Feb. 20, 2001
The following are quotes from Utah State head basketball coach Stew Morrill at his weekly press conference on Feb. 20, 2001.
Talk about KeJuan Woods and what he adds to Boise State's team...
"He's averaging 18 (points) a game in league. He's very hard to guard because he's increased his range from previous years. He shoots three's, he goes off the dribble, he post's you up, so he's a tough match-up. Boise's a team that's really interesting, because to be 5-7 right now (in league play) is kind of hard to believe. They have lost a bunch of close games. I was watching the Irvine game, they were up six at Boise with about seven minutes to go in the game, could of, should of won that one. They've had bunch like that, lost to Irvine at Irvine by five. There very capable and they present a lot of tough match-ups for us, Woods being one. A lot of times they will go real small. They will play Woods at the five, (Delvin) Armstrong at the four, and Abe (Jackson) at the three, and all of the sudden you've got some tough match-ups with Dimitri (Jorssen) trying to chase around KeJuan Woods and Shawn (Daniels) chasing around Armstrong. So there's some interesting decisions to be made on how to play these guys with some of the things they do. They are very good offensively. They're leading the league by just a little bit over us in field-goal percentage offense and they're scoring a lot more points than they have in past years. What gets lost a lot of times in the amount of games you win or don't win is how fortunate you are, and we have been very fortunate to win close games their the last two years and I stress very fortunate. It went down to the wire both times."
It seems like Boise has had a hard time winning games at the end, much like last season even though they have been in most of their games this year....
"They've been in almost every game and obviously they've won more games at home then they have on the road. I just remember the middle of our game here. Everybody sees the score of our game here and thinks that we blew them out and it wasn't that way at all, watching that game. It was about six points with about seven minutes to go and we end up winning by 18 and that wasn't indicative of the game at all."
Talk about what Boise does defensively...
"They do what they have done for a long time. They play pressure man-to-man, switching everything, try and deny all passes, trying to cause a lot of turnovers, and they are at the top of the league in steals and turnover margin, favoring them, and then they play their extended pressure zone. So everything is pressure oriented with Boise, the way they play defensively. You look at their field-goal percentage defense and you'll say that they are giving up a pretty high percentage defense, but yet they get enough steals that there is some trade-off there by limiting your positions. Watching the Irvine game, Boise shots over 50 percent against a very good defensive team, Irvine, I mean they just lite them up. And they cause Irvine 20-plus turnovers, and Irvine still finds a way to win it OT. They're doing a good job at what they do, they've just had a tough time finishing some close games."
What is the generally feeling of the team after the Long Beach game...
"We'll have to see as we go along in practice. To be honest with you, I think the kids are feeling, and I'm guessing because I know I am feeling a little bit. It's almost like we really made a mistake winning to many games. We really shouldn't have won all those close games last year, because now everybody wants to be mad when we are 11-2 in league. Irvine is the one that's messed this whole thing up, they won more games this year than they were supposed to, otherwise we would be in first-place. We got Top-25 votes, we shouldn't have done that because now everybody thinks we should be ranked in the Top-25. We won all those close games, we really shouldn't have done that, because now everybody is mad when we lose a game on the road to the third-place team in our league, who we have only beaten once (on the road) in the last 11 years. So, somehow we have raised the bar so high that everybody thought we were never supposed to lose. The thing I am trying to avoid is the frustration on my part and on their part when we are 22-4 and 11-2, and all of the sudden its like we are letting some people down, best start in school history. What were we supposed to do? Not get votes in the Top-25. We've gotten more votes than anybody in the last 30 years, so we shouldn't have done that because we got everybodys hopes up. And we shouldn't have gotten the RPI rating as high as we did because then everybody started thinking we were going to get two berths, we were going to get an automatic berth and we screwed that up by losing at Long Beach. These kids have won 22 games and all of the sudden we are going to be mad at them, and they feel it a little bit, and I am going to do everything I can to dispel that the next couple of days. We are very fortunate at Utah State that people care as much as they do and that is part of the deal. I would rather have some of this stuff that I have to deal with and to have 8,000 people come to the games, and to have people like the Aggies like they do in this town, rather than have what most of the people in our league have, which is no interest. Yeah, it's a little frustrating at times, but I would much rather have to deal with a little frustration than to deal with apathy, to deal with people not caring. Some of us old people remember when .500 or above was a pretty good deal in athletics, I remember that so clearly when I was a kid. But everything has become so much about first, if you aren't first you aren't anything."
Would your team be any more motivated going into the Boise game if Long Beach happened to beat UC Irvine?
"I think we will be motivated, and going to Boise you better be motivated. When you look at those three road games, Santa Barbara had won five games straight, Long Beach, and now Boise. To me, to be in a position to have a chance to win two out of three against those teams, that would be awesome and we still have that chance. I think that would be awesome if we could get two out of three."
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