The following are quotes from Utah State men’s basketball coach Stew Morrill prior to the Boise State game. Opening statement:”We practiced very light yesterday, after the late game we had on Wednesday night. We will practice today, and hopefully have some energy tomorrow night. I thought that was a concern in the first half of the Nevada game, but we responded pretty well in the second half. Having energy is a real concern for coaches at this time each year. We try to keep the kids fresh both physically and mentally. We obviously have a lot to play for, and we should be excited about being at home for a Saturday night game.” On being ranked and receiving national attention:”We do not talk about that much, if at all. We just focus on the team that we are going to play, and trying to be ready for that team. We make sure that we are doing all the prep work for each team. Our players are well aware of the stakes and what we are trying to get done. I don’t need to bring that up. I just try to focus on the team that we are going to play and being ready to play basketball. I always talk about the dog days of February, and how it is that time of year, and that a lot of teams fade. We are going to try not to be one of those teams. We have a pretty tough group of players and they are a high character group so I expect a lot from them. I expect them to practice hard everyday and to play with energy, heart and those other things that you want to have.” On the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum atmosphere against Nevada:”When we get it rolling with all of our students and the various things in the arena it is a great venue for college basketball. Someone called me this week and said, ‘Wow, I had no idea it was like that there’. I was surprised that they hadn’t seen a game in our arena with it being like it was against Nevada. I know that when you get the national TV exposure it certainly helps, but my comment is that when it is like it was against Nevada, it is as good as it gets. It is pretty special. They will be rocking and rolling on Saturday. On Boise State:”Boise State concerns the heck out of us because of the personnel that they have and because of their athleticism. They cause a ton of turnovers. Even though Hawai’i won last night against Boise State they had 20 turnovers. They had to shoot 59 percent to win a close basketball game. If we can take care of the ball it will go a long way. We obviously had trouble at Boise in that area. We are working on that in practice, but it is really hard to simulate their quickness and their pressure. Our scout squad is not near as quick as Boise’s personnel. ” On turning the ball over against Boise State last game:”That was by far our worst performance along those lines. One turnover turned into several and we short hopped a ball, like you do in baseball and it went right under Pooh Williams’ legs. We didn’t meet a couple of passes. We were, in a lot of ways, fortunate to get out of there with a win, with that many turnovers. They missed a number of lay-ups and I remember feeling relived that we dodged a bullet. We played well enough to give ourselves a chance to win on the road, but we also could have very easily lost that game.” On Boise State’s personnel:”It is interesting because you always worry about the guys that you should be worried about like La’Shard Anderson, Robert Arnold and Daequon Montreal. Paul Noonan is a great shooter and their bench is doing a real good job for them. Some of their new players are coming into their own. Thomas Bropleh had a good game for them last night. Westley Perryman attacks you off the dribble, and Tre Nichols is very aggressive as well. Their bench has improved, as you would expect, over time with a bunch of new players. They still have a lot of veterans that start and are capable of having big nights, but their bench play has been real solid. I told our team that on their road trip last week, Boise led for about 70 of the 80 minutes they played and just didn’t come out on top. They lost in overtime to New Mexico State and they led most of the game at Louisiana Tech and ended up losing, then they lost a close game last night. Often times when you have lost a few games in a row it doesn’t tell the whole story. They could have won each of their last three games.” On Boise State guard La’Shard Anderson:”He is really quick. He is quick laterally and he is fast north and south. He shoots the ball well and he puts pressure on your defense flying up the court in their fast break. Defensively, Boise State just turns him loose. That is tough to do as a coach, but probably smart with La’Shard. He leads the league in steals. He runs around and doubles guys and slaps at the ball from behind. He causes a ton of turnovers. He is dangerous in all areas offensively and defensively.” On La’Shard Anderson struggling to shoot the ball against Hawai’i:”Anytime a guy struggles you like to think that defense has something to do with it. Watching the film this morning you could see that he missed some open and contested shots. Defense did a pretty good job, but it is probably a combination of the two things. ” On Boise State Forward Robert Arnold:”He only played 16 minutes (against Hawai’i) and I am not sure why. Other guys were playing pretty well off the bench. When Robert Arnold gets it going like he did against us he is very dangerous. You don’t prepare for those guys’ off nights. You try to prepare to face those guys at their best. That is what we worry about. We know what both of those guys are capable of doing.” On Boise State’s pressure defense:”That is the mode that they play in a lot of the time. They are going to pressure you full-court and three-quarter court. They are going to play a zone that they look to get steals out of. When they play man defense they are doubling a lot and looking to get steals. The danger is if a team can capitalize on the pressure and get some easy baskets, which Hawai’i was able to do last night, which can really hurt you. They did cause Hawai’i to have 20 turnovers, but at the same time Hawaiii shot 59 percent. It is one of those risk and reward things.” On Wild Bill and USU being featured on Pardon the Interruption and Around the Horn:”All of that coverage is good, but we do not talk about it a lot. I tell the players that it is good recognition for our program and for Utah State University, but it doesn’t help you win games. You still have to get down to the blue-collar stuff that it takes to win games. That is what we are going to focus on.”
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