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'Best of MWC' gives the Utes a few more honors

The Las Vegas Review-Journal came out with its annual "Best of the Mountain West Conference Media Poll" and it looked a lot like the official awards handed out by the MWC earlier in the week.

New Mexico's Ruben Douglas was named Player of the Year, San Diego State's Evan Burns was named Freshman of the Year and Douglas, UNLV's Marcus Banks, BYU's Travis Hansen and Wyoming's Uche Nsonwu Amadi were all named first team all-MWC. Among the differences, Utah's Rick Majerus was named coach of the year instead of BYU's Steve Cleveland, and Utah's Britton Johnsen was the fifth member of the all-MWC team instead of Wyoming's Donta Richardson, largely because it was done by position and he was the top power forward.

Also, Utah's Marc Jackson was named top sixth man and BYU's Rafael Araujo was selected as Top Newcomer.

Among the other awards, Majerus was named "worst MWC coach to deal with," the U.'s Huntsman Center was runner-up for "worst place to cover a game" and Provo was runner-up to Laramie for "worst MWC to visit."

Review-Journal writer Steve Carp said he had his best response ever with 21 media members participating this year.

DOUBLE POINTS: The Cougars are playing point guards Kevin Woodberry and Terry Nashif side-by-side more often, including during Thursday's quarterfinal victory over new Mexico.

"With Terry running the one, it gives me a lot of freedom to go to the boards and run out on the wings — I don't get to do that a lot," Woodberry said. "We put that combo in there to give me a little bit of room and gets me a little more involved in the offense."

Added Nashif: "It brings more quickness to our team. I love it — and he (Woodberry) likes it, too. He gets it on the wing, and he can just go."

SET IN HIS ROLE: Even after successfully dueling New Mexico scoring machine Ruben Douglas (somewhere between "holding his own against" and "outplaying"), reserve wing Luiz Lemes isn't ready to pitch for more playing time.

"I'm good," said the patient JC transfer. "Whatever the coach asks of me, I'm grateful."

DOUGLAS TRIBUTE: BYU coach Steve Cleveland acknowledge how Douglas often had to serve as the single spark plug for an undermanned, inexperienced New Mexico squad, and thought it finally wore down the Lobo senior guard Thursday.

"You think of a young man who has had to carry a huge load on his shoulders for 30-some games — I'm sure he's tired," Cleveland said.

READY TO RUN: After the Cougars successfully increased the tempo and transition in Thursday's quarterfinal victory, BYU's Mark Bigelow was one player gunning for the team to do more running.

"When we get out and run in transition, we're pretty good," said the junior swingman. "And I don't think this team does that enough."

PASSING GRADE: Cleveland singled out a entry pass from Woodberry to center Rafael Araujo in Thursday's game, when the Cougar point guard passed up a seemingly open 3 to feed Araujo on what ended up being a three-point play itself.

"That's what a point guard is supposed to do," Cleveland said. "And think the best shot for a point guard is the one that comes from the inside out and not the ones where it gets thrown around (the perimeter) and the point guard's open).

COMING UP EMPTY: Wyoming's Jay Straight, who averaged 21 points and shot 60 percent in the two regular-season victories over CSU, went 0-for-9 from the floor in Thursday's loss and managed just six points.

BORDER WAR: CSU's 74-71 victory over Wyoming in Thursday's quarterfinals came after a pair of two-point Ram losses to the Cowboys in the regular season.

"It was just another Colorado State-Wyoming battle, and you knew it was going to come down to the end," said Wyoming coach Steve McClain.

Added Cowboy guard Donta Richardson: "It doesn't matter who is on each team. It's a CSU-Wyoming battle, and there aren't going to be any blowouts and everyone is going to play tough. I don't think it's ever going to change."


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