Utah State Aggies
Western Athletic Conference (30-4, 14-2)
Big Wins: 12/22 Utah (66-64), 12/31 Wyoming (90-85), 1/29 Nevada (72-61)
Bad Losses: 2/14 at Boise State (56-66), 2/21 at St. Mary’s (64-75), 2/28 at Nevada (71-84)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2006, First Round loss to Washington
Coach: Stew Morrill (1-6 in 6 NCAA appearances)
Why They Can Surprise:
Utah State always plays smart basketball. They rarely commit turnovers, they take smart shots and they hit the glass hard. Heading into the 2008-2009 campaign the Aggies had a lot of questions surrounding their team. Many of their star players were gone and few really knew if the new faces could perform effectively at this level. But, once again, the system is bigger than any player and Coach Stew Morrill stuck to his principals and turned his team into a group who knew how to win.
It all starts with the shooting of forwards Gary Wilkinson and Tai Wesley, who both shoot over 58 percent from the floor. They are also the team’s top two scorers. Wilkinson is an aggressive post player who can finish around the basket and step out and hit the mid-range jumper. Banging under the basket the 6-9 senior will get fouled a lot and, like just about everybody on USU, he is a great free-throw shooter. Wesley emerged this year as one of the best all-around players in the conference. Not only is he second on the team in scoring and third in rebounding, but he is also second in steals and first blocked shots.
Why They Can Disappoint:
If Utah State falls behind, they will have trouble coming back. Their style of play does not create a lot of turnovers and easy baskets. They would prefer to run their set plays and work for open looks. That takes time. Making it even more difficult to put up points in a hurry is the fact that Utah State does not take a lot of three-pointers. Wing Tyler Newbold, guard Stavon Williams and point guard Jared Quayle are all capable shooters from long range, but they generally do not take too many shots from beyond the arc.
Who To Watch:
It is Quayle who turned this team from a question mark into the best team in the Western Athletic Conference. The junior college transfer averaged 12.9 points, 3.7 assists and just 1.8 turnovers per contest during his first year in Logan. Heading into the year the Aggies really needed to find another scorer and somebody who could take care of the ball…Quayle does both extremely well. Now Coach Morrill has four quality scoring options and a stable of capable roleplayers, most notably Stavon Williams, Pooh Williams, Jaxon Myaer and Matt Formisano, that can fit just about any situation Utah State finds themselves in during the tournament.
Jared Quayle, Junior, Guard, 12.9 ppg, 3.7 apg, 5.9 rpg
Tyler Newbold, Sophomore, Guard, 9.1 ppg, 3.2 apg, 4.2 rpg
Pooh Williams, Sophomore, Guard, 6.0 ppg, 1.9 apg
Tai Wesley, Sophomore, Forward, 11.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.7 apg
Gary Wilkinson, Senior, Forward, 17.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg
Matt Formisano, Sophomore, Forward, 3.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg
Jaxon Myaer, Freshman, Guard, 3.6 ppg, 1.0 apg
Stavon Williams, Junior, Guard, 6.2 ppg, 1.4 apg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 72.5 (95th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 61.6 (39, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 49.8 (2, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.2 (119, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.2 (161, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 39.2 (21, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.6 (34, 2)
Rebound Margin: 6.8 (15, 1)
Assists Per Game: 16.3 (16, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.2 (9, 1)
Following the Bracket announcement, more team info will be added, including final RPI, final team statistical rankings, Joel's prediction, and more!