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Utah State Aggies
Utah State Aggies
School Name: Utah State University
Location: Logan, Utah
Arena: Smith Spectrum
Capacity: 10,270
Conference: WAC
Head coach: Stew Morrill

The Utah State Aggies are a Division I men's college basketball team that plays in the Western Athletic Conference, representing Utah State University. The Aggies have enjoyed an extremely high amount of success in recent years under head coach Stew Morrill. In the eleven years that Morrill has been at the helm, Utah State has the 4th highest winning percentage in the nation, behind only Duke, Kansas, and Gonzaga.[1] As of the end of the 2009-2010 season, the Aggies have an all-time record of 1,428-1,002 (.588).

Background

The first basketball team on Utah State's campus was organized in 1902 and consisted of only women. A men's team was organized in 1904, at which point the women's club fell into obscurity.

The Aggies enjoyed mixed success early in their history, notching sporadic NCAA tournament appearances and alternating winning in the then-smaller postseason bracket with not winning much at all. Perhaps the most notable event in Utah State basketball history occurred on February 8, 1965, with the tragic death of Wayne Estes. Estes was a 6'6" forward for the Aggies, and was the nation's second leading scorer in 1965, behind only Rick Barry, at 33.7 ppg. He had just amassed 2,000 career points with a 48-point showing in a home victory over the University of Denver, when he stopped at the scene of a car accident in Logan. While crossing the street, Estes accidentally clipped a downed power line with his head and was electrocuted. His full potential remains unrealized. The Los Angeles Lakers had planned on drafting him in the 1st round of the NBA Draft, where he likely would have gone on to with several championships with the team. Following Estes's death, he was posthumously awarded 1st team All-American honors.

The men's basketball team wasn't adversely affected by the constant shuffling of conference affiliations and independent status that blighted the USU football program throughout the mid-to-late 20th century. The program, however, did endure a lengthy stint as an independent program, from 1937 to 1978. All the while, it remained the most resilient and popular sport at USU, enjoying steady success for decades. During the 1960s and '70s, the Aggies spent a great deal of time in both major national polls, finishing the season in the AP Top 25 three times and in the Coaches' Poll Top 25 seven times during those two decades.[2] USU reached the NCAA Sweet 16 in 1962, and the Elite 8 in 1970.

The Aggies haven't performed well in the postseason recently, though their success at the regional level and during the regular season is virtually unmatched. They enjoy a particularly strong home-court advantage at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, where they are 159-12 in the Morrill era.[1] The Aggies have a difficult time scheduling high-profile opponents, which rarely emerge from the Smith Spectrum victorious.

File:Aggies Cutting the Nets - 2010-11.JPG
Due to the mid-major conference and relatively weak schedule that USU plays each year, the Aggies are often left out of the national spotlight. That being said, their fame continues to grow and spread throughout the country, aided by ESPN appearances, often-epic win streaks, the boisterous Aggie faithful, and the team's statistical rankings. During the 2008-09 season, USU led the nation in field goal percentage with 49.8%. In addition, they were 2nd in win/loss percentage and 5th in assist-to-turnover ratio.[3] Thus far in 2009-10, the Aggies lead the nation in 3-point percentage with an incredible 42.5%.[4]

The Aggies have spent time in the national rankings in two of the last six seasons, reaching as high as #19 in the Coaches' Poll in 2003-04, and #17 in 2008-09. During the 2009-2010, the Aggies reached as high as #26, one spot out of the actual rankings, before falling back to #31 for the postseason poll.[5]

Utah State has also won the Old Oquirrh Bucket nine times, including both of the last two seasons. The Bucket is the award given each year to the best college basketball team in Utah, based on records against in-state opponents.

NCAA tournament

Utah State is 6-21 (.222) in its NCAA tournament history. Its 19 appearances are the most of any member of the Western Athletic Conference. In recent years, the team has won invitations to the tournament in 1998 (under coach Larry Eustachy), 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010 (all under Morrill). Prior to 2006, all of these invitations were a result of winning the Big West Conference tournament. In both 2006 and 2010, the Aggies received an at-large bid to the tournament after losing in the WAC tournament championship game. Despite a stellar season in 2003–2004 and a national top-25 ranking toward the end of the season, the Aggies did not receive an at-large tournament bid after being upset in the conference tournament, making them the first top-25 team in college basketball history to be snubbed from the tournament. This decision earned the derision of coach Morrill, as the Aggies held a 25-3 record along with their ranking.

In 2009, USU won the WAC tournament championship game, defeating [[Nevada Wolf Pack|Nevada in Reno. The team went on to lose in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Marquette, 58-57. The most recent NCAA Tournament success was a first-round upset over fifth-seeded Ohio State in 2001.[6]

The 2010 team received an at-large bid from the selection committee after losing in the WAC tournament final to New Mexico State. The 12th-seeded Aggies then lost their opening round game to Texas A&M.

Home-court advantage

File:Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.JPG

Utah State plays its home games at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, a 10,270-seat arena on the campus of Utah State University. The Aggies are 453-105 (.812) at the Smith Spectrum, which has housed basketball since 1970. Previous to the building of the Spectrum, Utah State's basketball teams played at the George Nelson Fieldhouse on campus. Under head coach Stew Morrill, USU is 159-12 (.930) at home. Until a surprising early-season loss in 2009, USU boasted the second-longest home win streak in the nation, behind Kansas.

The Smith Spectrum features seats at court level, extremely close to the players. The university also reserves an unusually high percentage of seats, including at court level, for its students. This has aided the USU student section in becoming one of the most notoriously loud and raucous (and clever) in the nation, with major publicity in recent years. Various sources have called the Smith Spectrum among the hardest places in the nation for opposing teams to play.[7][8][9] In the '90s, when his teams were reaching the Final Four and competing at the highest echelons of college basketball, Utah coach Rick Majerus called the Smith Spectrum the toughest place in the country for his teams to play.[10] After a February 2010 game at the Smith Spectrum, Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall said “Utah State has 4000 student tickets and they make some type of impression on the visiting team and it's just a party. It is one heck of a party. It's the best I've ever seen. In many, many years I've been at Duke and Kentucky and UConn and Syracuse and it's clearly the best I've ever seen in terms of atmosphere."[11]

The student section's arsenal owes much to an unofficial pre-game publication called "The Refraction", which includes dirt on opposing players and coaches, and contains instructions for cheers and chants. One student fan, known as "Wild Bill", has also gained much renown as of late for his unique techniques to distract opposing free throw shooters.[10][12][13] Another Utah State tradition is their "Winning team, losing team" chant that mocks the away losing team in the last seconds of a game.

USU fans also appear in solid (and loud) numbers at away games, and especially conference tournaments, referring to themselves as the "Spectrum on Wheels".

Notable former players

Recent results and current standings

Template:2010–11 WAC men's basketball standings{| class="wikitable sortable" |- align=center bgcolor=#003366 | Season || Head Coach || Conference || Overall || Postseason |- | 1993-94 || Larry Eustachy || 11-7 (T-2nd) || 14-13 || |- | 1994-95 || Larry Eustachy || 14-4 (1st) || 21-8 || NIT, First Round |- | 1995-96 || Larry Eustachy || 10-8 (4th) || 18-15 || |- | 1996-97 || Larry Eustachy || 12-4 (T-1st) || 20-9|| |- | 1997-98 || Larry Eustachy || 13-3 (1st) || 25-8 || NCAA, First Round |- | 1998-99 || Stew Morrill || 8-8 (4th) || 15-13 || |- | 1999-00 || Stew Morrill || 16-0 (1st) || 28-6 || NCAA, First Round |- | 2000-01 || Stew Morrill || 13-3 (2nd) || 28-6 || NCAA, Second Round |- | 2001-02 || Stew Morrill || 13-5 (T-1st) || 23-8 || NIT, Opening Round |- | 2002-03 || Stew Morrill || 12-6 (3rd) || 24-9 || NCAA, First Round |- | 2003-04 || Stew Morrill || 17-1 (T-1st) || 25-4 || NIT, First Round |- | 2004-05 || Stew Morrill || 13-5 (2nd) || 24-8 || NCAA, First Round |- | 2005-06 || Stew Morrill || 11-5 (T-2nd) || 23-9 || NCAA, First Round |- | 2006-07 || Stew Morrill || 9-7 (4th) || 23-12 || NIT, First Round |- | 2007-08 || Stew Morrill || 12-4 (T-1st) || 21-11 || NIT, First Round |- | 2008-09 || Stew Morrill || 14-2 (1st) || 30-5 || NCAA, First Round |- | 2009-10 || Stew Morrill || 14-2 (1st) || 27-8 || NCAA, First Round |- | 2010-11 || Stew Morrill || 15-1 (1st) || 30-3 || NCAA, First Round |}

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Utah State Basketball". Stew Morrill and AllCoachNetwork.com. http://www.coachstewmorrill.com/program.html. Retrieved 13 January 2010. 
  2. "2009-10 Utah State University Men's Basketball Media Guide". Utah State University. http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/ust/sports/m-baskbl/auto_pdf/0910mbbguide.pdf. Retrieved 23 February 2010. 
  3. "2009-10 WAC Men's Basketball Media Guide". Western Athletic Conference. http://www.wacsports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=10100&ATCLID=204822904. Retrieved 19 February 2010. 
  4. "NCAA Basketball Stats--2009-2010". ESPN.com. http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/statistics. Retrieved 19 February 2010. 
  5. "2010 NCAA Men's Basketball Rankings -- Postseason". ESPN.com. http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/rankings. Retrieved 22 March 2010. 
  6. CNN Sports Illustrated.com (March 15, 2001). "Utah St. 77, Ohio St. 68". http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/college/men/recaps/2001/03/15/oad_uaf/. 
  7. "Utah State: Men's Basketball Season in Review". NCAA.com. http://www.ncaa.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/042408aaf.html. Retrieved 19 February 2010. 
  8. "Top 10 College Basketball Arenas". BANews.net. http://banews.net/News/Top_10_College_Basketball_Arenas.html. Retrieved 19 February 2010. 
  9. "To Utah State". The Argonaut. University of Idaho. http://www.uiargonaut.com/content/view/9477/50/. Retrieved 19 February 2010. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 "You Want Utah State's Bill". BigBlueCats.com. http://www.bigbluecats.com/?p=1663. Retrieved 19 February 2010. 
  11. "The Refraction, Vol. 3, Issue 17". The Refraction. http://www.usustats.com/refraction/2009-10/Vol_3_Issue_17_-_Fresno_State.pdf. Retrieved 2 March 2010. 
  12. "When It Comes To The Art of Free Throw Distraction, Utah State's Shirtless Bill Sproat Is Without Peers". ESPN.com. http://espn.go.com/blog/sportscenter/post/_/id/30955/when-it-comes-to-the-art-of-free-throw-distraction-utah-states-shirtless-bill-sproat-is-without-peers. Retrieved 19 February 2010. 
  13. "Utah State's Shirtless Bill will jinx your free throw, steal your nachos". NBCSports.com. http://outofbounds.nbcsports.com/2010/02/post-226.html.php. Retrieved 19 February 2010. 

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