Hardwood knocks: Aggies look to rebound from injury-plagued season
Published: Friday, October 18, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 15:10
After seeing its roster dwindle from 15 players to seven due to injuries and transfers last season, the Utah State men’s basketball team has returned to the hardwood.
The Aggies started 14-1 last season, but after leading scorers Preston Medlin and Kyisean Reed went down with injury, USU limped to the finish line with a 21-10 record and first-round exit in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament.
Fortunately for the Aggies, the majority of last year’s squad returns this season with a number of new faces who will look to make an impact in USU’s first season in the Mountain West Conference.
One benefit from last season’s injury-riddled team is the depth USU has with so many players having seen significant playing time.
“We’ve got a little more depth, a little more balance than we obviously had last year,” said USU head coach Stew Morrill.
USU returns seniors Preston Medlin, Jarred Shaw, Spencer Butterfield and TeNale Roland from last year’s team, as well juniors Danny Berger, Jordan Stone and Ben Clifford — though Clifford will miss at least the first month of the season with a stress fracture in his foot.
Medlin returns from a wrist injury that put an end to his 2012 season, while Berger returns to the court eight months after collapsing in practice due to cardiac arrest.
“Guys who have been hurt last year and couldn’t help us, that’s really positive,” Morrill said. “Knock on wood that we can stay healthy.”
Sophomore Marcel Davis also returns, and the Aggies hope to get a boost from sophomore transfer Kyle Davis.
Davis made his presence felt throughout the scrimmage Thursday, the only player to record a double-double after scoring a co-team-high 19 points and pulling down a team-high 15 rebounds.
“It was a lot of fun to get out there,” Davis said. “We’ve been scrimmaging against each other for a while, and to have a crowd was pretty fun. Overall, things are starting to click more for our team.”
Davis spent one season at Southern Utah before serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and transferring to USU.
Medlin joined Davis with 19 points in the scrimmage and is expected to be an anchor on the team, though Morrill said he’d like to see a more balanced scoring effort.
“For us to be good in the Mountain West, we have to turn down some shots,” Morrill said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that are used to scoring. We’ve got to turn down some shots and have some balance. We can’t have one guy average 25 (points per game) … When we won championships in the WAC, we had six or seven guys average between eight and four. I’d love to see that kind of balance again.”
Other new faces include freshman Jalen Moore — a Cache Valley native who posted a modest 12 points in the scrimmage and had a pair of steals that led to easy transition baskets — JoJo McGlaston, Viko Noma’aea, Carson Shanks and James Croasdell.
USU’s season tips off at 7 p.m. Friday as the Aggies host Central Methodist in the first of two exhibition games.