lobos moving forward, though. First, Drew Gordon had 23 points and 14 boards against arguably the nation's best frontcourt. Not bad. Also, Dairese Gary scored 23 points, but also had seven assists to only one turnover. He needs to keep that up for UNM to find its stride. The Lobos' Saturday trip to face UNLV is huge in that the winner will have the upper hand for the league's potential third NCAA tournament bid. It might turn out to be just a 3-bid league this year anyway. 7) Utah (8-10, 1-3) I hadn't watched a ton of Utah until Saturday, when they blew out Wyoming in Laramie. The Utes have some scoring punch that could keep them close in almost every game in MWC play. 8) Wyoming (8-10, 1-3) TCU is the better team t[...]

Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 11

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 05:00:00 -0000

Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 4 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Dec. 27 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Dec. 21 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Dec. 13 OK, so after a few boring weeks of little shift in the weekly rankings, we finally have something substantive to go off of with a week of conference play in the books. I remind you: No cursing. 1) No. 6 San Diego State (17-0, 2-0) The Aztecs not only remained undefeated and opened league play with back-to-back wins, but they won two games on the road. Yes, their opponents (TCU and Utah) have the two worst overall records in the Mountain West, but that's two road games out of the way, plain and simple. Three of SDSU's next four games, however, come against UNLV (at home, Jan. 12), New Mexico (away, Jan. 15) and BYU (away, Jan. 26). If perfection holds thorough that … well … then … wow. 2) No. 11 BYU (17-1, 3-0) Jimmer Fredette scored 47 points on Wednesday night in a 104-79 trouncing of rival Utah. FORTY-SEVEN!!! The only thing more entertaining than the race at the top of the Mountain West standings this year will be Fredette's push for National Player of the Year honors. 3) UNLV (13-3, 1-1) Colorado State was very close to taking over this spot for a moment, but then A) UNLV rediscovered its roots in an 83-49 smashing of TCU and B) CSU needed every last drop to overcome a 13-point deficit against Wyoming … at home. I still think the Rams post a winning record in the league this year, but that's not enough to jump the Rebels. 4) Colorado State (11-4, 1-0) The Rams still fared better against Wyoming than New Mexico did (see below). 5) Air Force (10-5, 1-1) The Falcons probably aren't in the 5-hole to stay. Don't worry. But for this week, they've earned it. They beat Utah by eight and held within 10 points of BYU in Provo. I doubt Air Force finishes above the bottom third in the league standings (maybe sixth), but I also don't see them getting blown out as frequently as they have been in the last two seasons. 6) New Mexico (12-4, 0-1) The Lobos were having enough trouble coming together before getting Drew Gordon at midseason, but since the UCLA transfer joined the active roster, they're 5-3. A long way to go for New Mexico, it appears. A buzzer-beater loss at Wyoming could be a big early blow to a potential NCAA tourney at-large resumé. 7) Wyoming (8-8, 1-1) Wyoming gets a break from the cellar for at least a week after beating New Mexico. Still, the Pokes should be 2-0. They flat-out blew that game at CSU. 8) Utah (7-9, 0-2) The Utes at least look cohesive most of the time (again, see below). 9) TCU (9-8, 0-2) In the loss to UNLV, TCU looked like anything but a team made up of guys who enjoy playing with one another. Some of Hank Thorns Jr.'s comments after the game were a bit salty, too. This group could have some, uh, choppy waters ahead. [...]

Mountain West hoops power rankings: Jan. 4

Wed, 05 Jan 2011 04:00:00 -0000

Mountain West hoops power rankings: Dec. 27 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Dec. 21 Mountain West hoops power rankings: Dec. 13 League play is officially here, as Colorado State came back from a surprising double-digit first half deficit to defeat Wyoming in Fort Collins, Colo., on Tuesday night, 73-60. Six of the other seven teams get going on Wednesday. That said, here's the final non-conference Mountain West hoops power rankings of the winter (well, sort of, as it'd be unfair not to count CSU's win in its resumé, right?). Oh, and Happy New Year, too. 1) No. 6 San Diego State (15-0) The Aztecs open up their conference slate with a game that many will view as a trap, playing at TCU. SDSU is getting some flack of late for its schedule, then not beating some of those inferior foes by enough. But, heck, if you had to play that collection of recent opponents since no one of note will come west to face you, you'd be bored out of your mind, too. But now it's time for Steve Fisher's club to start really paying attention, because say what you will about the Horned Frogs, but they're 7-1 at home this season. Also, it's easy to get lulled to sleep in the, well, sleepy atmosphere at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. 2) No. 15 BYU (14-1) This No. 2 ranking will be much more solid next week if the Cougars can get their first win over UNLV at the Thomas & Mack Center since 2005 on Wednesday night. 3) No. 25 UNLV (12-2) And if UNLV beats BYU, it probably moves up the ladder. It's simple math, people. 4) New Mexico (11-3) Yes, the Lobos lost a game last week and now jump ahead of Colorado State. Why? Because a loss at Dayton by three looks much better than a loss on a neutral floor to Hampton. New Mexico's league schedule doesn't get interesting until next week. It hosts CSU Bakersfield on Wednesday and travels to Wyoming on Saturday, then hosts both the Rams and Aztecs next week. That, I'm guessing, is when we learn a little more about Steve Alford's still-solidifying group. 5) Colorado State (11-4) Making up for the Hampton loss by coming back from way down to pound Wyoming looks good, and keeps the Rams right on the Lobos' heels. 6) TCU (9-6) Should I drop TCU off of back-to-back losses to Tulsa and Rice? Probably. But I won't. Both games were on the road, and the 3-point set back to the Golden Hurricane came without junior point guard Hank Thorns Jr., who sat out with a knee injury. The Las Vegas native is now back, but if he doesn't stay healthy, the Frogs could slip big-time. 7) Air Force (9-4) The Falcons get to jump Utah, despite losing by 17 on the road to UTEP. The night before, against Sam Houston State (also played in El Paso), they rallied from down by almost 20 in the first half to win by 11. Air Force probably won't get much higher than this in the rankings this season, but the team is much healthier than it was a year ago, and that means it can probably put a scare into several of the league's mid-range clubs. 8) Utah (7-7) The Utes enter the conference schedule on Wednesday at Air Force off of four consecutive losses. It doesn't look like things will be turning up in Salt Lake City any time soon, either, as after the trip to Colorado Springs comes home dates against SDSU and BYU. 9 Wyoming (7-8) At one point in Tuesday's first half at Colorado State, the Cowboys led by double digits, were 13-of-19 from the floor and 7-of-12 from three. Unfortunately, it looks like it's going to take many more spurts like that to even keep the Pokes in competition with many league teams this year. [...]