Quotes From Head Basketball Coach Stew Morrill
Feb. 13, 2001
The following are quotes from Utah State head basketball coach Stew Morrill at his weekly press conference on Feb. 13, 2001.
Talk about Mike Vukovich and what he presents..."He's more of a low-post guy. He can step out and shot and capable of making mid-range shots but he's getting his damage done a lot on the block, and off penetration he'll step out and hit a 15-footer. He's a combination five-four player, he's kind of a little bit of both. He has really picked up his game. He's playing extremely well when you consider he wasn't a starter last year and the percentage he's shooting and averaging. He's averaging a lot of points in league, I mean a lot more than he averaged in the preseason. Every guy they've got has gotten better, that's what's interesting. Every guy they've got is basically on a roll and we are catching them at their hottest time. We're going to have to play awfully good defense against guys that are used to making plays and making shots and won five in a row. They did a good job of not getting down when they struggled a little bit earlier in the year."
It looks like they have at least four guys that can score on a regular basis..."Yeah, and they're not bashful at all. You would think younger players would be a little hesitant, and they're not. They're not really playing like freshmen anymore, some of those kids. They get the ball up the floor extremely fast, if they get any crack at the basket at all they shoot it. One of the big keys for us is trying to get them contained so that it's not just an up and down game totally, trying to get their break stopped a little bit. That's something we have been pretty good at, but is probably our biggest challenge this weekend. Both teams at home really run. They want to play fast off the break and they want to play fast out of their offense. Even when you zone them they get looks real quick. They run good stuff, and their stuff is all set-up so its quick-hitting type action, it's not run you around and break you down and all that kind of stuff, that's not what they do, they get quick-hitting types of looks."
Why is it that UC Santa Barbara has done so well under Coach Williams in each of the last three February's..."Bob (Williams) is a good coach and has always been a good coach. He won a national championship DII and has been around forever. I think he's demanding, and yet I think he's got a good way about keeping them going through tough times. You know when you look at their schedule it's like sometimes for them when they get to league it's a little bit of a relief and they've got more opportunities to win. So they can look at that and say that they've got to hang tough and get as many as we can and then we will have more opportunities when we get into league."
Are you going to try and slow tempo..."On the road we'll always try and take the crowd out of it if we can occasionally, but that kind of depends on what's happening in the game. If you are down 10 it's hard to slow it down. It really kind of depends on how the game is going. One thing we are trying to get across to our kids, I don't think our players yet understand how good Santa Barbara is. And we are trying to educate them and hopefully they listen. In a way, its like playing UC Irvine or Pacific because they're in a similar style in running a lot of real good stuff, and playing good defense, and some of the things you try to do with your basketball team. Some teams are really lose in how they do things and yet pretty effective, and Long Beach is one of those teams. Their stuff is really loose and yet they can be real effective just on personnel and letting them play. Santa Barbara is very well organized and they are hard match-ups for us. They actually have four perimeter guys running around and having our four guy match-up with their four guy is going to be hard. Yeah, you can play zone, but they've still got those four perimeter guys who can shoot it, so that is a tough match-up for us."
Would you say that your kids relish the opportunity to play in those two venues this weekend as opposed to a Fullerton..."Yeah, we've got a lot of kids that like to go to California, especially this time of year. And we've got a lot of California kids and they are always happy to be back. They like all the things we have in Logan in a basketball environment and I think they will probably even appreciate going to school more here as time goes by, but you are always going to rally about your home area. You know people are doubling their attendance average when we show up. The Thunderdome was kind of nicknamed after how crazy and loud it can get and I am sure that is what we will see."
How as your team progressed thus far this year?"We had a really good week of practice last week and I thought we took that to the floor against Irvine and played an awfully good basketball game. The nature of the Fullerton game made it kind of hard to evaluate. I think we've got a tremendous challenge with three straight road games. They're going to be tough games. The best thing we can do, right now, is kind of go back to last year when we just tried to focus in on our next game. There has been a lot of talk about trying to win the league again and the race that is going on with Irvine. We can't control what happens with Irvine and what they do. We just have to try and beat Santa Barbara and then whatever happens in that ball game we've got to try and beat Long Beach. We are much better off if we try and approach it that way."
This is probably the most important part of your season, would you agree with that?"It is. To be honest it's kind of irritating from a coaching standpoint we are 21-3 and 10-1, we should be in first-place easily. I thought 13-3 would win this league, I didn't anticipate a team like Irvine surfacing. And I didn't think Long Beach was good enough to go 15-1 again with all the injuries they've had. I thought they might be 13-3, I have a lot of respect for Long Beach. Irvine's kind of stepped up like we did last year and you've just got to deal with it. We're not going to go into any of these situations and beat any of these teams badly. We are going to have to keep the game close if we can and try to win close ball games."