Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Monday, March 11, 2013 | 1:37 a.m.
- Mississippi juco guard becomes fifth member of UNLV’s incoming class
- Mountain West tournament field set: Rebels to face Air Force on Wednesday
- Rebels saw warning signs and still couldn’t prevent loss to Fresno State
- Seniors Marshall and Hawkins have work left to do for their UNLV legacy
- All UNLV men's basketball coverage
Saturday’s loss to 14-point underdog Fresno State is believed to be the Rebels' biggest straight-up loss as a favorite since they lost to Pepperdine at home in 2005 as close to 18-point favorites.
So, yeah, not a great Senior Day. Whether this is a sign of how the Rebels will play the rest of the year or whether they can still salvage something remains to be seen, but it’s clearly not a good sign. Not only did the loss drop them to a 3 seed, where the Rebels will have to play a difficult Air Force team that went to overtime before losing in the Thomas & Mack Center earlier this year, it also could affect their NCAA Tournament seeding.
This was UNLV’s second bad loss (RPI of 101+) of the year. Of course, the other was also against Fresno State.
Now a 4 seed is almost assuredly off the table and a 5 could be gone already or with anything less than a Mountain West tournament victory. That means UNLV could be looking at a 6 or 7, the latter setting up a potential Round of 32 game with a 2 seed.
It’s amazing how much one game can change the entire outlook.
All-Mountain West teams
We’ll get into more about the Mountain West tournament in the coming days, so for now enjoy my picks for the all-conference teams.
I tried to build each team more or less as a functional team, meaning I didn’t want five point guards but rather a team that could reasonably walk on the court and play together. The actual teams will be announced later today, so keep an eye out for that story and see how my votes compared.
Kendall Williams (Player of the Year), New Mexico
This is the "best player on the best team" vote. I don’t have an exact science to this, but in the absence of a clear choice I think this philosophy works well. Williams’ 46-point game in a big spot on the road at Colorado State provided the signature moment.
Anthony Marshall (Defense), UNLV
Because of the way the Mountain West pares down nominees, Marshall wasn’t even eligible for Player of the Year. I’m not saying he deserved the title or should have gotten anybody’s vote, but he deserved to be on that list more than teammate Anthony Bennett. The award is supposed to be for conference-only performances, and between the two it wasn’t even close. Marshall made my all-defense team.
Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State
The defending Player of the Year will get some votes this year, maybe even enough to win, but I don’t think he should. I love watching Franklin play, but a lot of the time I’m not sure he’s even the most important player on his team, let alone in the league.
Anthony Drmic, Boise State
If I’m playing a game, I want Drmic on my team. Simple as that. He looks like an annoying nightmare to play against, and that’s exactly the type of player I want on my side. Also, it doesn’t hurt that he led the league in scoring.
Colton Iverson (Newcomer of the Year), Colorado State
The easiest pick in the voting process was Iverson as the Newcomer of the Year. The only options were Iverson and UNLV’s Bryce Dejean-Jones. One had a case as the Player of the Year; the other plays for UNLV.
Dorian Green, Colorado State
Tough call between Green and teammate Wes Eikmeier. While the latter is a better shooter, I thought Green was more important to the team’s second-place finish.
Michael Lyons, Air Force
For pure scoring, it doesn’t get much better in this league than Lyons. He did anything he wanted against UNLV in Clune Arena, and that 45-point game against Colorado State wasn’t bad either.
Derrick Marks (D), Boise State
The other piece of the Broncos’ two-headed monster, Marks is the better defender. The fact both he and Drmic are only sophomores should keep opposing coaches up at night.
Anthony Bennett (Freshman of the Year), UNLV
The shoulder injury and lack of production dropped Bennett from the ranks of the league’s elite, but he’s still clearly the best freshman in the league. The concerning thing for the Rebels is he’s trending the wrong way at the wrong time.
Alex Kirk, New Mexico
The versatile big man may get a vote or two for Player of the Year, and I wouldn’t argue with it. He’s the only new piece to the Lobos’ main rotation, and he brought production to replace Drew Gordon plus versatility Gordon never had.
Deonte Burton, UNR
The best off-the-dribble guy in the league. No question.
Chase Tapley, San Diego State
You need someone to hit a late-game shot? That’s Tapley.
Todd Fletcher, Air Force
Could also go with Air Force’s Mike Fitzgerald here. Both are very deserving players.
Pierce Hornung (D), Colorado State
If you love good box-outs as much as I do, then you, too, would have had a hard time only putting Hornung on the third team. I did find room for him on the all-defense team, though.
Leonard Washington (DPOY), Wyoming
The versatile big man was near the top of the league in blocks and steals in addition to his scoring. The biggest regret from this conference season is not seeing what a complete and healthy Wyoming roster could have done.
*Note: UNLV’s Khem Birch was the fifth member of my all-defense team. He’s the only one who didn’t also make one of the three teams.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Steve Alford, New Mexico
I didn’t think any team would be able to win the league by multiple games. If not for Fletcher’s game-winning 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds left Saturday, the Lobos would have taken the crown by three games. That’s crazy.
SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR
Daniel Bejarano, Colorado State
This was the toughest decision out of them all. I went with Bejarano mostly because I was always surprised by just how well he played. With all five starters graduating in Fort Collins, he should get a lot more opportunities next season.