Logan • Danny Berger, less than six months ago, was on an LDS Church mission, with no expectation of setting foot on a basketball court in a gametime situation.
Now, the sophomore is a starter for Utah State, an unexpected one at that.
That's how much the Aggies have been hurt in terms of injuries, transfers and a lack of depth. Berger, at 6-foot-7 and 180 pounds, has the tools to be a premier small forward in the Western Athletic Conference. But at this point, as USU lines up against Louisiana Tech on Thursday night at the Spectrum, it's clear that Berger could've used a redshirt season to gain weight and strength.
"It's an adjustment," Berger said. "At times, your body is pretty tired. But I just come out and play hard. And as a team, all we can do is play hard and play our hearts out. We have to do what it takes to win."
Winning won't get any easier this week for a team that's suffered four consecutive defeats away from home. Louisiana Tech may not be the best team in the WAC. But the Bulldogs are one of the more difficult teams to play against, with their pressing style.
Louisiana Tech plays a four-guard offense most of the time, preferring to beat opponents off the dribble for points. Rail-thin Raheem Appleby, a 6-5 rookie, is arguably the best freshman in the league. Brandon Gibson is one of the better overall players.
"They keep coming at you with guards, quickness and tough matchups," Utah State coach Stew Morrill said. "Raheem Appleby will be special, if he isn't special already. They just have a lot of interchangeable parts, and we have to be ready for almost anything."
Louisiana Tech at Utah State
P At the Spectrum,Logan
Tipoff • Thursday, 7 p.m.
TV • Altitude 2
Radio • 97.5 FM
Records • Louisiana Tech 11-12, Utah State 12-12
Series record • Utah State leads 13-2
Last meeting • Utah State 69, Louisiana Tech 65 (Jan. 14)
Thursday's state colleges schedule
• Utah Valley at NJIT, 5 p.m.
• Utah at Arizona State, 6:30 p.m.
• Weber State at Northern Arizona, 6:30 p.m.
• Western Illinois at Southern Utah, 7 p.m.
• Westminster at Rocky Mountain, 7:30 p.m.
• USU-Eastern at College of Southern Idaho, 7:30 p.m.
• Louisiana Tech at Utah State, 4 p.m.
• Westminster at Rocky Mountain, 5:30 p.m.
• USU-Eastern at College of Southern Idaho, 5:30 p.m.
• Gonzaga at BYU, 7 p.m.
• Arizona State at Utah, 7 p.m.
• Weber State at Eastern Washington, 7 p.m.
• NJIT at Utah Valley, 7 p.m.