LOGAN Allen Iverson may undervalue the importance of practice, but Utah State basketball coach Stew Morrill doesn't.
Now that they have finished the first grueling one-fourth of their season by playing eight games in 15 days, the Aggies can now concentrate on what they need most practice.
"We really haven't had enough practice time to focus in on some things," Morrill said. "... I would have rather had a game and two or three days to analyze and figure it out and then play another game like you normally do this time of year, and that's not what happened."
Beginning Saturday with Santa Clara, the Aggies will play seven games in the month of December before starting Western Athletic Conference play at home Jan. 3 with Hawaii.
"That is really good news to me that we can try to get some practice time in," Morrill said. "The players probably prefer the other."
The Aggies concluded the four-game South Padre Island Classic last week by playing Austin Peay in Logan, and Vanderbilt and Iowa in South Padre Island, Texas. Counting their game with Montana-Western, the Aggies went a respectable 3-1 in the event. Their only loss was a 77-56 setback to Vanderbilt a team that went to the Sweet 16 last year.
"Two things happen when you lose games. Sometimes they (the players) get alarmed and listen and figure out what they need to do," Morrill said. "But when you bounce back and win a game like we did versus Iowa, they can either relax and feel like they've got it solved, which we don't at 4-4, or they can feel better about themselves and concentrate more, and that's what we need to have happen."
From now until Jan. 19, the Aggies will play 12 games. Nine of them are at home, and one of the three road games is at Utah next week.
What happens in the next 30 days will go a long way in determining the success of the team.
"Practice time in really valuable only if the kids realize how valuable it is," he said.
WILLIAMS UPDATE: Freshman guard Pooh Williams left last Saturday's game with Iowa early in the first half with a tweaked shoulder. He didn't return for the remainder of the game, but Morrill expects him to play this week against Santa Clara.
SPECTRUM MAGIC: The Aggies have won 47 consecutive regular-season nonconference home games. The Aggies' last regular-season, nonconference home loss came against BYU on Jan. 8, 2000.
FOR THREE: After shooting just 27 percent from the 3-point line in the 21-point loss to Vanderbilt, the Aggies shot a season-high 58.8 percent (10-of-17) in the 75-62 victory over Iowa.DUCHARME HONORED: For the first time in his career, Utah State forward Stephen DuCharme was named the Western Athletic Conference player of the week for his play in three South Padre Island games. For the week, he averaged 16.7 points and 4.3 rebounds while shooting 64.7 percent from the field and 83.3 percent from the foul line.
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