Stew Morrill Quotes - 2-20-14



Feb. 20, 2014

LOGAN, Utah - USU men's basketball head coach Stew Morrill's quotes previewing Saturday's game against Fresno State:

Opening Statement/Previewing Fresno State:

"The first thing is to see where we're at mentally after getting rocked pretty good at San Diego State. They've done that to a lot of people. What is expected from our guys, and they understand this, is that they go out every night and compete. I think they'll do that the rest of the way. That's very important.

"Fresno State is going to come in with a lot of energy. I think they've won five of their last six. They've won some road games. They are quick and athletic. They're not as big as some of the teams in our league, but they go out with their quickness and athleticism. Tyler Johnson is having as good a year as any guard in the league. His stats are phenomenal and he's a kid we're very familiar with. He's a Fresno kid, we tried like heck to get him and we were right there, but he elected to stay home. That happens sometimes. He's had a great career there and is a really good kid. He's one of a number of guys they've got with impressive stats.

"For us having a couple of good days of practice are very important. The time is running out in terms of numbers of games left and opportunities to try and get wins. We set some goals for the second half of league which are still attainable and that's where our focus needs to be."

On combating the athleticism of Mountain West opponents:

"I don't know if it's been a problem, it's just that the talent level in this league is high. When you play UNLV and you play San Diego State, they're long and athletic and that makes execution so important. They disrupt what you're trying to do with that athletic ability. That's where you have to be precise. You can't turn the ball over too much, you have to screen better and you have to cut harder. Defensively, you really have to help each other out because if they're quicker than you, you're going to get beat on the ball more. You have to be able to help each other out.



"I had a really good friend, a former coach text me and tell me we made a legitimate Top 10 team look very average offensively. I told him thanks, but they made us look inept. That's kind of where that game was. It was an unbelievable atmosphere at San Diego State. It's changed so much since we used to go there years ago. Every game is sold out. The way they conduct the whole event is pretty impressive.

"What you see a lot with Fresno State is a lot of hand-offs and ball screens, giving their guys a chance to get downhill off a lot of quick action. It's similar in some respects to the way Boise State plays. They kind of wind you up and you have to be on it defensively to deal with all the things they try and do."

On the rebounding aspect of the game:

"I hope it plays a role. It's something that is a positive stat for us. Like I said, they're quick, but they're not very big. That's something that they've really tried to do is rebound the basketball on an equal basis with teams in the league. That's one of their challenges. I think that's been an indication that we're playing hard and trying to give ourselves a chance night in and night out with our effort on the boards. You can't have starters go for zero and nights where you shoot 2-for-14, and things like that. There are a lot of missed shots in the equation. Some of it is us missing wide-open shots and some of it is the defense.

"What you always worry about as a coach is the confidence level when guys have struggled for a few games. We try to reassure them, but it ultimately comes down to where they're going to be mentally, individually. You have to believe you can play, I've always believed that, you have to believe you can play. If you don't, it's a struggle."

On Tyler Johnson's position:

"He's a wing. He plays a little bit of a point, but he's a 3 or a 2. He's a perimeter guy that can do a lot of things. He's left-handed so a lot of people have been jumping on that left hand. There's no question that he can go left, but he can go right pretty well too. He can pull up, he can shoot threes, he really rebounds the ball. He's very impressive. I love the guys that just keep getting better. From their freshman year to their senior year, every year they just make jumps and that's what he's done. He's just gotten better every year."

On the Aggie freshmen getting more playing time:

"Yeah, there's a chance. There's always a chance. We'll see how people play. It's all about production. If you play well, then you're out there more."

On Spencer Butterfield's production and mentality:

"He's a tough, hard-nosed guy. He's not going to get negative on you. He's going to show up every day. I don't think 90 percent of our fan base understand the pain he's been in with his hip. It's just a grind for him every day to try and perform with that hip. He's the kind of guy you love to have play for you because he's going to give you everything he has. He's not always going to be perfect or take good shots, but he's going to try and do whatever he can to help your team.

"I don't have any complaints about our guys along those lines at all. Our guys are receptive and coachable. It's frustrating for everybody when you lose more games than you'd like to. Right now as I've said, in this league there are the two or three teams that are a cut above. Everybody else is playing catch-up. That's the way it is this year and you're trying to win as many as you can."

On him approaching the 600 career win mark:

"I don't want to talk about that. We're just trying to get another win right now. There's been a couple of games where we've been trying to get another win."

On the significance of the close standings with Fresno State:

"Every game means a lot when wins are at a premium. I hope it means a lot to our guys. We only have four games left in the regular season. It's late February. There are teams that are done right now, to be honest. They've faded and are just trying to get through it. We haven't shown that. I think anytime you should try and climb your way up the standings. I hope they know that. They're one game ahead of us, let's make that up if we can. That's what I expect and what they should expect of each other."

On Wyoming's Larry Nance's injury:

"Larry Nance's injury is bad. I had a chance to talk to him at our game there. He approached me because he has Crohn's, like Jarred Shaw, and they've communicated back and forth since then. He didn't know anybody else who had it. He's just a quality kid in the way he plays the game and conducts himself. Talking to him, I was even more impressed. I watched it on film yesterday when we got home and watched the Wyoming-Fresno game. It just made you sick to watch him go down. You know immediately when you see it happen that it's something serious. They're a tough, hard-nosed group. They'll respond, they won't fade over this. That's what I expect Wyoming will do. It just breaks your heart for the kid who has that happen to him."

On the upcoming San Diego State-New Mexico game:

"San Diego State-New Mexico, wow! I keep saying it's like the Super Bowl where one team is really great offensively and one team is really great defensively. I don't think it's quite that simple as to which team will win out. I think they still play twice, once on each other's court. I think it will be really interesting with two really good basketball teams. In my mind, one is ranked 6th/7th in the country, while the other team isn't ranked and should be. They're a Top 25 team, there's no question in my mind, maybe higher. They're a really good team."

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