• Jake’s Preseason MWC Ballots

    Tue, July 20, 2010 by admin with 9 comments

    I’ve got only a couple more weeks left on the Air Force beat (more on that in a later post), but I plan to sprint hard toward the finish line.

    So I’ll be with Frank in Vegas next week to play blackja – I mean, provide you with all the information that comes out of the Mountain West Conference media days.

    Along with the commissioner’s State of the Conference address, one of the most anticipated aspects of the media days is the release of the preseason MWC poll and preseason All-MWC squad.

    I submitted my ballots today, which you can find below. As I’ve said in the past, preseason squads are kinda tricky. They’re part reward for past performance and part anticipation of future performance. Some value one more than the other. I try to go 50-50.

    Anyhow, without further ado, here’s what I submitted:

    Preseason MWC Poll
    1. TCU
    2. Utah
    3. Air Force
    4. BYU
    5. Wyoming
    6. San Diego State
    7. Colorado State
    8. UNLV
    9. New Mexico

    Preseason All-MWC
    Offense

    WR – Vincent Brown (San Diego State, Sr.)
    WR – Phillip Payne (UNLV, Jr.)
    OL – Matt Reynolds (BYU, Jr.)
    OL – Marcus Cannon (TCU, Sr.)
    OL – Jake Kirkpatrick (TCU, Sr.)
    OL – Caleb Schlauderaff (Utah, Sr.)
    OL – Zane Taylor (Utah, Sr.)
    TE – Alston Umuolo (San Diego State, Sr.)
    QB – Andy Dalton (TCU, Sr.)
    RB – Eddie Wide (Utah, Sr.)
    RB – Jared Tew (Air Force, Sr.)

    Defense
    DL – Wayne Daniels (TCU, Sr.)
    DL – Dave Kruger (Utah, So.)
    DL – Johnathan Rainey (New Mexico, Jr.)
    LB – Tank Carder (TCU, Jr.)
    LB – Mychal Sisson (Colorado State, Jr.)
    LB – Carmen Messina (New Mexico, Jr.)
    LB – Brian Hendricks (Wyoming, Jr.)
    DB – Anthony Wright Jr. (Air Force, Jr.)
    DB – Reggie Rembert (Air Force, Sr.)
    DB – Tejay Johnson (TCU, Sr.)
    DB – Andrew Rich (BYU, Sr.)

    Specialists
    P – Brian Stahovich (San Diego State, Jr.)
    K – Ross Evans (TCU, Jr.)
    KR – Jeremy Kerley (TCU, Sr.)

    Offensive Player of the Year: QB Andy Dalton (TCU, Sr.)
    Defensive Player of the Year: LB Tank Carder (TCU, Jr.)
    Special Teams Player of the Year: KR Jeremy Kerley (TCU, Sr.)

    As you can see, I went with three Air Force players on the first team.

    Rembert was a first-team all-conference selection last season, but it could be argued that Wright – who led the Falcons with seven picks – had the better season. I went with both of them, which might be a stretch, but it’s hard to pick one over the other. And I think they’ll form the MWC’s best corner tandem.

    I went with Tew because of how he ended the 2009 season, his potential (I think he can be both a workhorse and a big-play threat) and the fact there aren’t so many obvious standout tailbacks in the league that I thought I needed to select two of them.

    Here are some other Air Force players who could make a push for all-conference honors by the end of the season.

    Strong Contenders:
    -FS Jon Davis. Coaches have always raved about Davis’ potential, and he started to show what he could do last year. Look no further than his ridiculous pick-six against New Mexico (where he weaved through Lobos, absorbed a huge hit at the goal line and still managed to get into the end zone). He might be the best athlete on the team (he played a few basketball games for the prep school a few years ago), he has great instincts and he loves to hit. I predict a breakout year for him in 2010.

    -TB Asher Clark. After struggling in the middle of last season (he gained just 142 yards on 46 carries – 3.1 yards per carry – in games four through eightt), he finished strong (he had 481 on 67 carries – 7.2 yards per carry – and all seven of his touchdowns in the final five games of the campaign. With a healthy knee and the fact he’s not starting the year with thoughts of playing quarterback, he should get off to a better start in 2010.

    K Erik Soderberg. In 2009, his first year as a starter, Soderberg made 38-of-40 extra points and 22-of-30 field goals, including a long of 50 yards, en route to second-team all-league honors. He should be even better this season.

    Other Contenders:
    -G A.J. Wallerstein. If the Falcons’ brand new offensive line comes together and Air Force’s ground game continues to be strong, it likely will have a lot to do with Wallerstein. He got his feet wet in 2008 and last season played considerable snaps as part of a rotation at guard. Big, athletic and very, very smart, he could be a good one for the Falcons.

    -DE Rick Ricketts. He’ll be the leader up front as the Falcons’ lone returning starter on the defensive line. He’s undersized, but he plays with a relentless intensity and has a bit of crazy in him on the field (in a good way). He also always seems to be around the ball and has shown an ability to make plays. Working against him – there are a bunch of quality defensive linemen in the league and Ricketts isn’t a big name in the league heading into the season.

    -OLB Andre Morris Jr. Morris has talent, size and experience. This could be the year he puts it all together and goes from good to great.

    Keep an Eye on:
    -TE Chaz Demerath. Made just five catches for 25 yards last season, and Air Force tight ends had just 11 catches total. But I feel like the tight end will become a bigger part of the offense. It has to, right? And having a more experienced quarterback delivering the ball should help. Demerath’s an athletic kid and there aren’t a whole lot of touted tight ends in the MWC.

    -WR-Z/Ret Jonathan Warzeka. Showed his ability as a returner with the kickoff return for a touchdown in the Armed Forces Bowl. Always has had potential. Now that he’s a junior, he should make a substantial leap.

    -WR-Z Kyle Halderman. Missed more than half of last season with a broken collarbone. But he showed big-play potential as a sophomore.

    -All the LBs coming off injury. Among them are senior inside linebacker Ken Lamendola, senior outside linebacker Pat Hennessey and sophomore outside linebacker Alex Means. All could have big seasons … if they’re healthy.

    Long Shots:
    -WR-X Kevin Fogler. A long shot because Fogler won’t get the opportunity to catch nearly as many passes as the talented receivers at San Diego State, BYU and UNLV. But he’s become a bona fide big-play receiver. Last season he grabbed 25 passes for 567 yards and five touchdowns.

    -QB Tim Jefferson. So many good QBs in the league this year. And Jefferson probably won’t have the stats. But if he runs like he did as a freshman and passes like he did in the Armed Forces Bowl, he could force his way into contention.

    -NG Ryan Gardner. Coaches gave him high marks for his work during spring practices attempting to fill the shoes of Ben Garland.

    With that, I want to hear what readers think. Who should have been on the first team that I left off my ballot? Which Air Force players do you think will make their way onto all-conference? What do you think of the preseason poll? Is Air Force too high, too low or just about right?

  • Willis’ Trouble Adds to MWC’s Difficult Summer

    Wed, June 30, 2010 by admin with 3 comments

    UNLV guard Tre’Von Willis – the second-leading scorer in the Mountain West Conference during the 2009-10 season and the Runnin’ Rebels’ best player – was arrested on Tuesday on multiple charges, including domestic battery by strangulation. Here’s the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s story.

    If Willis is guilty, he could be suspended or kicked off the team at UNLV, adding to an already rough offseason for the MWC.

    New Mexico’s Darington Hobson, the league’s 2009-10 Player of the Year, decided to skip his senior year to enter the NBA Draft (he was chosen in the second round by the Milwaukee Bucks), and the Lobos decided not to renew 6-foot-9 forward Will Brown’s scholarship; BYU guard Michael Loyd Jr. left the school; four underclassmen left Utah, including their top two scorers from last season – Carlon Brown, who transferred to Colorado, and talented shooter Marshall Henderson; and Willis’ teammate, 6-8 forward Matt Shaw, was given a one-year suspension for failing a drug test.

    But while the loss of all that talent is bad news for the MWC, it’s good news for a struggling Air Force program trying to become relevant again in the league.

  • Bad News for BYU; Good News for Falcons

    Mon, May 24, 2010 by admin with no comments

    Air Force won’t have to face BYU running back Harvey Unga this season, as BYU administrators have declined Unga’s request to be readmitted in the fall.

    Unga, the Cougars’ all-time leading rusher, withdrew from classes in April because he said he violated the school’s honor code. He asked to return, but the school decided he could not return until January at the earliest.

    Unga was a big part of BYU’s last three victories over Air Force, compiling 266 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 52 carries (5.1 yards per carry) and 79 yards receiving and one touchdown on 11 catches.

  • More Football Notes

    Thu, April 22, 2010 by admin with no comments

    The Mountain West Conference’s nine football coaches spoke on a teleconference Wednesday, and I have a monster article with notes from Air Force (specifically concerning the Falcons’ offensive line and linebackers) and other schools (including BYU, Utah, UNLV and Wyoming) that you can find at this link.

    Some additional notes that I didn’t include in the story:

    -Speaking of the Falcons’ offensive, it likely will be even smaller than it appears on paper.

    “They’re not a big group,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. “Last year we had four of our five were less than 255 pounds, and I don’t think this group will be bigger.”

    -I wrote earlier this week about Oklahoma, Air Force’s Week Three opponent, in my “First Look” series. You can see the post by scrolling down. I asked Calhoun Wednesday for his initial thoughts on the Sooners.

    “Incredibly talented program,” he said. “And really, if you looked in history of college football over the last, golly, 70 years – national championships, I mean the whole bit. Great, great football program. And yet we know that’s a long ways off. At least for our players.”

    -I thought this comment from Calhoun succinctly captures his philosophy for his program:

    “When you look at it in general, our approach has always been to commit to recruiting, developing and placing very capable guys on defense, while seeking to become a plus-turnover team with a strong running attack and yet at the same time doing a good job in the kicking game too.”

    -Air Force will play host to BYU on Sept. 11 in the second game – and first league contest – for both squads. And BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall isn’t too excited about where the Falcons fall on his team’s schedule.

    “I don’t like it,” Mendenhall said. “Air Force is a very, very good football team, and the way they execute, the way they compete and the nature of their young men, it’s just a formidable challenge. And normally I like to have an idea of who our team is first to try to tailor our schemes and strategies to try to defend probably what is one of the most difficult opponents in college football. And so to have to play Air Force so early and on the road with some of the questions we have remaining at key positions on our team, it will probably the most difficult task we will have had in playing Air Force maybe in the six years now that I’ve been head coach.”

  • First Look: Oklahoma

    Tue, April 20, 2010 by admin with 2 comments

    This is Part 3 of my “First Look” series, in which I take a quick peek at each of the Air Force football team’s 2010 opponents. We’re going in order, one per week. We’ve looked at Northwestern State, the Division I-AA opponent in the opener, and the Week Two game against BYU. This week we look at the Week Three opponent, mighty Oklahoma.

    Oklahoma
    Coach:
    Bob Stoops (12th year)
    2009 Record: 8-5 (5-3, third in Big 12 South Division)
    2009 vs. AF: Did not play.
    2009 in a Sentence: Oklahoma lost six starters (five on offense) to season-ending injuries including Sam Bradford, the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner, and could not live up to high hopes despite a dominating defense.
    Off/Def Starters Back: 8/6
    Roster Report: Injuries derailed the Sooners’ 2009 season – on the offensive line alone there were 10 different starters and 10 combinations of starting lineups.

    But those injuries could pay dividends in 2010.

    According to Oklahoma’s spring guide, 23 of the 35 players who started at an offensive or defensive position in 2009 will be back in 2010.

    That includes quarterback Landry Jones. Expected to be Bradford’s understudy in 2009 as a redshirt freshman, he instead was thrust into the lineup, and he started 10 games.

    The experience clearly benefited him. He got better as the season went on, passing for 3,198 yards and 26 touchdowns, and in the spring solidified his spot as the Sooners’ starter. In Oklahoma’s Red-White game, Jones completed 17-of-34 passes for 211 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

    “Of course we didn’t want to lose our (2008) Heisman Trophy winner,” Stoops told The Tulsa World. “But it definitely made Landry a totally different player coming into this spring. … He’s a much more improved and comfortable player having gone through that entire year.”

    Oklahoma will have some talent around Jones in running back DeMarco Murray and receiver Ryan Broyles. Last season Murray rushed for 705 yards and caught 41 passes for another 522 yards, and Broyles tied Oklahoma’s season touchdown receptions record with 15 and set a new record with 86 catches on the season. Also look out for true freshman Kenny Stills, who caught a game-high six passes for 84 yards and a score in the Red-White game.

    Up front, the line lost standout Trent Williams but returns six players who started games last season.

    Defensively, the Sooners lost tackle Gerald McCoy, who is expected to be among the first five players selected in Thursday’s NFL draft, and cornerbacks Dominique Franks and Brian Jackson. But Oklahoma has plenty of pieces back from its 2009 defense that ranked among the top 10 nationally in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense. Among them are weakside linebacker Travis Lewis, who led the Sooners in tackles in each of his first two seasons, and All-America candidates Jeremy Beal, a defensive end, and Quinton Carter, a safety.

    Fast Fact: Oklahoma owns the longest home winning streak in the nation, having won its last 30 home games. That’s the 19th-longest home field streak ever. The Sooners have won 66 of 68 home games under Stoops.

    What Caught My Eye: Oklahoma appears well-stocked to be a national title contender, but a chink in the armor could be the kicking game. According to The Oklahoman’s Jake Trotter, the Sooners had hoped “their kicking woes would be a thing of the past. But as the spring game proved, place-kicking remains a concern.” Projected starter Patrick O’Hara missed both his attempts from 43 yards in the game.

    Jake’s Way Too Early Line vs. Air Force: Oklahoma minus-20.5. The Sooners will be loaded, as always, and last year’s season-opening loss to BYU of the Mountain West Conference should remove any chance of Oklahoma looking past the Falcons.

    Final Thought: This will be a tremendous challenge for the Falcons. They’re facing a national power on the home field where it has been close to unbeatable in recent seasons. And they meet them a week after what is sure to be a physically and emotionally draining contest against league rival BYU.

    Still, the game offers a great national showcase for a program on the rise. Air Force is getting closer to being the senior- and junior-dominated team that coach Troy Calhoun has wanted. Facing the Sooners in Norman will give the Falcons a glimpse of how they stack up with the nation’s elite programs.

    And remember: Some of the finest moments in Air Force football history have occurred when the Falcons appeared overmatched on paper.

  • First Look: BYU

    Tue, April 13, 2010 by admin with 2 comments

    This is Part 2 of my “First Look” series, in which I take a quick peek at each of the Air Force football team’s 2010 opponents. We’re going in order, one per week. Last week we checked out Division I-AA Northwestern State, the Falcons’ victim – er – opponent in its opener.

    Things get pretty serious in week two with a visit from the BYU Cougars.

    BYU
    Coach:
    Bronco Mendenhall (Sixth year)
    2009 Record: 11-2 (7-1, second place in the MWC)
    2009 vs. AF: BYU won, 38-21.
    2009 in a Sentence: It was a season of spectacular highs – a 14-13 upset victory over then-No. 3 Oklahoma in the season opener, an overtime victory over arch rival Utah and a bowl win over Oregon State – with two big-time stumbles – a 54-28 loss to Florida State and a 38-7 blowout loss to league champ TCU, both of which came at home..
    Off/Def Starters Back: 7/4
    Roster Report: The big question at BYU is who will replace graduated three-year starter Max Hall, who won the most games of any quarterback in program history.

    The Cougars wrapped up spring practices last Saturday without a definitive answer, as three players performed well – junior Riley Nelson, sophomore James Lark and highly touted incoming freshman Jake Heaps.

    “I like them all,” Mendenhall told The Salt Lake Tribune. According to the paper, Mendenhall said Heaps is a “natural, poised pocket passer,” that Nelson “gives you the element of mobility and grit and leadership” and that Lark “is just a hair behind” because he returned in December from a mission.

    The most intriguing option seems to be Heaps, who was widely regarded as the country’s top high school quarterback prospect and enrolled at BYU for the spring semester after graduating early from Skyline High in Sammamish, Wash. Heaps led Skyline to a 40-2 record and three straight state titles. And, according to an article in The Seattle Times, he already is extremely popular with BYU fans.

    “He’s like a rock star around here,” BYU quarterbacks coach Brandon Doman told the paper. “And he hasn’t even sung a song yet.”

    Mendenhall told reporters Heaps is “one of the brightest prospects at quarterback that I have seen.”

    And that’s saying a lot, considering the quarterbacks that have played at BYU.

    In addition to Hall, the Cougars must replace a pair of standout tight ends – all-American Denis Pitta and Andrew George, who were the all-MWC first- and second-team tight ends, respectively, in 2009.

    The good news for BYU is standout back Harvey Unga – already the program’s all-time leading rusher – decided to return instead of going pro. And the offensive line should, as usual, be experienced, big and solid. If it’s healthy (it was riddled with injuries in the spring).

    Defensively, the Cougars will be inexperienced up front with the graduation of starting linemen Jan Jorgensen and Brett Denney (and linemen Russell Tialavea on a church mission). They’ll also have to replace three of four starting linebackers.

    Fast Fact: BYU has owned Air Force historically, winning 24 of the teams’ 30 all-time meetings. Since Air Force won two straight games in the teams’ series in 2002 and 2003, BYU has won six straight, and all have been by at least two touchdowns.

    2004: BYU 41, Air Force 24
    2005: BYU 62, Air Force 41
    2006: BYU 33, Air Force 14
    2007: BYU 31, Air Force 6
    2008: BYU 38, Air Force 24
    2009: BYU 38, Air Force 21

    What Caught My Eye: BYU’s record under Mendenhall – 49-15. During the last four years under the coach, the Cougars are 43-9 (only Boise State, Florida, Texas and Ohio State had better records in that span), have won three bowl games and have finished in the Associated Press Top 25 four times. The Cougars had suffered through three straight losing seasons prior to Mendenhall’s arrival.

    Jake’s Way Too Early Line vs. Air Force: BYU minus-4.5. The Cougars have had Air Force’s number of late, but the Falcons catch them early and at home.

    Final Thought: This year’s game seems to set up pretty well for Air Force.

    The Cougars traditionally have struggled early under Mendenhall – his first three teams (2005, 2006 and 2007) all started 1-2, and last season’s team started 2-1 (the 2008 squad was 3-0). And BYU will have a quarterback starting just his second career game (or first, if there’s a change from the opener) and facing an Air Force secondary that should be among the MWC’s very best. And Air Force will be at home.

    Plus, the Cougars open up with Washington of the Pac-10 the week before they play the Falcons, and they and play at Florida State the week after. And while Mendenhall will make sure his team doesn’t look past Air Force to a potential revenge game in Tallahassee, those are three challenging games right out of the chute, which should work in the Falcons’ favor.

  • A Shout-Out for the Mountain West Conference

    Wed, March 24, 2010 by admin with 4 comments

    But not in a good way.

    ESPN.com columnist Pat Forde named the winners and losers of the first four days of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

    Not surprisingly, the Mountain West Conference earned “loser” status. Here’s what Forde wrote:

    Loser: Mountain West Conference. Four teams entered, none remains. And neither New Mexico nor BYU came close to winning its second-round game.

    As Gazette columnist David Ramsey pointed out in his blog earlier this week, it’s not the first time the league has fallen flat in The Big Dance. MWC teams are 10-26 all-time, none has moved past the Sweet 16 and only two have made it that far. Yikes.

    All season long we hear MWC coaches tell us how strong the league is and how it doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Forgive us for rolling our eyes when those claims are made next year.

  • BYU Survives, Ends Streak

    Thu, March 18, 2010 by admin with no comments

    The Mountain West Conference wanted to earn some respect in the NCAA Tournament this year.

    BYU got the league off to a good start.

    Barely.

    The Cougars beat Florida, 99-92, in double overtime. The Gators had the final possession of regulation and the first overtime but could not hit a game-winner. BYU’s victory ended a seven-game losing streak in the first round of the tournament.

    San Diego State, UNLV and New Mexico all still play today.

  • Air Force Mostly Absent from All-MWC

    Mon, March 8, 2010 by admin with no comments

    For the second season in a row, Air Force was the only program in the nine-team Mountain West Conference not to have a player make first-, second- or third-team All-MWC.

    Evan Washington was the only Falcon to earn any recognition. The junior guard, who ranked second in the league in minutes per game (33.9) and averaged 10.4 points and a team-high 4.7 rebounds this season, was an honorable mention selection.

    The league’s coaches and selected members of the media vote for the teams and submit ballots with 15 players (five on each team).

    Prior to last season, Air Force had placed at least one player on the first, second or third teams for seven consecutive seasons.

    First Team
    G Jimmer Fredette (BYU, Jr.)
    G Tre’Von Willis (UNLV, Jr.)
    G Dairese Gary (New Mexico, Jr.)
    G/F Darington Hobson (New Mexico, Jr.)
    F Kawhi Leonard (San Diego State, Fr.)

    Second Team
    G Ronnie Moss (TCU, Soph.)
    G Jackson Emery (BYU, Jr.)
    F Andy Ogide (Colorado State, Jr.)
    F Roman Martinez (New Mexico, Sr.)
    F Malcolm Thomas (San Diego State, Jr.)

    Third Team
    G Tyler Haws (BYU, Fr.)
    G Desmar Jackson (Wyoming, Fr.)
    G Carlon Brown (Utah, Jr.)
    G/F Chace Stanback (UNLV, So.)
    G/F Jonathan Tavernari (BYU, Sr.)

    Honorable Mention
    Jr. G Evan Washington (Air Force), So. G Phillip McDonald (New Mexico), Jr. G D.J. Gay (San Diego State), Jr. F Billy White (San Diego State), Sr. F/C Zvonko Buljan (TCU), So. G Oscar Bellfield (UNLV), Sr. G Luka Drca (Utah), Fr. G Marshall Henderson (Utah).

    All-Defensive Team
    G Jackson Emery (BYU, Jr.)
    G Dairese Gary (New Mexico, Jr.)
    G Tre’Von Willis (UNLV, Jr.)
    G/F Chace Stanback (UNLV, Soph.)
    C David Foster (Utah, Soph.)

    Player of the Year
    G Darington Hobson (New Mexico, Jr.)

    Defensive Player of the Year
    C David Foster (Utah, Soph.)

    Freshman of the Year
    F Kawhi Leonard (San Diego State, Fr.)

    Newcomer of the Year
    G Darington Hobson (New Mexico, Jr.)

    Sixth Man of the Year
    F Jonathan Tavernari (BYU, Sr.)

    Coach of the Year
    Steve Alford (New Mexico)

  • Jake’s and David’s Arguments – The Alford-Tavernari Incident, Part 3

    Wed, March 3, 2010 by admin with 4 comments

    This is Part 3 of an exchange between Jake Schaller and columnist David Ramsey. For Part 1, check the post below. Parts 2 and 4 are in Ramsey’s blog: http://daveramseysez.freedomblogging.com.

    Ramsey, I can only imagine the language you heard when you were covering the Big East. But I also seem to remember some fairly colorful expressions being directed at you and Denver Post writer Irv Moss near the end of an Air Force practice in 2007 when Jeff Bzdelik morphed into Jeff Bleep-delik.

    Anyhow, this is a classic example of someone getting caught (on tape) for something that probably happens multiple times during a season and goes unreported.

    Alford and Tavernari reportedly made up (when Tavernari went to the New Mexico locker room to apologize), and that was the right thing for them to do.

    But at the same time, as a fan, how much better would it be if they hadn’t? My interest in a potential New Mexico-BYU conference tournament final would have jumped about 1,000 percent.

    This is why I always say my favorite sport to cover was boxing. Nearly all the pro boxers I covered had zero filter when it came to talking to the media about their opponents. They would tell you if they didn’t like who they were going to fight. They would tell you if they thought their opponent was a punk. They would tell you (sometimes in graphic detail) about the beat-down they had planned.

    Here’s an excerpt from a story I wrote about Ricardo Mayorga – one of boxing’s bad boys (which, granted, is like saying someone is one of a beauty contest’s pretty people). It appeared in the Sept. 29, 2004 issue of The Washington Post, shortly before Mayorga’s bout with Felix “Tito” Trinidad.

    Mayorga arrived at New York’s LaGuardia Airport last weekend with his hair dyed bright red and a shirt that had the date of Saturday’s fight with the message, “Tito’s Retirement Celebration. Time to hang them up.” And he bragged about a reported $100,000 bet he made with the 31-year-old Trinidad on their fight.

    “It’s a real bet,” Mayorga said. “It’s not putting any sort of pressure on me. In fact, I’m going to make sure he pays me after the fight. With that money I’m going to buy myself a limousine, maybe two, in Nicaragua and name it Tito, so that everyone remembers when I knocked out Tito.”

    Later, Mayorga predicted a knockout between rounds three and five. “I really don’t want to cause the Trinidad family any more grief,” he said.

    (By the way, Trinidad dominated the fight, which was stopped in the eighth round).

    Anyhow, what I’m saying is that Mountain West basketball could use a dash of boxing. Or at least some of the genuine dislike that permeated the Celtics-Pistons games of the late 1980s.

    No, I’m not advocating players (or coaches) throwing punches or violence of any kind. And you don’t want people calling each other out and talking trash non-stop. But it’s OK for teams not to like each other. That makes everything more fun.