USU Men's Basketball Press Conference - 1-20-14
Jan. 20, 2014
LOGAN, Utah -
USU men's basketball head coach Stew Morrill's quotes previewing Wednesday's game at UNLV:
Opening statement reviewing the weekend/previewing UNLV:
"It's a quick turnaround. The nature of the schedule in this league makes it really interesting. I can see why so many of the teams have gone to chartering flights. We play UNLV on Wednesday. If we chartered home, we could be home by midnight and feasibly have a chance to practice on Thursday. As it is, we get home early afternoon Thursday and after travel and a ball game, that's tough. This just seems like a quick turnaround to go out and on the road again. You get home at 2:
30 or whatever it was, practice today, then tomorrow go at 9 a.m. It's the exact situation we had going to Nevada. That can make everything a little bit more difficult.
"We're getting a true taste of the challenges of the Mountain West. In a lot of leagues, there's maybe not a lot of separation between teams. It's a matter of a few more close wins than another team can make you anywhere from third to eighth or ninth. We're an example of that right now. We're 2-3 and could easily be 4-1. That's disappointing.
"The Boise State game was disappointing, but at the same time I was proud of our guys for competing. They got down in the first half, got down in the second half and kept battling. They got themselves back in the position to win. When you're in a position to win and don't win, obviously that's not a lot of fun. If we hit a stop here-or-there or if the last shot goes in, it's a whole different deal.
"We don't have a whole lot of time. We'll show a few clips today of some errors that would have made a difference. Then we're on to UNLV. We've got to try and get prepared for them in a hurry. What I see of them on film is a very athletic group that just presents so many problems with their athleticism. Problems on the boards, problems trying to guard them. UNLV has always had very good athletes and this group is no exception to that. They went on the road and got a great win at New Mexico. I'm sure they feel they've been a little inconsistent as a lot of us probably feel right now. They've got a premiere player in (Bryce) Dejean-Jones and other weapons to go with him. We're very familiar with (Kevin) Olekaibe from his days at Fresno State. They're monsters on the boards. Their two big guys just pound the boards, and for some reason that's been a bit of an issue with us lately. That's a key stat.
"You're always concerned about your own team's health. Jarred (Shaw) is missing a tooth. Kyle (Davis) is unable to go today. The good news is that it's not season-ending, but we don't know for sure if we'll have him at all for UNLV. We'll just have to see. He's just day-to-day. In laymen's terms, his kneecap popped out. We popped it back in. Obviously that causes some soreness and discomfort, but nothing structural at this point. It's just about how soon he can get moving around, given that injury."
On Boise State's Ryan Watkins' rebounding Saturday:
"They get you so spread out with their offense, then he gets a ton of run off of you. Your bigs have to come help because they're driving downhill so much. Then he's left over there rebounding against the guard a lot of times. He got his own miss and there's really no excuse for that. He just out-quicked us and knew where it was going. He did a good job. Any time a guy gets 10 offensive rebounds, he's doing something right."
On similarities between Watkins and UNLV's Roscoe Smith:
"He's very active and athletic, relentless kind of. He's more athletic than Watkins, so that's the good news [laughs]. Both those guys are getting 10 rebounds a game in league. We just need to not give him second shots. The one thing is, they're not shooting a great percentage in league, so there are a lot of second shots and they're finding a way to gobble them up."
On the possibility/problems if Kyle Davis missed Wednesday:
"He's our leading rebounder. He's got a nose himself for the ball. He does a good job on the boards. That won't help matters if we don't have him."
On UNLV's perimeter defense:
"They just play pressure man-to-man. That's what has been the deal with UNLV for a long time. They deny your passes. They don't help a lot in the post so they're getting it out to three-point shooters. When you have as much team quickness as they do, it takes you a lot less time to recover. Their style of defense is one thing, but their athletes are the big reason their style of defense works."
On the imprints of a Dave Rice team:
"I don't know the answer to that. Dave is doing a good job. All you've got to do is look at their record since he's been there. They've won a lot of games."
On the shooting style of UNLV:
"Their strength is their athleticism. They go by you because they're quicker than you. They get into the lane. We've got to help. Olekaibe is the guy standing out there shooting a pretty good percentage from three. Some of their other guys take some threes. Their point guard made a few last game. They're just streaky. Knock on wood, let's just hope they're streaky on Wednesday night."
On having playing experience in the Thomas & Mack Center by the MW Tournament:
"I'd rather just play the Mountain West Tournament on a neutral site. That will always grate on me. I don't think anyone would feel like experiencing the Spectrum would be a good deal if they had to come back here for the tournament."
On the NCAA 6th Fan Competition and what the fans mean to the program:
"There's only been a couple of times this year, because of holidays and the nature of the schedule, where we've seen the Spectrum in the form that is has been a lot of the previous years. When it's at its best, it's as good as it gets. Hopefully we can see it at its best come Saturday night. I'm a little concerned about two 9 p.m. games in a row. Not for the students, they're just getting woke up right about then, that's when you rock and roll as a college kid. For our general admission people, the time of the game is kind of a late deal. If you look at that 6th Fan contest and say we judge Utah State at its best, we stack up with anyone."