Quotes From Head Basketball Coach Stew Morrill



Jan. 23, 2001

The following are quotes from Utah State head basketball coach Stew Morrill at his weekly press conference for the week of Jan. 23, 2001.

Does the preparation become more specific in these turnaround games because you have already played each other?

"I would say that it is familiar for your kids, so they might be able to remember things since you already went over them one time. What happens with every team is they add things rather than taking things away as the season goes along. You will throw out a thing here and there. All the things Pacific does certainly concerns you because there's a lot of hand-offs and ball screens and back doors. We have terminology for a lot of the things they do. What the challenge becomes is not to over prepare when you play a team like Pacific because at some point you just have to guard too. You have to defend their stuff and you have to play the game at the other end and not to be too wrapped up in every little thing. If you start thinking too much in basketball, you can get yourself in trouble. You have to expose the players to the things they do and talk about how you want to prepare for it and how you want to guard it and then you have to free you mind a little bit. So if anything through the years, we have been guilty of sometimes over-preparing and we really try and guard against that so we don't bog our guys down, especially with just two days here before we play them."

Pacific did a good job of doubling Shawn (Daniels) and shading Tony (Brown) every time they got the ball, do you expect more of the same?

"Oh yeah, that's how they are going to play us and that's fine. One thing about our team, like I've said many times is we're unselfish, and if a guy is going to get doubled or tripled he is going to pass the ball, a guy like Shawn Daniels. They are going to do what they think is the best way to play our personnel, that's kind of what we expect. Again, you just have to react to what they do. You don't want to force shots versus a double team, you don't want to try to force passes to a guy that is being denied, you got to get him open by screening. If there is anything that you do, you open up some other areas of the game too by double teaming all the time with your posts. Then you can't show on screens and if you set good screens that can leave guys open for shots. So there's a counter. You always have to decide what you are going to give up in your game prep. Okay, we are going to do this, but then we can't do this, and that's a situation with what Pacific does to us. They are going to give up some things and take away some things and we just have to play. There is always some adjustments, little adjustments you can make to try and get a shooter open who is in the perimeter who they are denying, but when they are just going to double team a certain post then that's going to leave somebody else open. That's just the way it is."

In the second half Curtis (Bobb) knocked down some big shots for you, is there anything particular that you did to free him up?

"Well, a lot of times it was off double teams and they had to drop and help on the other post or whatever. That kind of thing will happen. We ran a couple of plays where Curtis got open. We are not just going to say they are going to deny Tony and Curtis, and we are not going to do anything to try and get them shots, that's crazy. What's more of a problem is when they double team a low post player, it's not like you can say, Okay all of a sudden we are going to take Shawn (Daniels) up out to twenty-five feet and let him play, that doesn't work. The great thing about Shawn Daniels is he doesn't take bad shots. That's how he can go for 6-for-7 last game. There are two different things we are talking about. Denying our wing, they are going to play off our points a little bit and they are going to double team Shawn. We know exactly how they are going to play us when they play man, but there is only so much you can do to try and counter it and you got to play."

Often when you play home and home in a league you often play them a month later. Are you kind of glad you play them after ten or twelve days?

"I don't know whether I would call it good or bad, I'd call it weird. We haven't played some teams in this league and here we are playing Pacific and Idaho for the second time this week. So, that's an odd set of circumstances. I mean it's just how the schedule falls with nine teams in the league. Normally I would say with how the Pacific game went last time, it would probably be better if there was a larger gap between playing them again because of the emotion and the physicalness of it. I think they are going to be all charged up and probably frothing at the mouth to see us come to town. I'm talking about their players, coaches, fans, everything. That's fine. We've seen that before. We need to keep our composure, never back down. Never, ever back down, but keep our composure and go play. We've had a lot of times happen the last couple of years where people have really been looking forward to playing us again. We've heard that many times so, that's just what you get sometimes when you are the hunted."

It seems like you are almost more focused on the road than you are at home sometimes, is that true?

"I know it seems like forever since we've been out there to me, but the next two weeks are big weeks and it's real easy to get into the grand scope of three out of four road games. Three out of our four games are road games, and to look at the thing as a whole rather than look at the Pacific game. And that is just what we have always done is just try and focus in on one game, possession by possession, go play and we'll worry about a short turnaround, Idaho at home on Saturday and two games on the road next week. I don't think we have been more focused on the road. Our kids love to play at home and we had a real big home stand the last couple of weeks against teams that were very capable of coming in here and winning, and we found a way to win those games."

I guess my question is it's almost like you against the world, so you have to really concentrate on you being a team and being together.

"I always think that is true on the road, you very seldom have very many fans and there always has to be a little more unity, togetherness in those situations. I think a critical thing is always experience on the road too. We've got guys who have been out there and that's gonna help you. We are up against it. This league has gotten better and we are playing a very good Pacific team, and then the next week we go to Irvine. I've kind of gotten a kick out of it lately, because it's a little bit of the mentality that we are not supposed to lose a game. I've said all along that that's crazy. We have to go and do the best we can game by game, but we're going to have some losses, I don't know how many, but there are going to be some losses. Somewhere along the way, it's going to happen to the best of teams in this league, so I really believe that. I'm not going to say, Okay we're going to lose here, we're going to lose there, we're going to lose this many. I don't know, but we were riding a charmed horse last year winning all those road games, close games. To think that's going to happen again is probably very sick, distorted"

(Maurice) McLemore didn't seem to have a good game, although he has played great games. Is there a real concern after playing him once to still consider him other than the other guys that did more against you?

"I think that is a good point. Anytime you play a team for the second time and there are guys who didn't particularly have good games, don't take those guys for granted. Look at their overall stats, realize a guy like Mclemore is one of the huge reasons Pacific is so improved this year and realize that he has been about 100 percent better at home like a lot of first-year players. So, I hope our guys are intelligent enough to understand that, and I think they are. The amount of stuff that we talk about as fans and media and coaches and even in our coaches meetings, after a while we've dissected every little thing and it's like we aren't going to get all this suff. You can make things more complicated than they need to be. But I think its a good point that when you play a team one time, don't take a guy for granted that didn't play very well that particular night, because he is a good player, he is very good addition, to their team."

This team always seems to look forward and not look back on the success of this team. Why is that?

"As I told them last week, we will relax in April. There is plenty of time this spring to relax. We don't need to relax now. This is the heat of the conference season. It's time to focus and be ready every practice and every game. We practiced very well last week and I expect the same this week, and that is how you keep improving. And a lot of that has to do with the character of your team. The thing that has been real positive with this group is there's not a lot of petty jealousy. They show up every day, they are pretty intentive, and they try and figure out what you want them to do."

Talk about Mike Hahn and the problems he presents?

"Well I don't think we can rely on Shawn (Daniels) blocking seven shots, because that is abnormal. That was an unbelievable performance. He (Hahn) is a rugged customer, I love his game. We've got to do a good individual job on him and we've got to be willing to go to the double-team our help if we need to on him, we'll just have to see how it goes. The problem is they are a lot like us, you can't really focus in on Hahn, They've got really good balance, they don't have a guy averaging 20, someone else is going to hurt you if you take away Hahn potentially. Now we took away Hahn in the second half, we being our post guy, Shawn (Daniels) did a good job on him, we didn't have to double, so we will have to see how it goes."

What about Peter Heizer and what he brings to their team?

"The thing I have always said about Heizer and (Tom) Cockle, their two wings, is that they are a lot better off the dribble than you think. You look at them and think of them as guys who are going to run around the perimeter and shoot shots. They're aggressive off the dribble. Some year's those type's of guys have really hurt us, because we haven't respected them off the dribble."



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