MWC Awards: Alford is Coach of Year; Hobson is Player of The Year
March 8, 2010
Thursday: Lobos vs. Air Force or Wyoming, 1 p.m. (MT)
Lobo junior Darington Hobson handled his Mountain West Conference Player of The Year award much like he handled a basketball all season. He looked to make a pass to a teammate.
UNM's All-Everything Hobson was named the MWC's top player and one of the first comments out of his mouth was a request to share the trophy with his teammates and hand off his All-MWC First Team selection to Lobo senior Roman Martinez.
"Take me off and put Ro on," said Hobson, UNM's leading rebounder, scorer and assist maker. "I'm sorry it had to go that way. I wish I could break (Player of Year trophy) into pieces and give it to each and everyone of my teammates."
Hobson's attitude is commonplace among this Lobo team and a main reason UNM raced to a 28-3 season and the MWC regular-season title. The talented junior was joined on the All-MWC First Team by junior point guard Dairese Gary, who also was named to the league's All-Defensive team. Martinez was placed on the All-MWC Second Team and sophomore Phillip McDonald was All-MWC Honorable Mention.
Lobo coach Steve Alford won Coach of The Year honors for the second straight year. Martinez, UNM's incomparable senior, said he had no problem with the 2010 MWC awards.
"It turned out the way I wanted," he said. "Dairese and Darington deserve to be First Team. They really make the game easier for us. We feed off their penetration and all the attention they get.
"Darington has done it all year long whether it's big shots, big blocks. He does little things to push us to the point where we win games, big games."
Hobson also was named to FOXSports.com's All-American Second Team and was Third Team All-American for Sporting News.
UNM's Gary said he was disappointed that Martinez didn't make the MWC's First Team. "Ro has been carrying us all year," said Gary. "I was sad that he wasn't on there with me."
The league's nine men's head coaches, along with a select media panel, picked the all-Conference teams, as well as the coach, player, newcomer, freshman, sixth man and defensive awards.
UNM's Hobson also was tabbed the league's Newcomer of The Year.
Utah's David Foster garnered Defensive Player of the Year accolades, San Diego State's Kawhi Leonard was chosen as the Freshman of the Year and BYU's Jonathan Tavernari received the Sixth Man of the Year award.
Thirteen student-athletes make their first appearance on the all-Conference list this season, while the remaining two are repeat selections from last season. BYU's Jimmer Fredette, considered Hobson's main challenger for Player of The Year, is a first-team honoree for the second consecutive year, while Cougar teammate Jonathan Tavernari is a third-team pick for the third straight year.
After never earning coach of the year honors in his first 13 seasons at the Div. I level, Alford has made it two in a row after leading UNM to consecutive Mountain West Conference regular-season titles. Alford joins Dave Bliss, who was recognized by the Western Athletic Conference in 1993-94 and 1995-96, as the only UNM head coaches to be honored twice. Alford was a three-time Indiana Collegiate Conference coach of the year in 1993, `94 and `95 while at NCAA Div. III Manchester (Ind.) College.
Hobson, a 6-7, 205-pound junior guard, is the first individual to receive both the MWC Player and Newcomer of the Year awards in the same season. The Las Vegas, Nev., product averaged 14.9 points and 4.8 assists per game in Conference play in 2009-10 and was the league's top rebounder in league action, averaging 10.1 boards per game.
Hobson was even better the last six weeks of the regular season when he averaged 18.2 points, 11 rebounds and 5.8 assists over the final 9 games.
Gary's selection on the All-Mountain West Conference team gives UNM a pair of first-team selections for the first time since 1998 when Clayton Shields and Kenny Thomas were so honored in the Western Athletic Conference.