Pre-Game Talk: Utah State on Arizona

After an open practice, Cat Tracks caught up with the Utah State players and coaches and got their thoughts on the Tournament and the prospect of playing Arizona.

Head Coach Stew Morrill

On Arizona:

"The Hall of Fame coach (Lute Olson) they have puts them in a position to make plays and let them use their ability. It's hard for us to simulate, it's impossible for us to simulate their athleticism with our scout squad. We can't simulate their athleticism with our starting five, so that makes it a challenge to try and prepare. We just do it how we always do it: put a game plan together and follow it."

On Salim Stoudamire and Channing Frye:

"I've seen them a ton on tape and on TV through the years. To see them up close and personal, I'm not sure how excited I am about that. To me, they both look like guys that could play at the next level. The interesting thing about Arizona is you can talk about those two guys, but you shouldn't stop there."

"Stoudamire has unbelievable range, and I think it's a veteran coach who allows a guy to take those kinds of shots, knowing he's going to make a high percentage."

Channing Frye is, I think, underrated. People know that he's good, but do they know that he's really good? He's so long and talented around the basket, plus he has range to 17, 18 feet. They do a good job going high-low to him."

On Scouting Arizona:

"We had 21 tapes. I probably watched about eight of them myself. My assistants watched all of them. When you get a team that's been on TV as much as they are, you have such access to videotapes. You've got to make sure you've got a realistic preparation for your guys, because they don't have that kind of time."

On Winning in the Tournament:

"The nature of seeding certainly makes it a tremendous challenge. We won a game as the 12 seed and beat Ohio State who was a five. The last time we came we were a 15 and played Kansas who was a two, now we're a 14 playing a three. So, if you have that kin of seeding it's a tremendous challenge."

On Expectations:

"The nature of expectations is, when you get to the NCAAs on a regular basis everybody always wants more. That's the nature of fans. That's the nature of being competitive. We've been fortunate to be here four out of the last six years."

Senior Forward Spencer Nelson:

On Utah State:

"We got a little momentum coming off the conference championship. I think last week was our best week of basketball and hopefully we can continue to play our best basketball. We'll need to. I'm sure everyone here knows for us to even have a chance against Arizona, we're going to have to play near flawless basketball."

"A lot has changed since my freshman year. I would say that the level of expectation at Utah State, coming in my freshman year, there was a kind of hope to get to the NCAA Tournament. Now, it's just expected. That's why you come to Utah State. We are always in the running for the conference Championship."

On the Team's Age:

"My body feels like its 88. I don't know if that is an advantage. We're definitely an older team with the number of returning missionaries."

On Raising Expectations of the Team:

"I think coach Stew Morrill has done more of that than anything. The type of players he brings, and high character. They are good quality players that expect a lot out of themselves and their teammates. Through the years with the taste of success when they went to the tournament in the 99-2000 season, then the next year beat Ohio State. I think those two teams laid the foundation. The type of people Coach Morrill is recruiting and the type of system brought high expectations."

On Their Seeding:

"I wouldn't say this is the best possible draw we could have gotten. Arizona presents a lot of tough match-ups. With a less athletic team we wouldn't have to worry about. I think Arizona is as athletic as they come, at all five positions. It's very similar though, they are very similar to our Kansas match-up a couple years ago. At the time Kansas was very athletic and put up 80 to 90 points a game. Arizona is similar, because they can put a lot of points on the board. We have to take the air out of the ball and slow the game down."

Freshman Guard Jaycee Carroll

On Salim Stoudamire:

"There are a lot of challenges he presents. Obviously, he shoots the three better than anyone else in the country. Just to get out on him and change his shot and alter is a little bit so he misses is a huge, huge challenge. He's so athletic, and if he doesn't shoot he'll penetrate. That creates an open shot for his teammates. He seems like a tough player, and it will be a tough match-up for us. Hopefully, we come out with a lot of energy and limit his looks and the number of shots he does get."

On Utah State's Age:

"Once you get here not many of us have been in this situation. It's all new and a new experience for all of us. Hopefully, being a little older it will help us out a little bit, give us a little advantage, help us make good choices."

Junior Forward Nate Harris

On Channing Frye:

"Obviously he causes a lot of problems. He is big, strong, and athletic. He can score it inside and shoot it outside. We are going to have to be physical with him. Throw a couple of different guys at him, make the looks that he gets tough ones. No lay-ups. Force him to take shots over us."

On Utah State's Age:

"I'm not sure how much that will come into play. I think once everybody gets here it's kind of go out and play basketball."


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