Sept. 27, 2013
LOGAN, Utah - Utah State men's basketball's 2013-14 season officially tipped off Friday afternoon with head coach Stew Morrill conducting the first practice of the season at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
The 16 Aggie players went through a two-and-a-half hour practice on the freshly painted court of the Spectrum, which includedpainting the keys of the court as well as adding two Mountain West Conference logos, as Friday's practice was the Aggies' first of their inaugural season in the Mountain West after eight seasons in the Western Athletic Conference. Last year's USU squad that began the season with a 14-1 mark, but lost all three of its returning starters to season-ending injuries by mid-season, as the Aggies finished 21-10 overall and 11-7 in WAC play.
In previous seasons, practices did not start until the middle of October, allotting only two weeks of practices before the first exhibition games. However, during the Division I Board of Directors meeting in May, it was determined that teams can begin practice 42 days before the first game of the regular season. While teams can play exhibition games earlier, they aren't allowed to play official games until the second Friday of November at the earliest, and the rules change means that teams can begin practice in late-September. During that 42-day period, teams will be allowed up to 30 practices. Under the previous rules, teams were allotted a 30-day period for 24 practices.
Of the 16 players, eight are returning lettermen, including four returning starters from last season in senior guard Preston Medlin, senior guard/forward Spencer Butterfield, senior center Jarred Shaw and sophomore guard Marcel Davis. The other returning lettermen include junior forward Danny Berger, junior forward Ben Clifford, senior guard TeNale Roland and junior center Jordan Stone.
The roster also includes senior forward Sean Harris, who missed last season with a knee injury and continues progress entering the season. New additions to the squad are seven newcomers in sophomore forward Kyle Davis, along with six freshmen in forwards James Croasdell and Jalen Moore, guards JoJo McGlaston, Viko Noma'aea and Terrell Young, as well as center Carson Shanks.
Utah State is entering practice focused on extending their current school records for consecutive 20-win seasons, as they are one of just five schools nationally to win 21 games in each of the last 13 years along with Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas and Syracuse. Furthermore, the 2012-13 season marked the 23rd time in school history that USU has won 20 or more games in a season.
Morrill is entering his 16th season at USU and 28th overall. In 15 years at Utah State, Morrill has taken the Aggie Basketball program to unprecedented heights leading USU to an incredible 366-129 (.739) record, including a 186-62 (.750) mark in the Big West and Western Athletic Conferences. The Aggies are entering their third different conference under Morrill in 2013-14, joining the Mountain West.
While at Utah State, he has guided the Aggies to 14 straight 21-win seasons, as USU's 13 straight postseason appearances (NCAA-8, NIT-4, CIT-1), was snapped last season, but both of which are school records. Prior to Morrill's current run, USU had never posted more than three-straight 20-win seasons and participated in more than three-straight postseason tournaments.
With an overall record of 584-267 (.686) Morrill ranks 14th in the nation among active coaches and 47th all-time with his 584 career wins, while his career winning percentage of 68.6 percent ranks 19th among active coaches and 80th all-time. He is also one of 22 active coaches with 500 career wins at the Division I level and one of just nine active coaches to notch at least 18 20-win seasons. His current streak of 14 straight 20-win seasons ranks tied for fifth among active coaches and is tied for the sixth-longest streak at the Division I level.
USU opens the 2013-14 season with an exhibition against Central Methodist (Mo.) on Friday, Oct. 25 and then host Adams State (Colo.) in another exhibition on Friday, Nov. 1.
The Aggies host USC in the season-season opener on Friday, Nov. 8, then host in-state foe Southern Utah on Tuesday, Nov. 12.
USU men's basketball season ticket renewals and new season tickets are now on sale. Season tickets start at $230 and they include all 20 home games as well as the BYU game at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City on Nov. 30.
For more Aggie men's basketball ticket information, fans can contact the USU Athletics Ticket Office over the phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or 435-797-0305 during regular hours of operation. Fans can also buy their tickets in person at the USU Ticket Office inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum or online by clicking on the "Buy Tickets" tab at www.UtahStateAggies.com.
Fans can follow the Aggie men's basketball program at twitter.com/AggieHoops. USU fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics, on facebook at Utah State University Athletics or on instagram at instagram.com/USUAthletics.
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