LOGAN, Utah – One of the greatest chapters in Utah State men’s basketball history will be coming to a close on Saturday night as head coach Stew Morrill will coach his final regular season game on the floor of the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. The coach, who has patrolled the bench for the past 17 years, announced in January that he will be retiring at the end of the season, marking the end of a men’s basketball dynasty.
The fact that the Aggies will play Colorado State in the regular season finale is all too appropriate as the correlation between the two teams is great. Morrill was the head coach for the Rams from 1991-1998 before taking the top position in Logan the following season. The current head coach of CSU, Larry Eutaschy, was the man that Morrill replaced at Utah State upon his arrival in 1998-99.
Since that time, Morrill has guided the Aggies to 17 straight winning seasons, including 12 of the top 13 seasons in school history in terms of wins. His tenure has also included a string of 13 consecutive postseason appearances, including eight NCAA tournament bids, four in the NIT and one CIT run that continued all the way to the championship game.
Fans grew accustomed to conference titles as Utah State captured seven (2000, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) under Morrill, including four straight Western Athletic Conference titles from 2008-11, and six conference postseason championships (2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2011).
The team success also trickled down to individuals as Morrill coached four different players who earned All-American honors five times in Tony Brown (2001), Jaycee Carroll (2007, 2008), Gary Wilkinson (2009) and Tai Wesley (2011). Carroll (2008), Wilkinson (2009) and Wesley (2011) were also named WAC Players of the Year under Morrill’s tutelage. The veteran head coach also guided 15 players to first-team all-league selections a total of 21 times and 19 who have earned various all-conference honors a total of 33 times.
Morrill has also seen his share of individual accolades, earning five conference coach of the year honors (2000, 2002, 2009, 2010, 2011) and the 2011 Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year by CollegeInsider.com.
Morrill’s final season at the helm in Logan may be one of his greatest accomplishments as he took a team that was picked 10th of 11 teams in the Mountain West going into the season and has the Aggies among the top four of the league going into the final game. The feat is even more remarkable, considering that Utah State returned only four players and no starters from 2013-14, making up just 11.7 percent of the team’s points, 9.5 percent of the team’s rebounds and 13.5 percent of minutes played.
Morrill’s focus has always been the team and his players and getting the most out of them, both on the court and in the classroom. The academic focus generated 21 players who earned academic all-conference honors a total of 37 times under Morrill’s leadership and a graduation rate close to 95 percent.
Aside from the academic success, fans in the Spectrum will remember Morrill for his incredible success within the arena where he has guided the Aggies to an 88.9 percent winning percentage (248-31) at home, including an 86.0 percent mark (123-20) in conference games.
There is little doubt that fans will be looking for another win on Saturday night to experience the Spectrum magic under Morrill one last time.