Oct. 14, 2011
LOGAN, Utah - Utah State's men's basketball team held its first official practice of the 2011-12 season Friday night as 17 players participated in the two hour and 30 minute workout in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. Among the group were three seniors and seven players who were members of last year's Western Athletic Conference championship team.
"Practice is supposed to let us find out some unknowns and figure some things out," said veteran head coach Stew Morrill prior to Friday's practice. "Any time you lose a core group like we lost from last year, you are going to be dealing with a lot of inexperience and a lot of new people. We're excited to see what we've got and what we're all about."
"These kind of years from a coaching perspective are always fun, because you are trying to mold a team with unproven products in a lot of cases. We do have some veterans, not very many, but we've got a few and that's certainly positive," added Morrill.
Highlighting those veterans is senior guard Brockeith Pane who earned first-team all-WAC honors as a junior as he averaged 11.8 points, 3.4 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game, while ranking fourth in the league in free throw shooting (.802), fifth in assists and sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.32). Pane, who was also named the Most Valuable Player of the 2011 WAC Tournament, finished the season shooting 43.6 percent from the field and 21.1 percent from three-point range.
Utah State's most experienced player on the floor Friday was senior forward Brady Jardine who has played in 91 games with seven starts during his first three years at USU. As a junior, Jardine averaged 7.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 21.4 minutes and shot 54.1 percent from the field and 64.7 percent at the free throw line.
"Overall, I felt like practice went very well tonight considering all the new players we have," said Jardine. "We made some mistakes that we won't make in a couple of weeks and we got tired toward the end of practice, but I thought everybody worked hard and busted their butts."
Other returners from last season's WAC Championship team include senior forward Morgan Grim and junior guard E.J. Farris. Grim played in 32 games during his first year at Utah State and averaged 2.6 points and 1.6 rebounds in 8.7 minutes per game, while shooting 47.7 percent from the field and 62.9 percent at the free throw line. Farris played in 21 games in his first year as an Aggie and averaged 1.9 points in 7.3 minutes per outing.
Utah State also returns three redshirts in 2011-12 in junior guard Antonio Bumpus, sophomore guard Preston Medlin and freshman forward Ben Clifford. While Bumpus and Clifford have never played for USU, Medlin appeared in 22 games as a true freshman during the 2009-10 season and averaged 3.7 points while shooting 40.9 percent from the field, 37.5 percent from three-point range and 92.9 percent at the free throw line.
Joining Utah State's four returnees and three redshirts are 10 newcomers in junior forwards Igor Premasunac, Kyisean Reed and Jarred Shaw, sophomore forwards Danny Berger and Mitch Bruneel, freshmen forwards David Collette and Adam Thoseby, freshmen guards Sam Orchard and Steven Thornton, and freshman center Jordan Stone.
Overall, Utah State returns one starter and four letterwinners from last year's team that advanced to its 20th NCAA Tournament all-time, including its eighth in the last 12 years under Morrill as it lost to Kansas State, 73-68, in the second round. Utah State finished the 2010-11 season with a school-record tying 30-4 record and went 15-1 in WAC play to claim its fourth-straight regular season league championship, which is a school record. USU also won its second WAC Tournament championship in the past three seasons last year. Over the last four years, USU has a combined record of 111-28 (.799) including a 55-9 (.859) WAC mark.
Utah State will continue with practice over the next 10 days leading up to its annual Blue-White Scrimmage on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. Two days later, USU will play its first exhibition game of the season on Friday Oct. 28 against UC San Diego at 7 p.m. The Aggies will then play its final exhibition game on Saturday, Nov. 5 against Adams State at 4 p.m., followed by its home opener against in-state rival Brigham Young on Friday, Nov. 11 at 7 p.m.
Season tickets are available through USU's website at www.UtahStateAggies.com or by calling the ticket office toll free at 1-888-USTATE-1 or (435) 797-0305.
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