Last week, Utah State unveiled the new $9.7-million Wayne Estes Center, which houses the offices for the men’s and women’s basketball coaches and volleyball coaches, as well as a practice court for the basketball and volleyball teams. Deseret News sportswriter Mike Sorensen talked to longtime USU head coach Stew Morrill about the new facility and the future of Aggie basketball.
What does this new facility mean to you and your program?
I think it keeps us in the game. Moving to the Mountain West Conference, the upgrading of our facility is needed. From our weight room to our student-athlete building to this facility, it’s fabulous, really. It’s an arms race and you’ve got to keep up and we’re keeping up with everybody.
Did it turn out as well as expected?
Better. I knew it was going to be nice. But the offices, the court ... everything is first class. People need to come see it.
How is your team looking for this year?
We’ve got a lot of new guys. We lost five seniors and we lost a few guys, which seems to be happening a lot (in college basketball). But I think we’ve got some talent and I’m excited about it. We’re just going to be inexperienced. We’re going to have to grow as we go along. We have a very tough schedule, so I’m looking forward to it.
How has the move to the Mountain West Conference helped the program?
The conference is a tremendous challenge. For us, it’s like Utah moving to the Pac-12, very similar. So we’re adjusting as we go. This year was a valuable experience. We’re not used to not winning more games in the conference, but we have to be reminded it was the best first year anybody’s had in the Mountain West Conference. We hung in there. We’ve just got to keep improving and figure out what we need to do to compete at a high level in this league.
Speaking of Utah, you haven’t played them for three years. What needs to be done to get them on your schedule again?
“I think we’re going to play. They made an attempt and then we had our schedule pretty much done and it just didn’t work date-wise. But we’ll play again, just not this year. We want to get back together — we’re going to play.”
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