WAC Notebook

To rush the court or not rush the court. That was the most interesting question posed to Western Athletic Conference men's basketball coaches during Monday's weekly teleconference.

Shawn Harrison, sports editor of the Logan Herald-Journal, posed the question because of recent incidents involving post-game celebrations and comments on a blog that he had received.

There have been three post-game celebrations in recent days, two involving WAC teams. The ones involving WAC teams were last Thursday, when Utah State rebounded late in the game for a one-point victory over Boise State. The second one was when students at Idaho came down to the floor after the Vandals edged Hawai'i with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.

The final one was Saturday afternoon, when Texas Tech fans stormed the court following the Red Raiders' upset of Kansas. Television replays showed coach Bob Knight yelling at fans to stay in their seats, while fans mobbed Tech players. Knight left the court with security leading the way.

Most coaches felt that the celebrations are what make college basketball so great, but the threat of injury also is an issue not only to coaches, but to administrators.

"I didn't enjoy it too much," said Boise State coach Greg Graham. "I got in the middle of it. Security was right there and handled it. Some fans tried to come across the floor. We had to push our way through a little bit.

"All that stuff is good as long as fans keep it within proper restraint. Like fans hollering at opposing players: as long as its not malicious, it's OK."

Utah State associate head coach Don Verlin said that's what makes the Spectrum such a great place.

"Personally, I think it's awesome," Verlin said. "We have the best students in the WAC. They love college basketball. They were excited. You hope there is never an injury. I don't think our students would intentionally do something like that."

Nevada coach Mark Fox said it's a situation that has drawn attention all over the country.

"I think it's a national issue that administrators are concerned with because of the threat of injury," Fox said. "I think it's a healthy part of our game. I think you need to be a little bit careful.

"I don't think it's something you need to do unless it's a monumental win."

Nevada fans have rushed the court twice in the last four years - against Kansas when the Pack pulled an upset win over the nationally ranked Jayhawks and last year when the Pack won the WAC tournament title against Utah State.

You can also take the comedic route like Louisiana Tech coach Keith Richard.

"I hope we have enough students to rush the court," he said.

A BAD SITUATION

It's an accident waiting to happen. I'm talking about the situation at Pan American Center, in Las Cruces, N.M.

Renovations on the arena are behind schedule, and that is forcing opposing teams and officials to walk up through the Aggies' student section to get to the locker room because the tunnel isn't ready.

It's one thing to have opposing students cursing at you from the stands. It's another when they are two feet away from you.

Nevada players were verbally abused when they made the trek up and down the stairs. All it takes is for somebody to get stupid and you could have a huge problem.

"It is temporary," WAC commissioner Karl Benson said. "Obviously it's not an ideal situation. I'm confident New Mexico State knows and will have enough security to get the team in and out of the arena.

"I expect it (the construction) to be completed definitely by the WAC Tournament. A ramp is being constructed."

Benson said WAC staff will be in Las Cruces today and Wednesday, and he's sure that issue will be talked about. He also said that other options will be discussed.

NMSU athletic director McKinley Boston was traveling and was unavailable for comment.

A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE

Benson's term as a member of the NCAA Tournament selection committee has expired, and he admits that it has changed his viewing habits.

"I'm watching WAC games much more," Benson said. "I certainly don't have the obligation or responsibility to watch several other conferences (like he used to). I watch wactv.com when my wife is gone."

TOUGH-LUCK WARRIORS

To say Hawai'i is going through some tough times is an understatement. Hawai'i dropped a tough one at Idaho when Darren Nagle hit a 3-pointer to win the game.

The Rainbow Warriors have lost their five WAC games by a total of 4.5 points per game. That's what you call tough luck.

This is coach Riley Wallace's last season at Hawai'i, as he is being forced out by athletic director Herman Frazier.

"Not really," Wallace replied when asked if being a lame-duck coach was affecting his players at all. "I have great players who want to win. They are playing hard for me.

"I told them we've probably run out of numbers, and that we have to try and get better every game and make some noise at the end of the season."

WAC TOURNAMENT UPDATE

The annual Western Athletic Conference post-season men's and women's tournament (March 6-10) in Las Cruces is only 43 days away, and tickets are already on sale.

All-tournament tickets have been on sale at all nine WAC schools. Starting today, all-tournament tickets must be purchased from the New Mexico State University ticket office (505) 646-1420 or through Ticketmaster (505) 532-2060. Institutional seating can't be guaranteed from this point forward.

Individual session tickets, which range from $20 to $200, will be placed on sale beginning March 5 through the New Mexico State ticket office.

The women will play Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The men will play Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

WAC HONOREE

Hawai'i junior forward Tanya Smith was named the WAC women's player of the week.

Smith averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds a game as Hawai'i split two conference game this week. She scored 24 points and pulled down nine rebounds to help the Wahine snap a five-game losing streak.

Smith went 11-of-12 from the floor. In a loss to Boise State, she scored 12 points and pulled down 13 rebounds.

Nevada's Traci Graham, who averaged 13.5 points per game last week also was nominated for the award along with Fresno State's Chantella Perera, New Mexico State's Hannah Spanich, San Jose State's Myosha Barnes and Utah State's Jenny Gross.

• Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1281.

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