Guard Austin Ainge was one of seven sophomores playing for BYU in 2004-05. Ainge was the team's second-leading scorer and was third among all MWC players in assists. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
With a young team and numerous injuries, BYU had a string of five straight postseason invitations, including three NCAA Tournaments, come to an end with a losing season in 2004-05. The Cougars played the toughest schedule in the Mountain West Conference, which included eventual NCAA Champion North Carolina, while recording a 9-21 mark.
The Cougars participated in the Maui Invitational, which featured two Final Four teams in North Carolina and Louisville. Senior Mike Hall led BYU in scoring and was named to the All-MWC Third Team while sophomore Austin Ainge received All-MWC honorable mention recognition after leading BYU in assists and was the team's second-leading scorer.
The Cougars went 3-11 in conference play and faced New Mexico in the MWC Tournament as the No. 7 seed. In January, the Cougars were named the 36th Greatest College Basketball Program of all-time by Street and Smith.
COUGAR QUICK HITS
-- BYU (9-21, 3-11 MWC) finished the season 6-8 at home, 2-9 away and 1-4 on a neutral floor.
-- BYU played the MWC's toughest schedule the past two seasons and has faced the toughest schedule on average than any MWC team over the past six seasons. In 2004-05, BYU played four games against teams ranked in the top-25 (North Carolina, NC State and Utah). BYU's schedule included four Pac-10 opponents, two ACC teams, Utah State twice and a road contest at St. Mary's.
-- BYU held the lead or was tied in the second half of every league game but at UNM and at AFA. Overall, 10 of BYU's losses were single-digit setbacks, including six by five points or less and five defeats of three-points or less. Eight of BYU nine wins had been double-digit victories, including its overtime win at UNLV. It's last win was a one-point victory at home over Colorado State on Feb. 14.
-- BYU lost its last five games, its longest losing streak since Steve Cleveland's first season in 1997-98 when BYU also went 9-21.
-- The 10 BYU players averaging double-digit minutes in 2004-05 included six sophomores, three seniors and one freshman. Only three players -- seniors Mike Hall and Jared Jensen and sophomore Garner Meads -- averaged more than 10 minutes during a prior season as a Cougar. Of BYU's freshmen top-20 signing class, only F/C Chris Miles is currently playing as David Burgess (ankles) and Trent Plaisted (knees) are out while top guard prospect and Arizona Player of the Year Lee Cummard was not with the team this past year after opting to serve an LDS Church mission. After returning early, he will join BYU next season.
-- Senior center Jared Jensen finished his career tied for second all-time in career field goal percentage (.567) with Rafael Araujo. With his .809 career free-throw accuracy, he is No. 1 among BYU centers in career free-throw percentage. One highlight of the season for Jensen came at New Mexico. Jensen went 9-of-10 from the floor to score 20 points in 21 minutes of play in the Pit against UNM, despite missing practice with the flu and not feeling 100 percent. His nine field goals made set a new career high.
STREET & SMITH'S NAMES BYU THE No.36 BASKETBALL PROGRAM ALL-TIME
The BYU men's basketball program has been named one of the nation's all-time greatest basketball programs. Street & Smith's has produced a publication (released Jan. 25) recognizing the "100 Greatest College Basketball Programs of All Time," ranking BYU No. 36 on its list. Kentucky is named the No. 1 basketball program, with UCLA, North Carolina, Kansas and Duke completing the top five. Indiana, Louisville, Arkansas, UConn and Cincinnati round out the top 10. Street & Smith's graded each program's basketball history on the basis of NCAA Tournament success, NIT success, national championships, conference regular-season and tournament titles, all-time win-loss percentage, graduation rate, NCAA infractions, NBA first-round draft picks and mascot ferocity. Five Mountain West Conference teams made the list with Utah ranked 11th, UNLV 28th, BYU 36th, Wyoming 42nd and New Mexico 98th. Other in-state schools recognized include Weber State at No. 51 and Utah State at No. 82. Since BYU's first season in 1903, Cougar fans have cheered BYU to 82 winning seasons, 26 conference titles, 21 NCAA invites and 2 NIT titles, while Cougar players have earned 40 All-America and 96 all-conference citations, 43 NBA Draft selections and one National Player of the Year award. BYU entered the season No. 19 all-time in total victories and No. 36 in winning percentage.
BYU's LAST OUTING - EVENTUAL MWC CHAMPION NEW MEXICO ENDS BYU's SEASON IN DENVER
DENVER -- BYU's season of ups and downs finally came to an end as the Cougars fell to the Mountain West Conference's hottest team, New Mexico, 85-71 in the Pepsi Center at the MWC Tournament. New Mexico has now won seven straight games and is 24-3 with star player Danny Granger in the lineup. "New Mexico had too many threats for us to handle tonight," said BYU head coach Steve Cleveland. "We played as hard as we could, but the game didn't go our way." The Cougars fought hard early in the first half, building their largest lead at the 16:30 mark to take a 9-4 advantage. Jared Jensen dominated the Lobos in the post, scoring eight of his 19 points to keep the Cougars' lead for over eight minutes of the half. The Lobos eventually heated up from the three-point line thanks to Alfred Neale, who finished the half 3-for-3 from beyond the arc. Neale's final three and 11th point came late in the half, giving New Mexico a 14-point lead. Fortunately for BYU, Brock Reichner would answer right back to Neale's three-pointer, connecting on a deep three to send the Cougars into the locker time at halftime down 11 points, 39-28. In the second half, senior Mike Hall delivered a three-point basket to bring the Cougars to within eight of the Lobos. That would be as close as BYU would get as New Mexico's Granger caught fire, scoring 23 points. The Cougars' effort never slacked throughout the contest. With 12 minutes remaining in the game, BYU would make one final run to bring its deficit to within 11 points. New Mexico put a halt to BYU's run and ended its shooting drought, going on a 6-0 run of its own to take away any hopes for the Cougars advancing to the next round of the MWC Tournament. In addition to Jensen's team-high 19 points, senior Mike Hall scored 13 in the final game of his BYU career, and Derek Dawes added 10. Dawes and Jensen also led the Cougar rebounding effort with six boards each. Jensen finished his four-year BYU career tied for second all-time in career field goal percentage with a 56.7 percent shooting mark. His 13 attempts in the game was a career high. The Cougars finished the game shooting 39 percent to the Lobos 47 percent shooting from the field. As the No. 7 seed, BYU's loss to No. 2-seed New Mexico gives the Cougars a 9-21 overall record to finish the 2004-2005 season.
CURRENT BYU STREAKS ...
Current won/loss streak 5 losses
At home 0-1
On the road 0-4
On a neutral floor 0-2
At home vs. Nonconference 3-0
At home vs. MWC 0-1
On the road vs. Nonconference 0-2
On the road vs. MWC 0-4
On a neutral floor vs. Nonconference 0-1
On a neutral floor vs. MWC 0-2
at regular season tournament 1-0
at MWC Tournament 0-2
at NCAA Tournament 0-5
at NIT 0-1
HALL NAMED TO 2005 ALL-MWC THIRD TEAM, AINGE RECEIVES HONORABLE MENTION
BYU senior guard Mike Hall was named to the All-Mountain West Conference Third Team and Cougar sophomore point guard Austin Ainge received All-MWC honorable mention when the Mountain West Conference announced its annual postseason awards. Selected by the league's eight men's head coaches and a selected media panel, the MWC awards recognize the accomplishments of top conference performers during the 2005 MWC regular season. A native of San Bernardino, Calif., Hall was also a third-team selection last year in his first season at BYU after transferring from Dixie State College in St. George, Utah. Ainge earned honorable-mention recognition in his first season of significant playing time. The Gilbert, Ariz., native missed half the 2003-04 season with an injury and played sparingly upon his return, but took over the starting duties early this season and became the team's second-leading scorer and top assist maker. Utah's Ray Giacoletti was named MWC Coach of the Year, while Ute center Andrew Bogut garnered MWC Player of the Year honors. Wyoming's Justin Williams was named Defensive Player of the Year, and CSU's Jason Smith received Freshman of the Year accolades.
HALL NOTABLES IN LEAGUE PLAY
-- Hall led BYU in scoring at 14.3 points per game to rank eighth among MWC players. He was fourth in steals per game (1.79) and ranked fifth in three-point shots made per game (1.86). He was 12th in free-throw percentage (.767) and 15th in blocked shots per game (0.5)
-- He led BYU in scoring (14.3), steals (1.79), free-throw percentage (.767) and three-point shots made (26). He was second in assists (1.6) and third in blocks (7).
-- Has scored in double figures in 11 of 14 conference games, including eight games with 16 or more points.
-- Scored career-high 24 points at San Diego State, making 8-of-12 shots, including 4-for-4 on three-point attempts (was one of only three MWC players to go 4-for-4 from behind the arc in a game). He had 22 points vs. UNLV with five treys.
-- Had two of the league's five conference-best 5-steal performances. Tied career high of 5 steals vs. Colorado State and at UNLV, both Cougar wins. His two steals in the final 3 minutes at UNLV helped the Cougars erase a six-point deficit and force overtime, where he hit a big three in the BYU win.
-- Guarded the opponent's top perimeter player and has defended positions 1-4.
AINGE NOTABLES IN LEAGUE PLAY
-- Ainge ranked third among MWC players in assists per game (4.57) and was fourth in assist/turnover ratio (1.42). He was 14th in free-throw percentage (.750).
-- Led BYU in assists (4.57) and was second in scoring (10.0), steals (0.9), and free throw percentage (.750) and fourth in three-point shots made (16).
-- Led BYU in assists in 13 of 14 conference games while also leading BYU in steals four times, scoring three times and rebounds twice.
-- Had nine games with at least five assists.
-- Added 3.2 rebounds per game.
-- Scored in double figures in seven of 14 conference games, including four games with 15 or more points.
-- Scored career-high 25 points at Colorado State, making a career-best 5 three-point shots, while adding 6 assists and 3 rebounds. At Utah led BYU with 17 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds.
-- Scored 12 points in overtime to lead BYU on a 10-2 run at UNLV. He finished with 19 points as BYU outscored UNLV 19-9 in overtime for the road win.
JENSEN FINISHED CAREER AMONG STATISTICAL LEADERS
Senior center Jared Jensen finished his career tied for second all-time in career field goal percentage (.567) with Rafael Araujo. With his .809 career free-throw accuracy, he is No. 1 among BYU centers in career free-throw percentage. During his career, he helped BYU to three postseason tournaments, including two NCAA Tournaments, and the 2003 MWC title. He was the 2001-02 MWC Co-Freshman of the Year, 2002-03 All-MWC honorable mention, and achieved career highs of 23 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks.
BYU averaged 10,633 fans. Out of the 42 teams with records similar to the Cougars' 9-21 overall mark, only one -- Purdue -- averaged more fans than the Cougars this season. The Cougars even outdrew the regular-season conference champions of 24 out of 31 conferences as well as over half of the teams in the ACC, Big XII and SEC and all but one team -- Arizona -- in the PAC-10. BYU was fourth in the MWC, just 144 less than top-20 and Sweet 16 Utah.
BYU was 9-1 when the Cougars had the better shooting percentage. BYU was 4-2 when shooting 50 percent or above, suffering the losses at UNM and at Utah. At New Mexico, the Cougars shot 55 percent, their highest percentage during MWC play. The Lobos, however, made 62 percent from the floor and 68.4 percent on threes, both highs by a BYU opponent this year. BYU was 0-8 when its opposition made 50 percent or better and was 0-20 this season when being outshot.
LINEUPS AND INJURIES A PLENTY FOR COUGARS
The Cougars used 18 different starting lineups this year with 12 different Cougars receiving a starting assignment. Due to injuries, BYU played four of the last five games with eight scholarship players among its 11 players available. Seven players have missed time due to injury this year. After helping BYU to a 3-3 record in six straight starts, the team's leading rebounder Keena Young became the most recent Cougar to go down (broken hand), missing the last five games -- all losses. Garner Meads had missed seven straight games with a leg injury before some limited late action vs. New Mexico at the MWC Tournament. He missed 12 games overall during the season due to injury.
DAWES NAMED MWC PLAYER OF THE WEEK (Jan. 31)
Sophomore center Derek Dawes earned MWC Player of the Week honors on Jan. 31 for his career night against New Mexico, marking the first award of his career. The 6-foot-11 Dawes set career bests of 14 points, 6-of-7 (.857) shooting, and 4 blocks while tying career marks of 10 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal in the victory. He was also perfect from the free-throw line (2-2) in 32 minutes of action. After his only missed shot of the game, Dawes used his hustle to regain the Cougar possession by stealing a Lobo pass. Dawes' energy and effort in the post led the Cougars to a 68-53 win over the Lobos, their first MWC win of the season. The 14-point, 10-rebound double-double was the first of his career.
CLEVELAND NOW NO. 4 IN ALL-TIME WINS, NO. 2 ON MARRIOTT CENTER VICTORIES, NO. 1 IN MWC WINS
With a 138-108 overall record in his eighth season in Provo, BYU coach Steve Cleveland is fourth on BYU's career coaching victories list and is 15 wins from moving into second. Cleveland passed Frank Arnold (1975-83) with his victory over Colorado State in Provo on Feb. 14. Legendary Cougar coach Stan Watts has the most wins in school history with 372 triumphs from 1949-72. Ott Romney (1927-35) and Roger Reid (1989-96) both achieved 152 victories. Cleveland has guided BYU to the second-most Marriott Center wins and needs three more to have the most ever by a BYU coach. With his 90-26 record in the Cougars' home arena, he is currently second behind Roger Reid, who has 92 Marriott Center wins. Cleveland has 48 MWC wins, sharing top honors with Wyoming's Steve McClain.
BYU's 59-point second half against Santa Clara is its most points in a half under head coach Steve Cleveland. BYU also achieved its largest first-half production in the Cleveland era with 57 points in the first 20 minutes vs. Montana State-Billings. Prior to this season, the previous high for a half under Cleveland was 56 first-half points against Rice in 2002. BYU's 110 total points against MSUB is its highest point total since 1995.
BYU struggled to receive consistent performances from its young roster this season, a significant reason for its 9-21 record despite being competitive in most games. BYU had 10 games when four Cougars reached double-figure points, and the Cougars were 8-2 in those games. However, when three or fewer Cougars reached double figures, BYU was a mere 1-19, including a 1-16 record when only two Cougars scored at least 10 points. The impact of not having more than two players consistently stepping up offensively in a given game was significant when considering the fact that BYU lost 10 games by single-digit margins, including five by three points or less.
IN THE SIX YEARS OF THE MWC ...
-- BYU has had four 20-win seasons, second among MWC schools behind Utah's five. UNLV has had three, Wyoming three, New Mexico two, San Diego State and Air Force one and Colorado State none.
-- BYU has had the league's top RPI three times, been second once and third once (this year was seventh).
-- BYU has played the toughest schedule on average of any team in the MWC (average strength of schedule rating the past six years is 53rd, Utah is next at 67th.) BYU has had the league's toughest schedule the past two seasons.
-- BYU has the second-most overall wins in the six years of the MWC (117, Utah leads at 140).
-- BYU is tied for second with Wyoming in conference wins (48, Utah has 63).
-- BYU has the second-most MWC regular-season titles (two) along with Wyoming (Utah leads with four). BYU is one of six MWC teams to win the MWC Tournament title.
BYU AND THE MWC IN POSTSEASON
BYU has earned an invite to a postseason tournament in five of the six years of the MWC. Utah is the only MWC school to advance to postseason play each of the six seasons. BYU is second to Utah in NCAA appearances since the formation of the MWC (BYU has made three NCAA and two NIT while Utah has made 5 NCAA and one NIT). UNLV has received five invites (one NCAA and four NIT). New Mexico has received four invites (one NCAA, three NIT) while Wyoming has three (one NCAA, two NIT). San Diego State has been twice (one NCAA, one NIT), and Colorado State and Air Force have both been to one NCAA tournament.
BYU AMONG 14 TEAMS TO HAVE A PLAYER SELECTED IN
EACH OF THE LAST TWO NBA DRAFTS
BYU is one of 14 teams to have at least one player drafted in each of the last two NBA drafts. Former BYU center Rafael Araujo was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2004 draft, being selected by the Toronto Raptors. Former BYU guard Travis Hansen was the No. 37 pick overall, taken in the second round by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2003 draft. Following is the list of teams that have had a player drafted the past two seasons (number of players drafted in parenthesis): Arizona (2), BYU (2), Connecticut (3), Duke (3), Georgia (2), Gonzaga (2), Memphis (2), Minnesota (2), Missouri (2), Oregon (2), Stanford (3), Texas (2), UCLA (2), Xavier (3).
BYU players have received 40 All-America citations. Last year Rafael Araujo was named to the Basketball Times All-America Second Team and was an Associated Press honorable mention pick last season. Regarded as the nation's No. 2 center by Basketball Times, Araujo earned second-team honors while Connecticut center Omeka Okafor received first-team accolades and Duke center Shelden Williams was selected to the third team. Araujo led the Cougars in scoring last season at 18.4 points per game and pulled down a team-leading 10.1 boards per game, which ranks 11th nationally. He had the fourth highest combined points and rebounds averages in the nation last year. The MWC Co-Player of the Year, Araujo also topped BYU in steals (1.4 spg) and blocks (0.8 bpg) and led all MWC players in steals in league action. The 6-foot-11 280-pound native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, recorded 16 double-doubles games, the fifth best single-season total all-time at BYU, while leading the Cougars to a 21-9 record and their second straight at-large NCAA Tournament berth. Araujo was joined on the second team by Wisconsin point guard Devin Harris, North Carolina wing Rashad McCants, Providence forward Ryan Gomes, and Mississippi State forward Lawrence Roberts. Araujo is the 19th Cougar basketball player to earn All-America honors and the first since 2001 when Mekeli Wesley earned Associated Press honorable mention honors. Araujo was also named an honorable mention AP selection, as Okafor was the only center selected to the three AP teams. Araujo is the first Cougar since Mike Smith in 1988 to receive second-team honors. He recorded career highs of 32 points and 17 rebounds in BYU's win over eventual No. 3 Oklahoma State and finished his season with 24 points and 12 rebounds against defending national champion Syracuse in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
PLAYERS IN THE PROS
In the past five years the BYU program has helped several players go on to professional basketball opportunities. Rafael Araujo was the No. 8 overall pick in this year's NBA draft, selected by the Toronto Raptors. Travis Hansen was the second-round pick of the Atlanta Hawks in 2003.After playing one year with the Hawks he signed a lucrative one-year contract to play in Spain. Others to play professionally over the past five years include Mekeli Wesley (Belgium), Terrell Lyday (France), Trent Whiting (Italy), Eric Nielsen (Spain) and Silester Rivers (Chile). In addition to Araujo, Mark Bigelow (Germany) and Luiz Lemes (Brazil) joined the professional ranks overseas from last year's team.
BYU IN THE TOURNAMENT
The Cougars have a 7-5 Mountain West Conference Tournament record. BYU advanced to the finals in the first two years of the MWC Tournament, winning the title over UNM in 2001 after losing to host UNLV in 2000. Overall, BYU has a 19-18 record in conference tournament games, which includes a 12-13 record in WAC tournament games. BYU has won the opening game in four of the last six postseason conference tournaments (including a 90-74 upset over soon-to-be MWC member TCU in the WAC Tournament in 1999).
BEATING BYU MEANS MWC TITLE
If the six-year history of the Mountain West Tournament, BYU or the team that has knocked the Cougars out of the tournament has won the title. After losing in the title game to host UNLV at the inaugural MWC Tournament in 2000, BYU won the title in 2001. The past four years the Cougars were knocked out by the eventual champion. BYU was defeated by San Diego State in the 2002 quarterfinals before back-to-back semifinal loses to 2003 champion Colorado State and 2004 champion Utah. In 2005, New Mexico went on to win the title after defeating BYU in the quarterfinals.
SIX MWC TOURNAMENTS, SIX DIFFERENT CHAMPIONS
With New Mexico's win in 2005, the MWC Tournament title has been won by a different team each season. The only teams not to win an MWC title are Wyoming and Air Force.
BYU SEEDS AT MWC TOURNAMENT
BYU was the No. 7 seed at the MWC Tournament for the first time in 2005. BYU has been the sixth seed once (advanced to the finals in 2000), the fourth seed once (suffering a first-round exit with loss to eventual champion San Diego State in 2002), and the second seed three times (5-2 combined record in 2001, 2003 and 2004, including 2001 title).
FRUITS OF THE SEEDS
In the first six years of the MWC Tournament, the teams with the No. 2 seed boast the best overall record with a 10-4 mark. The No. 1 seeds have gone 7-5. The No. 4 teams have gone 7-6. The No. 6 seeds have a combined 6-5 record, the same mark as their first-round opponent No. 3 seeds. Fifth-seeded teams are 4-5. The teams with the worst seed, No. 8, have a 1-5 record while the No. 7 teams have never won a game, going 0-6. The tournament title has been won by the top seed once (UNLV in 2000); the second seed twice (BYU in 2001 and New Mexico in 2005); the third seed once (Utah in 2004); the fifth seed once (San Diego State in 2002); and the sixth seed once (Colorado State in 2004).
BYU TOURNAMENT TITLES
BYU won the MWC Tournament title in 2001. BYU won WAC Tournament titles in 1991 and 1992. The Cougars' Kevin Nixon hit a dramatic three-quarter-court shot at the buzzer to defeat UTEP, 73-71, in Fort Collins, Colo., for the 1992 title. BYU won its first WAC Tournament title in 1991 with an overtime win over Utah. The Cougars also won the postseason conference playoff series in the Rocky Mountain Conference in 1924 (defeated Colorado College, 2-1) and 1933 (defeated Wyoming, 2-1).
MWC TEAMS IN THE NCAA
All eight current members of the Mountain West Conference have advanced to the NCAA Tournament at least once since the league was formed in 1999. New Mexico became the final MWC team to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament by winning the 2005 MWC Tournament.