The following are quotes from Utah State men's basketball coach Stew Morrill prior to its Western Athletic Conference road game at New Mexico State Thursday night.
Jan. 11, 2012
LOGAN, Utah -
"We're about to embark on four-straight road games. We haven't been great on the road, we've gotten closer, we've gotten a little better our last couple of road games, but we've got to step it up a notch to have a chance to compete and have a chance to win in any of these games coming up. Obviously starting with New Mexico State, you go in there and always know what you are in for with an athletic team, a great rebounding team. It all starts with Wendell (McKines), but they've got good personnel. It's hard to believe Hernst (Laroche) is a senior already, seems like he was just a freshman starting point not long ago. Watching them, our ability to stay with them somewhat on the boards will certainly be a big factor. When you look at the Nevada game, and we didn't rebound the ball, that was probably the tell-tell stat. It's something we've been emphasizing and working on and hoping we can get better, but it is a concern every night out for us. Our guys have been in good spirits, practice has been solid so we will see what happens tomorrow."
On Trying To Rebound The Ball Against New Mexico State:
"The only thing you can do is everybody try and do their job, everybody try and block out when the ball is shot. They're such a strong offensive team and when you have McKines averaging over 10 rebounds a game somebody's got to put a body on him. It becomes a lot harder if you are having to rotate because guys are penetrating, if you're doubling in the post, then you don't have just normal matchup block-off responsibilities, which are tough enough already with their size and quickness. We basically have to try and gang rebound and everybody try and get a body on somebody. There is no question it's a challenge."
On Wendell McKines And His Ability To Shoot The Three:
On Hamidu Rahman:
"He's always been able to make a three-pointer here and there, and I think he's just every year gotten a little better at it. You look in 15 games he's made 22 three-pointers, so he can have a night where he makes two or three. That is a plus part of his game that keeps you honest. He is really unbelievable at chasing the ball, he'll shoot it and chase it and get his own rebound and score it. He's one of the most talented rebounders you'll see. And he always plays extremely hard. I've always been impressed with how hard he plays. He's certainly a candidate for Player of the Year in our league when you look at what he's got going."
"He's just hard to deal with, he is so big. His shooting percentage around the basket is above 60 and they throw it to him a lot at the low post, coming down on the break, in their offense, wherever they can get it to him, they look to get him more attempts than he used to get. Laroche is shooting 40 percent from three, they've got a lot of weapons, that's why they were one of the teams picked at the top of our league."
On How New Mexico State Is Different Without Christian Kabongo:
"I remember Kabongo from the past, he is a talented kid, but I haven't really been watching film with him playing. I have been concentrating on the couple of games since he is no longer on the team because we are not going to face him. I will say this, (Daniel) Mullings has come in as a starter and is very, very capable. He is very athletic and is doing some good things. I know that Kabongo was taking lots of shots and there are more shots to go around, that is one thing that I would say with him not playing."
Does Your Team Feel A Sense Of Urgency This Weekend After Losing At Home:
"I hope our guys feel a sense of we have got to try and get one back. Anytime that you lose at home you are looking to get one back on the road to at least try to get back to even. I hope that we are playing with a little urgency. I mean it is a whole new group for us compared to the group that we lost. So you never know exactly how we are going to respond but I like the fact that we have come out with energy and not gotten our dobber down, not gotten our heads down. We haven't got our heads down and we have been in pretty good spirits the last couple of days and we are trying to practice hard and trying to figure out what we can do better."
On Preston Medlin Redshirting Last Year:
"We had three seniors at the wing last year and we just felt that Preston Medlin had quite a bit of potential and all of those kids were going to take all of the minutes, they were seniors and coming off championships and proven guys, so it was a good move to redshirt him. There was some risk injury wise and so forth but it worked out. He had a really tough game at Texas A&M - Corpus Christi but other than that, since that game, he has emerged as a guy that thinks he can play and he is right, he can play. He does a lot of things for us, not always shooting the ball or scoring the ball, but passing the basketball. He makes a lot of plays for his teammates, he's pretty slight of build but more athletic than you might think."
Is Preston Medlin Becoming A Vocal Leader On This Team:
"That is something that I have asked him to do. You need your good players and the guys that are playing well to speak to other guys, especially with so many new guys that we have. He has tried to do that, he has always been pretty vocal in games, he gets excited and I like that. I think that is positive. He has tried in practice to pick it up vocally, it's not really his nature but he's doing a good job of trying to provide a little leadership that way."
On Comparing Preston Medlin To Brian Green:
"I don't know, I've never really compared those two. I guess there are some, they're just so different, personality wise they are different, body structure wise. Brian Green was kind of a little fireplug at 195 pounds and Preston is really slight. Both are good basketball players, both good shooters, good guys off the dribble, so yeah I suppose there are some. I haven't really thought about it much but there are some similarities."
Have You Had A Chance To Look At Louisiana Tech Yet:
"Just a little bit. It looks to me like they are playing really hard, very athletic and causing havoc with some pressure and some pressing and that kind of thing. I have only to this pointed watched them in their game against New Mexico State. Our focus has obviously been on the first one, but I compare them in a positive way to what I saw with Fresno State in that they're playing excited, they're playing hard and I am impressed with what I see."