Stew Morrill Quotes - 01-10-13

Jan. 10, 2013

LOGAN, Utah -

Preview of San Jose State:

"San Jose State is kind of interesting in that their record is actually better away from home than at home. They are 4-2 away and 4-3 at home. That tells you that they have had some real nice wins. I think this is one of the best, if not the best, San Jose State teams that I have seen in recent years, so they have multiple weapons. They are defending really well, holding people down to low percentages. They have a premier player, of course (James Kinney). Kinney is a very good scorer, very aggressive scorer. Anybody that is averaging 21.0 ppg is an awfully good player. They have a legitimate inside threat in (Chris) Cunningham; you know the point guard that has played a lot of basketball even though he is young in (D.J.) Brown. They have (Louis) Garrett, who has been playing really well lately. He is a Utah kid (St. George), who has averaged 11 or 12 points per game in league. They have a shot blocker type, rebounder guy in Alex Brown, and they have various pieces coming off the bench. So we have a good challenge there, and hopefully our guys know what they are in for. San Jose State, we have been fortunate to win our share of games against them, but they have always been hard to play and hard to stop. They always seem to have guys that can score."

On defensive struggles guarding the three-point shot:

"We have had some troubles with game prep at times where we have lost guys in transition at times. I don't know if it is any specific holes. I think it is just being able to guard better than we are able to guard right now. We are trying to get better. It's not like you can say `do this and do this and we won't give up threes.' Connor Hill from Idaho made some amazingly tough shots, and we did have some game prep errors. You know when you look at all your errors defensively, and we went through and showed our guys, multiple, multiple errors, but all you need is to correct four or five of them and your percentage goes down to where you want it to go. So, it is not like it is insurmountable. It is just trying to get better as we go along and realize the magnitude of our defense having to be better if we want to be a contending team in this league, and I keep stressing that to them. If you want to be a contender, our defense has got to make progress. So, we don't, by nature, have guys who think defense first. We normally have had a couple of those. Kyisean (Reed) might be an exception, but he would probably be the only one, and we need everyone on the team to put defense as a priority for us to get better in that area."



On getting rest after a short week and playing only one game:

"We did not practice on Monday; we lifted weights and did some shooting. We just felt like our legs and our minds needed a little rest with only one game, and that is common in a week where you only have one game. Anytime you come off a couple of days of not practicing, you have to get back in the flow. I thought we did that pretty well yesterday. Certainly, we got to the practice floor and had a good workout, and hopefully we can to do the same today. It is kind of odd with a Saturday, Sunday situation, and we are sitting here in Logan not quite sure what we will do with that. Obviously, coaches are always working watching film, and we may or may not practice one of those days, certainly not both of them. We will just have to see how the game goes, and what my feelings are. A lot of times those things are gut feelings on what you need most rest or work."

On playing on a Friday:

"We did that with our travel partner, Idaho, last year, and it seemed to work pretty well, so we suggested it to San Jose State this year and they wanted to do it. I was surprised when I realized that they still had a game this week and were still willing to do it. As the season goes along, it gives you some flexibility when you only have one game in the week, especially when you're looking at travel. In San Jose State's case, they can travel back on Saturday and still take a day off if they choose, and that's the value of playing on Friday. I know our administration is always concerned about things like the gate, and last year's Friday game with Idaho was positive gate-wise, so hopefully this one will be too with the students back."

On playing a good defensive team in San Jose State with a low field goal percentage defense:

"I don't see a lot of pitfalls, they're holding their opponents to a very good percentage. They've got a good shot-blocker insider. I remember a few years ago I couldn't figure out why Wyoming was so good defensively, and one year they had Theo Ratliff and the next year they didn't, and that was a huge difference in their defense. It (opponent's field goal percentage) went from under 40 percent to mid to high 40 percent when he left. Having a shot-blocker is always positive. I think their players bought in and put more of an emphasis on the defensive end, and that's a credit to their coaching staff and their team. Anytime you play a good defensive team, you've got to have a little more patience, not throw up bad looks, make sure you execute your stuff and try and get some things on the break, all of those things. It's not an easy answer to why they're good defensively, in `oh, you've got to do this or that,' you've got to execute, and execution covers a big, wide range. Anytime you talk about execution, there's a lot that goes into it."

On SJSU guard James Kinney and his off night in SJSU's last game:

"He's an aggressive basketball player. He's a playmaker for them. He's going to look to score, he's going to look to make plays for his teammates when you double him or take away his chances of scoring. What you've got to hope to do is keep his percentages down. Anytime a good player has an off night, he usually bounces back with a better night, and that/s going to be his mindset. We've got to try to keep his percentages down, so that's going to be a challenge."

On SJSU forward Chris Cunningham:

"He's a big, wide-bodied skilled guy. He can shoot a jump hook with either his right or his left hand. If you let him get it too close to the basket, he's probably going to score it. He's impressive on film. He can also face up and shoot it a little bit. They were starting Stephon Smith last year and he's now coming off the bench, so that tells you that Cunningham has done a good job, beating out a returning starter. He's got really good hands, a really good feel for the game, and he's got awfully good low-post moves. He's a good player."

On USU freshman guard Marcel Davis's continued progress:

"Marcel is doing a great job as a freshman. I mentioned the other day about talking to him that we can't have the `freshman fade,' which sometimes happens with young guys, and he reassured me that it won't happen. He just has a really good feel. It's hard for a freshman to start in any system, especially ours, and he just has a really good feel for the game and yet stays aggressive. He seems to get better every week. He's a true point guard in that he will look to score, but he knows that his first role is to run your team and do what he needs to do there. I think he will continue to get better defensively as he gains experience, but we couldn't be more pleased with what Marcel is getting done, he's just doing a great job."

On Matt Lopez improving and his playing time decreasing with the improvement of Jordan Stone:

"He's got to get better. How do you improve, you've got to get better, you've got to shoot a higher percentage, you've got to turn it over less, you've got to become a better defender. This is Matt's first year of really playing, he hardly touched the ball much at LaSalle and lost a year unfortunately from transferring. He's going to get better, he's a great kid. He's all about team and all about the right things. Both he and Jordan are that way. We gave him a good look for a period of about eight games there, because he hadn't played for over a year, and he'd done some good things in practice and we felt he deserved the opportunity. Jordan played better than him last time out, but we need them both. Jordan gives us a few different things than Matt gives us. Jordan is a good defender, a good screener and a solid rebounder. We felt that Matt was going to be a little better scorer, and I think he will be a decent scorer, that hasn't necessarily proven out yet, but they each have their strengths, and depending on the game, we'll go to whoever we think can help us, but it's been nice to have both of them."

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