Mountain West Notebook: Changes coming in conference tournament |

Mountain West Notebook: Changes coming in conference tournament

Darrell Moody

The Mountain West has announced changes to its conference tournament starting for the 2019 event.

The tournament changes its schedule for next season, starting the women’s portion of the tournament on Sunday instead of Monday, and playing the title game on Wednesday night instead of Friday afternoon.

“The Mountain West established an ad-hoc basketball committee with representatives from all the different institutions,” said Rhonda Bennett, the senior women’s administrator at the University of Nevada. “We look at issues related to the Mountain West moving forward.

“One of the things we’ve always looked at is what is the right format. We look at different issues. One of the things we came up with was moving the tournament up a day and starting on Sunday for various reasons.”

Starting on Sunday and playing the title game Wednesday night makes sense. In previous years, the women would play Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, taking Thursday off and playing the title game at noon on Friday.

“It was awkward,” Bennett said. “An entire full day with no games. It’s not how you play in the NCAA. It makes sense that the women start on Sunday and end on Wednesday.”

Bennett said the women’s title will now be the featured game on Wednesday at 7 p.m. after the men’s tourney kicks off the day in the morning. The decision should put more people in the stands.

“I do think you will see more people,” Bennett said. “Friday (afternoon) was not the best time of the day. All 11 men’s teams and their fans will be in town for that championship game. A couple of years ago we had a great women’s championship game in a great environment.”

The new schedule on Wednesday starting next year will have three men’s games kicking off the action with the women’s title wrapping things up.

In 2020, and for that year only, the entire tournament will be moved up a week because of a huge construction convention that comes to Las Vegas every three years. The construction convention plus three post-season tournaments and NASCAR drove up the price of hotel rooms, and people stayed away in droves.

Commissioner Craig Thomspon admitted last year he heard from a lot of fans. Bennett said that rather move the tournament for one year, the committee decided to keep the event in Las Vegas and change the schedule.

“It’s huge,” Bennett said, referring to the construction convention. “It sucks up a lot of rooms and makes rates go up really high, and makes it difficult (to attend). We looked at different options for one year.”

The women’s tourney will start on March 1 and end on March 4 in 2020. The men’s event starts on March 4 and runs through March 7. In 2020, the MW teams will sit back and relax for a week prior to Selection Sunday.

“The Big 10 is doing that this year,” Bennett said. “Back in the first week of December, they played a conference game.”

Eric Musselman said he hasn’t read much about it, thus had no comment on the matter.

Thomspon said Thomas & Mack has the contract through 2020, but no decision has been made on a site beyond that.

2018 MW tickets on sale

All session tickets for the 2018 Mountain West Championships at Thomas & Mack Center at UNLV are now on sale.

The tickets, which run between $180 and $220 includes admission to all women’s and men’s games played from March 5 to March 10.

Go to the web-site for more information.

Hutchison honored again

Boise State star Chandler Hutchison, the MW Preseason Player of the Year, was named the MW Player of the Week after scoring 44 points against San Diego State on Saturday.

The 44-point effort was a school record and the second-highest point total from an individual in NCAA Division 1 play. The outburst is the fifth-most in MW history. He averaged 32.5 points per game for the week.

It’s Hutchison’s third honor this season and second in three weeks.

Herndon nearing milestone

Wyoming forward Alan Herndon scored 18 points in a home loss to Colorado State, leaving him 18 shy of 1,000 for his career.

UNLV star added to Wooden Award list

Brandon McCoy, the Rebels’ 7-foot freshman, has been added to the John R. Wooden midseason list.

McCoy is averaging 19.2 points and 9.9 rebounds a game. He’s the first UNLV player on the list since Mike Moser and Anthony Bennett in 2012 and 2013.

Quite a rivalry

The Boise State-San Diego State basketball rivalry is one of the best in the Mountain West.

Five of the last six games have been decided by five points or less or in overtime, including Saturday’s 83-80 BSU win at Taco Bell Arena. Boise State is 10-0 at home this year.