The following are quotes from Utah State men’s basketball coach Stew Morrill prior to its Western Athletic Conference home game against Hawai’i Thursday night. Opening Comments:”Regardless of disappointments or what happened the previous week, you’ve got to move forward to the next week, that’s the nature of competition and the nature of playing a schedule. What’s an interesting fact is that the home team wins 70 percent of college basketball games around the country and when you look us having four games on the road and we won one, I guess that would be the average, close to it. And that’s about where we’re at, when you’re 10-10, 2-3 in league you have to say at this point you have been an average basketball team. What we’ve got to try and do is become better than average. What I talk about with our players yesterday was the fact that we are 10-10 and that we’re 2-3 in league and those games are over. We have nine league games left, 11 games overall left and those are the ones that we have a chance to do something about. The games that are over are over! Certainly there have been disappointments along the way and some good wins, but certainly some disappointments as well. I think one thing that I want to clarify is, I read some of my comments sometimes and the last thing I intend to do, in any wayshape or form is to blame players for things that are happening or not happening. I am always the first to blame myself. When I look at the Idaho game, we and I stress we, didn’t make some plays. But it’s always about we when we win or lose, it’s not about a particular player or players. I thought we made some coaching errors and you always feel that way when things don’t goright. And when things do go right I’m not one to pat myself on the back and think that our coaches did a great job, so my assistants don’t get a whole lot of praise. When things go well they’re suppose to, and when things don’t go well we screwed up. I thought we could have done some things a little better in the Idaho game, we did some things pretty well to lead for 38 minutes but the end result is a loss. With that being said, we move forward.” “The interesting thing right now is with Morgan Grim’s situation, when you look at a lot of our games he has either been hurt or in foul trouble and that puts a lot of pressure on the other post guys, one ofthem being a freshman in Ben Clifford. When Jordan Stone plays he’s a freshman. Kyisean (Reed) has had some real good moments, but he has been inconsistentespecially on the defensive end and rebounding end, that is really where wewould like to see him step up and he knows that. There is nothing that I talk about that I don’t talk about with the individual kids, again, there is no blame game going on. I was mad after the game, I was mad for a couple of days but that is never my intent.” “Going forward, Hawai’i is like playing New Mexico State or playing Nevada, they have that kind of size and talent. They have a premiere shooter in Zane Johnson, they are huge inside with there four and five. They are strong and talented and they’re playing well defensively. The point guard, football player, basketball player (Jeremiah Ostrowski), I use to just call him a football player, he’s not, he’s a really good basketball player. You look at his assist-to-turnover ratio in league and that tells you all that you need to know. They have a bunch of other guys that need shots and expect to get shots and he does his job getting them shots. We could not keep him in front of us in our game last year and you look at all the players and he is the one that really pulls that thing together for them. They have three guys that are averaging 18 points a game in league. They look awfully talented, awfully good on film and what they do is come in a play a variety of defenses to try andkeep you off balance. They’ll play some man, not a lot, maybe they’ll play more against us. They’ve played a lot of triangle and two, box and one, two-three zone. We’re going to get a mix of things. Then a quick turnaround Saturday night and in comes San Jose State and they play an odd match up zone every possession that we have watched so far. We’re going to see defensively some odd combinations this weekend. San Jose State has had some good moments, I mean Cal State Bakersfield is a turned around team from last year and they beat themlast night. Cal State Bakersfield is 11-10 and they’ve turned it around from their previous tough years. I’m sure they look at us and are licking their chops thinking its their chance to get a win. That’s kind of where we’re at, the thing we can’t be, we cannot be fragile. If we are fragile we are going to get beat and we are going to keep getting beat. We have got to have guys that dare take a chance, dare shoot the ball, dare to be physical, dare to do what it takes to compete. We‘ve got to do everything we can to try and be the aggressor and not be tentative and fragile out there. I think that is as big a thing as anything when you come off a couple of losses and feel like you should have won one of them. Especially with non-veteran players it’s really easy to be tentative and not aggressive, and that’s the biggest fear that I have. We have got to respond and come play and throw caution to the wind so to speak.” On Hawaii’s Zane Johnson:”He’s a better athlete than you think and he’s bigger than you think. He gets a lot of his shots off because he gets them off quick. There are plays were they run three screens for him, they’re going to do everything they can to get him open. He gets open on the break, the point guard will turn his back and hand it off to him to try and get him a shot. They run a lot of things to get him looks and when you extend to him, they will pound you inside with their size and their ability with there two inside guys. He had 24 and 25 points against us I think last year, he’s obviously hard to guard. I mean, we were the best defensive team in the league last year and we had a really tough time with him. All you have to do is look at last weekend, he doesn’t play one night, him and Ostrowski and they lose to Louisiana Tech and then he has 29 when he does play after having the flu, so he is definitely an all league guy.” Do You Expect To See Both Hawaii’i And San Jose State To Play Zone Defenses:”Hawai’i will play once in a while your standard 2-3 zone, but when you play junk defenses they are really kind of combinations of man and zone. If we see a triangle and two it will be on Brockeith (Pane) and Preston (Medlin). If we see a box and one, it will be on Preston, and Iexpect to see both. San Jose State’s looks like a 2-3 zone, feels like a 2-3 zone, but it’s not. They follow guys through sometimes when you least expect it. It’s not a traditional 2-3 zone, it’s a match-up of sorts with some odd rules that I’m not totally sure of what the rules are. They just try to get you covered switching and talking and all that sort of thing and you have got to run your stuff and screen somebody and try to get some looks.” Is Nevada, New Mexico State And Hawai’i Have The Best Talent In The League:”I think that most coaches would agree with that. When New Mexico State walks onto the floor they just kind of shock you, and they did the same last year with their size and their bulk, their height and their strength. Nevada has somewhat the same effect, they are very athletic and big and strong, not maybe quite as strong, but lots of weapons. Hawai’i is right there with both of them in all of those regards. I think that most of us in the league would say that that is a fair statement.” Is This An Opportunity To Get Better Playing Seven Of The Next Nine Games At Home:”If we capitalize. I mean you’ve heard me say for lots of years that just because you are at home doesn’t mean that you automatically win, and we have proven that this year. We like most teams, appear to be better at home, most of our wins have come at home, but we have also found a way to lose a couple of games at home. When the best teams in the league come in you know that you have to play pretty well to win and when the teams like us come in you know that they could beat you as well. We’re vulnerable, that is for sure and we’ve got to fight. You can give in and we’ve done that a few times this year, but we cannot afford to give in in this stretch of games and it starts Thursday night. We’ve got to fight. To have a chance we’ve got to fight, it doesn’t mean you’re going to win but it gives you a chance.” On Ben Clifford’s Development:”He’s not undersized really in height, he’s about the same height as Tai Wesley and guys that we have had at that position. Now when he goes to the five he’s undersized, but when he’s a four height wise he’s not. It shocks me sometimes when I hear that he weighs 220, he doesn’t looklike he weighs 220. He’s not thick and strong, but he’ll give you everything he has got. I have been pleased with Ben along those lines. He understands what we are trying to do, he’s playing two positions and he’s going to play his tale off. He’s gaining confidence in terms of shooting the ball and he made a big shot the other night against Idaho. He’s our third post right now and he plays both spots. I do think that in this game against Hawai’i Jordan Stone is going to need to play and I told him he is going to play. We play against certainteams with the size that they have and with Morgan’s situation on top of it, his ankle problem, Jordan has got to be ready to go. So the next couple of days in practice, hopefully he can practice well and get himself ready to play.” On San Jose State:”I have watched probably 12 hours of film and probably 10 of it has been Hawai’i. I will know more as the week goes along and I get a better chance to watch San Jose State. Will Carter is one strength,he’s a kid that we had in camp and were very much aware of. He played junior college basketball and we watched him and we would have loved to taken Will Carter, we just didn’t have the scholarships at that position at the time. If you look back you can remember how many posts we’ve had. But he is really playing well, averaging 11 rebounds a game in league and scoring it against high-caliber competition at the low post. He’s bouncy and a guy you would love to have right now. He’s playing really well. With him they’ve got some guys who can get hot from three, they made 40 percent of their three-pointers in the game that I watched theother night. They go small a lot, they will have four guards out there a lot of times. And that effective defense that they play causes you some concern. You have got to figure out how you want to attack that.” Has San Jose State Played That Zone Defense All Year And Even Last Year:”They’ve played it some, they went to it exclusively in our game in the tournament. Last weekend they played it a lot. They gave us some problems in the WAC Tournament with it. It’s an effective look for them. They probably feel like they’re undersized and this is a way to try and negate that a little bit, by trying to confuse you and trying to get you to not know what you are doing against a different sort of defense.”
Free News Delivery by Email
Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!