An experienced Utah State basketball team, led by two-year starter Kendall Youngblood, a junior guard, will have third-year Coach Kohn Smith changing his practice plans Monday when the Aggies hold their first workout of the 1990-91 season at 2:30 p.m.
Smith says he'll emphasize conditioning, fundamentals and defense, as opposed to trying to teach offense, as he had to last year. "Last season at this time, with so many new athletes, we had to familiarize them with our system of play," says Smith. "this year, most of them know what we need."Smith's upbeat, hoping to take what happened in that two-point loss to eventual NCAA-champion UNLV late in the season and build on that improvement.
"I have a lot to be optimistic about," Smith says.
He expects more from Youngblood than the 15.4-point scoring average he had last year. "Both Kendall and I know we can't be content with what he has accomplished his first two years. I'm sure I'll demand more of him than I might of others," Smith says.
Others might include returnees Rich Jardine, a senior forward; senior center Randy Funk; senior guard Allen Gordon; senior center Jeff Parris and senior guard Matt Barnes. Each started at some point last season. Gordon underwent September knee surgery and won't be ready to play until December.
Other letterwinners include sophomore forward Gary Patterson, freshman guard Brent Lofton and junior forward Roger Daley.
Sophomore guard Jay Goodman's a newcomer but still experienced in Smith's ways, a transfer from Iowa State who couldn't play but did redshirt at USU last year. He's a long-range shot artist.
Freshmen include forward Darren Johnson, a returned missionary, forward Bryon Ruffner and center Charlie Sager.
The Aggies open their season Nov. 15 hosting the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Their first collegiate game, providing BYU is out of the preseason National Invitation Tournament in time, is the Cougars in Provo Nov. 24.