Weekly Basketball Release (11-22-00)
Nov. 23, 2000
This Week: Utah State will open the 2000-01 home season this Saturday, Nov. 25, versus Colorado-Colorado Springs at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan, beginning at 7:05 p.m. The Aggies are 2-1 on the season, while the Mountain Lions are 0-2. This will be the second meeting ever between the two schools, with the Aggies winning the first game by a 82-61 final in Logan in 1998.
A Look At Colorado-Colorado Springs: Colorado-Colorado Springs is currently 0-2 on the season with losses to Northwest Missouri State (87-74) and Missouri Western State (89-71). The Mountain Lions return three starters and four letterwinners from last year's team that went 10-16 overall and 7-12 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. Head coach Ed Pipes is beginning his fifth year at CU-Colorado Springs and has an overall record of 34-70.
Versus Colorado-Colorado Springs: Utah State has played CU-Colorado Springs one other time, posting a 82-61 win in Logan on Nov. 20, 1998. Three current members of USU's team played in that game two years ago in Tony Brown, Dimitri Jorssen and Brennan Ray. Brown had eight points and three assists in 19 minutes, while Jorssen had 10 points and four rebounds in seven minutes. Ray did not score in three minutes of action. Joe Hutchins is the only player remaining for CU-Colorado Springs from the 1998 team, as he had 16 points and five rebounds. He has yet to play for the Mountain Lions this year.
Versus The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference: Utah State is 7-2 all-time versus current members of the RMAC, with the Aggies winning the past six meetings. USU is 1-0 versus Mesa State, 1-0 versus Western State, 1-0 versus Colorado-Colorado Springs, 1-0 versus Chadron State, and 3-2 versus Regis. Regis won its two games over the Aggies by final scores fo 42-51 and 41-50 in the 1949 season and the 1950 season. The last five times Utah State has played a RMAC school, the Aggies have won by a margin of 26.2 points.
Coach Morrill Versus The RMAC: Utah State head coach Stew Morrill is 9-0 all-time versus the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. He was 7-0 versus the RMAC at Colorado State, defeating Ft. Lewis three times, Metro State twice, and Mesa State and Adams State once. Since coming to Utah State, Coach Morrill is 2-0 versus the RMAC, defeating Colorado-Colorado Springs and Western State.
Versus The State of Colorado: Utah State is a combined 131-92 versus all schools from the state of Colorado. The Aggies have played the University of Denver the most times, and holds a 54-35 advantage over the Pioneers. USU is 49-34 versus Colorado State, 9-2 versus Air Force, 5-1 versus Colorado State College, 3-2 versus Regis, 2-0 versus the Denver Athletic Club, and 1-0 versus Mesa State, Western State, Colorado-Colorado Springs, and Colorado College. The only school from Colorado that the Aggies have a losing record against is Colorado with a 5-18 all-time record.
Morrill Versus The State of Colorado: Head coach Stew Morrill has also had great success against the state of Colorado with an overall record of 29-9. Morrill has a winning record against every school in Colorado execpt Colorado State (1-2) and the University of Colorado (3-5).
Home Cooking: Utah State has had great success at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum over the past 30 years with a 322-96 (.770) mark. Over the past three seasons, USU is 43-3 (.935) at home, and the Aggies have won its last eight games at home and 21 of its last 22 in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Home Openers: Utah State has won its last six home openers dating back to the 1993-94 season. The last team to beat Utah State at home in the Aggies first game of the season was Weber State on Dec. 7, 1993 by a final score of 86-87. All-time, USU is 35-8 in home openers dating back to the 1957-58 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.
Brown Named Player of the Week In The Big West Conference: Junior guard Tony Brown (Hyrum, Utah) was named the Big West Conference Player of the Week this past week after leading Utah State to a runner-up finish at the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska. The Aggies finished second to Austin Peay State, losing in the championship game 80-76 in overtime. Brown scored 22 points on seven-of-15 shooting in a tournament-opening 76-67 win against Santa Clara and then followed that with a 21-point effort in a 69-66 win against South Florida. In that game, Brown drilled six-of-nine three-pointers. Against the Governors of Austin Peay State, Brown scored eight points and added six assists, which was just two shy of his career-high. Brown's back-to-back 20-point games marked the first time he has accomplished that feat in his career. He now has six 20-plus point games in the last two years, and USU is 6-0 in those games. The award marked the second time Brown was named the league's player of the week as he was named on Feb. 28, 2000 after scoring a career-high 27 points at New Mexico State and followed that with a three-point, seven assist, seven rebound performance at North Texas.
Jorssen Ties Career High: Senior center Dimitri Jorssen (Theux, Belguim) tied his career-high with 16 points in the championship game of the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska against Austin Peay State on seven-of-10 shooting from the field. He had also scored 16 points in an Aggie win at Long Beach State on Feb. 12, 2000. Jorssen's seven field-goals made also tied a career-high, matching his seven baskets against BYU on Jan. 8, 2000.
Recapping The Austin Peay State Game: Utah State's basketball team lost to Austin Peay State in the championship game of the Top of the World Classic in overtime by a final score of 80-76 to fall to 2-1 on the season. The Governors improved to 3-0 on the year with the victory. The loss is the first regular season defeat for the Aggies since Jan. 8, 2000, against Brigham Young, a span of 18 games. It was also the first time that Utah State has lost in 40 games when leading at half-time. The Aggies seemed to have complete control of the game early, as USU raced out to a 15-2 lead. Austin Peay State slowly chipped away at the Aggie lead and got the game back to within three at 26-23 with seven minutes remaining in the half. USU finished the half with a 17-10 run to take a 10-point lead into half-time. Utah State opened the second half with two straight baskets by senior center Dimitri Jorssen (Theux, Belgium) to increase its lead to 14 points at 47-33, before the Governors went on a 14-1 run to cut the Aggie lead to one-point at 48-47. USU then went on a 7-0 run to take the lead back to eight points and had a seven point lead with six minutes remaining. The Governors closed the game by scoring 13 of the final 19 points to tie the game at 67 at the end of regulation. The tie was only the second of the game as the Aggies lead throughout the contest. In the overtime period, Utah State never got the lead as APSU opened the five-minute period with two straight three-pointers and a free-throw to get a four-point lead. The Aggies closed to within two points with 22 seconds remaining, but APSU made two free-throws with 13 seconds left to win the game. Utah State had four players score in double-figures in the game lead by Jorssen's 16, which tied a career-high for the senior. Senior Curtis Bobb (Aurora, Colo.) added 15 points on five three-pointers, while fellow seniors Shawn Daniels (Bakersfield, Calif.) and Bernard Rock (New York, N.Y.) had 12 and 11 points each. Junior Tony Brown (Hyrum, Utah) had just eight points in the game after scoring 22 and 21 points in the first two nights of the tournament, but did have a team-high six assists in the game. Brown and Rock were named to the all-tournament team for the Aggies. As a team, USU shot 55.3 percent from the field and 58.3 percent from behind the three-point line. Austin Peay shot 50.9 percent overall and 45 percent from three-point range.
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.
Aggie Backcourt Named To The All-Tournament Team: Utah State's backcourt of junior Tony Brown and senior Bernard Rock had an outstanding tournament at the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska, as both players were named to the All-Tournament team in leading the Aggies to a runner-up finish. Brown had two 20-point games in the tournament, while Rock was the only Aggie to score in double-figures in all three games. The two players averaged 30 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game in the tournament.
Long Range Bomber: Junior Tony Brown is on pace to become Utah State's all-time three-point shooter before his career is over. Brown is currently fourth all-time at USU in three-pointers made and attempted. The following is a breakdown of where Brown stands as of date on the USU career charts.
3-Pt. FG's Made 3-Pt. FG's Attemtped 1. Reid Newey 237 1. Jay Goodman 580 2. Jay Goodman 209 2. Reid Newey 572 3. Justin Jones183 3. Justin Jones408 4. Tony Brown 138 4. Tony Brown 340 5. Troy Rolle 112 5. Troy Rolle 304
Giving It Away: One uncharacteristic sign to Utah State's basketball team early on during the 2000-01 season is the amount of turnovers that USU has had thus far this year. Through three games, the Aggies are averaging 18.7 turnovers per game, while its opponents are averaging just 13. Last year, USU averaged just 13.3 turnovers per contest, while its opponents gave the ball up 15.3 times per game on average.
Grab The Rock: Utah State has had a hard time rebounding the ball early on this year and it has showed, as USU has been outrebounded twice already this season in three games. Last year, the Aggies were outrebounded just nine times all season long in 34 games.
Deadly From Three: One word that would describe Utah State's shooting from three-point range early on this season would be deadly. The Aggies are shooting an amazing 55 percent from behind the arc thus far this year on 22-of-40 shooting. Against South Florida, USU was 10-of-13 (.769) from three-point range, and against Austin Peay State, the Aggies made seven-of-12 three's for a .583 percentage. Those 10 three's made against South Florida were the eighth most ever in school history, while the .769 percentage was the fourth-best ever at USU in a single game.
Back-To-Back For Brown: Junior guard Tony Brown had back-to-back 20 point games for the first time in his career at Utah State in the first two games of the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska. He is the first Aggie to accomplish that feat since Marcus Saxon did it to end the 1998-99 season.
Aggies 18-Game Regular Season Winning Streak Comes To An End: Utah State had its 18-game regular season winning streak come to an end in the championship game of the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska, with a 80-76 overtime loss to Austin Peay State. Prior to that loss, USU's last regular season defeat came at the hands of BYU on Jan. 8, 2000.
Giving One Away: Utah State had made a habit of winning games on a regular basis when leading at half-time over recent years. In fact, USU had won its last 39 games when leading at the half before letting a 10-point half-time advantage slip away against Austin Peay State in the championship game of the Top of the World Classic. USU has however compiled a 44-2 mark when leading at halftime over its last 46 games.
Aggies Sign Five: Head coach Stew Morrill inked five players during the early signing period in Mike Ahmad, Nate Harris, Spencer Nelson, Desmond Penigar, and Ronnie Ross. Ahmad, a 6-9, 225-pound forward is a sophomore at Irvine Valley (Calif.) Junior College. As a freshman, Ahmad averaged 13.5 points and eight rebounds per game en route to earning all-conference honorable mention honors. 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. Nelson, a 6-7, 207-pound forward from Pocatello High School in Pocatello, Idaho averaged 4.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a freshman for USU in 1999, where he appeared in all 28 games for the Aggies and averaged 12 minutes per game off the bench. Nelson has spent the last two years on an LDS Mission in Oklahoma. 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. Ross, a 6-1, 185-pound guard from John Wood (Ill.) Junior College, was a first-team all-conference selection his freshman year after averaging 21 points, four rebounds and four assists per game. He was tabbed as the conference freshman of the year and was a first-team all-region selection. The Sporting News listed him as one of the top 10 shooting guards in the nation and he was named a preseason All-American heading into his sophomore season.