Tag:Mountain West
Posted on: February 16, 2012 10:56 am
Edited on: February 16, 2012 12:52 pm

Alford's New Mexico Lobos finally earn resume win

By Jeff Goodman

New Mexico's win at SDSU on Wednesday likely vaults the Lobos into the NCAA tournament. (US Presswire)

New Mexico finally got that win. 

The Lobos had been searching for a resume victory since, well, all season long. Steve Alford's team got its most impressive win to date on New Year's Eve against Saint Louis at The Pit, but it came up empty in its two January opportunities against UNLV and San Diego State, thus putting the Lobos on the wrong side of The Bubble. 

There were just two chances left on the slate -- last night at San Diego State and Saturday morning at home against UNLV. If New Mexico couldn't get one of those two, it would likely be headed to the NIT. 

But it all changed last night with the crucial road win at the Viejas Center against San Diego State. These days, the Viejas Center is one of the most difficult venues on the west coast, maybe even the country. I saw it first-hand twice last season.

"It was huge for us with the league race," Alford said on Thursday morning. "No question. But as far as the NCAA is concerned, we've been consistent ... we felt like our body of work was good enough." 

Not if the Lobos had gone 0-for-4 against the Mountain West's big boys of San Diego State and UNLV.  

It's been difficult to get a feel for this team this season despite the abundance of talent in Albuquerque. The Lobos lost to New Mexico State and Santa Clara early in the year and beat up one some of the bottom-feeder BCS teams (Arizona State, Boston College, Washington State and USC). But last night showed the potential that this New Mexico team boats -- led by veteran big man Drew Gordon (17 points, 17 rebounds). 

Guards Kendall Williams (21 points) and Jamal Fenton (15 points) stepped up last night while talented sophomore wing Tony Snell struggled again against the Aztecs -- being held scoreless. Phillip McDonald, the team's top perimeter shooter, also finished with the goose-egg -- yet New Mexico came away with a fairly decisive win. 

"We didn't get a point from those guys and still won by 10," Alford said. "But we've been a deep team all year." 

Maybe I'm nuts, but I think this could be a deep and also a dangerous team -- as long as they get into the NCAA tournament. However, right now the Lobos still aren't a lock to go dancing. 

That could change Saturday -- as long as Alford & Co. can get the Mountain West's top-ranked team, UNLV, at The Pit. 

A victory would put the Lobos two games in front of UNLV and also a game up on the Aztecs with four regular-season contests remaining. 

"It's a huge game," Alford said. "If UNLV beats us, it's a three-way tie again. If we beat them, we're two up and it's pretty much us and San Diego State." 

Posted on: February 8, 2012 3:06 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 3:07 pm

Report: Air Force fires its head coach

By Matt Norlander

Air Force has fired its coach, Jeff Reynolds, according to Frank Schwab of the Colorado Springs Gazette.

A press conference on Wednesday afternoon is scheduled to formally announce the change. Assistant Dave Pilipovich is expected to take the reigns for the remainder of the year, according to Schwab. Air Force, 11-10, has lost its last six games and never finished above .500 under Reynolds, who took the job in 2007.

Reynolds' firing is the fourth in-season boot in college hoops this year.

Posted on: January 30, 2012 3:11 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2012 4:49 pm

Win over SDSU boosts Colorado State's NCAA hopes

Colorado State's win over San Diego State gives the Rams legitimate at-large hopes heading into the final month. (AP)

By Jeff Borzello

It’s no secret that schedule-based numbers like the RPI don’t always agree with performance-based metrics from people like Ken Pomeroy and Jeff Sagarin. This year, Colorado State is the prime example of the dichotomy.

The Rams have the No. 18 RPI and No. 3 SOS in the country, putting them squarely in the NCAA tournament conversation. However, KenPom.com has them at No. 107 and Sagarin ranks them No. 91.

“Our numbers are fascinating,” Colorado State head coach Tim Miles said.

As a result, many people have doubted the Rams as a legitimate at-large possibility this season. Road losses to Wyoming by 19 and New Mexico by 32 didn’t help ease those concerns, and neither did a 21-point home defeat to Southern Miss.

Over the weekend, though, Colorado State opened plenty of eyes with a dominant home win over San Diego State, 77-60. The win finally gave the Rams a marquee win for their at-large resume, and also puts them back in the Mountain West title hunt.

“Our guys always thought that we would better this year than last year, and no one else thought that,” Miles said, referencing his 19-13 campaign last season. “A win like [the one over SDSU] solidifies that in our thinking, and hopefully in others.”

Colorado State can start thinking about its NCAA tournament resume now. The Rams are 13-6 overall, with a 3-2 record in MWC play. The computer profile is outstanding, as mentioned above, with a top-20 RPI and top-five SOS. On the plus side, they have the win over San Diego State, along with top-100 victories over Colorado and Denver.

On the flip side, they are just 2-5 away from home and 3-6 against teams ranked in the top 100 of the RPI. The margin in some of the losses is also a concern.

“We’re not a dominating team,” Miles said. “We don’t play defense all that well; we’re spurty. So, obviously because of lack of consistency on the defensive end, we’ve been doubted.”

The Rams can erase even more of the detractors on Wednesday at UNLV. A win there would force everyone to take Colorado State seriously heading into the final eight games. Five of the final nine are on the road, but the Rams’ hopes for a league title and at-large bid will come down to a three-game stretch in late February: home vs. New Mexico, at San Diego State and home vs. UNLV.

If Colorado State is within striking distance in three weeks, winning two of three during that stretch could really boost the profile. The win over San Diego State was a start, but there’s still plenty of work to be done.

“You’ve got to keep doing it,” Miles said.

More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: January 17, 2012 2:50 pm

No bigger surprise than Steve Fisher's Aztecs

By Jeff Goodman

Kawhi Leonard may be in the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs, but he's still making his presence felt with his former teammates at San Diego State. 

"His work ethic, I think we all watched him and learned a lot," Aztecs guard Chase Tapley said. "I know I did. He's so humble, just wants to win and worked so hard and it rubs off on everyone else." 

But work ethic can only do so much. You still need talent -- and after Steve Fisher lost a first-rounder early in Leonard, and three other starters off last season's team, just about everyone figured it would be a rebuilding year. That San Diego State, one of the true feel-good stories a year ago, would return to mediocrity. 

Instead, the Aztecs - coming off a huge win at the Viejas Center this past weekend, are 15-2 and sit among the Top 20 teams in the country heading into Wednesday's tilt at the Pit in New Mexico. 

Fisher has done a remarkable job with this group, one that should put him right there for National Coach of the Year honors. 

"I think we all thought it was a rebuilding year," Tapley admitted. 

Tapley, the lone returning starter, has been phenomenal this season. He's averaging 16.9 points while shooting 52 percent from the field and 49 percent from long range. This coming from a guy who was a role player last season, one who averaged 8.6 points per game and played in the shadow of Leonard, Malcolm Thomas, D.J. Gay and Billy White. 

Sophomore guard Jamaal Franklin is a terrific talent who had to wait his turn and is quickly taking advantage. James Rahon is a threat from the perimeter and two transfers -- Xavier Thames and Garrett Green -- have both been solid. 

The wins haven't been eye-opening until the one against UNLV. There was a road victory in Tucson, which is never an easy task, and another Pac-12 win against Cal. The Aztecs also took down the top two teams in the Big West: Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara. 

However, beating the Runnin' Rebels gave this team credibility. 

"We knew that UNLV beat North Carolina," Tapley said. "And everyone knows how talented Carolina is. We knew that UNLV was going to be a huge test for us, and that we couldn't blow this opportunity." 

But now comes another. 

Posted on: January 9, 2012 8:17 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 8:36 pm

Khem Birch chooses UNLV over Florida

By Jeff Goodman

It’s only been three weeks, but the recruitment of Khem Birch has taken plenty of twists and turns since rumors first started that he was leaving Pittsburgh.

On Monday, it ended: Birch is headed to UNLV, a source told CBSSports.com.

The 6-foot-9 Canadian power forward chose the Runnin’ Rebels over Florida. Xavier, Gonzaga, New Mexico and others were also in the mix at one point.

Birch was the highest-ranked player to ever commit to the Panthers, but he left the program after 10 games. He said in late December that he didn’t bond well enough with his teammates at Pittsburgh, and also that the style of play wasn’t ideal for him.

He averaged 4.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.9 blocks at Pittsburgh.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: December 27, 2011 8:59 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:35 pm

Conference Reset

As well roll into January that can only mean one thing -- we're about to launch full swing into conference play.

For some teams, non-conference play was a wake-up call. Teams that many thought would easily stroll into the NCAA tournament come March will now have to pick up the pace in league play.

Through Jan. 5, the CBSSports.com college basketball crew will be putting the spotlight on every major league, letting you know what you may have missed and what do you need to watch out for going forward.

  • ACC
    The ACC is going to be great soon with the additions of Syracuse and Pittsburgh. But is it great right now? Not really. North Carolina remains a national title contender, Duke is Duke (despite Wednesday's loss at Temple) and Virginia is a surprise. But the league's other nine teams are either unproven or proven to be average or bad, and that's not a good look for a conference that prides itself on playing a high level of basketball. Read More >>
  • Atlantic 10
    For a while, it appeared the Atlantic 10 might finish without a conference champ. Xavier got off to a sizzling start with nine straight victories. Then came The Brawl -- followed by the Fall. Xavier suspended Tu Holloway, Mark Lyons and Dez Wells after the fight with cross-town rival Cincinnati -- and it all fell apart. Chris Mack's team lost three of its next four, including setbacks to Oral Roberts and Hawaii, which gave hope to everyone else in the league. Now Rick Majerus' Saint Louis team, which has only one loss thus far, may have a shot. Temple has struggled at times, but the Owls could challenge. And Saint Joseph's finally appears back in contention after two brutal campaigns. Read More >>
  • Big 12
    The Big 12 title is up for grabs. Kansas has been king of the league for most of the past decade, but this season the Jayhawks look vulnerable. No one can match the talent and length of Scott Drew's Baylor squad, but the Bears haven't been the most impressive team in the conference thus far -- that honor belongs to Missouri and new coach Frank Haith. But don't count out Kansas State as long as Frank Martin has this group of somewhat anonymous Wildcats buying into his brand of basketball -- which means playing hard. Read More >>
  • Big East
    When compared to last season, the Big East might look down this year. It's not going to be in the mix for 10 or 11 NCAA tournament bids, and the bottom of the league is not very strong. With that said, don't underestimate the conference too much; it has at least three legitimate top 10 teams and six teams who should receive top-four seeds in the NCAA tournament. Read More >>
  • Big Ten
    How many teams can enter league play these days and legitimately say they have eight teams in the equation for an NCAA tournament bid? Probably just one, and that's the Big Ten. After Ohio State, there's plenty of depth in this conference, which has established itself as the premiere league in the country this season. Read More >>
  • Conference USA
    Though Memphis is a disappointment, it's still the best team in Conference USA by a wide margin. But don't take my word for it. Take Ken Pomeroy's. His invaluable site (KenPom.com) still has Memphis ranked 31st and projected to be favored in every game it plays the rest of the way. So that 8-5 record is likely to turn into something like 26-8 on Selection Sunday (barring serious injuries or notable suspensions, the latter of which is always a possibility at Memphis). So Memphis will win C-USA. The real question is whether C-USA can put two teams in the NCAA tournament. Read More >>
  • Horizon League
    It doesn't seem likely that the Horizon will produce a national finalist for the third year in a row, but that doesn't mean the conference has taken a huge fall. Cleveland State and Wisconsin-Milwaukee have played well during non-conference play, and the league has had a few marquee clips against BCS-league teams. And what about Butler, the aforementioned two-time national finalist? The Bulldogs are turning things around as we enter conference play. But the rest of the league won't let Brad Stevens' troops waltz to a yet another Horizon title. Read More >>
  • Missouri Valley
    It's been a few years since the Valley was this good, even though the bottom part of this one (like most leagues) has a few bad teams. The race to win the league should be among four teams. For whatever reason, MVC clubs capture the hope of many in the tournament. Creighton, Northern Iowa, Bradley, Southern Illinois are all schools that have had big March moments. Two of the aforementioned can and should get into the Big Dance this year. Read More >>
  • Mountain West
    It's better than the Pac-12, and the case could be made it's the fourth-best collection of teams in college hoops. There isn't one group that's even flirting with .500. For a non-BCS conference, that's pretty unexpected and really good. And its success so far goes much deeper than Vegas' defeat of UNC back in November and Steve Fisher's insistence on looking like he teaches grad-level lit classes. Read More >>
  • Pac-12
    The Pac-12 has become the rebellious teenager that gets in its own way and is hurtling toward a life with no future. Here we are again having the same discussion we’ve been having the past few years. Nothing seems to be changing. This league is putrid yet again, and where’s the hope? Not an overstatement: Three Pac-12 teams making the NCAA tournament will be a genuine achievement. Read More >>
  • SEC
    Some fans take joy in the fact that John Calipari has never won a national title. If you're one of those, you might be in trouble. Kentucky really might do it this year. The Wildcats are big and strong and long and talented. They have shooters. They have shot-blockers. They've got everything you need to win a national championship, and they are, right now, the favorites out in Las Vegas. Read More >>
  • West Coast
    Outside of the six BCS-affiliated conferences, the No. 7 spot in league rankings is up for grabs. Why not the West Coast Conference? With three legitimate threats to win a game in the NCAA tournament, the WCC has as good of an argument as anyone. Moreover, with some of the non-conference wins the bottom half of the league picked up in November, the quality victories are there as well. Read More >>

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Posted on: June 6, 2011 3:37 pm
Edited on: June 6, 2011 4:04 pm

Mountain West unveils new-yet-'90s-inspired logo

Posted by Matt Norlander

There it is. Here's what the old one, the one that was in used until a few minutes ago, looked like.

That one was certainly still feasible, but this is a new era for the Mountain West, so new logos must be implemented. I believe that's an NCAA bylaw, in fact. The logo has a nickname, you know. It's true! They're calling it "The Rock" and insisting this new era of MWC athletics go by the moniker: "This is our time." It's all dipped in so much seriousness I can't help but laugh at the irony. Outside from getting Fuel to play at the presser, there isn't too much else that could've been done here to signify just how unintentionally last-decade this whole shebang turned out to be.

At today's unveiling, the new, boxy logo was described as "a very corporate look, a very simple look." Indeed it is. And utterly underwhelming. Seems many conferences are afraid to be daring and creative and forward-minded in their logo desigins. The Pac-12 is excluded from such criticism.

But this is all part of the rebranding process for the 12-year-old Mountain West, which pushes on, as it'll have a new caravan of teams in the next two years. Boise State is joining this fall, and Fresno State, Hawaii and Nevada will join the league in 2012. Meanwhile, BYU and Utah are leaving immediately, while TCU has one more year of dues to pay before it bolts for the Big East, a natural geographical fit.

Here's the release
about the logo and today's ceremonies, which act as the initiation into the new Mountain West regime.
"This initiative is emblematic of the evolution of our league," [league commissioner Craig] Thompson stated. "The overwhelming majority of the people we spoke to said the Mountain West is bold, feisty and highly competitive, and we strongly believe these qualities are reflected in our new brand identity and our new logo. ... Our fans were right in noting that our evolving membership and geography reflect both 'Mountain' and 'West' equally. The logo is bold, strong and balanced just like our league. We like the fact that it's instantly recognizable to fans on either side of the playing field."
In time it will be. But it's just a logo, and one that's giving me a hankering to fire up my old Compaq and play a round of Doom.

Update: Here's the amazing introduction video played from today's presser. I love seeing conferences prop themselves up like this.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: June 2, 2011 11:26 am
Edited on: June 2, 2011 11:58 am

Utah/BYU feud heats up over transfer

Larry KrystkowiakPosted by Eric Angevine

The Church of Latter Day Saints comes in for a lot of ribbing these days. There's the BYU honor code scrap from this past winter, and a hit Broadway musical from the creators of South Park. Those of us who aren't members of the church don't understand the strictures believers willingly adhere to, so they seem like fair game to make light of.

One of those strictures is the requirement that young church members travel to perform a religious mission. It's the reason players for Utah, BYU, Utah State, Weber State, etc. are often older than their peers - they leave and come back to continue their playing careers.

Apparently, there's an unwritten rule that players on Mormon missions cannot be recruited by other programs. Utah - on its way to the Pac-12 - is accusing Brigham Young - on its way to the WCC - of violating that rule. 6-foot-7 forward Josh Sharp is a Utah signee who has been away for two years. He's enrolled in summer classes at BYU while still on his sojurn, though BYU has not officially signed him, and can't comment on his status as a result.

Here's a statement from new Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak (right), as cited in the Salt Lake City Tribune:

"We want Josh to be a part of our program and are disappointed that rival schools can take advantage of a loophole in the system should they choose," Krystkowiak said in the statement last week. "Josh attended classes here for a year, signed an NLI and financial aid agreement [but not simultaneously], and we want him to continue his education and playing career here. It is my understanding that there is an unwritten rule that players cannot be recruited by other schools while they are serving missions. To do so is not only inappropriate, but it creates an atmosphere of ill will."

The Tribune article is careful to note that there is no evidence clarifying whether Sharp contacted BYU of his own accord or was "recruited" by the school while he was away. However it happened, though, the in-state rivalry seems primed to bubble away in perpetuity, even as the two schools drift in opposite directions on the currents of conference realignment.

Photo: US Presswire
Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com