Stew Morrill Quotes - 12-18-13



Dec. 18, 2013

LOGAN, Utah - USU men's basketball head coach Stew Morrill's quotes previewing the BTI Classic, sponsored by Gossner Foods, facing Western Illinois, UC Santa Barbara and Troy in three games in three days:

Opening statement previewing the tournament:

"We're excited to play in the tournament, with the guys available for play. Last week we had a good week of practice, it's been pretty good this week. Obviously three games in three nights tests you physically and you find out where you're at in terms of being able to put together back-to-back-to-back games. We're still working hard to try and get better defensively. That's an obvious concern. And with Jarred's (Shaw) unavailability for play, that's caused some adjustments, and we're going to have some guys get some opportunities that they might not have gotten. We're hopeful that they'll respond; confident that they will."

On the center rotation without Jarred Shaw in the lineup:

"It just depends. We'll start Jordan (Stone). Western Illinois often times plays with a big-bodied five-guy. Jordan's a pretty good matchup when he's in the game. Western Illinois plays about 10 guys and starts a lot of different combinations, but you know number 52, (Michael Ochereobia), plays 25 minutes or so, and it's a matchup that makes sense for Jordan. We'll also play Ben (Clifford) some there, and we can also go small potentially and play Kyle (Davis) a little bit there, but we haven't looked at that very strongly. There's a number of options, but we'll most likely, at the five, start Jordan and back-up with Ben."

On Jarred Shaw's suspension:

"I'm not going to comment on Jarred's situation. It's going to run its process. We'll see where we're at when the process has run its course."



On any changes with the team's mood and mentality this week:

"We've been good. Guys have been trying hard and practicing hard."

On Western Illinois' style of play using lots of players the being good defensively:

"They're like a lot of us in the preseason, searching for different combinations. One thing that doesn't change with them is they are very good defensively. They're holding their opponents to 38 percent, 28 percent from three, out-rebounding their opponents by almost four. They play a grind-it-out style. You can see that by the points they score and the number they allow. They're not looking to fly up and down, which is the modern craze in college basketball, is to fly on makes and misses. They will run some on misses, but they are very comfortable in making it a possession game. When you reduce possessions, everyone becomes a little bit more valuable. We have to makes sure we execute. We've always tried to pride ourselves in being able to play at different speeds, and certainly they will play at a slower pace than a lot of teams we've played this year."

On playing in the Basketball Travelers, Inc., Classic sponsored by Gossner:

"Well it's been a tradition, we hope to keep it going. It's contracted through next year, and we'll see if we can keep it going after that. We sure hope to."

On UC Santa Barbara:

"They're playing really well. They went to San Diego the other night and beat a good San Diego team on their floor. They played Colorado right after us, and didn't have (Alan) Williams then, and played them to the wire. They didn't have Williams when they played UCLA and led for a large part of that game. It's a very talented, very well-coached, good basketball team. I think on paper, when you look at it, even though we're the home team, the fact that Jarred's not playing, even if he was playing, they might be the favorites, but certainly Santa Barabara's a team right now that would look to be the favorite in the tournament I think. But we're planning on showing up, so hopefully we can go play hard. You can't just play hard, you have to play well, too, so hopefully we can do both."

On the impact of losing Jarred Shaw and adjusting game plan:

"He's obviously a very good scorer, very good rebounder. You're not going to have as many opportunities to throw the ball to the low post. We don't have guys that can score it as easily as Jarred does. So you're looking at getting your points from a different area. And defensively, I think that's something Jarred's really been working on, but defensively is an area where we hope to play well. Jordan's been one of our best post defenders for a long time, and hopefully he can, even though he won't score as well offensively, he can really pick it up on the defensive end. That's an area where he's, like I said, been good. You just look to go to different people, people's strengths. We've always tried to run options for guys that give them a chance to do what they can do, and it's just different people. Obviously we have to make it up on the rebounding end. Certain guys will get more minutes, and it's their chance to go out and try and play well. I think they're excited about that. I'm excited to see what they can do. When you can get guys minutes that they maybe haven't been getting, sometimes that can help you down the road, and we're hopeful of that."

On Ben Clifford getting more minutes and his role increasing:

"I think Ben has been working hard to try and get back. We sometimes forget that he missed a whole preseason. He missed about six weeks of workouts, and hasn't been where he finished last year. His stats, when he was starting, were very positive, and if we can get him back to that point that would really help us, and minutes are what he needs right now to have a chance to get back to where he was at the end of last year. Certainly having his experience is positive."

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