Logan • Stew Morrill almost always keeps an even keel, never getting too down or too excited.
But the Utah State basketball coach couldn't contain the emotion in his voice when asked about the week ahead for his Aggies, with games at Denver on Wednesday night and at nationally ranked Georgetown on Saturday morning.
Morrill and USU are attacking these two matchups, looking at them as opportunities to prove themselves on a national level. The respect has always been there for the Aggies. But Morrill knows that success this week could bring attention to his program that's almost never been there.
"We definitely look at this as an opportunity," Morrill said. "We know that we have our hands full, but we also know this is an opportunity for us to go out and get recognized a little bit."
It won't be easy. The Pioneers were 17-1 on their home court last season. They run the Princeton offense, which should help Utah State out against the Hoyas, who run the same base offense, and they have a deep stable of shooters. The game is also serving as a preview to a budding Western Athletic Conference rivalry, as Denver is set to join the conference in 2012.
Utah State is coming off its worst outing of the season, a 56-54 win over Northeastern on Saturday, a win Morrill said his team didn't deserve.
Against the Huskies, USU didn't shoot the ball well, didn't take good care of the ball and didn't contain Northeastern's guards. Utah State's ability to rebound from not playing well will be important. Offensively, the Aggies will look to get the ball inside to Tai Wesley on a regular basis. Junior forward Brady Jardine will also be a constant target, as he's put up two consecutive double-doubles and is looking capable of producing a career year.
"We have to practice well and we have to clean a lot of things up in order to be a good team," Jardine said. "We have an important week coming up and we need to take advantage of what's in front of us."