Weekly Basketball Release (11-26-00)
Nov. 26, 2000
Game #5 Utah State at Idaho State Holt Arena (12,000)lPocatello, Idaho Nov. 29, 2000l7:05 pm(MST)
This Week: Utah State will travel to Pocatello, Idaho to face Idaho State on Wednesday, Nov. 29, at 7:05 pm in Holt Arena. The Aggies lead the all-time series 25-13 and have won the last three meetings. ISU is 0-2 on the young season with losses at Utah (71-65) and at Southern Utah (82-64).
A Look At Idaho State: Idaho State is 0-2 on the season after two road losses at then No. 12 Utah (71-65) and at Southern Utah by a 82-64 final. The Bengals return three starters and 10 letterwinners from last year's team that finished 8-19 overall and 3-13 in the Big Sky Conference, tying for eighth place. Head coach Doug Oliver is beginning his third year in Pocatello and has an overall record of 14-41. ISU has two players scoring in double-figures after two games in seniors Jordie McTavish (12.0 ppg) and Tim Erickson (10.5 ppg).
Versus Idaho State: Utah State and Idaho State will be meeting for the 39th time this Wednesday, and USU holds a 25-13 all-time advantage. The last time the two schools met was on Dec. 29, 1994 in the championship game of the Gossner Foods Classic, with the Aggies recording the 67-62 win. Utah State has won the last three meetings between the two, with the last Idaho State win coming on Dec. 30, 1981 in Logan by a final score of 74-70. The last time the two teams played in Pocatello was on Dec. 30, 1980, with ISU notching a 74-69 win. The Bengals went 1-1 last year in the Gossner Foods Classic, but did not play USU.
Versus The Big Sky Conference: Utah State is 167-94 (.640) all-time versus the Big Sky Conference. USU is 25-13 versus Idaho State, 28-14 versus Montana, 74-39 versus Montana State, 27-23 versus Weber State, 3-1 versus Portland State, 2-1 versus both Northern Arizona and Sacramento State, 4-0 versus Cal State Northridge, and 2-2 versus Eastern Washington. Last season, USU was just 1-2 versus the Big Sky Confernece, losing on the road at Northern Arizona and at Weber State, while winning at home versus NAU.
Coach Morrill Versus The Big Sky: Utah State head coach Stew Morrill is 49-18 (.731) versus the Big Sky Conference, most of which came as head coach while at the University of Montana. Morrill is 12-1 all-time versus Idaho State, 8-5 versus Montana State, 3-1 versus Portland State, 7-6 versus Weber State, 11-2 versus Northern Arizona, 7-3 versus Eastern Washington, and 1-0 versus Cal State Northridge.
Versus The State of Idaho: Utah State is a combined 50-27 (.649) versus the three Division I schools from the state of Idaho. All-time, USU holds a 14-4 advantage over Boise State, a 25-13 advantage over Idaho State, and a 11-10 advantage over Idaho. The Aggies have won the last six meetings versus teams from Idaho, and the last team from the state of Idaho to defeat Utah State was the University of Idaho on Jan. 23, 1999, in Moscow by a 77-58 final.
Road Warriors: Despite letting an 18-game regular season winning streak get stopped by Austin Peay State in the championship game of the Top of the World Classic, Utah State still has its nine-game road winning streak in tack. The last time USU lost a road game was on Dec. 21, 1999 at Weber State by a final score of 86-73. The Aggies then went undefeated in league play on the road and won at Nevada in the semifinals of the Big West tournament. That nine-game road winning streak is a school record.
Home Cooking: Utah State has had great success at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum over the past 30 years with a 323-96 (.771) mark. Over the past three seasons, USU is 44-3 (.936) at home, and the Aggies have won its last nine games at home and 22 of its last 23 in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Road Openers: Since the 1957-58 season, Utah State is a combined 16-27 in its first road game of the season. The Aggies have won two of its last three road games to open the season, winning at Minnesota and San Diego State in 1997 and 1998, but USU did lose at Northern Arizona last year in its first road game.
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 on Nov. 20, 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.
Daniels Scores Career High: Senior forward Shawn Daniels (Bakersfield, Calif.) scored a career-high 28 points versus Colorado-Colorado Springs on Saturday night on 14-of-19 shooting from the field. Daniels' previous career-high was 17 points which he accomplished six different times during the 1999-2000 season. The last time he notched 17 points was against Conneticut in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Those 28 points for Daniels was the most points scored by an Aggie since Marcus Saxon had 31 in the second round of the Big West Tournament on Mar. 7, 1998 against Cal State Fullerton. Daniels has now scored in double-figures 28 times in his career, including the last two games in a row this season.
Recapping The Colorado-Colorado Springs Game: Behind senior forward Shawn Daniels' career-high 28 points, the Utah State basketball team slipped past Division II Colorado-Colorado Springs, 68-61, Saturday night at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. The win snapped a one-game losing streak for the Aggies, who improved to 3-1 on the year. The Mountain Lions fell to 0-3. Daniels, a 6-foot-6 native of Bakersfield, Calif., took control of the game early as he connected on his first four shots from the field to pace the Aggies to a 12-2 lead just four minutes into the game. Daniels stayed hot throughout the first half as he hit on all eight of his shots from the field. USU took a 30-21 lead over the Mountain Lions into the break. The Aggies started the second half slowly as it took them nearly four minutes to get on the board. But behind 10 points from Daniels, Utah State opened up a 50-35 lead with 9:21 left. The Aggies eventually pushed it out to 17 points, 63-46, on a layup by senior forward Curtis Bobb (Aurora, Colo.) with 3:05 to go. Colorado Springs made it interesting by connecting on several long range three-pointers to come within single digits of USU with under 30 seconds to go. Guard Wayne Rhymes led the Mountain Lions with five three-pointers and 21 points. Senior center Dimitri Jorssen (Theux, Belgium) was the only other Aggie to join Daniels in double figures as he added 13 points on six-of-seven shooting from the floor. As a team, USU shot 56 percent from the field, but just 20 percent from behind the three-point line. The Mountain Lions shot 46 percent overall and 38.1 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 139 4. Tony Brown 344 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 19.0 turnovers per game, while its opponents are averaging just 15.3. Last year, USU averaged just 13.3 turnovers per contest, while its opponents gave the ball up 15.3 times per game on average.
Over 50 Percent Again: For the third straight game, Utah State shot better than 50 percent from the floor. After opening the season with a 46.5 shooting percentage against Santa Clara, USU has gone on to shoot 61 percent against South Florida, 50.9 percent versus Austin Peay State, and 56 percent against Colorado-Colorado Springs. The last time USU shot over 50 percent in three straight games was during the 1999-2000 season against New Mexico State (.500), North Texas (.508), and Idaho (.551). On the season, Utah State is shooting a blistering 54.7 percent from the field.
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 51 percent from behind the arc thus far this year on 23-of-45 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.
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. USU has won 22 of its last 23 regular season games.
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 45-2 mark when leading at halftime over its last 47 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.