by Daniel Olsen |The Aggies didn’t get the first place finish like they did in several holiday tournaments last year. However, their final game was a step in the right direction as they won the seventh place game in a talented field at the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. What did we see from USU basketball that looked good and what was concerning? Let’s take a closer look.
1. We learned who the starters are: While Queta was no surprise, there were several new faces on the team. Marco Anthony and Rollie Worster were the two new faces in the Aggie backcourt. They joined familiar faces Justin Bean and Brock Miller along with Queta.
Overall the starting unit did well. The rotation didn’t change throughout the tournament. It is apparent that the first-unit has to do more of the heavy lifting for this team to be successful though. When only three or less players were scoring in double digits, the Aggies lost by double digits to teams they should have at least been more competitive with. In their win, their point guard was the different maker. While he struggled in the first couple games, the Virginia transfer came to life in the third with the best scoring performance of the season. He had 22 points on an efficient 8-16 shooting night from the field.
2. This team can be hot and cold:
In their win they shot 41.2 percent from three. In the two losses they shot a combined 28 percent from three. It’s hard to be as good at shooting without a nearly 40-50-90 guy like Sam but he, as one of the best players in Aggie history, was just one individual. Hopefully the team has gotten their confidence back and can shoot better collectively. If they do, good things will happen.
Also, they shot a season high 31 free throws in their win. They made 23 of them which wasn’t their best percentage of the season. However, as a coach Craig Smith will take 23-31 over 10-12 vs South Dakota State. You never want to miss freebies but if you get to the line more, you will score more as long as your shooting doesn’t take a complete nose dive. Four players have shot 100 percent from the charity stripe so far as an Aggie. Worster, the standout from Montana, has the biggest sample size with seven makes in as many tries.
3. Brock Miller is the best shooter on the team: Brock has been the scapegoat when the team is struggling as his shooting numbers dipped a bit last season. However, he is shooting at a team best 45.5 percent from three. He also has the second most attempts so his percentage holds more weight than Sean Bairstow, who made the only three he attempted.
In order for the Aggies to be great, he will have to have other teammates have a friendly competition with him. When they are open they cannot be afraid to take the shot. After Miller, Ashworth and Worster are next at 3-8 from three for 37.5 percent from downtown. Miller can’t be on fire every night. He shoots a high volume so he is going to miss on some nights. He needs the team to get as close to 40 percent as they can. One player that has stepped up in critical moments that will need to more this year is Alphonso Anderson. He has only made one shot from beyond the arc in six tries.
The Aggies will take over a week off to prepare for the rival BYU Cougars on Saturday, December 5, 2020. It will be their home opener in the Dee Glenn Smith Spectrum. The Cougars are off to a 3-0 start so it will be important for the Aggies to come fighting to avoid yet another lost to the boys in Provo. It will be strange to see an empty Spectrum with all the oddly-colored arrangements of seats. However, the Aggies can find their own fire, it will be a great game. It starts with tenacity and withstanding pressure. When other teams ran a full-court press, the young Aggies struggled. BYU has plenty of new faces too so this will be a unique test as Utah State tries to get back to a .500 record. Hopefully we now know more about the team and what needs to be improved upon in this week of preparation.
Featured image courtesy Deseret News