Tipoff: Monday, 6PM PST @ Logan, UT - Smith Spectrum
TV: Mountain West Network: https://utahstateaggies.com/watch/
Line: Torvik: Utah St. -11, 85% win prob; ESPN: 75% win prob, no line yet.
The aggies are 2-0 with wins convincing home court wins over decent teams, 75-58 over Utah Valley St. and 84-62 over Bradley. The Aggies were 18-16 last season, losing in the 1st round of the NIT to Oregon.
The Aggies top two contributors from last season have graduated, forwards Justin Bean and Brandon Horvath. But they return seven+ regular rotation guys and have added a couple of transfers. The sample size is small at two games but so far they’ve had contributions from a wide range of guys including several players off the bench who are playing starter minutes. Key rotation guys appear to be:
- 6-9 forward Taylor Funk (grad transfer from St. Joes, 15pts, and leading rebounder at 11/game)
- 6-1 guard Steven Ashworth (leads the in scoring off the bench, 18.5/game; had 28pts vs. Bradley and 6/13 from 3 on the season and led them in made 3’s last season; leads in assists so far at 5.5/game).
- 6-8 forward Sean Bairstow (11.5pts, 6.5 rebounds)
- 6-4 guard Max Shulga (10.5ots, 6.5 rebounds)
- 6-7 forward Zee Hamoda (9pts, 3.5 rebs)
- 6-8 forward Dan Akin (8pts, 8rebs)
- 6-0 guard Rylan Jones (starting point guard, lead in assists in 2021/22)
The Aggies have shot it well from 3 so far with nearly 10 made 3’s per game on 44% shooting and have also rebounded very well at the defensive end.
Link to Game Notes from Utah St.'s site: GAME NOTES – Utah State Men’s Basketball Hosts Santa Clara Monday - Utah State University Athletics (utahstateaggies.com)
This is the Broncos only true road game during the non-conference slate (all others are neutral site games) and it will be the Broncos first real test as a 10pt underdog. We can’t count on Podz to score 30pts/game, we’re going to need others to step up. In particular hoping Justice can break out of his shooting slump. Need to defend the 3 well as it’s a strength of the Aggies. And the playing rotation/minutes, particularly the backup frontcourt guys (Holt, Tongue, Tilly) continues to be something to watch.
Prediction: Aggies prevail, 79-72.
Can watch Utah State’s prior game here. Will be a huge challenge. Probably a test similar to playing against St. Mary’s on the road, but with an even more hostile crowd.
Current line: USU -7, down from -7.5 yesterday.
Looks like Vegas heard about Podziemski.
This game will be really tough and will require all of the offense seen so far, plus Justice coming alive. Bediako and Braun will need to provide solid D down low. Not sure how big of a lineup USU goes for, but the numbers look like they go big 3 through 5. That would seem to be a good opportunity for Tongue to rise up and compete for time with some stellar defense on oversized 3s.
I’m always the optimist and can see SCU surprising in Logan. After all, if this is like beating SMC in Moraga, well that’s something Santa Clara has done in the not so distant past against some purty good Gael teams.
77-74 Santa Clara. Podz with a mere 23 pts / 10 boards as Justice comes alive for an 18 pt / 6 board night of his own.
This short clip gives a great feel for what the atmosphere is like at Utah State.
Super impressive that they are able to do this as a student body, especially with a program that, while strong, is not Gonzaga. Speaking of…the Broncos might as well get the new guys used to this. It’s not like there’s a quiet student section awaiting them in Spokane.
Not a season ruiner to lose this one on the road — but the kind of game to win, or at least be competitive in, if we are really a program turning the corner.
I recall a Keating team with a strong effort in Logon that ended in a loss… Go Broncos.
FOUR SCU turnovers in the first 6 minutes of the game is horrible. The boys need to TAKE CARE OF THE BALL!
Nervous about the reliance on jumpers so far. Justice still quiet but not forcing anything.
Eight steals for USU in the first half…
We don’t have a lockdown defender like we had with Payne
we are losing this game on the defensive side
YES, PattyMac - Cam WOULD have definitely helped stopped those three pointers- but we did not get to witness this as he sat the ENTIRE FIRST HALF. I need to come off this board as I am frustrated because Cam is sitting behind players who ARE NOT CURRENTLY PRODUCING. (Keyword currently. Couple key players off tonight) - So, at least PUT HIM IN and see if he makes mistakes or a difference. Cant make more than are already being made. I get it. Players have good and bad nights. I just do not see my kiddo ever getting an opportunity with this team. I pray for Santa Clara that this game turns around second half, but think I have to just check out of this entire season altogether. Have a nice night everyone. Will silently cheer from afar. (Typos are for real - hence the edits)
Funk tearing it up. Tongue might be best suited to match up with him in terms of combination of size/athleticism but hasn’t seen the floor.
I said we need to defend the 3…I guess easier said than done.
And turnovers/steals leading to breakaway dunks are killers…just fires up the crowd.
And still nothing from Justice…0-5, 0-3 from 3.
Just hope they make it competitive in the 2nd half, maybe get it sub-8 pt deficit.
And shot selection from Stewart hasn’t been great…contested mid range jumpers early in the shot clock including passing up a dump off pass to Braun in pick in roll.
On the positive side…both Bediako and especially Braun are playing reasonably well.
Time for Podz to go for 20 pts in 10 min?
USU being +9 in steals is the most lopsided stat of the game and seems indicative of the relative level of athleticism and aggressiveness on display.
Defense was bad. Too many open shots and dunks by Aggies.
We need to get Justice going. Herb needs to draw some set up plays for him to get layups
Certainly some good athletes for USU combined with good size/length but many of the turnovers and runouts were a result of ill-advised passes and not making them pay for overplaying passing lanes on the perimeter (ie- back door cuts, back screen cuts, etc.). A lot of standing around on the perimeter, not enough movement, cuts, off-ball screens…makes it easy to overplay passing lanes.
Overall, to date, the team offense has been so-so at best. Good results in 1st 2 games were mostly a result of great individual effort and performance by Podz and to a lessor degree Stewart and Marshall…not a matter of the Team Off system generating great scoring opportunities.
A lot of work to do to get the team truly playing as a team both offensively and defensively.
The only positive takeaways from this game:
- Braun and Bediako both played and shot it well.
- Marshall was steady off the bench
- Some of the younger bench guys got more run than usual, Holt looked better than the 1st 2 games, Kosy looked a little nervous on O but was hustling on D and hitting the boards. Wish Tongue would have played more and earlier but he played hard when he finally entered the game the last 4-5 mins.
Correct. On a per possession basis, the offense really sputtered. And the defense was awful.
That said, a 22-point loss to USU in Logan in the third game is probably better than last year’s 12-point loss at Cal. Utah State is a top-50 team. Cal was and is nowhere near that.
So maybe the silver lining is that whatever success looks like this season, it’s still achievable, albeit with a little more dirt on the Broncos’ faces than a couple days ago. But other teams are going to test our perimeter defense and put a lot of defensive pressure on Podz. So they’re going to have to find another offensive outlet and shore up the perimeter D really quickly. Because those optimistic goals are achievable with a 4-1 record through the first five games. But they’ll start to get out of reach if the Broncos go 0-2 in the Bahamas.