Coach Stew Morrill is not one to hide his opinion, but he also sometimes errs on the side of caution when critiquing his players in the media spotlight.
The veteran coach had no such pause on Saturday night in his postgame radio comments, referring to Utah State's 61-46 loss to UT-Arlington as "a friggin' joke" while talking to Al Lewis.
If folks were expecting a big drop-off after Spencer Butterfield was injured Thursday, it seemed that Morrill wasn't. He bristled over a 14-for-46 shooting line from his team, saying it wasn't characteristic of Division I players to miss as many baskets as the Aggies did against the Mavericks.
"We had a lot of good shots — they were good defensively, but we also had good shots, and they just weren't going in," he said. "I can't explain it. That's not acceptable to me. We recruited you, we believed you could play Division I basketball, now go out and play."
Morrill mentioned inefficient stat lines by TeNale Roland and Jarred Shaw, and also 0-fer nights by Ben Clifford, Matt Lopez and Jordan Stone from the field. Shaw was the only one he called out by name, however, saying that if he can't shoot better than he did Saturday, the team will lose again to UTA when they face them in the first round of the WAC tournament (the most likely scenario).
Running out of healthy players is no excuse, Morrill said. If the coach's radio comments represent only a fraction of the frustration in the lockerroom tonight, you can bet he has his team's attention.
"We just ran out of gas this weekend, and there's no excuse for that," he said. "They just pressure us and we cave in. ... The guys we've got have got to step up and play."
Utah State was favored to beat Texas State and UT-San Antonio this week before Butterfield's injury, and the team is not yet sure if he'll be back. It's clear that Morrill is still expecting to win either way.
— Kyle Goon
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