Second Best T-Shirt
Best Poignant Moment
Sure, there were epic battles on the court—UNLV’s heartbreaking loss to San Diego State, BYU’s Jimmer-fueled revenge victory over New Mexico, SDSU’s title-game smackdown of BYU—but the sideshow at last week’s Mountain West Conference Tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center had its own fierce pleasures. Presenting our very prestigious awards for Best Smack Talk, Fan Angst and General Creativity of the 2011 tourney. We can’t call them the Oscars, so we’ll name them the Bellfields. Warning: Most of these concern Brigham Young University, and may not be suitable for all ages.
Best Acting Out of a Superiority Complex: BYU fans, who reminded New Mexico fans about where their team was headed: “NIT! NIT!”
Best Deep Thoughts at the Urinal: One New Mexico fan says to another, “I was just saying at halftime how I don’t hate the BYU fans as much as usual. Well, that’s gone. Now I hate them more than ever.”
Best Reason to Cheer: Utah’s Will Clyburn hits a shot against San Diego State with 14 seconds left in the game, and Utah fans go wild. An upset victory for the Utes? Nope, they lost, 64-50. But they covered the 15-point spread.
Best Self-Serving Quote: Utah coach Jim Boylen, whose first statement after his team’s loss was, “I thought our game plan was good.” Two days later, he was fired.
Best Google Search: If you type in “Boylen,” the first hit is “Anne Boleyn.” Off with his head, indeed.
Best Disappearing Act: UNLV fans, who cheered as if they wanted to debunk that old canard about the Rebels having home-court advantage.
Best Vocal Performance: BYU, San Diego State and New Mexico fans, who made the Thomas & Mack rock without the prompting of a deejay.
Best Display of Exuberance: Colorado State’s coat-and-tie clad band director Joe Spina, who fired up the Thomas & Mack crowd with his frenzied dancing as the Rams band played Green Day’s “Holiday.” Some of his gyrations probably violated the BYU honor code.
Best Cheatin’ Hearts: New Mexico fans, who put aside the hatred, stood and cheered Jimmer Fredette after he scored a frightfully entertaining 52 points against the Lobos.
Best Cheatin’ Hearts, Part Two: Rebel fans, who knew deep down that Jimmer’s big night was by far the most exhilarating thing to happen at the Thomas & Mack this year.
Best Recruiting Pitch: A San Diego State fan who used a little dry-erase board to make a personal appeal to BYU’s suspended Brian Davies: “Davies: Stay in the MWC @ San Diego.”
Best Production of Lemonade from Lemons: Wyoming fans. Their Cowboys got bounced in Wednesday’s play-in game, but many stayed the whole weekend in their bright yellow shirts to root for whoever was playing BYU.
Best Dry-Erase Board Comment: A Rebel fan’s message during the UNLV-Air Force matchup: “Go Army.”
Best Cheering for Nothing: The thunderous reaction to Fredette’s damn-near-impossible 3-pointer to close out the first half of the title game against San Diego State. Minutes later, the basket was taken away after a replay review showed Fredette hadn’t beaten the clock.
Best Misplaced Contempt: The 18,000 or so fans at the UNLV-San Diego State game, who jeered deliriously when the scoreboard screen showed a redheaded kid in a BYU shirt.
Best Misplaced Contempt, Part Two: As the dance teams from each Mountain West school took turns performing at halftime of the San Diego State-Utah game, each squad was warmly received—except the BYU squad, which was loudly booed upon introduction.
Best Deployment of America’s Military: The Air Force dance team performing to “C’mon Feel the Noise.”
Best Poignant Moment: Jerry Tarkanian looking on as San Diego State fans stormed the floor to celebrate in the House That Tark Built.