Stew Morrill quotes 12-28-2010

The following are quotes from Utah State men’s basketball coach Stew Morrill prior to the Hawai’i game.Opening statement:”We got everybody back (from the Holidays) and we’re on our way trying to get ready for league. Yesterday was our first practice after a three-day break and it showed a little bit. It’s odd that league is on us so quickly after Christmas break. Hopefully we will practice better today and get ready for a good Hawai’i team.” On Hawa’i being the surprise team in the WAC this year:”There are some pretty good records in league, non-conference. I think Hawai’i has a lot of energy with their new coach, Gib (Arnold) is doing a good job. They’ve got a bunch of new players that are performing for him. I really like how hard they are playing. He went out and recruited and added a bunch of kids that are doing a good job. They are impressive to watch. They’ve just got a number of weapons. They’re really shooting the ball well with their two wings (Bo) Barnes and Zane Johnson, they’ve got an athletic four and five man. And when they get (Bill) Amis back they’ve obviously got another weapon. I have always thought Bill Amis is a really good player. Right now with (Joston) Thomas and Vander (Joaquim) they’re athletic at the four and five. And Hiram (Thompson) has always played well against us. So they’ve got a really nice balance of athleticism and skill, and guys who can shoot the ball and shooting a high percentage from three. You look at their stats and they’re impressive in just about every area. Defensively, what they are holding people to. Offensively, what they’re shooting the ball at from three and overall. Rebounding the ball. They’re definitely impressive to watch and to prepare for.” On starting league play so quickly after the Christmas break:”If we would have had to come back and travel we would’ve been meeting somewhere probably after Christmas and that would have been real crazy trying to get everybody organized. If ever there was a year where you say I don’t believe in a Christmas break it would have probably been this year, but that’s just something I’ve believed in my whole coaching career is giving guys a few days at Christmas. But this year with league it was obviously more difficult to do and more worrisome.” “I just wish that Hawai’i and San Jose State were going to see our home crowd at its best. It concerns me that our fan base realizes conference is here because everybody is right in the middle of the holidays. We need our fan base to rally without the students here. We don’t need them to say it’s the holidays and we will worry about Aggie basketball later because with league starting we could really use some people understanding that we don’t have our students and rally and fill our building to make it as crazy as usual. I think San Jose State and Hawai’i gain an advantage compared to what our home court is usually like.” On Tai Wesley and what he needs to do as league starts:”Stay on the court for one thing. When he stays out of foul trouble it greatly helps our basketball team. I’m sure Hawai’i, along with everyone else, is going to try and go at him and get him in foul trouble. That seems to be a common theme with everyone we play. He just does so much out there for us in terms of passing the ball, scoring the ball, rebounding the ball, has become a solid defender, all of those kinds of things. I think, obviously, we’ve got other players to go with him, but it sure helps when he is out there, we tend to execute better.” On Hawai’i head coach Gib Arnold:”I’ve know Gib (Arnold) for a long time. I’ve know his dad and am aware of his background. When he was at the College of Southern Idaho (CSI) I was over there a number of times. I know I’ve been impressed with him through the years and his recruiting and his coaching when he was a head coach at CSI. And obviously, he is doing a very good job in his first Division I head coaching job. It’s interesting sometimes when a coaching change is made, especially after three years, you kind of shake your head in this business. Obviously, his team has responded to the coaching change and the new people they’ve added and all of that.” “Any time a new coach comes in they’re going to play differently. Every guy has his philosophy. Going back to when Riley Wallace was there, Riley was an unbelievable coach at Hawai’i for 18 years and is a very good friend of mine. I’ve always been impressed with having to try and play Hawai’i through all those years. They had a couple of tough years when Bob (Nash) was coaching them and there is a lot of reasons for that.” On Hawai’i being picked ninth in the WAC’s preseason polls:”I don’t think Hawai’i is ninth, I mean there’s no way. They’re not finishing ninth, they definitely have shown that in the preseason, that they’re very capable of being an upper-tier team and who knows beyond that. Louisiana Tech is a little bit of a surprise. Their overall record is awfully good and they’re really defending people. San Jose State is 8-3, Idaho has bounced back, Boise State with a new coaching staff is similar to Hawai’i in that they’ve rallied the troops. There’s a lot of challenges ahead I know that, and week in and week out you better be ready to play. Certainly when you start at home you realize the significance of trying to get your home wins, but we can’t get too wrapped up in that. We’ve got to just go and try and play good basketball and that’s the bottom line, wherever you are playing is you’ve got to play well.” On this being Boise State’s last year in the WAC:”I think it’s sad and it will even be sadder a year from now when we loss a couple more teams. It’s the nature of the landscape in college athletics, but I’m a little bit of a traditionalist and I just think its unfortunate that the WAC has been raided or whatever you want to say. It’s going to change greatly over the course of time and everybody will be fine, everybody will figure it out, but it’s always a little nostalgic when you see things change.” On Utah State’s offense and the importance of the wings playing well:”I think that certainly makes us harder to deal with when your wings are shooting it well and scoring it. We’ve won some games without that happening, but it makes you better when you have more weapons. We’re at the top or near the top of the league in offensive categories. It’s certainly not time to panic, we just want to get more consistent. In terms of field goal percentage, and three-point field goal percentage, and fewest turnovers, those have always been pretty good stats for us and remain that way. The real question is will they remain that way through WAC play. Non-league stats are valuable to look at as you head into conference, but they are not near as telling as when you get half way through league and you are playing all the same people, those stats become much more relevant.”

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