I’ve been fortunate I’ve been able to coach this long in a tough business. I’m very appreciative and very fortunate to be coaching at Utah State. Hopefully they’ll put up with me a little longer. —Utah State basketball coach Stew Morrill
OGDEN — Tuesday night marks another milestone in Stew Morrill’s Utah State coaching career. USU's in-state matchup against Weber State will be Morrill’s 500th game on the sidelines for the Aggies. Morrill is 370-129 as the head man in Logan.
“I’ve been fortunate I’ve been able to coach this long in a tough business,” Morrill said. “I’m very appreciative and very fortunate to be coaching at Utah State. Hopefully they’ll put up with me a little longer.”
A quick look at the records might lead one to believe the Aggies are favored to give Morrill his 371st victory Tuesday. Utah State comes in at 4-0 with victories over power conference schools USC and Mississippi State and a road win over a very good UC Santa Barbara team. The Wildcats, on the other hand, are winless, having dropped decisions to BYU and Colorado State in their only two games of the season.
As often is the case with in-state games, however, records don’t seem to matter much. Morrill expects Weber State and his former assistant coach, Randy Rahe, to be well-prepared after having the last 10 days off. Conversely, Utah State will be hoping to keep its momentum going from a win Saturday night over Mississippi State.
“It’s interesting the way the schedule falls,” Morrill said. “We know how ready Weber State is going to be. They haven’t had a home game yet. They’ve had two very tough road games to open the year. They’ve had nine or 10 days to get ready for us. The coaches know what we’re walking into and hopefully our players do as well.”
Winning in Ogden has never been easy for Utah State. The last time these two met at the Dee Events Center, Damian Lillard and Scott Bamforth ran right over the Aggies in a 73-63 win. USU and Weber have split their last four meetings in Ogden.
“Through the years we’ve wandered into Ogden and been in half a fog and haven’t played well, or gone in and played really well,” Morrill said. “You can say that about nearly every place you play on the road. You have some good moments and some bad ones. Hopefully we’re in a good frame of mind.”
Aggie freshman Jalen Moore is looking forward to the trip. As a senior at Sky View High School last year, Moore led the Bobcats to the state title on the Wildcats' floor and produced one of the highlights of the year when he hit a buzzer-beating half-court shot in overtime to defeat Bountiful in the 4A semifinals.
“Coach has talked about how hard Weber State is to prepare for, but I’m looking forward to it. I kind of like playing on that court,” Moore said. “I’ve had some good times down there and I’m looking forward to going back.”
Neither team will get much of a Thanksgiving vacation this week. On Saturday, Weber State will host San Jose State and Utah State will play BYU at EnergySolutions Arena.
Kraig Williams is a 2010 Utah State University graduate and regular Deseret News sports blogger. He can be followed on Twitter @DesNewsKraig.