Well, it’s happened. After winning their first five WAC contests, USU has dropped four straight. The Aggies are now a middle-of-the-pack team with only eight available players. It’s the first time that Utah State has lost four in a row. The world has come to an end, right? Not if you believe in what Stew had to say, which I do.
I was at the LA Tech game. Due to the demands of my job and the fact that I live so far away from Logan, it’s the first one that I have been able to attend in person. I’m so glad I was there.
Going into the game, my expectations were tempered on two fronts: 1) the quality of the crowd, particularly the students, and 2) the quality of the product on the court. The last thing I wanted to see was a blowout. I wanted to see a win, and if not a win, then I at least an entertaining product on the floor. It’s like I told my wife as we walked in, “Are they going to win? Probably not. Are we going to have fun? Absolutely yes.”
With that perspective in mind, what a game!
What a gritty, gutsy performance, particularly by Jarred Shaw. He really played well. Certainly there are areas where he can still improve, but he took it to a new level last night.
Ben Clifford’s facial expressions while he plays are priceless. Every photo of him playing ball in an Aggie uniform looks like he’s about to destroy whoever he’s playing against. It’s not just a recent thing either. I looked through the Des News photo archives and found pictures of Clifford playing all the way back in high school, and it’s the same face. Enjoy this little slideshow I put together of Clifford. If you’re in the right mood, it’s hilarious. At the very least, it should make you smile. It’s like photo-bombing, but better.
Did you see the rebounding statistics from this game? USU outrebounded LA Tech by 19. The Aggies had as many defensive rebounds as LA Tech had rebounds. Terrific rebounding effort by committee last night, especially by Spencer Butterfield.
Defensively, the Aggies played very well. Holding LA Tech to 51 points was an achievement in an of itself. The fact that USU held Tech to a single field goal down the final eight minutes of the game is awesome as well.
What’s more, the atmosphere was incredible. Watching the games on television is no substitute for being in the Spectrum. Last night reminded me why the Spectrum is as special a place as it is. Mad props to the students and community for coming out and making my ears ring.
The offense in general really struggled, and it makes sense without Reed and Medlin. Those two were responsible for about 25 points combined, and so replacing them is practically impossible. Shaw and Butterfield did well, but someone else is going to have to step up as well. This team can’t be one-dimensional. Marcel Davis and Clifford really need to contribute offensively for this team to be successful.
Because Clifford is shorter than most post-men, he’s going to have to take a few pages — nay, a chapter — out of Tai Wesley’s book. He’s got to figure out how to get around these guys rather than going over the top, because that’s a battle Clifford normally won’t win.
Speaking of Ben, he had a rough shooting night, but no miss was more dramatic than the last shot.
Almost Ben, almost…
I’m optimistic about this team, particularly after the amount of grit they displayed. The main battle will not to be discouraged going forward, and that’s something each remaining player will have to deal with on his own.
But if this team can really come together — become a team — they’ll be fine and will get a good seed going into the conference tournament, which at this point is about as much as is reasonable to hope for.