Tonight’s a night Utah State fans have been waiting for since football season began.
No, it’s not the night Brent Guy resigns as football coach as many have been hoping for. Rather, it’s the first chance fans get to see the new Aggie basketball team.
By new, I’m referring to the boatload of new faces at USU. With only six returning players, the Aggies will undoubtedly have some growing pains as they try to replace — by committee — the scoring and presence of Jaycee Carroll. Of those six returning players, only four saw meaningful time on the floor.
Toss in eight newcomers and you might be left scratching your head figuring out how USU managed to be voted second in the media and coaches preseason polls.
The answer to that comes in three parts.
1: Though they are few, they are good. USU’s returners include three starters along the front line. Center Gary Wilkinson is the preseason WAC MVP and put up solid numbers as a junior. Tai Wesley became a stud at power forward with almost 10 points per game and swingman Tyler Newbold actually shot better from 3-point range (51.5 percent) the Carroll (49.8) — who happened to lead the NCAA in 3-point shooting — but didn’t get quite enough shots to factor into rankings.
2: Tradition indicates Utah State is, and always will be as long as Stew Morrill is coaching in Logan, a title contender. This season should be no different as Morrill just reloads with players that work hard, fit his system and play in the WAC’s most intimidating arena.
3: Attrition. The WAC lost a lot of talent after last season. Between Carroll and NBA draft pick Javale McGee from Nevada, there are a lot of roster spots to fill and things are uncertain.
Tonight, Morrill and the Aggies host the annual Blue-White scrimmage and — if last Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage is any indication — there will be plenty of offense and very little defense. The Aggies shot 61.2 percent from the floor in the scrimmage and Morrill lamented the lax attitude his team displayed when guarding people.
A few tough practices might change that, however, as Morrill is nothing if not a demanding coach.
Doors to the Smith Spectrum open at 6:30 tonight with a 7 p.m. tipoff.
Then, it’s time for exhibition ball as Northwest Nazarene pays a visit to Logan Friday night at 7 p.m.