Quotes From Head Basketball Coach Stew Morrill
Dec. 12, 2000
The following are quotes from Utah State head basketball coach Stew Morrill at his weekly press conference prior to the USU-Brigham Young game on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2000.
With you matching up a lit bit better against BYU than say a Utah team, what will you try to do defensively?
"We will do what we do. It will just depend on the game. It is pretty hard to answer that. It depends on which defense is working. We keep track of those things on the bench. It's hard to predict whether you are going to play a lot of man, play some zone, play more man than zone, it depends on how the game goes. The one thing we've got to do is guard them better than we did last year. Our defense this year is showing signs of improvement. The last few games we have defended much better. We are on the road playing a Mountain West team on their court and that's always a challenge. And that team last year shot 50 percent from the floor against us and 50 percent from three. That is a key factor in the game, our ability to guard them. They get a lot of easy baskets in transitions, they push the ball hard on makes and misses and then they run a million set plays and have a lot of really good looks out of those plays if you are guarding them man-to-man. If you are guarding them in zone, they'll run five, six, seven specials against your zones. They have really bright kids and run a lot of different offenses and they are playing very good defense too. I think they would come right out and tell you that they have patterned their program a lot after Utah and you can see that the last couple of year's when you prepare for BYU. They're going to play you man-to-man and that's what they are going to do. They 're going to be real physical in their man-to-man. They just held Rice to 30 percent from the field and that was in Houston, so they are doing a great job defensively. I think the thing with BYU is they are trying to take the next step in their progression, and the next step is naturally the toughest step and the biggest step. They've done a great job during Steve's (Cleveland) tenure of improving each year. They won two games in the NIT last year, and I think they have set their sights on the NCAA this year and a lot of people see them as a Top-40 team and a lot of people see them as one of the top two, three teams in the Mountain West. I think they are a good basketball team."
Do they run a lot of plays like you do? Is it difficult to get ready to play them, kind of like it would be to get ready for you?
"It is difficult, because they run a ton of different things. If we were a team that just played straight man the whole game it might be a little easier to just prepare their man stuff. But we play some zone, so we have to prepare their zone stuff. They run a lot of different things on the break, they do different things on the free-throw break. The thing you have to be careful of, I have always thought in coaching, is not to over prepare, because you can get your guys thinking too much and not playing and we really have to be careful as a coaching staff. We are kind of in a dilemma because we have a week but we don't have a week because practices are shorter. We are taking tomorrow off because of our finals schedule. So its easy to say, boy, you got all this time to prepare, but you start putting a practice schedule together for the week and don't have as much time as you would like. I think they will do a lot of the things they did to us last year but they do have short preparation time. Their not in finals, but they play a game Thursday against a good Southern Utah team, and plus I think they are going to do what they do and that's go out and play hard-nosed straight man-to-man defense."
What about (Mekeli) Wesley, he is a big strong kid. What are you going to do against him?
"We are pretty familiar with Mekeli (Wesley). We recruited him out of high school at Colorado State, he is from my high school. We know he is a good player and he is hard-nosed and a tough kid too. He will fight you, he will do whatever, so he is a challenge."
"Those kids are doing a good job. I am pleased with their attitude number one. And I think having a good attitude gives you a chance to get better. A guy like Thomas Vincent, I have to remind myself that he is only a freshman and we are asking him to play valuable minutes and that's tough. He has a real good way about him, and doesn't get to critical of himself and is doing a solid job. I am real encouraged with Jeremy Vague, that he has come in and gave us what we needed from him, a big, strong body that can go bang around and give us another size look when he comes off the bench and he did that in the Utah game and that was real encouraging. Toraino Johnson is learning the system which is a times a foreign language, with all the things we are asking him to do and he is getting a little better each day and I think he will do nothing but improve, I really believe that. Chad Evans is a redshirt freshman, but he was with us last year so he has a little better feel for what is going on, kind of an all-purpose guy. He was a little stunned a think when I put him in in the first half versus Utah, I think he kind of did a double-take, but I feel pretty confident that we can throw Chad out there and he can help us for a few minutes at this point."
Is Lyday and Wesley where it begins and ends for BYU on offense?
"Those are the two kids who are picked to be all-Mountain West, and those are the two leading scorers from last year. Those are the first two guys that they go to, but I think BYU has a lot of good players. These rivalry games are always interesting because someone will always step up and have a big game that maybe you don't anticipate, so I don't think you can ever predict who is going to be the key guys. Obviously it would help you if you can start with those two and do a good job on them."