Weekly Basketball Release (11-13-00)
Nov. 13, 2000
This Week: Utah State will open the 2000-01 season this Friday, Nov. 17, versus Santa Clara in the opening round of the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska at 11 pm (MST). The Aggies will then play either South Florida or Davidson in the second round of the tournament on Saturday, Nov. 18, before facing either Alaska-Fairbanks, Austin Peay, Colorado, or Jackson State on Sunday, Nov. 19 in the final day of the tournament. Other first round match-ups have Colorado playing Alaska-Fairbanks, Austin Peay playing Jackson State, and Davidson playing South Florida.
A Look At Santa Clara: The Santa Clara Broncos begin the 2000-01 season with three starters and 11 letterwinners returning from last season's team that finished 19-12 overall and 9-5 in the West Coast Conference, finishing in fourth place. Among the three starters returning for coach Dick Davey is senior guard Brian Jones who averaged 13 points, five rebounds, and five assists a game last year. The other two starters returning for SCU is junior center David Emslie and senior forward Jaime Holmes. In its two exhibition games, the Broncos lost to the California West All-Stars 98-95 before defeating a national team from Ukraine 73-65. Against Ukraine, Jones (who was a first-team West Coast Conference player as a junior) scored 30 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Broncos. Coach Davey is beginning is ninth year at Santa Clara and has a record of 140-90 in his first eight seasons with the Broncos.
Versus The Broncos: Utah State and Santa Clara will be meeting for just the fifth time ever in the opening round of the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska on Friday, Nov. 17. The Aggies and Broncos have split the first four meetings. SCU won the first game played between the two schools in the 1951-52 season by a final score of 63-62. USU then defeated Santa Clara on Mar. 12, 1970 by a final score of 69-68 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Seattle, Wash. Utah State won the third game ever played between the two on Dec. 30, 1974 in Logan by a final score of 98-74, and Santa Clara won the last meeting between the two schools back on Jan. 24, 1976 by a 56-52 final in Santa Clara, Calif.
Versus The Rest Of The Field: Utah State has played only one of the remaining teams in the Top of the World Classic in its 95 seasons of basketball, and that team is Colorado. The Buffaloes hold an 18-5 all-time advantage over the Aggies with the series dating back to the 1937-38 season. The last time the two teams met was on Dec. 8, 1989 in Maui, Hawai'i, with CU recording a 104-90 win.
Coach Morrill Versus The Tournament Field: Utah State head coach Stew Morrill has coached against just two of the teams participating in the Top of the World Classic. Morrill is 1-1 all-time versus Santa Clara and is 3-5 versus Colorado. Those two games against the Broncos came when he was the head coach at Montana, and all eight games against Colorado took place while he was at Colorado State.
Versus The West Coast Conference: Utah State is a combined 32-16 all-time versus current members of the West Coast Conference. USU is 13-2 versus Portland, 5-0 versus Loyola Marymount, 4-1 versus St. Mary's, 4-1 versus Gonzaga, 2-0 versus San Diego, 2-2 versus both Pepperdine and Santa Clara, and 2-8 versus San Francisco. The last time Utah State defeated a team from the West Coast Conference was on Dec. 29 of last season in the championship game of the Gossner Foods Classic held in Logan, Utah, as USU won a 68-65 overtime game against San Diego. USU's last lost to a WCC school was on Dec. 22, 1990 at San Francisco by a 79-87 final. USU has won its last two games versus WCC schools.
Coach Morrill Versus The West Coast Conference: Head Coach Stew Morrill is 7-4 all-time versus the West Coast Conference. He was 2-2 versus St. Mary's while at Montana, 3-1 versus Portland while at Montana, 1-1 versus Santa Clara while at Montana, and 2-0 versus San Diego, with one of those wins coming at Montana, and the other at Utah State last season.
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.
Recapping The California West All-Stars Game: Utah State's basketball team concluded its exhibition schedule with a convincing 82-55 win over the California West All-Stars in front of 5,152 fans. The Aggies were a little sluggish in the first half and lead by only two points at the intermission before outscoring its opponent 48-23 in the second half to record the 27-point victory. Utah State never seemed to get its game on all cylinders in the first half, as USU trailed by three points early in the contest and never got ahead by more than five points before halftime. However, the second half was all Utah State as the Aggies quickly built a two-point halftime lead into a 18-point advantage at the 10:15 mark with a 25-9 run. USU continued to build that lead and finished the game with six straight points to push the margin to 27 as the game ended. Utah State had four players score in double-figures led by senior forward Curtiss Bobb (Aurora, Colo.) who had 18 points and seven rebounds on 8-of-12 shooting. Junior guard Tony Brown (Hyrum, Utah) had 13 points, while seniors Shawn Daniels (Bakersfield, Calif.) and Bernard Rock (New York, N.Y.) had 10 points each. Daniels led all players with 11 rebounds in the game, while junior center Jeremy Vague (San Marcos, Calif.) had by far his best night as an Aggie with six points and five blocks in 19 minutes of action. Overall, Utah State shot 51.5 percent from the field and held the California West All-Stars to 26.9 percent shooting. The Aggies had 22 more rebounds in the game and committed just nine fouls.
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.
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.
Preseason Big West Polls: The Big West Conference held its annual basketball media day on Nov. 8, and Utah State was the overwhelming favorite to repeat as Big West Champions in the 2000-01 season. The Aggies were the unanimous choice among the coaches', and received all but four of the first-place votes from the media to once again win the conference championship.
Coaches Poll 1. UTAH STATE (8) 64 2. Long Beach State (1) 57 3. Boise State 43 4. UC Irvine 42 5. UC Santa Barbara 40 6. Cal Poly 29 7. Pacific 26 8. Cal State Fullerton 12 9. Idaho 11 Media Poll 1. UTAH STATE (18) 192 2. Long Beach State (4) 180 3. UC Santa Barbara 117 4. UC Irvine 116 5. Pacific 101 6. Boise State 100 7. Cal Poly 98 8. Idaho 47 9. Cal State Fullerton 40
Top of the World Classic Tournament Bracket
Thursday, Nov. 16: Game One: Colorado vs. Alaska-Fairbanks, 9:00 pm Game Two: Jackson State vs. Austin Peay, 11:00 pm
Friday, Nov. 17: Game Three: Sourth Florida vs. Davidson, 9:00 pm Game Four: Utah State vs. Santa Clara, 11:00 pm
Saturday, Nov. 18: Game Five: Colorado/Alaska Fairbanks loser vs. Jacskon State/Austin Peay loser, 2:00 pm Game Six: South Florida/Davidson loser vs. Utah State/Santa Clara loser, 4:00 pm Game Seven: Colorado/Alaska Fairbanks winner vs. Jackson State/Austin Peay winner, 8:00 pm Game Eight: South Florida/Davidson winner vs. Utah State/Santa Clara winner, 10:00 pm
Sunday, Nov. 19: Game Nine (7th & 8th Place): Game five loser vs. game six loser, 1:00 pm Game Ten: (3rd & 5th Place): Game seven loser vs. game eight loser, 3:00 pm Game Eleven: (4th & 6th Place): Game five winner vs. game six winner, 7:00 pm Game Twelve: (Championship): Game seven winner vs. game eight winner, 9:00 pm
Note: All times listed are Mountain Standard Time.
A Look At Alaska-Fairbanks: Alaska-Fairbanks won its only exhibition game of the season versus Capilano by a final score of 101-53. The Nanooks return one starter and four letterwinners from last year's team that went 14-13 overall and 8-4 in the Pacific West Conference, finishing in second place in the Pacific division. UAF is coached by Al Sokaitis who is entering his fifth year and has an overall record of 51-56. All-time, Sokaitis is 194-147 in 14 years of coaching.
A Look At Austin Peay: Austin Peay State University is the favorite to win the Ohio Valley Conference this year as the Governors return four starters and eight letterwinners from last year's team that went 18-10 overall and finished in a tie for third place in the Ohio Valley with a 11-7 league mark. In its two exhibition games this year, APSU defeated Sports Reach 102-78 and Vasda 93-78. Head coach Dave Loos is entering his 11th year in Clarksville and has a 139-145 record. Overall, Loos has coached 14 years and has a 221-198 mark.
A Look At Colorado: Colorado won both of its exhibition games this preseason over the Basketball Travelers (99-75) and EA Sports (93-86). The Buffaloes return three starters and seven letterwinners from last year's team that went 18-14 overall and 7-9 in the Big 12 Conference, finishing in seventh place. Ricardo Patton is beginning his seven year in Boulder and has an overall record of 75-62.
A Look At Davidson: Davidson won its only exhibition game of the year over Vasda by a final score of 91-77. The Wildcats return two starters and 10 letterwinners for head coach Bob McKillop as Davidson finished with a 15-13 record last year with a 10-6 mark in the Southern Conference. Coach McKillop is beginning his 12th year at Davidson and has an overall record of 169-144.
A Look At Jackson State: Jackson State is the only other team in the Top of the World Classis that went to the NCAA Tournament last season with the Aggies, as the Tigers lost to Arizona 71-47 in the first round. The Tigers had a 17-16 overall record last year with a 10-8 record in the Southwest Athletic Conference, finishing in fourth place. JSU returns three starters and nine letterwinners from that team for head coach Andy Stoglin who is in his 12 year at Jackson State and has an overall record of 171-156.
A Look At South Florida: South Florida plays its only exhibition game of the preseason Monday night versus the Yakima Sun Kings. The Bulls lost in the first round of the NIT Tournament at New Mexico 64-58 last year. The Bulls return four starters and eight letterwinners from last year's team who finished with a 17-14 overall record and a 8-8 mark in Conference USA. Head Coach Seth Greenberg is in his fifth year at USF with a 56-60 record. Overall, Greenberg has coach 10 seasons with an overall record of 161-130, as he was also head coach at Long Beach State.
Versus The State of California: Utah State has won its last 11 games played against schools from the state of California and will be looking to extend that streak this Friday against Santa Clara. Last season, USU went 11-0 versus school's from the state of California by defeating USC (52-50), UC San Diego (82-58), San Diego (68-65 ot), Fresno State (83-66), Cal State Fullerton (82-70), UC Irvine (81-46), UC Santa Barbara (61-57), Cal Poly (74-62), Long Beach State (71-63), and Pacific twice by scores of 64-55 and 64-41. The last time USU lost to a team from the Golden State was in the first round of the Big West Tournament at the end of the 1999-2000 season to UC Santa Barbara by a final score of 75-74. All-time, Utah State is 250-169 versus teams from the Golden State.
Aggies Looking To Extend 16-Game Regular Season Winning Streak: Utah State will be looking to extend a 16-game regular season winning streak this weekend at the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska. The last time USU lost a regular season game was on Jan. 8, 2000 to Brigham Young University by a final score of 82-73.
Aggies In Alaska: Utah State has played in a tournament in Alaska one other time prior to this year as USU participated in the 1986 Great Alaska Shootout. The Aggies defeated Washington 81-72 in the opening round before losing to Northeastern (91-96) and North Carolina State (82-94). The Aggies have never traveled to Alaska to play any other games and has never played a team from the state of Alaska.
Time Zones No Problem For USU: Traveling across the country and playing in different time zones has not been a problem for Utah State in recent years. Take for example last season, USU played in four different time zones (Hawai'i, Pacific, Mountain, and Central) last season and won a game in each different time zone.
Three Games In Three Days: Anybody who loves basketball has to love a tournament setting in which teams get to play three games in three days, and past history shows that it doesn't bother Utah State to play three games in three days. At the Maui Classic last year in Lahaina, Maui, USU went 2-1 over a three-day period, defeating USC and Chaminade and losing to Florida by two points. At the end of the year in the Big West Tournament, USU went 3-0 in three days, defeating Pacific, Nevada, and New Mexico State.
Recapping the Global Sports Exhibition 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 but 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 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-points 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.
Aggies Ink Two So Far: Head coach Stew Morrill announced this past week the signing of Desmond Penigar and Nate Harris in the early signing period. Penigar, a 6-7, 240-pound forward, is a sophomore at Ventura Junior College in California. As a freshman, Penigar was the second leading scorer (23 points per game) and rebounder (12) among California junior college players. The Sporting News magazine listed him as one of the top 10 junior college power forwards in the country. He was also a first-team all-conference and all-state selection. Harris, a 6-6, 205-pound forward, is a senior at Sky View High School in Smithfield, Utah, where he was a first-team all-state selection as a junior. He was also named the Region Four Most Valuable Player, and was named one of the top 12 players in the state of Utah last season by Frank Layden. Harris averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds as a junior, leading his team to a 28-0 region record over the past two seasons and three straight region championships.