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March 18, 2010

Nate Bendall

Stew Morrill

Tyler Newbold

Jared Quayle

Tai Wesley

Pooh Williams


THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started and take questions for the Utah State student-athletes.

Q. Nate, you're the guy that didn't sit up here with these guys last year. Have they said anything to you about what it was like or what it's like? You were in a national junior college tournament but it's a little different deal, I guess.
NATE BENDALL: Yeah, I think that you kind of know what to expect in a situation like this. But I was able last year to watch a little bit of the media coverage and see what Utah State did last year when we were in Kansas. So everything is a great experience, it's fun, and you got to have fun with it.

Q. Tai, you're the veteran up there. Do you share anything with the rest of these guys? This is your third trip to the NCAAs.
TAI WESLEY: I haven't really shared anything. I mean maybe I'll think of something to tell them, but three out of THE four up here with me have been here and Nate has his experience. He won a national championship last year on the junior college level. So I think that we pretty much know what we're getting ourselves into and I think that we'll be ready when the time comes. We won't get kind of those butterflies that we felt like we had last year.

Q. Tai, Utah State's been to the tournament a lot in recent years, but has not had a lot of success there. Do you guys address that all? Are you doing anything different this year from previous trips there?
TAI WESLEY: We haven't really addressed that at all. What's been said to us by our coach is that we matchup really well and we feel like we can win this game and break that kind of that down streak that we have had. I feel like we have the experience and especially with the experience that we gained last year in the first round.

Q. Being the lone senior up there do you find yourself trying to lead these guys a little bit. I know that Tai's the more vocal guy out of the group.
JARED QUAYLE: Well he is the more vocal one of us, that's for sure. Both on the court and off.
I like to try to lead the team by my performance, just go out and work hard. He does the same thing. He does it with his voice as well. But as being the lone senior you go out and work hard, you try to stay focused, you don't get down, you don't let the freshmen and sophomores see yourself get down on yourself. You just try to keep a positive attitude about everything. So being the lone senior, it's definitely like you feel you have a weight on your shoulders to be an example towards your team.

Q. Pooh, Donald Sloan's been around for a long time. I remember seeing him play in the NCAA tournament a couple years ago against BYU. What are some of the things that you're going to have to do to kind of take him off his game a little bit?
POOH WILLIAMS: Well, Donald Sloan, he's the type of player that you can't really say you're going to go in and shut him down. My goal is just to slow him down, try to keep him under his average. He's a tough, strong player. He has a lot of experience at this level. A lot more than I do at this level. So I'm sure he'll be relaxed and ready to go, but I'm going to be on it too. I'm going to be ready to go. I'm excited to guard a player like him. It's going to be fun.

Q. What would it mean for you guys to go out there and be able to get a win? What would it mean in the grand scheme of things to come out and kind of just break the streak of not being able to win games in the tournament?
TAI WESLEY: It would be awesome. It would be unbelievable. It's what you dream as a kid to go to the NCAA tournament and make a little run. So I think that it would fulfill something that we have wanted to do for awhile.
NATE BENDALL: It's always good at the end of the season to have a post season payout of some sort. And I think that for all of us sitting here and for the people back home and everywhere, it means a lot to be able to get here and we're ready to take it to this next game and go from there and take it a game at a time.
So it would definitely mean a lot and everybody knows it's the tournament you want to win as a kid, whether you play basketball or not, you know what it is.
TYLER NEWBOLD: It would mean a lot to me and to everyone up here and all of our teammates. I love basketball, been dreaming about playing in the NCAA tournament since I was little. To win some games would be a blast. And to kind of put Utah State on the map a little bit and show how good of a basketball program we can be.
JARED QUAYLE: Yeah, it would be huge for us. They say that that first game's the toughest one. Get by that and we'll just go from there, but everyone of us have worked hard all season long to play in this game. So if we go out and just play like we know how to play and we come out on top, that will be a great plus for us as a team and we'll just take it from there.
POOH WILLIAMS: I think that it will be really big for Utah State if we can go out there and win tomorrow. I know not one guy up here or the rest of the team is ready for our season to be over. So we want to keep playing as long as we can because once the season is over the next week later you'll be ready to get back in the gym and so none of us, we're not ready for this to be over, so we want to just keep playing as long as we can.

Q. All the guys that played last year, how often you've gone through the game and thought about it and thought about your chances? I know for Jared and Tai you fouled out but you had a shot Pooh, you had a late basket in the game. How many times have you thought back in that game about the critical moments?
TAI WESLEY: Numerous, numerous times has that game played over in my head and really the first half where we came out and we were not ourselves. We had to kind of calm ourselves down, go in the locker room and really regroup and come out and play a completely different second half.
So to answer your question, I mean, just a ton of times have I personally thought about that game and especially that first half.
TYLER NEWBOLD: I thought about it a lot as well. Obviously we were up four or six points late in the game and when we were in that situation last year we usually finished it off. We got great looks down the stretch, we just couldn't knock them down and we let them score and it's something that I think would run through anyone's mind in a game like that for awhile. So hopefully we can just learn from past experience and come out and be ready to play and hopefully the outcome will be different.
JARED QUAYLE: I've thought about that last foul that I got numerous times over the summer, pretty much all season long whenever I watch a basketball game, watch Marquette especially, I mean but that's the past. We have to move on and hopefully tomorrow's game won't be that close and we'll be up so we'll have a comfortable lead.
We just got to focus on tomorrow. That game's behind us. POOH WILLIAMS: I still think about that game to this day. It was a tough loss for us. The first half we were really nervous. We got a lot of our nerves out. Second half we played like Aggie basketball, how we play. And if we would have put two halves together I really think we would have had a great chance to win that game. So I think that game right there is going to help a lot of the returning players this year. I don't think anybody going to be that much nervous in the first half so I think we should be okay.

Q. Pooh, being from Federal Way have you ever played in Spokane before and how did you get the name Pooh?
POOH WILLIAMS: Yeah, I played in Spokane a couple times in high school. We had a couple of AAU teams up here. So I'm pretty familiar with Spokane, Washington.
I actually got the name Pooh from my mom. When I was a little baby. That's a little funny story behind that, I won't go into that, but...

Q. You can't tease us.
POOH WILLIAMS: Well, when I was a baby I was like this caramel skin color and I was really, really fat, and so she used to call me her Pooh bear. And so it kind of stuck with me and a lot of guys tease me about it, but it is my name.

Q. Well thank you for being honest.

Q. Jared or Tai, how much, without going into specifics, how much do you know about Texas A&M and how difficult a matchup or how easy a matchup do you think that the Aggies from the Big-12 will be for you guys.
JARED QUAYLE: It's going to be a good matchup. We know that they're really physical. Coming from the Big-12, that's great conference. We know that they're a good team and they're athletic. We're going to have to be on top of our game. Our coach has stressed all week about executing good offense and setting good screens, because they're just going to try to muscle us and have more physicality than us. So we're going to have to match that definitely.
But really like I said all season, when we're playing good defense, our offense flows. So it's definitely going to start on the defensive end and it's going to take a team effort there as well. And if we can hold them under their average, then we'll be all right. We matchup real well with Texas A&M. Like Jared said, their athletic, long, physical. And I think one key thing that we are focusing on this week is the rebounding and the battle of the boards. I think that will be a big step for us. Because they are leading their conference in rebounding and they're plus whatever on the boards, so we're going to look to match their physicality, keep them off the glass and give them one shot and I think that will give us a good chance to win this game.

Q. Ty and Pooh, you guys are the the defensive studs on the team. What focus have you guys had in preparation for Texas A&M? What do they present to you as a challenge?
TYLER NEWBOLD: Like we talked about already, they have got really athletic wing players. And it's going to be a big part of the game is going to be doing our best to keep them out of the paint. If they're able to get into the paint and penetrate all game it's going to be a long night for us. They will be able to get in there and just pick us apart. We got to do a good job of stopping their penetration and when they do get by us, because they will once in a while, playing help defense. Our posts need to step up and help and we got to rotate and we got to be on it defensively and play like we can. So I think that's one of the biggest keys defensively is matching their physicality and keeping them out of the paint the best we can.
POOH WILLIAMS: Yeah, like Tyler was saying, we really got to focus on trying to keep them out of the paint. Sloan, he's really strong and their other wing is a freshman, but he's long and athletic and he's been shooting the ball real well lately. So the key to us tomorrow defending these guys is just keeping them out of the lane and having team help in the lane when they do get into the paint.

Q. For any of you, is there any extra pressure, obviously you want to go out and be successful tomorrow, but to be an at-large berth, maybe go and prove that you belong here?
JARED QUAYLE: We hope that there's not more pressure. We just want to go out and play ball like we know how to. We're glad to be here, we're excited, we're going to have a ton of energy tomorrow. It's going to be a good game. We'll see who comes out on top. But it's a good experience for all of us and we're definitely glad to be here.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you, gentlemen. We'll take questions for coach.

Q. Can we get your initial thoughts on your general thoughts about tomorrow's contest with Texas A&M?
COACH MORRILL: I was just mentioning on a radio interview, we're talking about a team that went 11-5 in the best conference RPI-wise in the country. Their RPI is 13, they're ranked in the Top-25. I mean obviously this is a good basketball team.
When you watch them play, you're impressed with how solid they are defensively, how physical they are, their athleticism and their strength is certainly something that jumps out at you.
They have a premier player in Sloan and their two inside kids are very capable scorers. You see them getting double teamed a lot in the games you watch. And that tells you something. People believe that they are a really good team and seems to be playing awfully strong right now. You look at the Kansas game, they were ahead for basically three quarters of that game.

Q. With BYU not having any success against those guys last two years, have you watched any, either one of those games or does that not have any bearing on what's going to happen tomorrow?
COACH MORRILL: No, I don't think it does. It tells you that we have a lot of respect for BYU and their success through the years. It tells you that A&M's an awfully good program and went into those games and won both of them. But it's a different year. I'm kind of a believer that you watch current games, that's the best way to get prepared, watch their four or five most recent games. I was a little bit odd preparing for them with Dash not playing in the Big-12 tournament. But we had enough previous games to see him as well and what he does for their team. And BYU's style is certainly different than ours so, we got to do our preparation the way we think gives us the best chance. And I'm sure they're doing the same.

Q. With both WAC bids here in Spokane, what would it mean to the league for yourselves and New Mexico State to advance tomorrow?
COACH MORRILL: Well, I think that any time your teams in your league advance it's a very positive thing. Our league gets way too many bad raps. I keep hearing things that our league's not very strong. Our league's a Top-10 league in the country out of 30 plus leagues. I mean, we're definitely not a big six league or a BCS league, but we got a solid basketball league. And hopefully we can go out and show that. I know both teams will do everything they can to show that. Sometimes I think our league gets compared to other leagues in a, you know, favorable light and if you went through the schedule like we do every year, you would know it's a good solid basketball league. It would be a positive if either of us can come out with a win or both of us and the nature of this thing is the seeding you get sometimes is, it makes it that much more difficult. It's been talked a lot about, that we haven't won a game since 2001. The good news is we keep coming back and trying. We have been seven out of eleven years to the NCAA tournament. If you look at who we have played, it's a whose who of college basketball. I mean it's Connecticut, Ohio State, Kansas, Arizona, Washington, Marquette, it's all BCS teams. So it's a challenge.
Last year when we came so close and I remember sitting up here and being pretty disheartened by the fact that we didn't quite get over the top and get a win. You don't know that you're going to be back, so it's great to be back and have another opportunity. That's for sure.

Q. I've done a lot of research the last couple of days and listening to the Texas A&M press on Tuesday, Dash Harris is a great defender. He was named to the all Big-12 defensive team. But looking at the impact he makes offensively on their team, how much better do they flow when he's on the court offensively?
COACH MORRILL: He's so fast. He's got an appropriate name. He just is really hard to contain in the open court, off ball screens, on ball screens, dribble penetration, and he's very good at when he gets in the lane finding open people, be it a post guy or perimeter guy, so I think you always want to have all your weapons and they have had him most of the year. So I'm sure they're dang excited to have him playing.

Q. You mentioned last year you were so close with all the experience that you have back this year, where does that leave your team confidence wise, knowing that maybe one adjustment here, one play there and you guys are in the second round.
COACH MORRILL: I think it just helps to have been through the NCAA experience. All this kind of stuff, the open-to-the-public practices, I kid all the time with our team and telling them that you can't do anything including go to the bathroom unless the NCAA says you can. When you go to these events. And they get to, they have been through that. I know when we won in 2001 we had been the previous year and we had the core that have team back and I think that it helped us.
But that being said, you still have to go play a team that's I think they have been what? Four five years in a row. You still have to go play a very, very good team. So having been through the experience only helps you if you play well. That's I guess what I would say. It might help you play well though.

Q. Can you talk about Jared Quayle's development the last two years since you brought him out of junior college ball?
COACH MORRILL: Yeah, Jared Quayle, that will always be a fun story for me. A kid that grew up a half hour from our campus that we did not initially take out of high school. He was more of a two guard than a point when we took him out of junior college and we hesitated for a long time before we were sure to take him out of junior college.
So he's made an unbelievable transition from the two to the one. He was a combo guard really but now strictly a point guard for us. His best asset is his ability to rebound the basketball. That sounds funny about a point guard, but I've never had a point guard rebound like Jared Quayle. He's in double figures all the time. And he can score,'s goodie fender, he really does a great job assist to turn over, he doesn't turn it over, but's phenomenal rebounder for a point guard and hopefully he'll show that tomorrow.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about Nate and the way he was able to recover from that heart procedure and everything. It sounds fairly frightening to read it on the page.
COACH MORRILL: You know, I've always told our guys that minor surgery is something they do on somebody else. And they kept calling it minor surgery. But they were going, they were working on his heart for goodness sakes. So it was a concern and I think set him back. He was really playing well when he had to go through that procedure, missed a game, missed a few days. And then he just wasn't quite himself for a period of time. And he's gotten over that. Another junior college kid that's from a solid community college that was on a national junior college championship team last year and has gained confidence I think as the year went along. He's a real experienced kid to start out in our program and it's been fun to see him play well. But the heart thing was definitely a little bit of a setback.

Q. I know it's been written about already but your connection up here in this area. Do you expect some more fans or some people to be cheering for Utah State tomorrow?
COACH MORRILL: No, I'm too old, they don't remember me.
I hope there's a few out there that remember I played at Gonzaga and started my coaching career there and maybe pulls for Utah State. It's amazing for me to, my wife and I drove around a little bit last night and how much the city's changed since I was here. And I think Spokane's a great place. I liked going to school here, I loved being here for five years and just haven't gotten back very much the last number of years. We pass through on our way to go play Idaho but you don't stop and visit at all and, for example, I've never seen this arena. The old Spokane Coliseum was here way back in the day when I was around. And never seen, I haven't seen Gonzaga's new place where they play. They got me to help purchase a locker there, as an alumni, but I haven't seen my name on that locker and haven't seen the building. So hopefully I'll get a chance to wander over there today a little bit.

Q. On the same track down memory lane, could you talk a little bit about your Montana connection and the fact that there's four Montana coaches in the NCAAs this year first round. Anything you can recall about what makes Montana such great basketball program?
COACH MORRILL: Montana is a unique institution when it comes to basketball because they believed they had someone in-house who could do the job. So many times what happens is universities, somebody else might look better on a resume than the guy they got sitting right there. Jud Heathcote, he's the godfather of what we have had going, what we had going through all the years at Montana but Brandenburg, Montgomery, myself, Blaine Taylor, Krystowiak, now Wayne Tinkle, all within what we call our basketball family, I heard from all those guys this week including Jud who calls up and gives me grief all the time. I love him. But I talked to all those guys and Blaine calls us The Brotherhood.
I think that's probably a little strong, but we definitely have a connection and it's fun to see everybody has done so well and everybody in the NCAA tournament's just a unique thing, but I would like to see more universities follow that path where they believe an assistant's capable of doing the job. Montana hired both Mike Montgomery and myself with no head coaching experience at any level and that takes courage and I'll always be indebted to that institution for doing that.

Q. Speaking of The Brotherhood, Blaine got his, got the win today. Did you get a chance to see or listen?
COACH MORRILL: I didn't. They were just telling me out here when I was doing the radio thing that he won. And I heard it was a high scoring affair? You know, but watching his team a couple times, that doesn't surprise me. They're very good defensively and on the boards and what a great win for him. I thought that would be a really good game and that he certainly had a chance to win that basketball game. So I'll text him. It takes me quite awhile to say "congrats", but I will do that.

Q. You talked about Jared Quayle and his rebounding, six foot one, you wouldn't obviously expect him to do that there is some history I suppose of point guards, like Jason Kidd, who have rebounded. What is the secret for him, how is it, is he just willing to kind of stick his neck in there when maybe other guys wouldn't?
COACH MORRILL: I don't know. I would be guessing. What gives a guy instinct I guess is what I'm saying. He's had unbelievable instinct. He has, he's a good jumper, he has great hands, great timing, but his knowledge for knowing where the ball goes is, that's what is kind of unbelievable to me.
The big guys always kid him that they block their man out and then he doesn't have to worry about the point guard that he goes and gets its ball. So that's why they tell him that he's such a good rebounder. Our guys have some fun together.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks coach.

End of FastScripts

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