Utah State's Tai Wesley Named WAC Player of the Year and Stew Morrill Named WAC Coach of the Year
March 6, 2011
LOGAN, Utah - Utah State's Tai Wesley was voted the Western Athletic Conference's Player of the Year and Stew Morrill was named the Don Haskins Coach of the Year Sunday as the league office announced its postseason honors. USU also had three other players recognized as Brockeith Pane was named to the first-team and all-newcomer team, Brian Green was voted to the second-team and Tyler Newbold was named to the league's all-defensive team.
Utah State finished the 2010-11 regular season with a 28-3 record, including a 15-1 WAC mark. Those 28 wins are a regular season school record and tied for the third-most in school history. USU is also just the seventh team in the 49-year history of the WAC to lose one or fewer league games and the first since Utah went 14-0 during the 1998-99 campaign. Overall, USU has won four-straight regular season WAC titles and is 55-9 (.859) in league play the last four years.
Wesley, a 6-7, 240-pound senior forward from Provo, Utah (Provo HS) becomes the sixth player in school history to earn conference player of the year honors joining Dean Hunger (1980), Greg Grant (1986), Eric Franson (1995), Carroll (2008) and Wilkinson (2009).
Wesley, who was tabbed by the coaches as the league's preseason player of the year, earned first-team all-WAC honors for the second-straight year as he is averaging 14.5 points and 7.9 rebounds, while shooting 59.4 percent from the field and 72.0 percent at the free throw line. He currently ranks second in the WAC and ninth in the nation in shooting, and also ranks fourth in the WAC in rebounding, sixth in blocked shots (1.06) and seventh in scoring.
"I thought we were very well represented on the all-league teams and it is always good stuff when you get guys recognized and win a league championship," said Morrill. "You have heard me say for a long time that team success gives you a chance for individual recognition.
"I am thrilled that we had three of the top 10 players in the league and Tai being named player of the year is very deserving, he has had a great season and a great career."
Utah State has now had 20 first-team all-conference selections over the last 12 seasons, including two in each of the last two seasons. For USU, it is the 12th straight year it has had at least one first-team all-league selection. Overall, Utah State has had eight first-team all-WAC players in its six years in the league and 32 first-team all-conference selections in the last 33 years.
As for Morrill, he has now been named the WAC Coach of the Year in each of the past three seasons and six times during his illustrious career as he was named the Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year in 1991 while at Montana, and the Big West Conference Coach of the Year in 2000 and 2002 while at Utah State, along with earning WAC Coach of the Year honors in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
"When you get recognized by your peers that is always special," stated Morrill. "This award is not about me, it is about a lot of people doing a good job, and receiving this is more of an indication that our program is healthy."
Pane, a 6-1, 195-pound junior guard from Dallas, Texas (Carter HS/Midland Texas JC), is averaging 11.2 points and 3.5 assists, and shooting 43.7 percent from the field. He currently ranks fifth in the WAC in assists, sixth in free throw shooting (.774) and sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.30). Pane has scored in double-figures 19 times this year to rank second on the team behind Wesley (25).
Green, a 6-1, 200-pound senior guard from Kaysville, Utah (Davis HS/Salt Lake CC) currently ranks first in the WAC in three-point shooting (.468) and 11th in overall shooting (.485). On the season, Green is averaging 10.8 points and is shooting 73.6 percent at the free throw line. He has scored in double-figures 15 times this year and has four 20-point games.
Newbold, a 6-5, 210-pound senior guard from Payson, Utah (Payson HS) is the second Utah State player in as many years named to the WAC's all-defensive team joining senior guard/forward Pooh Williams who was a member of last year's team. This season, Newbold is averaging 7.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game, while shooting 42.7 percent from the field, 36.4 percent from three-point range and 77.6 percent at the free throw line. Newbold currently ranks seventh in the WAC in assists and 13th in three-point shooting.
Utah State (28-3, 15-1) is the top seed in the upcoming WAC Tournament in Las Vegas, Nev., and will play fourth-seeded Idaho (18-12, 9-7), fifth-seeded Hawai'i (18-11, 8-8) or eighth-seeded San Jose State (15-14, 5-11) in the first of two semifinals on Friday, Mar. 11 at 7 p.m. (MT).
2010-11 WAC Men's Basketball Postseason Award Winners First Team La'Shard Anderson, Boise State, G, 6-1, 170, Sr., San Diego, Calif. (Irvine Valley CC) Troy Gillenwater, New Mexico State, F, 6-8, 238, Jr., Boston, Mass. (Stoneridge Prep) Adrian Oliver, San Jose State, G, 6-4, 210, Sr., Modesto, Calif. (Washington) Brockeith Pane, Utah State, G, 6-1, 195, Jr., Dallas, Texas (Midland JC) Tai Wesley, Utah State, F, 6-7, 240, Sr., Provo, Utah (Provo HS)