Hopkins snubbed by WAC picks
By DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Staff Writer
FRESNO – The most glaring omission from the recent all-conference selections in the WAC was SMU’s Bryan Hopkins, the Mustangs’ talented point guard.
But Hopkins swears that wasn’t on his mind when he went out and scored 30 points in the Mustangs’ 79-60 win over Tulsa in a first-round WAC tournament game at the Save Mart Center.
“I just heard about it,” Hopkins told reporters during the post-game news conference.
Hopkins said he heard from his own players – not from the Tulsa players.
“If there are 10 betters players in the WAC show them to me,” SMU interim coach Robert Lineberg said.
Tulsa coach John Phillips said the oversight could be from Hopkins playing on a team that didn’t win a lot of conference game.
“It’s a difficult thing when you have 10 teams,” Phillips said. “When you don’t win, players don’t get a lot of honors. Obviously he’s a great player. I would definitely say he belongs in the top 10.
Tulsa’s loss snapped a three-year streak that saw the Golden Hurricane reach the WAC finals, and in all three instances, the tournament was held on Tulsa’s home floor. Tulsa won one of the three titles in that span, knocking off Nevada last year 75-64 . The previous two years, the Golden Hurricane lost to Hawaii.
Tulsa finished 9-20, and in one stretch, lost 10 of 11 games. However Tulsa beat San Jose State and Louisiana Tech late in the year, and Phillips believed that the team was coming around.
“We had started shooting and rebounding like we had earlier in the year,” Phillips said. “I had anticipated a confident team; a different team than the last couple of weeks. I felt like we were ready for the tournament.”
The Tulsa coach was asked if he’d like to just forget about this season and move on. Fat chance.
“I’m going to remember this season, and I want the players to do the same,” he said. “It’s not acceptable what happened this year.”
There were only 584 fans in attendance at the morning session for the opening-round games, and not that many more during the evening session.
Fresno State officials said they had sold 5,000 tickets thus far, and needed to have 9,000 single-session tickets sold over the next three days to meet their goal.
Much of the success of the tournament financially depends on how well the host teams play, because the WAC teams really don’t travel well except for Fresno State.
Last year in Tulsa, the crowd were around 5,000 each night for the five sessions. Fresno averaged 8,000 when it held the tournament in 2000 at Selland Arena.