Sports: Papa Dia leads SMU Basketball to higher levels

SMU captain Adam StillDia’s game rewards Mustangs: Despite an unfortunate streak-snapping 67-57 loss to rival UTEP on Saturday, Feb. 12, the fact remains the same: This year’s surprising men’s basketball team is in a deadlock battle for the C-USA title. Currently, the Mustangs are tied for fifth in the league (16-9, 7-4 C-USA) with Tulsa (7-4), just one game behind first-place Memphis (8-3). C-USA Player of the Year candidate Papa Dia (fifth in C-USA scoring, third in rebounds, second in blocks) has already won three Player of the Week awards (Nov. 15-21, Jan. 10-16, Jan. 17-23) is a strong component to the team’s recent success. Dia, Head Coach Matt Doherty and the Mustangs face the Golden Hurricane in a crucial league tie-breaker at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19 in Moody Coliseum. Tune in to KAAM 770 AM or visit to keep up with the team.

Still’s the guy: Junior Adam Still (pictured right) was named the captain of the No. 8-ranked men’s soccer team for the 2011 season on Wednesday, Feb. 16. The defender helped lead the Mustangs to a 16-2-2 record and an NCAA Elite Eight appearance in 2010. Still was also named to the CoSIDA ESPN Academic All-America Third Team this past season. Still is a two-time Academic All-America District VI Team award recipient and has been named to the Conference USA All-Academic Team. SMU will open the upcoming spring season against MLS championship finalist FC Dallas on Friday, Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m. at Pizza Hut Park.

Mary AlenbrattGrades and speed: Sophomore Mary Alenbratt (pictured left) and the cross country team received more high honors to add to a stellar season as they received All-Academic Honors from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Wednesday, Feb. 16. To qualify for All-Academic honors, a team must have a 3.0 GPA or higher. SMU easily qualified with a cumulative 3.34 GPA. Alenbratt and the SMU track & field team will be back in action at the C-USA Indoor Championships on Feb. 25-26, hosted by the University of Houston.

Football never dies: SMU announced its 2011-12 C-USA football schedule on Thursday, Feb. 10. Important dates include a Sept. 3 season opener at former Southwest Conference rival Texas A&M, and a home opener with rival UTEP on Sept. 10. SMU will have 4 of 5 games away during a tough stretch in October (away opponents include Memphis, TCU, Southern Miss, and Tulsa, but will be back at home (in cooler Boulevarding temperatures) for 3 of 4 games at home in November (Tulane, Navy, and Rice.) The C-USA Championship game this year is set for Dec. 3. Kickoff times and potential date changes will be set later in the year. The full schedule can be found here.

Sports: Mustangs announce 2010 recruits on National Signing Day

SMU Signing Day 2010On the heels of its bowl-winning 2009 season, Mustang football has announced the signing of 26 student-athletes to National Letters of Intent Feb. 3. The 2010 incoming class has 16 three-star recruits, surpassing the number of such recruits in the 2007 (4), 2008 (4) and 2009 (7) classes combined. Two signees are junior college transfers, and 24 are high school student-athletes; 18 are from Texas, while 8 are out-of-state recruits. Read more.

Meanwhile, women’s soccer has announced that 5 student-athletes have signed National Letters of Intent to join SMU’s class of 2010. The group includes 2 of the top 100 recruits nationally and 3 regionally ranked recruits. Three players have trained with U.S. National Teams at various levels, and 4 have Olympic Development Program experience at the regional level or higher. Read more.

In other recruiting news, midfielder Dane Saintus was selected 54th in the 2010 Major League Soccer SuperDraft by FC Dallas. Saintus was the team’s 4th-round selection. He rejoins former SMU coach Schellas Hyndman and becomes the 4th SMU player on the squad; midfielders Daniel Hernandez and Bruno Guarda and defender Ugo Ihemelu all attended SMU. Saintus was named First Team All-Conference USA in 2009 after registering 8 goals and 5 assists on the season. He concludes his SMU career with 14 goals and 15 assists in 69 total games. Read more.

Two former Mustang men’s soccer players were named to College Soccer News‘ Team of the Decade in January: forward Luchi Gonzalez to the first team and midfielder Diego Walsh to the second team. Gonzalez is SMU’s only recipient of the Hermann Trophy, winning the award honoring NCAA Division I’s top male soccer player in 2001 after scoring 21 goals and 12 assists in 22 games. Walsh was a two-time first-team All-America selection, in 2001 and 2002. Both were members of SMU’s 2000 College Cup team. Read more.