A year and a half since he came to Utah State, TeNale Roland is inching closer to what his team hoped he could be.
Aggie fans got a glimpse of that vision in a 20-point performance at the Spectrum against San Jose State. He was 7 for 7 from the floor, 5 for 5 from 3-point land. He found teammates when he wasn’t open.
Utah State fans were wondering where this hot-shooting guard had been. Roland was just happy he didn’t take any liberties.
“It did feel good,” he said. “I shot a lot, but all of them were within our offense.”
The Aggies’ senior point guard is a team player to a fault, maybe his own detriment most of all. There have been times he’s simply blended into court. In basketball, it’s easy for a 6-footer to go unseen for stretches.
But his shooting clinic that helped drive Utah State to its first Mountain West victory is more along the lines of what the Aggies expect and need.
“He’s got to be able to get shots off,” coach Stew Morrill said. “Sometimes with his size, he hasn’t been able to get them off. But that game, that’s what we envisioned. He’s a very good shooter.”
Open looks haven’t always come easy to Roland — on the court, or in his career.
Coming out of New Albany High in Indiana, Roland was a part of a program with a 70-6 record in his years there. But with his short stature and other talent on the team shining brightly, he didn’t get many looks at the Division I level.
That started a reinvention. At Rend Lake College in Illinois, Roland became a killer from beyond the arc. He shot 40.3 percent while averaging almost 21 points per game as a sophomore, garnering junior college All-American honors.
Plenty of that comes through Roland’s own work ethic: Even in Logan, he’s gotten plenty of nights in the gym shooting 500 shots after practice. But Roland also credits his brother Lamont Roland, who played for LSU and had an eight-year career in Europe, for keeping him encouraged.
“Every day, we talk about the game,” Roland said. “He lets me know what I need to do. And if not the game, we talk about whatever’s going on. He helps me out a lot.”
Since coming to Logan, Roland has settled into a role as a backup point guard who sometimes breaks out for offensive bursts. He averaged nearly 10 points per game in the closing stretch of last season, and the Aggies are hopeful that his start to conference play brings a similar run.
“As I told him, it was great to see him do that,” Morrill said. “It’s what we’ve kind of been expecting. We want to be getting him open looks whenever he’s in.”
Utah State at Nevada
P Saturday, 6 p.m.
TV • None.
• Coming off a career-best 20 points against San Jose State
• Averaging 5.6 points, 2.7 assists per game coming off the bench
• Has a 2.7 assist-to-turnover ratio
• Shooting 42.9 percent from 3-point range