Back again, Utah State seniors cement legacy of dominance

There’s a joke around the Utah State locker room these days. No, it’s not about the latest Wild Bill costume, nor does it have anything to do with the infamous chants and signs the Utah State students come up with. Instead, it’s how the school’s design team is going to come with a T-shirt logo wide enough to say ‘Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back’. “I honestly don’t know how they’re going to do that,” said senior guard Pooh Williams, laughing. Count teammate and leading Aggie scorer Tai Wesley amongst those stumped at the question. “I don’t know,” Wesley said with a grin, before adding, “But I know our championship rings are going to have four sides that say ‘Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back’. That will look nice.” Nice might be an understatement. What Utah State has done is almost unheard of in today’s college basketball climate – win four consecutive conference championships. Utah State (25-3, 12-1) has won the Western Athletic Conference title each of the last four years, including its third-straight outright championship this season. For Wesley and his fellow Aggie seniors, who’ll be honored Saturday night prior to the game, the accomplishment is the culmination of a great career in which four players came together to buy into something special. “It’s just a good stamp on a wonderful career that myself and a couple other guys have enjoyed here,” Wesley said. “The teamwork, buying into the system; we have a great program. We have great coaches. We really respect our coaches, and they respect us. We’ve all bought into this system.” It’s a system which has lifted Wesley and his senior teammates: Tyler Newbold, Pooh Williams, Brian Green, Nate Bendall and Matt Formisano to incredible feats over the course of their careers. Not only do the Aggies hold an impressive 30-game winning streak at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, but Utah State’s seniors have already established themselves as the school’s winningest class, going 105-27 over the past four years. The run of success speaks volumes to not only Utah State’s senior class, but the philosophy of their coach, Stew Morrill, and his humble and workman like approach to each season. “Coach Morrill does a really good job of keeping our heads on straight and keeping us focused on what we’ve got to do,” Williams said. “At the beginning of the season, we set one goal, and that’s to win our next game. After we win, we don’t hold onto it for a long time. We take it that day, and the next day it’s time to get ready for our next opponent.” Not only has Morrill’s philosophy helped lift the Aggie seniors to greatness, but the atmosphere the team plays in, the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, has proved invaluable. Aided by one of the country’s loudest and most devout student sections, USU has won 30-straight home games. For the Aggie players, the chance to play one more home game this Saturday will be even more special with the fans who’ve supported them throughout their journey in attendance. “It would be great to win one more game our own court so that our fans can be here and celebrate with us,” said Aggie guard Tyler Newbold. Forward Matt Formisano, who has been an integral part of the team’s success despite not starting over the last four years, agreed with Newbold, saying that it “would be a lot of fun,” to win one more time at home for the fans. “The crowd during WAC play has been good, coming in loud and supporting us, so it would be good coming in and winning for them,” Formisano added. Wesley said that winning the WAC title in all of their seasons at USU was never a stated goal for the team’s seniors. Nevertheless, he and his teammates always had it in the back of their minds, and after watching the previous team’s senior class come and go with a streak of excellence, they set out to do the same. “We haven’t really sat down and talked about it, but I think it’s been instilled in us from the moment we got here – from the guys that were here before us,” Wesley said. “They set up a tradition of winning, and we’ve kind of just wanted to keep that going.” One might think that such success would breed complacency, or at the very least become a ho-hum achievement for a group which has held national rankings, achieved NCAA berths, and been featured extensively throughout the national media. Yet for Newbold and his teammates, the pursuit of perfection will never loose its luster. “It doesn’t loose its luster,” Newbold said. “I know how hard it is to win four-straight titles, because I’ve been here all four years that we’ve done that. It’s something that is a great accomplishment.” Once more, it’s an accomplishment that Newbold, Formisano, Williams and Wesley will be able to share together with fellow seniors Nate Bendall and Brian Green, who both transferred to Utah State as juniors and were both key parts to USU’s WAC titles the past two seasons. They’ve become more than teammates since arriving in Logan, and although they’ve all come from different backgrounds, they’ll forever share a bond as brothers, on and off the court. “We’re like a family,” Williams said. “That’s the one thing we say in the huddle. These guys have been like my brothers, and I’m pretty sure they’ll be some of my closest friends for the rest of my life. “It’s great playing with these guys,” continued Williams. “I’ve really enjoyed my playing career here at Utah State, and it’s just been a fun road.” While they’re more than content on savoring the experience and seeing just how far their final season will take them, Williams and his teammates are well aware of just how special their accomplishments are, and know that the talk of ‘Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back’ will far outlive any worn out t-shirt logo worn by adorning fans and spectators. “We get to tell our kids about it one day,” said Williams. “It’s a great experience. I’d never seen anything like this; playing in the Specturm, and just getting all these wins. It’s been really exciting.” – USU –

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!