The following are end of season quotes from Utah State men's basketball coach Stew Morrill.
April 6, 2011
LOGAN, Utah -
"Obviously, for me, this team was facing a lot of expectations and pressure being picked to win the league again. I am just very proud of this team. I think they represented the university in a first-class manner and represented themselves and our program. They are a lot of good players and a lot of good people on this team. Anytime you are fortunate enough to win your league in the regular season and in the conference tournament, you obviously should feel good about the regular season and the post season with the conference tournament as well. There is a certain sadness with those seniors leaving and the challenge of what lies ahead with lots of unknowns and lots of unproven players. I also think that is an exciting time for me. I always look forward to trying to mold a team and figure out who can do what with what we have got out there. I think it will be a whole lot of challenge and hopefully a lot of fun as we go into next year."
On how talented next year's team will be:
"I don't think we know yet how talented we are. Some things you look at and you see potential, but potential is just one of those words that is just that, and until it is a proven product you really don't know what you are looking at. I am concerned about our ability to score the ball inside. We have been able to do that for years and years and years, going inside. I think it is unknown with our team and our ability inside. There are some guys, obviously having a first-team all-league point guard coming back in Brockeith (Pane) is a positive and I think he will continue to grow and continue to get better. Most junior college players do that. I think Brady (Jardine) has been an important piece of the puzzle the last few years and him being a senior and looking at lots of minutes. Obviously, it is a great opportunity for him. Other than that there are some guys you look at and you are hopeful that they can produce. Preston Medlin was awfully good in practice on the scout squad (this year), but it won't be a scout squad next year, it will be an opponent night in and night out. Morgan (Grim) got to play and had some significant times for us and he will be a senior as well. I think the three seniors are going to have to step forward leadership wise with the loss of the six seniors we lost. Certainly Morgan, Brady and Brockeith are going to have a challenge there to set the tone for how hard we need to practice. It has been one of those things that has just been taken for granted the past few years that guys are going to show up everyday for practice hard. To set the tone and let the guys know what is expected, that is going to be real important, the leadership side of it."
On winning Coach of the Year from CollegeInsider.com:
"The funny thing about it is I was honored to be nominated. When I looked at the guys nominated, I said to my wife we won't have to worry about not being at the Final Four because I have no chance to win this award. Then I felt bad that we weren't going to be at the Final Four. We had family obligations in Colorado so we weren't there to receive it. I offered to have them give it to somebody else where I wasn't going to be there and they kind of laughed at me on that one. It is certainly something you feel humbled by and not really sure you deserve, but it was an awfully nice honor by college insider for sure."
On Tai Wesley playing in the All-Star Game:
"I haven't watched the game yet, I was unable to, but I will. I think it was great they only had 10 players and reading the articles and stuff, Tai (Welsey) practiced really hard and played really hard and therefore got minutes and was productive. I know that Jaycee (Carroll) was very disappointed with his experience and Tai felt really good about it."
On how the WAC will be next year:
"Well, we just lose Boise State next year and then a couple more after that. I think it is hard to predict exactly what it will be like. We have already, supposedly, lost Greg Smith from Fresno State who is planning on declaring for the NBA draft. You are reminded of how tough of a business it is when you see coaches in your league that are no longer coaching and you are grateful to have employment, and a job you like, and a place you like to be at and all of that. It is really hard to predict before recruiting is over on what teams are going to have and you throw in a couple of new coaches and it is kind of unknown. It will be even more so the following year when we lose more teams. It is pretty early to figure out at this point."
On Brady Jardine being as productive next year as he was this year as a starter:
"I am hopeful that that is what he will be like. Brady can certainly step up and lead the league in rebounding. I think when you get consistent minutes it helps you get into the flow of the game. It was an unusual situation with Nate Bendall's feet. I think the important part for Brady is to keep his confidence level high and slow down a little bit. He plays so doggone hard that he sometimes plays a little too fast offensively. I expect him to have a very productive senior year."
"We have already addressed that a little bit with the guys we have already signed, with Kyisean Reed in the fall and we have had a guy that has come in and should finalize next week. We are continuing to recruit; it is still early. Lots of junior college kids take these things into May. With guys who were sitting out and guys who have already signed we are not looking at going for a ton of scholarships this spring, but we may certainly have a couple."
On coaching rumors about Wyoming:
"It seems like there are always rumors. As often times there were things out there. I said 13 years ago when I came here that this would most likely be my last coaching job. Every year I feel more and more like that, of course I am getting older and older. It is flattering when someone shows serious interest and that was the case, but there was really no serious interest on my part. I am happy where I am at and feel fortunate to be here."
"We have had some success and there is always things that pop up. When someone gets real serious with you, which what happened this spring, then you have a decision to make. When you feel like they are trying to target you, but otherwise it is all hear say. I laugh when they throw out your name all of the time and there is really nothing going on. I have not pursued anything and really haven't for a number of years, and I don't plan on it. Every once in a while somebody pursues you and then you have to decide what you want to do, but it usually doesn't take me very long. This is where I plan on finishing my career, I have said that for a long time."
On Utah State in the postseason:
"One thing that I would address is when we go 30-4, win our regular season and win our conference tournament. There is all the talk about the lack of postseason success and you can dive into seeding and you can dive into the teams we have played, scheduling and all the different things. I guess if you want to call it a problem and it is fair to say it is a problem that we are not winning in the NCAA tournament. I would say that it is a pretty good problem to have, as problems go, that we have won our league four-straight years and went to three-straight NCAA tournaments. I would be the first to acknowledge that we haven't had the NCAA tournament success that we would like to have. I would add to that, that I only hope that we are good enough to try and fix the problem. If you are not pretty good, you have no chance to fix the problem. If you are not winning your league or getting back to the NCAA, you have to be pretty good to get there. I think everybody in the WAC would like to have our problem, and probably lots of teams around the country. It is not like I am afraid to address that issue and it has been brought up a lot and my response would be that I hope we are good enough to fix the problem, or that we continue to be good enough to try and fix the problem."
On Utah's new coach:
"I was tickled for him. He is a good guy. I recruited Larry (Krystkowiak) to Montana and I stay in touch with him. He will do a great job. He is an awfully bright guy and I think it is a great choice for Utah. I was trying to think of how many of us out there at the Division I level that were once head coaches at Montana, there is a few. That speaks well of that program. Big challenge going into the PAC-12, but he is certainly capable of getting it done. I am very happy for Larry."
On playing Utah in the future:
"I don't know, you know me, I will certainly pursue it. I think that Chris Hill is kind of controlling that, at least that is what I was told. It was actually our turn for us to come there. I have been told that they are going to look at it and reconsider it. We are not playing next year. When I chat with Larry I will certainly tell him that we have played for over a 100 years on equal basis and we would sure like to keep that series going. Whether he will control that or not, I don't know."
On recruiting area players:
"I think going back 13 years, the area kids, in-state kids, regional kids, whatever you want to say when you are throwing guys like Jaycee Carroll and Spencer Nelson up there, it is obviously more than just in-state, it is a lot of area regional kids. They have been really, really important to us, and I think that they will continue to be. I think Utah is going to try and get into the middle of lots of area kids but they are also stepping up to the Pac-12 and that may limit what they think they can recruit. When you are in a top three of four conference in the country, there is a certain level of a player you have to have to be successful. Who knows how they will feel with that with the area kids, it is hard to say."
On Jordan Stone:
"I like Jordan Stone a lot, physically, and I think he is raw in terms of his skill level. I think he is a developmental guy and how those guys come a long is really hard to say. I know he is a wonderful kid, and he will play hard and he is as big as a house, all of those are big things. He hasn't played or practiced at the Division I level. It is hard to project how quickly he will come along. We knew when we signed him that he was a big developmental guy and we are excited about his potential, but right now that is just what it is. He has got to improve his skill level, his feel for the game, those kinds of things. Physically, you don't teach the kind of body that he has, that gives him a leg up for sure."
Could next year's team be one of your most athletic teams ever?
"I think there is some exciting things there, but their athleticism has got to be turned into using their athleticism to get down and guard somebody. A lot of times you finish the season and you feel like there was one area that was a little bit better than another area that allowed you to be successful. Some years we have led the nation in field goal percentage and we have maybe been a better offensive team than defensive team. This year I thought we were a better defensive team than offensive team. That athleticism is exciting but it is only worth something if you gain an advantage. If you are skilled enough to go by people and make plays or be determined enough to use it to play defense. I love athletes. I am consistently telling my assistants that we need to get more athletic. That is just the nature of college basketball and the nature of the league we are in. We are excited about the potential there, but it goes back to that word. A lot of the kids have not dealt with what we expect in practice every day and what we have to do to be successful. We will see how they respond. Of all the successful junior college kids we have had through the years, we have probably had half of them be successful, and half of them have been a bust. That is just reality when you rely on the junior college guys. I hope we can have a good percentage with these guys."