Runnin' Rebels Tabbed MWC Favorites
Oct. 14, 2008
LAS VEGAS - Two-time defending Mountain West Conference Tournament champion UNLV was picked to win the 2008-09 regular season title, as the league released its preseason media poll and all-conference team today during media day at the Renaissance Hotel in Las Vegas.
Select media members who cover the league gave the Runnin' Rebels, who have posted victories in the last two NCAA Tournaments, including advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2007, 16 of a possible 24 first-place votes for 206 total points.
Two-time defending MWC regular-season champion BYU (181 points) collected five first-place votes, while San Diego State (170 points) earned three first-place votes to finish second and third, respectively. Utah tallied 148 points for fourth and New Mexico earned 132 points for fifth. Wyoming received 75 points to finish sixth, followed by Air Force (66 points) in seventh, Colorado State (53 points) in eighth and TCU (49 points) in ninth to round out the poll.
UNLV and BYU are coming off back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances and identical 27-8 overall records in 2007-08. The Runnin' Rebels posted a second-place finish in MWC regular-season play (12-4) and advanced to the second round of the Big Dance after earning the league's automatic bid. The Cougars captured their second straight Mountain West regular-season title with a 14-2 mark, receiving an at-large berth. San Diego State and New Mexico were NIT participants in 2007-08, while Utah competed in the inaugural College Basketball Invitational.
Over its nine-year history, the Mountain West Conference has received 20 bids to the NCAA Tournament, including 12 at-large berths. The MWC has had at least one at-large qualifier in eight of those nine years, including seven straight. Since 2003, all nine MWC teams have participated in postseason play at least once.
Five seniors representing five institutions were chosen for the 2008-09 preseason all-MWC team. BYU's Lee Cummard and UNLV's Wink Adams shared Preseason MWC Player of the Year honors, while UNLV's Tre'Von Willis garnered Preseason Newcomer of the Year accolades and New Mexico's Phillip McDonald received Preseason Freshman of the Year kudos.
All-Conference Team Bios
Preseason Co-Player of the Year
Preseason Co-Player of the Year
Lorrenzo Wade (6-6, 226, Sr., F, San Diego State) - Named to the all-MWC first team and the NABC's all-District 13 second team in 2007-08. Is the Aztecs' returning leader in scoring average (14.8) and assists (119). Also ranked second in blocked shots (20), third in field goal percentage (.450) and total rebounds (150), and fourth in steals (33) a year ago. Scored in double figures 27 times in 2007-08, including seven games with 20 points or more.
Luke Nevill (7-1, 265, C, Utah) - Two-time all-MWC honoree. Received second straight selection to the NABC All-District 13 second team and USBWA All-District VIII in 2007-08. The Utes' leading scorer (15.2 ppg) and rebounder (6.7 rpg) last season, shooting 53.5 percent from the field and 72.0 percent from the free throw line, while also blocking a team-best 53 shots.
Brandon Ewing (6-2, 190, Sr., G, Wyoming) - Two-time second team all-MWC honoree. Is just the second player in MWC history to lead the league in scoring in back-to-back seasons (2006-08). Named to the USBWA all-District VII team and NABC all-District 13 second team for the second straight season in 2007-08. Also led the MWC in minutes played (38.0) and ranked second in assists (4.03 apg), while ranking third in free throw percentage (.826), tied for fifth in three-point field goals (2.00 pg) and seventh in field-goal percentage (.431).
Preseason Newcomer of the Year
Preseason Freshman of the Year