#52 Utah State Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

Utah State Aggies

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #52
Conference Rank: #4 Mountain West

Utah State Team Page#52 Utah State Men's Basketball 2013-2014 PreviewBuy Utah State Basketball Tickets

Not every conference realignment is made for the benefit of the sports teams, at least short term. Perhaps Utah State joining the Mountain West will aid them greatly as the years pass but, for now, they fell back from being a big fish in a small pond to being a small fish in a reasonably sized pond. It was no given that they would win the WAC every year; they last won it in 2010-2011. But what was a given was a 20 win season and postseason play. In fact, the Aggies won at least 20 games every season they were a member of the Western Athletic Conference and last year was the only time they were not selected to play in a postseason tournament in that same span. Those same 'guarantees' are no longer in place.

2012-13 Record: 21-10, 11-7
2012-13 Postseason: none
Coach: Stew Morrill
Coach Record: 345-119 at Utah State, 563-257 overall

Who’s Out:
Of everyone who started at least one time for Stew Morrill and Utah State last season (10 different players), only forwards Marvin Jean and Kyisean Reed are not back this season. Jean decided to transfer. Fourth on the team in minutes, he was a solid outside shooter and all-around good contributor. His numbers were not off the charts though, so his production should be easily replaced. Kyisean Reed is a different story. The senior forward was one of Utah State's most productive players before an ACL injury cut short his final season just as the calendar turned over. This probably had more of an affect on the Aggies missing postseason play for the first time in years than anything else. When he was in there, Reed was a long, leaping forward who blocked tons of shots, threw down dunks and scored efficiently. He also averaged at least 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks per game, which is quite a rarity. Utah State played 16 games with Reed last year; he started all 16 and they went 14-2 with that second loss coming in the game Reed went down in. After he went down, the Aggies finished out the season going 7-8.

Who’s In:
With only two contributors gone from the 2012-2013 team, it goes without saying that Coach Morrill has a ton of production returning. The Aggies were a very young team, having only one senior on their roster. This year's squad should be highly experienced and highly motivated to both get back to postseason play as well as make a splash in the Mountain West Conference. They also have a couple guys returning from injury, looking to regain their stride. Full disclosure: the above paragraph is a bit misleading. The Aggies did indeed go 14-2 with Kyisean Reed and 7-8 without him. However, the team's leading scorer, guard Preston Medlin, got hurt in the same exact game. He fractured his wrist and didn't play another game. Unlike Reed, Medlin will be back this season, as will Danny Berger. Berger only played in five games last season before he went down with a scary heart condition during practice. He was brought to the hospital and fortunately, not only did he survive but he is apparently approaching 100% and wants to play again. Along with those two, Utah State will also bring back help across the board. Other than the aforementioned Marvin Jean, the rest of the top six players in minutes played are coming back. Although they admittedly struggled at times later in the year without all the injured players, these guys played some valuable minutes, which should make them better this season.

Who to Watch:
It will be fascinating and uplifting to see Danny Berger make it back to the court if everything goes well. It also has to be smile-inducing for Aggies fans to know Preston Medlin will be back. However, the men to keep an eye on are the other starters who picked their games up the latter half of last season. While center Jarred Shaw was pretty consistent and very good all year long, there was an evident uptick in the play of Spencer Butterfield and Marcel Davis after that 1/17 game where the two stars went down. Of course everyone's minutes went up but Butterfield especially took a lot more shots. He also grabbed a ton more rebounds, including a 20 rebound game near the end of the season. Utah State is coached by a great winner in Stew Morrill but he may have his hands full trying to re-acclimate those returning from injury with those who saw their minutes and production increase without them. The biggest question is probably surrounding Butterfield and whether he will return to a role player with Medlin back or become a second scorer and double-double machine.

Final Projection:
The 2013-2014 Mountain West should be tough. It will be a significant step up in terms of opposition compared to the WAC. There are usually at-large NCAA Tournament teams from the MWC, which is a bonus for Utah State, but it remains to be seen whether they are one of the elite of the conference. A finish more towards the middle seems likely. They have a lot returning but some of those guys are back from serious injuries and who knows how the roster/starting lineup will gel. Their streak of 20 win seasons should continue though, and a postseason berth is in their future. It may be the NIT calling though rather than the Big Dance.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT

Projected Starting Five:
Marcel Davis, Sophomore, Guard, 7.1 points per game
Spencer Butterfield, Senior, Guard, 12.2 points per game
Preston Medlin, Senior, Guard, 16.3 points per game
Ben Clifford, Junior, Forward, 5.5 points per game
Jarred Shaw, Senior, Center, 14.2 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 68.8 (139th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 63.6 (98, 5)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.9 (24, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.2 (99, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.7 (215, 7)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.6 (90, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.3 (80, 2)
Rebound Margin: 9.1 (3, 1)
Assists Per Game: 14.7 (49, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.2 (166, 3)


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