Inaugural All-Mountain West Conference Men's Basketball Teams Announced
Utah's Alex Jensen named Player of the Year
March 6, 2000
Colorado Springs, Colo. The Mountain West Conference men's basketball postseason all-conference teams, along with the coach, player, newcomer and freshman of the year awards as selected by the league's eight men's head coaches were announced Monday.
Air Force head coach Reggie Minton and UNLV head coach Bill Bayno share the Men's Coach of the Year honor, while Alex Jensen of Utah was selected as the Player of the Year and BYU's Terrell Lyday was named Newcomer of the Year. Air Force's Tom Bellairs and UNLV's Dalron Johnson were selected as Co-Freshman of the Year.
Regular season co-champion Utah placed two players on the first team in Alex Jensen and Hanno Möttölä, while the other co-champion, UNLV, had Kaspars Kambala earn first team honors. New Mexico's Lamont Long and Wyoming's Josh Davis also garnered first-team acclaim.
Air Force head coach Reggie Minton led the Falcons to an 8-19 overall and 4-10 conference record this season. The four conference victories in 2000 doubled last year's win total and is the best mark since the 1994-95 season. Air Force snapped a 38-game conference road losing streak this season with an 81-77 triple-overtime win at San Diego State and captured its first sweep of a season series vs. a league opponent since 1992-93 (Fresno State) after its second victory over San Diego State on Feb. 24. This is the first coach of the year honor for Minton in his 16-year career.
Co-coach of the year Bill Bayno of UNLV secured his fourth consecutive winning season and posted the best regular-season record in his five seasons at the helm of the Runnin' Rebels at 20-7. UNLV was picked to finish third in both the coaches and media preseason poll. The Rebels won four in a row to close out the season and claim a piece of the regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. This is also coach Bayno's first coach of the year honor.
Utah senior Alex Jensen was selected as player of the year after leading the Utes to at least a share of a conference title for the sixth straight year. Jensen averaged 14.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game in conference play this season. In overall games, he averaged 13.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Jensen is the only player in the Mtn. West who ranks in the top 10 in all but two of the conference's statistical categories (both all games and conference games). He also ranks in the top 10 in the NCAA in 3-point shooting at 46.5 percent. Jensen captured his second career all-conference first-team selection this season. He was named to both the Western Athletic Conference Pacific Division first team and All-Defensive team in 1999.
Junior forward Terrell Lyday of BYU was named newcomer of the year by the conference coaches. Lyday transferred to BYU this season from Fresno City College. Lyday led the league in steals throughout the year averaging 2.19 spg and finished the regular season ranked second in scoring in conference games (17.8 ppg) and 5th in all games (27.3 ppg). He claimed player of the week honors once this season (Jan. 10) and is currently on a 16-game double-figure scoring streak.
Freshman of the year honors were split among the league's coaches and went to both Tom Bellairs, a forward from Air Force and forward Dalron Johnson of UNLV. Bellairs is the only Mountain West Conference player to average a double-double in league play this season (10.0 ppg and 10.1 rpg). He also led the league in rebounding for all games with a 9.4 average and is the only freshman ranked the top 25 in the lastest NCAA statistics (No. 17). Bellairs recorded 12 double-figure rebound games this season and leads all freshmen in the conference with the eight double-doubles on the year (third overall).
Johnson is ranked in the top 10 and leads all freshmen in the conference in scoring (10.6 ppg) and blocked shots (1.44 bpg). He is fifth in rebounding (7.0 rpg) and eighth in field goal percentage (.515), but second among freshmen behind Bellairs of Air Force (.517). He has also tallied six double-doubles on the year, a number that ranks fifth in the league.
All-Mountain West Conference First-Team Honorees:
New Mexico senior guard Lamont Long leads the conference in scoring in both conference play (20.4 ppg) and all games (18.8 ppg). He is also second in steals in all games (2.03 spg) and third in league action (1.93 spg). Long has scored 20 points or more in 12 contests this season and has made three or more steals in nine games. He received player of the week honors on Nov. 29 for the fourth time in his career. Long was a second-team selection in the WAC Pacific Division in 1999 and on the Mountain Division all-newcomer team in 1997.
Junior center Kaspars Kambala of UNLV was a member of the WAC's All-Newcomer team in 1998. He is currently averaging 18.6 points per game (2nd) overall and 17.6 points (3rd) in conference play. He also ranks second in both categories in rebounding with an average of 9.1 rpg in all games and 9.2 rpg in league contests. Kambala leads the Mtn. West with 13 double-doubles and 12 double-figure rebounding games. He was selected the player of the week a Mtn. West-high three times this season.
Utah senior forward Hanno Möttölä is making his third appearance on a postseason all-conference team in 2000. He was a second-team pick in the WAC's Mountain Division in 1998 and a Pacific Division first-team selection last season. He was also an all-newcomer team honoree his first season at Utah in 1997. Despite missing 11 games this season, Möttölä has recorded six 20-plus scoring outings and one 30-plus game. In 17 games, he is averaging 17.5 point and 5.2 rebounds per game. He was honored the second conference weekly award of his career as Mountain West Conference player of the week award on Jan. 3.
In just his second season at Wyoming, sophomore center/forward Josh Davis captured first-team honors. He was named player of the week twice this season and has recorded the second-most double-doubles in the league at 12. In conference play, Davis averaged 15.9 points (7th) and 9.0 rebounds (3rd) per game. He also ranked second in blocked shots with a 2.07 average. In all games, Davis finished the regular season with a scoring average of 14.9 ppg (9th) and a rebound average of 8.9 rpg (3rd).
All-Mountain West Conference Men's Basketball Team
First-Team All-Mountain West
Second-Team All-Mountain West
All-Mountain West Newcomer Team
Player of the Year Alex Jensen, Utah