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Coaching adjustments by Stew Morrill helped drive Aggies basketball to win

Published February 1, 2013 11:52 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

For Idaho, film session can't be all that fun today.

From the opening tip, it was clear the Vandals had little to no idea what kind of punch Utah State was bringing Thursday night. It appeared to take them a few minutes to catch their breath, and by then the Aggies were leading 18-3.

Point guard post ups? Pressure defense? Was this really a Stew Morrill-coached team?

After the 77-67 win, Morrill explained some of his schematic wrinkles - he said he added four or five plays - to Al Lewis on the team's postgame radio wrap-up. A big part of it was running a ball screen in the post, a move that helped Marcel Davis get free for lay-ups.

The result? Six of the first eight points of the game, and 16 points. It was the freshman's first double-digit performance since Jan. 5 - the last time he played Idaho. His athleticism was on display by driving in on some of the Vandals' weaker defensive players.

"He just big-boyed them down there," Morrill said. "We've been on him hard because he just kind of floats sometimes. We need him to be more aggressive."

Defensively, Idaho was in fits. The Aggies would press a little, then revert back to zone or man defense. It was confusing to the Vandals, who had trouble scoring outside of 3-pointers.

Morrill couldn't help but feel a little giddy about getting one over on Idaho, which is coached by from Utah State assistant Don Verlin.

"Idaho didn't really know what defense we were in," he said.

But of course, in the end, it was about execution. Jarred Shaw played the game of his life, taking advantage of some foul trouble to Kyle Barone, but also straight-up attacking the rim. At 12-for-15, it seemed impossible at times that he was going to miss.

Then there were the contributions by Davis, TeNale Roland, Spencer Butterfield. Even Jordan Stone dropped some jaws with a big dunk. It was the kind of win Utah State needed, following the kind of formula the Aggies will need to follow to win again.

And Morrill? Sometimes an old dog will learn a few new tricks.

"We had some match-up concerns obviously with guys playing out of position, but we were able to get 'er done," he said. "It's a special win."

Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon