After four games and nearly the entire first month of the season spent at home, Utah State basketball is ready for its first road trip of the season. The Aggies (3-1), fresh from an instate victory over Weber State on Saturday, will travel to Santa Clara (5-0) to face the Broncos.
"We’re playing a very good Santa Clara team," head coach Stew Morrill said. "They’re undefeated. Watching them yesterday, they’re very, very tough on the offensive end and solid on the defensive end. They’re shooting over 50 percent and over 40 percent from three. They’re impressive. We’ve got two tough road games in a row, but as I said the other night, it’s time to get out on the road and see what we can do.”
With a young roster that only has one senior and several new players, part of Morrill’s challenge on the road will be getting his players adjusted to life away from home. From the travel to hotels to new game plans there are plenty of nuances that come up on the road that the team doesn’t deal with at home.
And that doesn’t count playing in an unfamiliar building with several thousand hostile fans.
“We bring out our notebook and show them the road rules to begin with, as far as what’s expected and what you wear, how you act and all those kinds of things, “ Morrill said. “Those are just particulars of travel. As far as them adjusting to playing on the road, I think that comes with experience. A lot of the new guys have to get the experience, and that’s why it’s good that we’re going out for a few.”
Starting the road season in Santa Clara is no walk in the park. The Broncos have the 18th best field goal percentage in the nation and average over 85 points and 19 assists a game. Forward Marc Trasolini and guard Kevin Foster provide an excellent inside-outside combination for SCU. Trasolini averages 18.8 points and 7.4 rebounds a game, while Foster puts up over 20 points and four steals a contest.
“Just looking at him on tape he looks like an NBA-type guy with all the things he can do,” Morrill said of Foster. “Offensively he’s obviously really good, but defensively he’s getting four or five steals a game. It’s very impressive. He has extremely quick hands and a great nose for the ball defensively. He’s awfully good.”
Internally, the Aggies will be looking for a consistent deep threat on offense to take the pressure off Jarred Shaw and Kyisean Reed inside. Morrill’s Aggie teams have traditionally been lights out from deep, but even with sharpshooters like Preston Medlin, Danny Berger and Spencer Butterfield this season, Utah State is shooting just 30 percent from distance.
Against Weber State on Saturday, the Aggies made just a single three-pointer on five attempts, nearly ending a streak of at least one three-point bucket in each of their last 203 games.
“We need more balance,” Morrill said. “We need to make more three’s and shoot more three’s. Hopefully we can start running our offense good enough to get those opportunities.”
Utah State (3-1) @ Santa Clara (5-0)
Santa Clara, Calif., Leavy Center (4,500) Wednesday, Nov. 28, 8 p.m. MST
Radio: Aggie Sports Network
Kraig Williams is a 2010 Utah State University graduate and regular Deseret News sports blogger. He can be followed on Twitter at DesNewsKraig.
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