THE COLLEGE BASKETBALL season is coming to an end, and that means it's time again for the annual best and worst - and other awards - honoring another fine year of Utah hoops. Here we go.
Best player you never saw: Mikki Kane, the University of Utah's all-conference (female) forward.Best team you never saw: Southern Utah, which finished the season 20-8.
Best basketball team on a leave of absence: BYU missionaries Shawn Bradley (Australia), Ken Roberts (Australia), Randy Reid (New Jersey), Ryan Cuff (Argentina), Mark Durrant (Kentucky), Jeff Campbell (Germany) and Grant Berges (France).
Best quote: Late in the second half of the Utah-San Diego State game, Aztec coach Jim Harrick Jr. used hand signals repeatedly to try to tell his players to foul No. 13, M'Kay McGrath, but his players were confused. Finally, in exasperation, Harrick yelled, "Foul McGrath! What, I gotta spell it for ya!?" Worst tantrum: Ute coach Rick Majerus almost had the Big One during his infamous outburst in Laramie. After the game, he told the scorekeepers, "You BLEEPBLEEP cheaters." He also was overheard shouting profanities by a Laramie radio audience. "Folks, this show is PG rated," said radio announcer Kevin McKinney.
Most ironic protest: Wyoming demanded an apology for Majerus' outburst and his obscene language. Give us a break. This from a place whose fans not only yell obscenities, but do so in unison.
Strangest dinner date: Rick Majerus said on his Sunday night TV show that he had been invited to have dinner with Wyoming Governor Mike Sullivan. Sullivan denied it, saying "Why would I want to have dinner with Rick Majerus? The last time I saw him I was shouting obscenities at him." The governor later told reporters that someone from the University of Utah contacted his office on Monday trying to arrange the dinner. He declined.
Cheerleader of the Year: Josh Grant. He has a good jump shot, too.
Referee's Man of the Year: BYU's bull in a china closet, Jared Miller, who keeps those whistles blowing. Runnerup: Utah State's Nathan Wickizer, who fouled out of a school-record 12 games, most of them in the first half of the season.
Best quote II: "Me running a marathon is like Orson Welles doing the pole vault." - Majerus, shortly after completing the San Antonio Marathon.
Biggest hotdog: BYU's Nick Sanderson.
The Jim Fassel Trophy: To the Utes, whose plays are called Quack, Duck and Triple Duck. When Ute reserves shouted plays to their teammates on the court, it sounded like kindergarten was in session. "Quack! Quack! Quack!"
Dumbest halftime act: The Bud Light Daredevils used mini-trampolines to do assorted acrobatic basketball feats. Is this the only way white guys can dunk?
GQ's Comeback Man of the Year: To Rick Majerus, who spiffed up his courtside wardrobe. By the way, his secretary, Mindy, picked out the duds.
Best Quote III: Asked what he said to a referee to earn the first technical of his career, BYU coach Roger Reid explained, "I told him we had managed to win 14 straight games without him."
Gold's Gym Man of the Year: USU's Kendall Youngblood. Mr. Olympia brings his muscles to the hardwoods.
Surest sign of changing times: Paul Afeaki of Tonga/Utah meets Olufu Agbaji of Nigeria/Milwaukee-Wisconsin and Carlito DaSilva of Brazil/Utah State on an American basketball court.
Worst crowd performance: Utah-BYU II. Ute fans threw tiny balls, ice and obscenities on Cougar players. What is this, Laramie? Worst trend: Players habitually tugging at their shorts - to pull them down. Remember when the objective was to keep them up? Runnerup: Utah's rope-a-dope non-conference schedule, which included three non-Division 1 teams. This is getting to be a habit.
Strangest injury: Gary Trost injures his neck when Russell Larsen sits on the back of his head. Trost also cut his knee on molding in the Marriott Center.
Best coaching trick: BYU loses four starters to graduation - and improves.
Worst joke making the rounds: Who's the only coach in the state who can who can come away with both a loss and a tie? Think about it.
Best imitation of Danny Ainge: Nathan Call drove coast to coast for game-winners against Colorado State (a layup) and Utah (an assist).
Worst ID: The Salt Lake Tribune reported on its front page that Richard Nixon sank a 60-foot shot to win the conference tournament championship for BYU. The name's Kevin; Richard is the former president.
Most overlooked rule: Referees looked the other way when Rick Majerus stepped out of the coach's box, driving opposing coaches to anger and distraction.
The Brent Lofton Award: After losing to Long Beach State by 15 points, the Aggies lost the keys to their rental car, thus continuing a team tradition that was started years ago by the award's namesake.
Worst luck: Josh Grant injures his knee and misses the season; Craig Rydalch injures his ankle, wrist and knee; Paul Afeaki twists his ankle on a ball during warmups; M'Kay McGrath sprains his ankle and misses several games; Coach Rick Majerus collapses with an infection and misses a game.
Best quote IV: "Where's Ernie Banks when you need him?" - Rick Majerus after learning that his team would be forced to play two games in one day in the conference tournament.