Before the season started, one of Utah State’s biggest assets appeared to be a deep and talented bench. Now as the season nears its midway point, thanks to an unusual amount of in-season roster turnover, that deep bench has become a shallow pool, especially at the wing.
Sean Harris was ruled out for the season before a game was even played, freshman guard Riley Bradshaw left the team after the first exhibition game, Danny Berger is still in recovery after his heart stopped beating in practice, and just last week, freshman wing Quincy Bair quit the team due to a lack of interest in basketball.
After all that, head coach Stew Morrill is down to just three regular players at the wing: Preton Medlin, Spencer Butterfield and Marvin Jean. Should any of those players miss time due to injury or illness, the Aggies will be left in a very precarious position.
“We just need to stay healthy, that’s the main thing,” Morrill said. “It mostly affects us in practice. Quincy obviously wasn’t getting a whole lot of time, but it gave us another guy who was available.”
In a pinch, Morrill might also look to point guard TeNale Roland to step in and play some shooting guard or power forward Kyisean Reed to slide down to small forward to create a bigger lineup.
Against UTSA on Saturday, it was Butterfield and Medlin who carried Utah State to victory. Medlin had 24 points, while Butterfield chipped in 14 and seven rebounds. Jean had just a single point coming off the bench, but has been becoming more comfortable in the system as the year has gone on, including an excellent start in place of Butterfield in the Aggies' last home game.
“Marvin is settling in,” Morrill said. “He’s a good three-point shooter. He always plays hard, trying to learn the nuances of our system. That has sometimes been a challenge, but he does better every week and in every game.”
Utah State will need every bit of the bench in a busy three-game week, starting with a visit to Texas State on Monday afternoon. The Bobcats aren’t the most efficient offense in the country, but they love to push the tempo and rank sixth in the country in possessions per game. The Aggies return home on Thursday against Seattle and will face Idaho in the Spectrum on Saturday night.
On the Air:
Utah State Aggies (10-1, 1-0) at Texas State Bobcats (4-9, 0-1)
Monday, Dec. 31, 3 p.m.
Strahan Coliseum (7,200) San Marcos, Texas
Radio: Aggie radio networks
Kraig Williams is a 2010 Utah State University graduate and regular Deseret News sports blogger. He can be followed on Twitter at DesNewsKraig.