I think they’re fired up to play, some of them don’t understand this instate thing yet. That comes from playing in a few of those games. —Utah State coach Stew Morrill
LOGAN — Since head coach Stew Morrill’s arrival at Utah State, there haven’t been many teams that have visited the Spectrum and left happy. Morrill’s Aggie squads have won 92 percent of their home games in his 15 years and have been even more dangerous against instate teams. Of the 29 Beehive State battles that have been played since Morrill took over as coach, only the 2000 BYU Cougars have won in the Spectrum.
Weber State (1-1) will be the latest team to try and win an instate matchup in Logan on Saturday night. It will be the first taste of instate rivalry basketball for many of the current Aggies.
“I think they’re fired up to play,” Morrill said of his team. “Some of them don’t understand this instate thing yet. That comes from playing in a few of those games. A lot of our guys haven’t played in them, but I think just the fact that we haven’t played for a week and we’ve had a lot of practice days, I think they’re excited to get back out there.”
Both teams have taken some time off around the Thanksgiving holiday. Weber State hasn’t played since the 15th when it fell at San Jose State, 68-67, in overtime. The Aggies last played a week ago in a 77-68 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
While the instate matchup gets the players fired up it’s also an opportunity for old friends Morrill and Weber State head coach Randy Rahe to renew acquaintances on the court. Rahe spent 1999-2004 on Morrill’s bench as an assistant and has been pushing Weber State to new levels since moving on from Logan.
“When you can have guys become head coaches and do such a good job, there’s a lot of warm feelings there,” Morrill said. “Randy and I are close. We talk a lot. We don’t talk as much leading up to the game and then we talk more after the game. We’re a little bit guarded though, until after the game.”
While the Aggies feel like they improved in their last effort against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, the early season is still a feeling-out process. Morrill thinks the team is getting better with every practice. A tough matchup against a Weber State team that runs a lot of the same offensive and defensive sets will give the Aggies a good measuring stick to see just how far they have come.
“Every day is different, but we had a really good workout Thanksgiving morning,” Morrill said. “I feel like we’re making progress, but we’ll see. As I’ve said for awhile now, we’re just trying to get better. It hasn’t been too bad. The guys have been coming out to practice and are starting to take some ownership of the team, which is really important.
“We’ll see how we play against a good Weber State team. It’s always interesting when we play each other, because there are a lot of similarities. That makes for an interesting matchup.”
Aggies and the Wildcats on the air
Weber State Wildcats (1-0) at Utah State Aggies (2-1)
Dee Glenn Smith Spectrum (10,270), Logan
Saturday, November 24, 7 p.m.
TV: KMYU Radio: Aggie Sports Network
Kraig is a 2010 Utah State University graduate and regular Deseret News sports blogger. He can be followed on Twitter at DesNewsKraig.