2000-01 Basketball Outlook
Utah State Basketball
Utah State Basketball

Aug. 11, 2000

"We have one goal in our notebook and it's to win out next game. That's about as far as I go on goals because I think you set yourself up. I don't think you really know what your team is capable of. We expect to have a good basketball team, but the expectation level will really change. The biggest concern I have is if we remember why we were successful last year, and it was based on unselfishness, being coachable, buying in defensively--those kinds of things. Last year, we were trying to prove to people we were better than they thought. This year, we've got to prove to them we're as good as they think we might be. So, it's a whole different situation."
----- Utah State head coach Stew Morrill.

What a difference a year makes. Entering the 1999-2000 season, head coach Stew Morrill wasn't for sure if his team could win one game, let alone set a new school record with 28 "W's". The Aggies had eight newcomers on its roster, three returning letter winners, and only one returning starter returning from a team that went 15-13 the previous season and lost in the first round of its conference tournament.

Well one year later, Coach Morrill welcomes back four starters and eight letter winners from the most successful team in USU basketball history. The 1999-2000 Aggies were the only team in the country to go undefeated through its regular season and conference tournament. USU won its second Big West Championship in the past three seasons, and earned the school's 13th NCAA Tournament appearance.

Some of the keys that return this season include seniors Shawn Daniels, Bernard Rock and Dimitri Jorssen, and junior Tony Brown. All four were starters a season ago, and all four should start again this year. The Aggies return 81 percent of its rebounding from last season and 76 percent of its scoring, most of which came from Troy Rolle, who graduated this past year.

Daniels was a first-team all-Big West selection after leading the Aggies in points (12.0), rebounds (7.9) and blocks (58). He was also named the co-MVP of the Big West Conference Tournament with departed teammate Troy Rolle. Daniels finished second in the conference in rebounding, and field goal percentage, while notching seven double-doubles on the year which was a conference high.

Both Rock and Brown were named to the honorable mention team last season in the Big West as Rock recorded the seventh most assists (148) in a single-season at USU and averaged 10.0 points per contest. Brown averaged 11.6 points per game and had the third best assist-to-turnover ratio in school history at 1.91. Brown is also fourth all-time in school history in three-pointers made (128 ) and attempted (319).

Jorssen was the only starter from a year ago not to receive some sort of all-conference accolades despite averaging 8.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. Jorssen dominated at times during the 1999-2000 season and single-handedly defeated Long Beach State in a match-up of unbeatens as the Belgium native had a career-high 16 points and 11 rebounds to go along with two blocks.

Utah State will welcome eight new faces again this year, but under much different circumstances than a season ago. Other than having to fill the shoes of departed first-team all-league player Troy Rolle, the Aggies will look for depth, size and quickness out of this recruiting class, something that hurt the Aggies in the NCAA Tournament against the defending national champion Connecticut Huskies.

Utah State will play 31 games during the course of the 2000-01 season, two of which will be exhibition games. USU will have 17 home games on the year, including encounters with in-state rivals Utah and Weber State at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. The Aggies will travel to Brigham Young as well as compete in the Top of the World tournament in Fairbanks, Alaska to open the season against such teams as Auburn, Colorado, South Florida, and Santa Clara to name a few. Unlike recent years in the Big West, there will be only one division in the league this season with the departure of Nevada, New Mexico State and North Texas. Thus, the conference will play a round-robin format resulting in 16 league games.
"The conference schedule is what I would prefer," stated Morrill. "In a true league you're going to play everybody twice. I just think that is positive to give a better feel of what the league is all about, and the strength of everybody.
"With our non-conference schedule, anytime you play the three in-state games (Brigham Young, Utah and Weber State) that's tough. There's a lot of people that don't want any part of those three schools on their preseason schedule and we have them every year. I look at the schedule every year and wonder how we're going to win any games. For quite a few years, we've found a way to win some, so hopefully these kids will find a way to win some this year. It's a good schedule. I think its got, for having an experienced team back, the kind of challenges those kids will want."

Point Guards

* - returning starter

Honorable-mention all-league performer Bernard Rock returns to run the team once again. Utah State was 14-2 last year when Rock recorded five or more assists in a game. Rock notched a career-high 13 assists versus North Texas which was the most in the conference in over two years and the fifth best single-game total in Aggie history. Rock scored in double-figures in 16 games, had one double-double, and scored a career-high 24 points versus Boise State in the regular season finale. The one question mark here is depth. Both backups will be true freshman due to the departure of Rashaun Thomas who averaged 10.4 minutes a game last year.

Thomas Vincent averaged 18 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals per game as a prep senior in Kansas City, while Calvin Brown averaged 18 points and six assists per contest at Eastside Prep in East Palo Alto, Calif.

Shooting Guards

* - returning starter

A position with a lot of depth for Utah State, as it returns junior Tony Brown who as an honorable-mention all-league player a year ago to team up with senior Curtis Bobb who is a deadly three-point shooter. Brown is a two-year starter for USU and has a career average of 11.3 points per game. He is fourth all-time at Utah State in three-pointers made (128) and attempted (319). He lead the team with 29.6 minutes per game as a sophomore and is one of the leaders both on and off the court. Bobb averaged 10.1 minutes as a junior and scored in double-figures in four different games including a career-high 14 versus Nevada in the conference tournament. Both Brown and Bobb can be deadly from three-point range as Brown shot 43.8 percent from behind the arc and Bobb was 32.9 percent. The two made 51 percent of the Aggies three's on the season.

Newcomers who could figure into this position but probably won't see much playing time include Mike Stowell and Nate Bullen. Stowell averaged 18 points and seven rebounds as a prep senior, while Bullen tallied 19 points and 4.5 rebounds for West High School in Salt Lake City.

Small Forwards

The only position for Utah State where it doesn't return a starter due to the departure of first-team all-league player Troy Rolle to graduation. Rolle averaged 12 points and 4.3 rebounds per game and shot 39 percent from three-point range. Senior Dion Bailey show over 12 minutes of action per game last year as a backup to Rolle and averaged four points and 2.4 rebounds per game. He scored in double-digits three times on the season. Bobb could also see action at this position due to his size.

Utah State recruited heavily for this position and have a trio of players who could all fill the role. Junior college transfers Toraino Johnson and Lemar Gayle should both see plenty of action here along with redshirt freshman Chad Evans. Johnson averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds a game for Garden City Community College, while Gayle averaged 22.7 points and 12.5 rebounds for Cerritos College in California.

Power Forwards

* - returning starter

With the return of first-team all-league performer Shawn Daniels at power forward, USU is in great shape at this position. Along with juniors Brennan Ray and Dan Stewart, USU also added 6-9 Jeremy Vague from Canada College in California to give the Aggies some much needed height at both the four and five spots. Daniels led USU in scoring (12.0), rebounding (7.9) and blocked shots (58) which tied the single-season school record. Ray was the defensive stopper for the Aggies throughout the year despite standing only 6-5, and tends to give USU an emotional lift when entering the game.


* - returning starter

A two-year letter winner and starter last year at center, Dimitri Jorseen returns for his senior season after averaging 8.7 points and 5.2 rebounds pre game as a junior. Jorssen will get some much needed help from both Vague and 7-1 Cameron Koford who transferred to USU from Weber State after serving an LDS mission. Vague averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds a game for Canada Junior College, while Koford scored over 15 points for Fremont High School in 1996.



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