The following are quotes from Utah State men’s basketball coach Stew Morrill prior to the Weber State game.On the upcoming start of the season…”Weather or not we are ready for what is waiting for us is yet to be seen. We are just like everyone else at this time of year; we are trying to figure some things out, there are days where it looks like we have things figured out and we have days where it looks like we don’t but I think that most coaches would feel that same way right now.” On the newcomers and if there are able to absorb everything this early on…”I know when that is the case, I blame myself and maybe we are overloading them a little bit. I’ve had assistants that say we hit the wall because we are giving them to much in practice and they can’t play because they get bogged down mentally. That may be what I have done a little bit as I’ve been trying to get everything ready and get this team ready to play. It’s not just about the players learning practice habits, coaches always have to look within and see what they can do a better job of. Certainly that is what I am doing at this point.” Thoughts on playing against Weber State in the season opener…”Weber is a good basketball team, I have nothing but respect for the league that they play in and the winning tradition that Weber State has. When you look at the tradition Weber State has had going back to the coaches they have had some greats, Dick Mata, Gene Fischer, Phil Johnson, Neal McCarthy, and now Randy Rahe. Randy certainly fits right in with that group. He always gives me far to much credit for helping him in his career and he is his own man. He does a great job of running that program and it’s a good marriage between the two. I am happy that Weber State recognized his value and have rewarded him with a long-term contract. He does a lot of things really well and his team reflects that because they do things very well. They are an athletic team and they have a premiere player who is as good as any player in the state of Utah. They cause a lot of problems with their ability to shoot three’s, their ability to rebound the ball, and their athleticism. They run a lot of good plays, some of which we are familiar with and others we aren’t. I was telling our players that we are playing a lot of teams on our schedule that are picked to either win their league or contend right at the top of their leagues. We start our season right away with Weber State coming in picked as the favorite to win their conference. I think when you open up at home against a good team like this, that creates a sense of urgency as to how we are going to react when we play against a good team.” Do you feel that your team is better prepared this season because of the returning seniors?”I don’t know how you measure it, if this team would be higher or lower or about the same, but we have had a lot of years where we’ve had good players returning and we were picked at the top of our league. One of the things that I continue to press on our players is all we can do is the best we can do. If they come out and practice hard and concentrate to do their best than that’s all I can really ask for and we will live with the results.” Thoughts on Weber State guard Damian Lillard…”He is a very good guard who makes plays, he can shoot the basketball, and he can get on a roll, much like Jaycee Carroll, where it doesn’t matter if you have a hand in his face. What we are going to have to do is make him earn every basket he gets. I don’t think that we did that last year in the second half of our game in Logan, he just went off and got them right back into the game. Once he was rolling there wasn’t a whole lot that we could do about it. Like I said he isn’t just a good shooter, he can take the ball to the basket, he can make plays for his teammates and he can pass the ball extremely well. I think he is the best player in that league and they still have him for several more years. We have a whole lot of respect for that young man but he certainly isn’t the only player they have on that team. Kyle Bullinger has been around a long time, Darin Mahoney is a tough kid, Trevor Morris has played a lot of basketball and they have a lot of talent. You don’t get picked to win your league if you have just Lillard, they have a lot of weapons.” Thoughts on Weber State’s newcomers…”I like their new guys, I don’t know if I’d be able to single just one of them out. I have been able to watch both of their exhibition games and I’m sure that Randy has watched both of ours. I know that they have a new guard who they are very high on who has been struggling with a shoulder issue and I’m not sure if he is going to be able to play in our game our not. Most of the newcomers to that team are freshman, but they are good freshman that have a bright future. They have certainly recruited well.” How long do you expect Nate Bendall to be out and when will he be able to play?”I don’t know if anyone really knows that answer to that question. He could try to come back in another two to three weeks or it could be a one-day deal and he will be in the same boat he is in today. There is no guarantee like with most injuries that rest will make it any better. Rest will certainly help give him the chance to try again, but rest is not going to improve the basic problem or the basic structure of his feet right now. He is at practice everyday, he is part of our team and I wish we had him available for play but we don’t. We have to hope that at some point during his senior year that he will be able to get back and help in some form or fashion. I would rather have him some than and I would rather have him as a back-up than not at all. We are just going to have to wait and see what he can do.” Could Nate Bendall potentially get a redshirt for this season?”No he wouldn’t qualify, he has already had a redshirt when he came back from his mission and played for Salt Lake Community College. To be able to get a sixth year you really have to have two medical situations and the one he took at Salt Lake Community College was not medical, so he wouldn’t qualify. The reality of it is even if he did his feet are not going to get better and the chances of him being able to play a sixth year are not good at all. This is it for him no matter how you look at it. We will just have to wait and see what happens. It’s certainly a tough thing for a kid like Nate Bendall, for a senior, and for our team. He has been a very large part of our team.” Thoughts on Brockeith Pane…”Brockeith has been great. He is an older kid who played a year with Houston, then decided to play for a junior college and he has been through the growing up process and the reality of college basketball. He is doing everything that has been asked of him and he brings it every practice. He has great talent, he is a strong guard and he is not out on the court hunting for shots. Most the time you are dealing with new players out of junior colleges, they like to come in and hunt shots to get their stats, but Brockeith isn’t like that at all. He does a great job at utilizing the veterans on this team and keeping them all going and keeping them happy. I’ve been very pleased with Brockeith.” What are you expectations for Tai Wesley this season?”I expect him to be Tai Wesley and play the same style that Tai is known for playing. He isn’t a 20 plus point game a night guy but he is a great all-around basketball player that makes everyone better because of his knowledge of the game and his skill level. He is as good a post passer as I have ever had. He is in the same breath for me as Nate Harris and Spencer Nelson as far as the passing of the ball and ability to run our system. The fact that people have picked him to be player of the year in our league is great and that tells you that Tai is a really good player. I’ve always told our kid that nine times out of ten the player of the year comes from the team that wins the league, so lets go ahead and win the league so Tai has a chance to get that award.” What goals do you expect you team to achieve this season?”Like I said earlier, I want us to do the best that we can. Everybody expects me to say that we have to do this or do that and I’m just not a big goal guy. Show up everyday and do the best we can. We will continue to try and get better and we will try to win our next game. I’m not going to sit up here and say we have to win our league and win games in the NCAA tournament to be successful.”
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