Seniors leading the way in the WAC

When you look at the top scorers in the Western Athletic Conference, it shouldn't come as a surprise that eight of the top 10 are seniors.

Utah State's Jaycee Carroll (21.2), Boise State's Reggie Larry (19.4), Nevada's Marcelus Kemp (19.3), New Mexico State's Justin Hawkins (18.0), Fresno State's Kevin Bell (17.1), Boise State's Matt Nelson (16.5), Hawaii's Bobby Nash (15.7), Louisiana Tech's Kyle Gibson (14.6), Fresno State's Eddie Miller (14.1) and New Mexico State's Jonathan Gibson (13.0) hold down the first 10 slots.

Of that group, only Kyle Gibson and Jonathan Gibson aren't seniors. Both are currently sophomores.

"In general, that's how good leagues are," Boise State coach Greg Graham said during Monday's teleconference. "Last year a lot of good ones (seniors) left. Everyone has a couple of seniors in the league. There are a lot of seniors starting (on WAC teams)."

"I do think seniors have really made an impact on teams," Nevada coach Mark Fox said. "Jaycee obviously is a terrific player, Boise State starts four seniors and two (Nelson and Larry) have huge numbers. Certainly Marcelus Kemp has been solid for us."

POPE CLEARED

New Mexico State freshman forward Herb Pope has been cleared to play immediately by the NCAA, and will do so after serving a one-game suspension for violating team rules.

Pope was arrested in Pennsylvania over the Christmas holidays, and waived his right to a preliminary hearing. He will come back to Pennsylvania and be formally arraigned on March 26 on three counts related to drunken driving and one count each of reckless endangerment and a parking violation.

"He's a big-time talent," NMSU coach Marvin Menzies said. "I had a couple of opportunities to watch him in high school and a little bit here when he was eligible to practice. He has a great basketball IQ. He's not a big kid that can only play inside. He brings a lot to the team."

It will be interesting to see how or if the chemistry of the Aggies will change once he starts playing.

MORRILL EYES RECORD

Utah State coach Stew Morrill tied the school record for wins with the Aggies' win over New Mexico State last week, and could break the record this week at home against Boise State.

Morrill, in his 10th season, is 225-80. He is currently tied with E. Lowell Romney, who coached the Aggies from 1920 to 1941.

Morrill was unavailable for comment because of a speaking engagement in Salt Lake City, but Dan Verlin, who has worked for 15 years alongside the veteran coach, talked about his mentor and why he's been so successful.

"I believe when he is done coaching, he'll talk a lot about the record," Verlin said. "Right now, this team and the next game coming up are on his mind."

Verlin said that Morrill's great passion for the game and his attention to detail are two keys for his success. Verlin said Morrill's practices are structured right down to the minute every day.

WAC AWARDS

New Mexico State's Sherell Neal and San Jose State's C.J. Webster have been named the conference's men's and women's players of the week.

Webster, a sophomore, led the Spartans to wins over Santa Clara and Nevada last week. He pulled down 11 rebounds in the three-point win over Santa Clara and scored 17 points in the 62-60 victory over the Wolf Pack.

Neal led the Aggies to wins over Boise State and Utah State last week. She had 14 points and 18 rebounds against Boise State, and added 18 points and six rebounds against Utah State.

USU FANS WARNED

The student section at Utah State is one of the loudest in the conference, but like any other student section, has gotten pretty personal over the years.

The Utah State rooting section has been told not to use the word "suck" during their chants, according to WAC commissioner Karl Benson.

"We did issue a message to member institutions before Christmas that we would no longer tolerate profanity; language that could be considered demeaning."

Benson pointed to the problems that transpired at New Mexico State last year, and no doubt he wants to ward off any future issues before conference play moves on any further.

TOURNAMENT TICKETS ON SALE

Tickets for this year's WAC Tournament at New Mexico State are currently available at the Nevada ticket office.

All-session tickets in the lower concourse cost $150 each with a $10 service charge per order, while the deadline to order tickets is Wednesday, Jan. 23.

Fans wanting to purchase tickets can obtain an order form on the official website of Nevada Athletics, www.nevadawolfpack.com, or visit or call the Wolf Pack Ticket Office at Legacy Hall at 775-348-PACK (7225), option #2.

Those desiring tickets in the upper deck of the arena can contact New Mexico State at nmstatsports.com.

PACK HIRES SOCCER COACH

Jaime Frias, who has spent the last three seasons as the head women's soccer coach at Stephen F. Austin State University, has been named the head coach at Nevada.

Arias takes over for interim coach Antoinette Marjanovic, who became head coach when Terri Patraw left the program the first week of last season.

Frias, the 2005 Southland Coach of the Year, becomes the fourth head coach in Nevada soccer history. Prior to serving as head coach at SFA, Frias served as an assistant coach of the Ladyjacks from 2002-05.

During his tenure as head coach, Frias compiled a 36-17-3 overall record and an 18-3-2 mark in Southland Conference play. He led his team to a pair of Southland Conference regular-season championships (2005 and 2007) and a Southland Conference tournament championship and a NCAA Tournament berth in 2007.

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