Weekly Basketball Release (11-6-00)
Nov. 6, 2000
This Week: Utah State will play its second and final exhibition game of the preseason this Friday, Nov. 10, versus the California West All-Stars at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum at 7:05 p.m. The Aggies will then open the season the following Friday, Nov. 17, versus Santa Clara at the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska.
A Look At The California West All-Stars: The California West All-Stars are in the midst of a 13-game exhibition schedule in 14 days covering the entire west coast. The All-Stars have yet to win a game after its first six contests, losing to Hawai'i (90-64), Cal State Northridge (94-88), Pepperdine (101-85), New Mexico (97-90), Southern California (108-88), and Arizona (104-66). This week, they will play at Santa Clara, Fresno State, Stanford, and San Francisco before meeting the Aggies in Logan on Friday night. Of the 10 members on the California West All-Stars, four players graduated from Big West schools with Rayne Mahaffey, Corey Andrews and Jason Williams coming from Pacific, and Kenneth Young graduating from San Jose State in 1990 when the Spartans where a member of the Big West Conference.
Recapping The Global Sports Game: Utah State's basketball team opened the exhibition season on the right foot with a convincing 92-71 win over Global Sports Saturday at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum as four Aggies scored in double figures led by senior forward Shawn Daniels (Bakersfield, Calif.) who had a team-high 15 points. Global Sports hung with the veteran Utah State team for the first six minutes of the game before USU went on a 27-12 run over the next nine minutes to open a 39-23 advantage. The Aggies then closed the first half with a 10-0 run over the final three minutes to build a 51-32 lead going into half-time. Daniels did most of his damage in the opening half with a team-high 11 points on five-of-six shooting to go along with four rebounds. Utah State opened the second half with a 13-7 run to push the lead to 25 points at the 15:43 mark with a 64-39 advantage. Global Sports cut that lead to 14 with 11:30 remaining in the game at 69-55 before USU rebuilt the margin to 24 points over the next six mintues en route to the 21 point victory. Sophomore transfer Toraino Johnson (El Paso, Texas) was very impressive in his first game as an Aggie with 13 points on six-of-10 shooting from the field, while seniors Curtis Bobb (Aurora, Colo.) and Bernard Rock (New York, N.Y.) added 12 and 11 points each. Global Sports had three players score in double-figures led by Sharif Fajardo's 13 points. As a team, Utah State shot 59.3 percent from the field on 39-of-59 shots, while Global Sports shot 42.9 percent. The Aggies also connected on 46.7 percent of its three-pointers as compared to just 18.2 percent for Global Sports. USU had a 46-21 advantage on the boards but committed seven more turnovers in the game than did its opponent.
California West All-Stars Exhibition Schedule: October 31 at Hawai'i L 64-90 November 1 at Cal State Northridge L 88-94 November 2 at Pepperdine L 85-101 November 3 at New Mexico L 90-97 November 4 at Southern California L 88-108 November 5 at Arizona L 66-104 November 6 at Santa Clara November 7 at Fresno State November 8 at Stanford November 9 at San Francisco November 10 at Utah State November 11 at Idaho State November 13 at San Diego
Aggies Return Four Starters And Eight Letterwinners: After coming off its best basketball season ever, Utah State is looking to have another memorable year during the 2000-01 season as head coach Stew Morrill welcomes back four starters and eight letterwinners from a team that set a school record with 28 wins, including a perfect 19-0 Big West Conference mark en route to the league championship and the school's 13th appearance in the NCAA Tournament. USU returns 81 percent of its rebounding from a year ago and 76 percent of its scoring. Among the starters returning are senior first-team all-league player Shawn Daniels who led the team with 12.0 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Daniels also tied the single-season school record with 58 blocks as was co-MVP of the conference tournament with fellow teammate Troy Rolle (who is the only starter not returning for Utah State this season). Senior Bernard Rock and junior Tony Brown, who were both honorable mention all-Big West last season also return after averaging 10.0 and 11.6 points per game respectively. Rock notched the seventh most assists (148) ever last year for USU in a single-season, while Brown is fourth all-time at USU in three-pointers made (128) and attempted (319). Brown also had the third-best single-season assist-to-turnover ratio ever at USU at 1.91 assists to every turnover last year. The fourth starter returning for USU is senior center Dimitri Jorssen who averaged 8.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game in 2000. The depth continues for Utah State with four proven veterans who came off the bench a year ago in seniors Dion Bailey and Curtis Bobb, and juniors Brennan Ray and Dan Stewart. Bailey and Bobb both averaged four points per game last year, while Ray led all reserves with 14.3 minutes per game and Stewart was close behind at 11.3 mintues per outing.
Utah State Welcomes Seven Newcomers: Despite returning eight quality players from a year ago, USU added seven new faces to the roster for the 2000-01 season, which includes three junior college transfers and four freshman. Several of these newcomers will have significant roles to fill for Utah State this year. Among the newcomers are sophomore Toraino Johnson who averaged 15.0 points and eight rebounds a game last year as a freshman at Garden City Junior College in Kansas. Junior Jeremy Vague will also see plenty of action after averaging 12.0 points and 10.0 rebounds a game at Canada Junior College in California. The freshman crop includes two point guards in Thomas Vincent and Calvin Brown, and two shooting guards in Nate Bullen and Mike Stowell. Vincent scored 18.0 points a game at Olathe East High School in Overland Park, Kan., while Brown averaged 17.0 points a contest at Eastside Prep in East Palo Alto, Calif. Stowell is also a solid scorer who notched 17.0 points and eight rebounds a game two years ago at Capistrano Valley High School in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. The Aggies will also have the services of redshirt freshman Chad Evans who averaged 18.0 points and 10.0 rebounds a game for Weber High School in Ogden, Utah, three seasons ago. The Aggies are also anxious to welcome junior Lemar Gayle to the squad next semester after being named the Junior College Player of the Year in California where he averaged 22.7 points and grabbed 12.5 rebounds per game for Cerritos Junior College. Gayle is currently finishing up some required course work at Utah State this semester.
Head Coach Stew Morrill: Stew Morrill (Gonzaga, 1974) is entering his third season at the helm of the Utah State men's basketball program after posting an incredible 43-19 record at USU in his first two years, which is the best record by any coach at Utah State in their first two seasons. During the past two years, Morrill has coached two first-team all-league players in Shawn Daniels and Troy Rolle and has had an 80 percent graduation rate. He has been involved in postseason action four times in his career, including the NCAA Tournment last season. He has twice been named Coach of the Year, winning the award in 1991 at Montana, and this past season at Utah State after guiding the Aggies to a perfect 19-0 league mark in winning the Big West Conference. He is only the third coach in the history of the Big West Conference to go undefeated in the league, joining Lou Henson and Jerry Tarkanian. Prior to coming to Utah State, Morrill had been the head coach at Colorado State University for seven seasons, recording a 121-86 record (1992-98). Prior to his stint at CSU, Morrill spent five seasons as the head coach at the University of Montana (1987-91), where he went 97-52. During his 14 years as a head coach, Morrill's teams have won at least 20 games five times and have won at least 17 games in 11 of his 14 seasons as a head coach. He was the second winningest coach at Colorado State behind only Boyd Grant, and his 15 wins at Utah State in 1998-99 were the most by a first-year head coach since 1980.
Aggies Favored To Win The Big West Again: After rolling through the Big West Conference season last year with a 19-0 mark, Utah State is once again picked to win the league by numerous preseason publications. The Sporting News has Utah State picked to finish first in the league and has the Aggies ranked 34th in the country in its preseason poll. Other preseason publications that have Utah State picked to win the Big West Conference include Preview Sports, Street & Smith Magazine, Lindey's, Athlon, and ESPN The Magazine.
Several Players Tabbed As All-League Performers This Year: Along with Utah State being the overwhelming favorite to win the Big West Conference in 2001, USU also has several players being tabbed all-league in different preseason publications. The Sporting News has Shawn Daniels and Bernard Rock as first-team all-league players and Dimitri Jorssen on the second-team. Daniels is also picked to be the Player of the Year by The Sporting News, as well as being the best rebounder in the leauge. It also has Tony Brown tabbed as the best shooter in the league, and Rock named the best playmaker. Preview Sports has Daniels and Rock on its all-league first-team in the Big West, with Daniels picked as the Player of the Year and top rebounder. Street & Smith has Daniels on its first-team list along with being named the Player of the Year, while Lindey's has Daniels first-team and Rock second-team. Lindey's picked Brown as the league's best shooter, Daniels the best rebounder, and Rock the best playmaker in the league. Athlon has Daniels as a first-team all-league player, and ESPN The Magazine has Daniels named to its first team and is selected as the Player of the Year, while Rock and Tony Brown are named to the second team. It also has the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum listed as the toughest arena in the Big West Conference to play in, and lists USU's front court as the best in the conference.
Aggies Looking To Maintain High Marks Set Last Season: In addition to setting school records for wins (28), conference wins (19), and games played in a season (34), the 1999-2000 season was the first time in nine years that Utah State had more assists (487) than turnovers (453). USU also set school records for three-pointers made (194) and attempted (536), along with notching 235 steals. Its 487 assists tied for the fourth most in school history, and its 126 blocks were the third most in a single season. Also, the Aggies' 46.6 field-goal percentage was the highest since 1990-91 (.473), and its .362 percentage from three-point range was the third highest ever. Utah State also had four players average in double-figures in scoring for the second straight season. Defensively, USU held its opponents to below 60 points twelve times on the year and allowed just 61.2 points per game, which was the fewest allowed by an Aggie team since the 1957-58 season. The Aggies also limited its opponents to a 40.3 field-goal percentage which was the lowest since the 1962-63 season. USU finished the year ranked 17th in the country in points allowed.
Trends To Look For In 2000-01: Utah State had great success last year under certain situations. USU was 26-0 when leading at halftime, 26-1 whey they shot better from the field than their opponents, 22-1 when they had more defensive rebounds than their opponents, 18-1 when they committed fewer fouls than their opponents, 21-1 when they recorded more assists than their opponents, 21-0 when they blocked more shots than their opponents, and 12-0 when they held their opponents below 60 points.
Daniels Among Select Company: Senior forward Shawn Daniels is among some select company as he has been selected to the CHI Mid-Major Preseason All-America Team which consists of 25 of the best college players in the country from Mid-Major university's. The 25 players selected where: Chris Bjorklund (Cal Poly), Brett Blizzard (UNC-Wilmington), Devin Brown (Texas-San Antonio), Casey Calvary (Gonzaga), Ian Chadwick (Wofford), Shawn Daniels (UTAH STATE), Chris Davis (North Texas), Patrick Doctor (American), Scott Emerson (Mercer), George Evans (George Mason), Brian Heinle (Cal State Northridge), Gerrod Henderson (Louisiana Tech), Trevor Huffman (Kent State), Michael Jackson (Missouri-Kansas City), Joe Linderman (Drexel), Jody Lumpkin (College of Charleston), Rashad Phillips (Detroit), Ryan Sears (Creighton), Tamar Slay (Marshall), Craig Snow (Evansville), Isaac Spencer (Murray State), Greg Stempin (Toledo), Desmond Stewart (Niagara), Lonnie Thomas (Louisiana-Lafayette), and John Tice (Central Connecticut State).
Note: The Mid-Major University's are made up of teams from the following conferences: America East, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Independents, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Continent, Mid-Eastern, Midwestern Collegiate, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern, Sun Belt, Trans American, and West Coast Conference.
At The Top Of The World Tournament: Utah State will officially begin the season on Friday, Nov. 17 versus Santa Clara at the Top of the World Tournament in Fairbanks, Alaska. Santa Clara was 19-12 last year with a 9-5 record in the West Coast Conference, finishing in fourth place. The Broncos are picked to finish fifth in the league this year as voted on by the coaches' as SCU returns three starters and 11 letterwinners from that squad. The Aggies will then play South Florida or Davidson in the second round of the tournament, before facing either Alaska-Fairbanks/Austin Peay/Colorado/or Jackson State. Jackson State, along with Utah State are the two teams in the field that participated in the NCAA Tournament a year ago, while South Florida played in the National Invitational Tournament.
RPI: According to the latest Rating Percentages Index (RPI), Utah State enters the 2000-01 season ranked 28th in the country. The Aggies are also ranked 34th in the country in The Sporting News' preseason poll and finished the 1999-2000 season ranked 40th in the country in the Associated Press poll.
Aggies Finish 1999-2000 Season With Third Most Wins In The Country: Utah State's 28 wins during the 1999-2000 season were not only a school record, but also the third most wins in the country by any team. Iowa State, Tulsa, and Michigan State had the most wins at 32, followed by Cincinnati, Duke, and Florida with 29. Utah State and Louisiana State were next with 28 wins apiece. The Aggies were also the only team in the country to go undefeated in its league and then win its conference tournament during the 1999-2000 season. Also, USU's 19-game winning streak tied Syracuse for the longest winning streak by any team in the country at any point of the season.