Utah State hoops coach Stew Morrill took a few minutes out of his day to talk about the upcoming season and this Friday’s game against Weber State and coach Randy Rahe.
Here are a few items of note from the discussion.
Pooh Williams, the Aggies returning starter on the wing, has not resumed practicing with the team. He is a definite no when it comes to playing in the season opener and will likely miss the first three games of the season. If his surgically-repaired foot (pre-stress fracture) is good to go, he may be in uniform in time for the home opener against Idaho State – but don’t count on it.
With Williams unavailable, Morrill’s hand was forced on a couple of fronts. Primarily, the Aggies will not redshirt any player except 7-foot freshman Anthony DiLoreto.
Fellow freshmen Preston Medlin and Tyrone White will play. Morrill said he has no choice but to use them.
“I can’t redshirt those guys,” Morrill said. “We don’t have enough wings to redshirt Preston Medlin or Tyrone White. They will play.”
And, Morrill, said, they will be fighting for minutes.
Medlin will play the shooting guard position almost exclusively and White will see time at small forward. Williams and Tyler Newbold were virtually interchangeable at those positions last year but with Williams out of action, Morrill said USU’s youngsters don’t have the experience needed to playing a combo position.
“I would not play them at two spots,” Morrill said. “They’re heads are already spinning and that would mess them up.”
What it means is Medlin will be the primary back up at the two behind Brian Green, while White will be the first man off the bench if Newbold needs a breather.
Senior point guard Jared Quayle will be backed up by sophomore Jaxon Myaer in most cases with Green as the emergency point guard.
Green, though he has the body of a point, is a shooter and a hustler rather than a ball handler and play maker. He’ll start until Williams returns.
In the post, Tai Wesley and Nate Bendall are firmly in the starting lineup. The trio of Matt Formisano, Brady Jardine and Modou Niang will get their minutes as substitutes for now.
Even without Williams around, the Aggies are as deep as they’ve been in years. There is legitimately three players at each position with point guard as the exception – and Wesley serves as Utah State favorite ball handler (and screen setter) in press situations.
Friday night’s game at Weber State will be the season opener for both teams. But it will not be an unfamiliar setting for Morrill and WSU coach Randy Rahe.
Rahe was Morrill’s understudy for more than a dozen years and runs the Wildcats in an identical way. Morrill said there will be a bit of uneasiness coaching against not only a friend, but against ‘family’ and he’ll have to be on top of his game to come out on top.
On factor that will help the Aggies is what has become known as the Spectrum on Wheels. A group of students — USU traveled a couple of thousand blue-shirted students Salt Lake City and EnergySolutions Arena to face BYU and to Boise for a conference game last year — will make the much-shorter drive to Ogden and hope to turn the Dee Events Center into a home away from home for the Aggies.