LAS VEGAS — “Hey, we know you,” said an older couple in the hallway on the 13th floor of the Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas. “You are one of the TV guys!”

“Yes, I’m one of them,” I answered, while stopping to shake their hands. They were dressed head to toe in Washington State gear, which caught me off guard because WSU is not in the West Coast Conference. However, I quickly learned they shared loyalties with Gonzaga, BYU’s temporary rival.

“Dave McCann? BYUtv? Right?” they asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“We are going to miss you guys and your broadcasts,” said the woman. “We so appreciate watching the games on BYUtv and the job you guys do. Thank you!”

“It’s been our pleasure!” I said. “Thanks for having us.”

I continued my journey down the hallway and reflected on our first day here — March 4, 2011, when Blaine Fowler and I announced Loyola-Marymount’s 72-68 victory over Portland in the first round of the WCC men’s tournament. I’m sure there were many in the arena wondering, “Who are these guys?”

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They had good reason to question us. They had no idea who we were or where we came from and most were unaware that BYU and the WCC agreed to have BYUtv broadcast the Friday-Saturday games, even while the Cougars were still competing in the Mountain West Conference.

As first impressions go, this one was understandably different, beginning with the arrival of BYUtv’s “Big Blue” — its massive mobile production truck. Gonzaga fans watched with some trepidation. After walking around here like a longtime president of the HOA, they saw a new neighbor moving in, with a bigger family (fan base) and better toys (BYUtv).

The feeling of “Oh look, BYU is here, and they think they are so much better than us” was a stereotype that could only be softened by time and effort. We knew that as a production, the value of BYUtv would be judged by the quality of the broadcast. As announcers, developing the trust of the players and coaches would be less visual, but just as important — so we went to work.

Like the Marines, BYUtv was the first one in and after 13 tournaments, BYUtv will be the last one out.

Those first two days in 2011 were the ice breakers. BYUtv televised games on the men’s and women’s side up until Sunday’s semifinals. The following year, once the WCC adjusted the tournament schedule off Sunday, BYUtv continued with the first two rounds of the men and added all but the championship game for the women.

Over the years, as partners with the WCC and ESPN, BYUtv delivered over 40 men’s games and twice as many women’s games — coverage the WCC had never experienced before. Not only did BYUtv provide the games to the WCC’s regional outlets, it also sent them into the homes of 60 million households nationwide and provided streaming coverage on its global digital platforms.

Monday’s women’s semifinal games (BYU vs. Gonzaga, 1 p.m. MST, Pacific vs. Portland, 3:30 p.m. MST) will be BYUtv’s sixth doubleheader in five days. In recent years, BYUtv also brought its daily “BYU SportsNation” program to Las Vegas as part of the tournament coverage, all operated by a professional and student workforce.

As BYUtv basketball announcers — that have included Blaine, Spencer Linton, Kristen Kozlowski, Steve Cleveland, Jarom Jordan, Tyler Haws and me — the challenge was how to earn the trust of BYU’s opposing teams while being employed by BYUtv.

A conflict of interest? Absolutely.

Impossible to overcome? No way.

The challenge required years of pregame visits and consistent in-game fairness and some scheduling luck. It didn’t hurt that BYUtv only televised three BYU men’s games in 12 years at the WCC Tournament to show the others that our commitment was to everybody.

Today, most of the coaches in the league not only know our names and invite us into their practices, but they openly share their strategies, which means BYUtv earned their trust — the best compliment we could ever ask for, despite our imperfections.

Not once in 12 years did BYUtv ever broadcast a men’s game between BYU and Gonzaga (thanks ESPN), but every other team, men and women, brought their talents to our coverage both in the regular season and conference tournaments.

The WCC has had three different commissioners since we first arrived, but their support and gratitude remained consistent from start to finish. Former commissioner Gloria Nevarez even called the Big 12 to express how beneficial BYUtv has been to the WCC. The conference staff treats us like a friend and business partner.

Even those once leery Gonzaga fans now stop us and say hello and share their unsolicited appreciation. Also, in the larger mission of BYU Broadcasting, fans throughout the WCC will always know where to find BYUtv on their television and in their apps.

It’s been a fun run. As broadcasting ambassadors of BYU forging into new territory, BYUtv was the first one in (2011) and will be the last one out (Wednesday morning). When “Big Blue” and the crew drive away from the Orleans Arena, it will leave behind a tournament that is better than it was before it arrived, with relationships that will last a lifetime.

Mission accomplished.

Now, let’s go meet those new friends in the Big 12.

BYUtv’s Blaine Fowler and Dave McCann prepare for a broadcast from the WCC tournament in Las Vegas. | BYU Photo

Dave McCann is a contributor to the Deseret News and is the studio host for “BYU Sports Nation Game Day,” “The Post Game Show,” “After Further Review,” and play-by-play announcer for BYUtv. He is also co-host of “Y’s Guys” at ysguys.com.