Youth, lack of height are questions for USU basketball team
By Wade Denniston
Despite being picked to finish fourth in the Eastern Division of the
Big West Conference by the media and fifth by the league coaches, Utah
State University head basketball coach Stew Morrill doesn't seem to
mind the predictions.
A huge task may be an understatement.
USU is featuring eight new players on its 13-man roster, and nine players have never played Division I-A basketball.
What about the rest of the team?
"The other four have only one-year experience," Morrill said.
Familiar faces returning for the Aggies are junior center Dimitri Jorssen, sophomore guard Tony Brown and senior guard Troy Rolle.
Sophomores Brad Wilden and Brennan Ray redshirted last season and have a year of experience in Morrill's system.
Despite the team's youth, Morrill is pleased with the depth of the Aggies.
"I think we've got pretty good depth," Morrill said. "What we have is a lot of competition for playing time. You never know as a coach if you're talented enough, but I do know that we've got guys who are. . . . It's not like several guys are a ton better than other guys.
"There's just a lot of competition, which leads to thinking that at some point we might have pretty good depth."
But with strength, comes weakness.
"What I'm most worried about is can we guard and can we rebound?" Morrill said. "We're small again, other than Dimitri. We're going to be outsized a lot. We're turning it over too much, but I believe we'll iron that out as time goes on."
In an exhibition game Friday night at the Spectrum, the Aggies defeated a Global Sports team including former Aggies Marcus Saxon and Kevin Rice. The Aggies shot 33 of 66 from the floor for 50 percent shooting in the 92-73 victory. Before the game, Morrill predicted that it would give his team an idea of its strengths and weaknesses.
"No matter what happens -- win, lose, look good, look bad -- it will at least give us a gauge at where we're at," Morrill said. "Just seeing how we respond to a game situation will be really important for us to take the next step in improving and growing."
The Aggies' next game will be at 8 p.m. Friday at the Spectrum against
Simon Fraser in an official exhibition. The late start is to accommodate
the USU volleyball team, which begins a match against the University
of Nevada at 5 p.m.