Utah State Men’s Basketball To Hold First Practice Friday
LOGAN, Utah – Utah State’s men’s basketball team will hold its first official practice of the 2011-12 season on Friday, Oct. 14 at 5 p.m. in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum as head coach Stew Morrill welcomes 17 players to the floor. Practices are closed to the public.
Utah State returns one starter and four letterwinners from last year’s team that advanced to its 20th NCAA Tournament all-time, including its eighth in the last 12 years under Morrill as it lost to Kansas State, 73-68, in the second round.
Utah State finished the 2010-11 season with a 30-4 record and went 15-1 in Western Athletic Conference play to claim its fourth-straight regular season league championship, which is a school record. USU, which tied the school record for wins (30) and had the best single-season winning percentage (.882) in school history in 2011, also won its second WAC Tournament title in the past three seasons a year ago. Prior to its current run, the school record for consecutive conference titles was two set by the 1935-36 teams (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) and the 1997-98 teams (Big West Conference). Over the last three years, USU has a combined record of 111-28 (.799) including a 55-9 (.859) WAC mark.
In 12 years as Utah State’s head coach, Morrill has led the Aggies to an incredible 324-103 (.759) record, including a 167-49 (.773) conference mark in the Big West and WAC. While at Utah State, he has guided the Aggies to 12 straight 20-win seasons and 12 straight postseason appearances (8-NCAA, 4-NIT), both of which are school records. Morrill is the winningest coach in school history and ranks first all-time in games coached (427). Morrill is also the second-longest tenured coach in school history behind E. Lowell Romney (1920-41) who spent 22 years coaching basketball at USU.
Leading the way for Utah State this year will be senior guard Brockeith Pane who earned first-team all-conference honors as a junior as he averaged 11.8 points, 3.4 assists and 3.1 rebounds, while ranking fourth in the WAC in free throw shooting (.802), fifth in assists and sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.32). Pane, who was also named the Most Valuable Player of the 2011 WAC Tournament, finished the season shooting 43.6 percent from the field and 21.1 percent from three-point range.
Other returners for Utah State include a pair of senior forwards in Morgan Grim and Brady Jardine, along with junior guard E.J. Farris. Grim played in 32 games during his first year at Utah State and averaged 2.6 points and 1.6 rebounds in 8.7 minutes per game, while shooting 47.7 percent from the field and 62.9 percent at the free throw line. Jardine, who has played in 91 games including seven starts during his first three years at Utah State, averaged 7.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 21.4 minutes as a junior and shot 54.1 percent from the field and 64.7 percent at the free throw line. Farris played in 21 games in his first year at USU and averaged 1.9 points in 7.3 minutes per outing.
Utah State also returns three redshirts in 2011-12 in junior guard Antonio Bumpus, sophomore guard Preston Medlin and freshman forward Ben Clifford. Medlin appeared in 22 games as a true freshman for USU during the 2009-10 season and averaged 3.7 points while shooting 40.9 percent from the field, 37.5 percent from three-point range and 92.9 percent at the free throw line.
Joining Utah State’s four returnees and three redshirts are 10 newcomers in junior forwards Igor Premasunac, Kyisean Reed and Jarred Shaw, sophomore forwards Danny Berger and Mitch Bruneel, freshmen forwards David Collette and Adam Thoseby, freshman guards Sam Orchard and Steven Thornton, and freshman center Jordan Stone.
Utah State will hold its annual Blue-White Scrimmage on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m., and its first exhibition game will be on Friday, Oct. 28 against UC San Diego at 7 p.m. Following its second exhibition game against Adams State on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 4 p.m., USU will begin the regular season at home against Brigham Young on Friday, Nov. 11 at 7 p.m.
Season tickets are available through USU’s website at www.UtahStateAggies.com or by calling the ticket office toll free at 1-888-USTATE-1 or (435) 797-0305.
2011-12 Utah State Men’s Basketball preseason notes
• Utah State returns 43.6 percent of its blocked shots (48/110), 38.9 percent of its made free throws (219/563), 35.8 percent of its steals (58/162), 31.9 percent of its rebounds (404/1,266), 31.8 percent of its made field goals (267/840), 31.7 percent of its points (778/2,449), 30.9 percent of its minutes (2,120/6,850), 30.8 percent of its assists (154/500), and 12.1 percent of its made three-point field goals (25/206).
• Utah State returns one starter (Brockeith Pane) and four lettermen from the 2010-11 team that went 30-4, won its fourth-straight Western Athletic Conference regular season title with a 15-1 record, won its second WAC Tournament Championship in the last three years, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time in the last 12 years as it lost to Kansas State (73-68) in the second round.
• Utah State’s current run of winning four-straight Western Athletic Conference regular season championships is the longest in school history. The previous record for consecutive conference titles was two during the 1935-36 seasons in the Rocky Mountain Athletics Conference and the 1997-98 seasons in the Big West Conference.
• Head coach Stew Morrill (324-103) is the winningest coach in school history and is also first all-time in games coached (427). Morrill is the second-longest tenured coach at Utah State behind E. Lowell Romney who coached basketball for 22 seasons (1920-41).
• Entering his 14th season with the Aggies, Morrill has a 324-103 (.759) overall record, a 167-49 (.773) conference record and a 25-7 (.781) record in conference postseason play. Overall, Morrill owns a 542-241 (.692) record in 25 years as a collegiate head coach.
• Morrill is one of just 18 active coaches with 500 career wins at the Division I level and one of just 11 active coaches to notch 16 20-win seasons, while his current streak of 12 straight 20-win seasons is tied for the ninth-longest in the nation. Among active coaches, Morrill ranks 16th in the nation with his 542 career wins and 23rd in winning percentage at 69.2 percent.
• Utah State returns one player from last season who was honored by the Western Athletic Conference in senior guard Brockeith Pane (First-Team All-WAC). Pane, who was also named the Most Valuable Player of the 2011 WAC Tournament, is the only returning first-team all-league member in the WAC.
• Utah State’s one returning starter (Brockeith Pane) is its fewest since returning one starter during the 2001-02 season. USU finished with a 23-8 record that season, including tying for first-place in the Big West Conference with a 13-5 mark. USU ended its season in 2002 with a first-round loss in the postseason National Invitation Tournament.
• Utah State’s four returning lettermen (E.J. Farris, Morgan Grim, Brady Jardine, Brockeith Pane) are its fewest since returning three lettermen for the 1999-2000 season. That year, USU set a then school-record with a 28-6 record, including a perfect 16-0 mark in the Big West Conference en route to the NCAA Tournament.
• Utah State placed four players (Matt Formisano, Brady Jardine, Tyler Newbold, Tai Wesley) on the academic all-WAC team in 2011. The other eight teams in the league combined for 10 academic all-WAC selections.
• Aggie players from the state of Utah include senior forward Morgan Grim (Riverton/Riverton HS), freshman forward Ben Clifford (South Jordan/Bingham HS), freshman forward David Collette (Murray/Murray HS), freshman guard Sam Orchard (Salt Lake City/Highland HS), and freshman center Jordan Stone (Smithfield/Sky View HS).
Follow Chris Denker, Managing Partner/Director of Scouting, of NetScouts Basketball on Twitter @chrisdenker.