Men's and Women's All-WAC Teams

Idaho's MAC HOPSON was named to the All-WAC First Team and All-Newcomer Team on the men's side, while the Vandal women's team saw head coach Jon Newlee named Coach of the Year as Yinka Olerunnife (2nd Team and All-Defensive Team), Derisa Taleni (Newcomer of the Year), and Shaena-Lyn Kuehu (All Freshman Team) all earned All Conference honors.

NOTE: The following TWO STORIES are official press releases from the University of Idaho Sports Information Office.

Vandal women haul in WAC yearly honors

DENVER – The Western Athletic Conference announced its women's basketball yearly honors for the 2008-09 season on Sunday and the University of Idaho brought in an impressive haul after achieving its highest WAC finish since joining the conference.

The Vandal women were picked to finish last in the coaches poll and eighth in the media poll at the beginning of the season, but 27 games later, Idaho is 13-14 overall, 10-6 in WAC play and tied for third in the conference.

Idaho head coach Jon Newlee was honored as the WAC Coach of the Year, while junior guard Derisa Taleni was voted Newcomer of the Year by the league's coaches. Taleni was joined on the All-WAC Second Team by sophomore Yinka Olorunnife, who was also selected to the WAC All-Defensive Team. Shaena-Lyn Kuehu, the WAC's top freshman scorer, rebounder and 3-point shooter, earned a well-deserved spot on the WAC All-Freshman Team.

"You like seeing your team well-represented," Newlee said. "It shows we have a team effort in everything that we do and everybody contributed in those difference categories."

Taleni's selection may have been the easiest for the conference's coaches. In her first year from De Anza College, she averaged 15.1 points and 5.8 rebounds, while shooting .710 from the free-throw line and .396 from the field in WAC games. Her 31-point outburst against Utah State on Jan. 5 is the WAC's top scoring performance of the season. She scored in double-digits in 20 of Idaho's 27 games this season.

Newlee earns his first career WAC Coach of the Year honor after leading the Vandal women to the nation's sixth-best turnaround and its best finish in the WAC. Entering this season, Idaho had won just 11 combined WAC games in three previous seasons and its best WAC finish was 5-11 in 2006. This year, Idaho went 10-6 and finished in a third-place tie.

"It's nice to be recognized by your peers for a job well-done, but I feel like that's a staff award," Newlee said. "I feel like I have the best staff in the country working for me and without those guys, there would be no awards."

Olorunnife, an All-Freshman honoree last season, was the only player in the WAC to average a double-double, as she scored 12.2 points and grabbed 11.6 boards per WAC game. Her 186 rebounds in WAC games rank fifth all-time in the WAC, while her 297 rebounds so far this year are a school record by 20. She broke the Idaho home-court single-game rebounding record on Feb. 13 with 20 boards against Fresno State, which gave her the highest single-game performance in the WAC this year.

Olorunnife was equally as good on defense as she was on offense. Her 9.56 defensive rebounds per game in WAC play are 3 more per game than the second-best average and she ranked fifth in blocked shots (1.44/g) and third in steals (2.19/g).

Kuehu was another easy selection for the league's coaches. She finished the WAC season ranked first among conference freshmen in scoring (11.8), rebounding (5.5), field goal percentage (.447), 3-point percentage (.389), 3-pointers made per game (1.75) and steals (1.94). Her 3-point percentage also ranks fourth among all WAC players, while her field-goal percentage leads Idaho and ranks sixth overall in the WAC. She scored double-digit points in 14 of Idaho's 16 WAC games and 18 overall.

"They worked hard and did a great job this year and they certainly deserve any honor they get," Newlee said of his players, "Yinka, Derisa and Shaena wouldn't be anywhere without their teammates, so it's a tribute not just to their work, but also what our team has accomplished this year."

Taleni's and Olorunnife's honors give Idaho its 13th consecutive season with an all-conference performer. Idaho has produced at least one all-conference honoree every year since 1996-97 and in 26 of the 27 seasons since joining NCAA Division I.

The Vandal women will take the floor on Wednesday, Mar. 11 at 12 p.m. (PT) against Utah State in the quarterfinals of the WAC Tournament. The Vandals hold the No. 4 seed, while USU comes in at No. 5.

Idaho Men's Basketball - Hopson Earns First Team All-WAC Honors

DENVER – Junior guard Mac Hopson earned first team all-Western Athletic Conference and all-Newcomer team honors as the 2008-09 WAC men's basketball postseason award winners were announced today as selected by the league's nine head coaches.

Hopson is Idaho 's second all-WAC selection and the first honored as a first team all-conference selection since Gordon Scott during the 1999-2000 season in the Big West. He is the second-straight Vandal to earn all-Newcomer honors as Jordan Brooks earned the award last season.

"We all are very excited for Mac Hopson," Idaho coach Don Verlin said. "He is very deserving of the honors after having an unbelievable season. He was a key member of our team and played an important role in the success we earned throughout the WAC season."

Hopson helped Idaho to a third-place finish by averaging 16.8 points, 5.7 assists, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.9 steals in 16 WAC contests. The junior ranked first in the conference for steals and assists, fourth for assist/turnover ratio (1.9), and sixth for points. He shot 43-percent from the floor and 44-percent from beyond the arc and earned WAC Player of the Week honors once during the conference season.

The first team is led by Utah State senior forward Gary Wilkinson who also was voted the WAC's Player of the Year. Wilkinson is the second-straight Aggie to earn Player of the Year honors as USU's Jaycee Carroll earned the award last season. Wilkinson led Utah State in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 17.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game in WAC play. The senior led USU to its second-straight WAC regular season crown. Nevada's Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson, Idaho's Mac Hopson and New Mexico State's Jahmar Young were also first team selections.

Wilkinson was the only repeat all-WAC honoree from last season. Wilkinson earned second team all-WAC honors last year.

The all-WAC second-teamers this year were Boise State 's Mark Sanchez, Fresno State 's Sylvester Seay , Hawai'i 's Roderick Flemings , Louisiana Tech's Kyle Gibson and Utah State 's Jared Quayle. All five are new to the all-WAC team this season.

Nevada forward Luke Babbitt became the second-straight Wolf Pack player to earn the WAC's Freshman of the Year award. In 16 conference games, Babbitt averaged 17.3 points per contest and 7.7 rebounds per game, while shooting 46.6 percent from the field.

Utah State head coach Stew Morrill earned his first Don Haskins Coach of the Year honor by leading the Aggies to a second-straight regular season WAC title. In his 11th year with Utah State , Morrill led the Aggies to a 14-2 conference record. He also led his Aggies to a second-straight undefeated season at home, where the team holds the nation's second-best home win streak at 34 games.

Those named to the WAC's all-defensive team were Boise State 's Ike Okoye and Anthony Thomas, Hawai'i 's Kareem Nitoto , Louisiana Tech's Magnum Rolle and Nevada 's Lyndale Burleseon.

Selected to the WAC's all-newcomer team were Hawai'i 's Flemings, Idaho 's Hopson , Louisiana Tech's Rolle , Nevada 's Babbitt and Utah State 's Quayle.

The 2009 WAC Tournament will be held March 10-14, at the Lawlor Events Center in Reno , Nev. The men's teams will compete March 10, 12-14. ESPNU will carry two men's quarterfinal games, including the noon and 2:30 p.m. PT games on Thursday, March 12. ESPN2 will show the men's semifinal game on Friday, March 13 at 9:00 p.m. (PT) and the men's championship game on Saturday, March 14 at 7:00 p.m. PT. All of the games not televised by ESPN will be available on

2008-09 WAC Men's Basketball Postseason Award Winners

All-Conference First Team
Mac Hopson , Idaho , G, 6-2, 195, Jr., Portland , Ore. ( Washington State )
Luke Babbitt, Nevada , F, 6-9, 225, Fr., Reno , Nev. (Galena HS)
Armon Johnson , Nevada , G, 6-3, 195, So., Reno , Nev (Hug HS)
Jahmar Young , New Mexico State, G, 6-5, 180, So., Baltimore , Md. (Laurinberg Prep)
Gary Wilkinson, Utah State , F, 6-9, 240, Sr., South Jordan, Utah ( Salt Lake CC )

All-Conference Second Team
Mark Sanchez, Boise State , F, 6-7, 235, Sr., Tucson, Ariz. (Pima CC)
Sylvester Seay, Fresno State, Fr, 6-9, 220, Jr, San Bernardino, Calif. (Arizona State)
Roderick Flemings , Hawai'i , F, 6-7, 210, Jr., Dallas, Texas ( Weatherford College )
Kyle Gibson , Louisiana Tech, G, 6-5, 205, Jr., Los Angeles , Calif. (Dorsey HS)
Jared Quayle, Utah State , G, 6-1, 180, Jr., Perry , Utah ( Western Wyoming CC)

All-Defensive Team
Ike Okoye, Boise State , F, 6-9, 230, Jr., Sacramento, Calif. (Wyoming)
Anthony Thomas, BSU, G, 6-0, 199, Jr., Masnfield, Texas (Mansfield Summitt HS)
Kareem Nitoto, Hawai'i , G, 6-2, 185, So., Berkley, Calif. (San Leandro HS)
Magnum Rolle, Louisiana Tech, C/F, 6-11, 220, Jr., Freeport, Bahamas (LSU)
Lyndale Burleson, Nevada , G, 6-3, 190, Sr., Seattle, Wash. (Franklin HS)

All-Newcomer Team
Roderick Flemings, Hawai'i, F, 6-7, 210, Jr., Dallas, Texas (Weatherford College )
Mac Hopson, Idaho, G, 6-2, 195, Jr., Portland, Ore. (Washington State )
Magnum Rolle, Louisiana Tech, C/F, 6-11, 220, Jr., Freeport, Bahamas (LSU)
Luke Babbitt, Nevada, F, 6-9, 225, Fr., Reno , Nev. (Galena HS)
Jared Quayle, Utah State, G, 6-1, 180, Jr., Perry, Utah (Western Wyoming CC)

Player of the Year: Gary Wilkinson, Utah State
Freshman of the Year: Luke Babbitt, Nevada
Don Haskins Coach of the Year: Stew Morrill, Utah State

ALL Vandals Top Stories