Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
BYU forward Stephen Rogers (21) tries to get around Utah State forward Mitch Bruneel (15) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Friday, Nov. 11, 2011, in Logan, Utah. (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)
USU basketball: Morrill was right — Aggies are struggling this season
Analysis » Aggies in danger of first losing season since 1992-93.
First Published Feb 20 2012 07:33 pm • Last Updated Feb 21 2012 12:02 am

Logan • Stew Morrill tried to tell anyone who would listen. But his warnings mostly fell on deaf ears.

As early as last year, the Utah State head coach predicted that the Aggies’ run of excellence wouldn’t always be automatic. That 30-win seasons are to be cherished. That sustaining a winning college basketball program is more difficult than he’s made it appear.

At a glance

Utah State’s bumpy road

» Hasn’t had a losing season since 1992-1993

» Has been to three consecutive NCAA Tournaments

» Has been to the postseason in every year since the turn of the century

Friday’s game

Idaho at Utah State, 7 p.m.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Not many believed him.

But Morrill has turned out to be prophetic. Heading into Friday’s home finale against Idaho at the Spectrum, the Aggies are indeed mediocre. The season has been a struggle, and Utah State is on the verge of a few dubious accomplishments.

USU is within range of its first losing season since 1992-93. The Aggies are well on their way to missing the postseason for the first time in more than a decade. Getting to a fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament is impossible without winning the conference tournament. The season has been sidetracked with bad luck, injuries, transfers and recruits who never made it to Logan.

Many point to next year, when Morrill welcomes what may arguably be his best recruiting class ever. But the present is awfully painful.

"It’s been frustrating," sophomore shooting guard Preston Medlin said. "We thought we would be better than this, and we think we’re a better team than this. We’ve had some things that haven’t gone our way, and we thought that we would have to adjust a little, with us bringing in so many new players. But we never thought it would be like this."

There are a number of reasons for USU’s 2011-12 demise. Injuries are at the forefront. When Brady Jardine, Utah State’s best player, and one of the best inside players in the Western Athletic Conference, tore ligaments in his foot, the Aggies were robbed of the inside presence that’s been their calling card for so long.

It seemed like a simple sprained foot when he limped off the court against Southern Utah early in the season. Little did anyone know that would be the last time for the 6-foot-8 senior in an Aggie uniform. The injury turned out to be career-ending.

Without Jardine, Utah State has struggled to rebound. The Aggies are woefully undersized each night, and they don’t have a single player who can score consistently with his back to the basket.


story continues below
story continues below

Next season, Jarred Shaw, an athletic 6-11 center, becomes eligible. He sat out this season after transferring from Oklahoma State. Utah State will also have the services of 7-footer Matt Lopez, a transfer from LaSalle in Philadelphia.

"They should help us a ton," sophomore wing Danny Berger said. "The first team can’t get a rebound against them in practice."

Besides injury, defections have hurt as well. In just the past year, James Walker, Steven Thornton and Antonio Bumpus have all transferred out of the program for various reasons. All were athletic guards. All three would have been in the rotation had they stayed.

The Utah State coaching staff is banking on people like Medlin and Berger to get better with a year of experience. Medlin has a chance to be one of the best players in the WAC next season. Much will be expected of Marcel Davis, the 6-3 point guard out of American Fork, and his 6-5 wing, Quincy Bair. And the spring recruiting has begun, as the staff has already offered spots to several players at various junior colleges.

The thinking is that the 2012-13 Utah State team will have the size and the skill that this team lacked. But that’s next season. Right now, the Aggies are just trying to find themselves in time to try to make a run through the conference tournament, which starts in a little more than two weeks.

"We firmly believe this is just a temporary thing," Medlin said. "We have a lot of talent in the program, and we think that we’re going to be a lot better once we get more experience."

tjones@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tonyaggieville



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.