Thursday, February 28, 2008

Practice News Story 6: Press Release

Posted: Feb. 28, 2008 10:19 AM

Feb. 28, 2008
For Immediate Release
Contact Infomation:
North Logan, UT 84321
President Mary Ann Parlin
Phone: 435.767.4158

Company strives to educate patients on the conditions of their surgeries

LOGAN, Utah- A fledging company called ClearPoint Instruction aims to help instruct those who will be paying for treatment with a healthcare organization, through the means of instructional pamphlets and DVDs that do not cost anything above how much the medical treatment would require. In fact, the price is rolled into the surgery.
“President Mary Ann Parlin discovered that those who lacked additional education were slower in their recovery, while those who were more educated were quicker to recover from their surgeries,” said Senior Vice President Preston Parker. What is the reason for this slower recovery for those who lacked additional information on their treatment?
“If you show up the day of the surgery that morning, not knowing anything about the surgery, then the hospital will not be as eager to help those who do not understand what they are going into. On the other hand, those who go into surgery having read the pamphlets and watched the DVDs better understand the surgery that they are going into. That’s why ClearPoint Instruction was created: to help people better understand the conditions of going into a surgery so they will be more prepared heading into the hospitals.”
ClearPoint was founded in Jan. 2006 with this exact goal in mind. Their current clients include Mountain West Physical Therapy and Cache Valley Specialty Hospital.
The employees of ClearPoint have first-hand gone into operating rooms and areas of healthcare treatment with the intent of gathering information that they can present to their customers in order to provide better education concerning any sort of healthcare.
“We have gone into hospitals, into the operating rooms, in order to better help patients what is going to happen to the given customer at the time of their treatment,” Parker said. “This education may scare some people away, but the costs outweigh the benefits since patients will better know what is going to happen to their bodies.”
This basis of the company serves to help both the doctors or health-care providers, as well as the patient. It is an increased mutual understanding between the two parties that will help the surgeries go smoother and more efficiently, not to mention provide for quicker recovery. This endeavor is made possible through the research and education of ClearPoint instruction.
“Doctors are tired of telling patients the same information every time a patient heads into a surgery. It is that information that we at ClearPoint Instruction are putting onto the DVD and in the pamplets,” Parker said.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Project Salvage the Season begins Tonight

At 18-9 overall and 8-4 in conference play, the once-conference-leading Utah State Aggies are a measly fourth place in the Western Athletic Conference. With five games to go in the regular season, including three at home, it is time to initiate Project Salvage the Season.
With three road losses in eight days, the Aggies have fallen from nearly realizing their goal of conference champions to an ordinary team. Tonight needs to somehow spark a surge for the Ags in these last five games and the conference tournament, against UC-Santa Barbara in an ESPN BracketBusters contest.
The Ags better be able to defeat a 3rd place team in the Big West. The Gauchos are 20-6 and 9-4 in the Big West, but should not defeat USU in Logan tonight. That would frankly be just sad.
Tonight, somebody else needs to step up their play to help Jaycee Carroll. Gary Wilkinson didn't even show up for Monday's game at San Jose State. Tai Wesley was miserable whether it was fouling out or getting ejected a minute-and-a-half into the game. Tyler Newbold was off-an-on during the three games, as was Kris Clark, who had nine turnovers at Nevada but played OK in the other two games.
Don't even get me started on Steve DuCharme. Also, Desmond Stephens had an awful road trip.
Basically, what I'm saying is that players need to step up their games. Jaycee Carroll has done everything he can. His teammates need to wake up if they somehow want to get a piece of this conference title.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cleveland, Chicago and Seattle in three-team trade: Does this actually make the Cavs better?

Just an hour or so ago, the Cavaliers, Bulls and SuperSonics pulled one of the biggest trades in NBA history, swapping 11 players.
Cleveland gets: C Ben Wallace, SF/SG Wally Szczerbiak, F Joe Smith and G Delonte West
Chicago gets: PF Drew Gooden, G Larry Hughes
Seattle gets: F Donyell Marshall, G Ira Newble, future first-round pick

While a lot of talk is going around about how much this can improve the Cavs' roster, I remain suspicious whether the new version of the Cavaliers will indeed be better than the roster that has struggled to a 30-24 record.
Big Ben is a fabulous defensive player, but is a liability on offense... at least Drew Gooden could score a little. Joe Smith might be able to fill this scoring void a little, but not as much as Gooden. He won't even play for Cleveland as much as Gooden did.
Losing Larry Hughes isn't a problem when they are getting Szczerbiak, but I think Chicago benefited just as much as the Cavs by saving money in trading Big Ben's big contract, and I agree with Ric Bucher, senior writer for ESPN the Magazine- the Bulls needed to do something to shake up the roster and re-awaken the franchise, which should be having a great year right now. It will be interesting to see where Hughes fits in a rotation of guards that includes Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon and an improving Thabo Sefolasha.
Seattle? They are simply clearing cap space to make a run at a big-time player in the summer to be another cornerstone to their massive rebuilding project.

Meanwhile, Seattle got rid of an older player on the roster in Kurt Thomas, shipping him and his large contract to San Antonio for C Francisco Elson, another guard and cash. This trade really helps both clubs. The Spurs are assisted because Thomas can be a solid player off the bench who can come in for C Fabricio Oberto, or spell Tim Duncan. Thomas could also play alongside Duncan, giving the Spurs a pretty tough front line, a feature that the Spurs will need in needing to play post defense against the bigger, new-look teams of the Suns and Lakers (O'Neal and Gasol).

Then, there's the trade that went down this morning: New Orleans gave up backup guard Bobby Jackson, another player and a draft pick to Houston for guards Mike James and Bonzi Wells, the Rockets' top two players off the bench this season. The Hornets just got deeper, with James and Wells combined with Jannero Pargo gives N.O. a lot of perimeter threats off the bench to spell Chris Paul and avoid losing a step when Peja Stojakovic or Morris Peterson comes out of the game.

All of these trades have left one Western Conference contender who have not made any recent personnel changes in an attempt to improve amongst an ultra-competitive and exciting conference race: the Golden State Warriors, who you could argue have made a move with their signing of postman Chris Webber a couple of weeks ago.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Projections on NBA season's second half (uh, final third)

Jazz trade for sweet-shooting Kyle Korver!
Spurs bolster rotation by signing veteran guard Damon Stoudamire!
Warriors gear up by signing big man Chris Webber!
Lakers shake up West by trading for Grizzlies pivot Pau Gasol!
Suns will change pace after trading for 14-time All-Star Shaquille O'Neal!
Will the Mavericks be able to pull the Jason Kidd trade?

So many headlines have shaken out in the Western Conference in the past month. Several franchises in the powerful conference have made minor-to-monumental deals in an attempt to improve their team in a conference where nine teams are playing .615 ball or better.
Now, the question is, who will actually improve with all of these deals?
Will a team that made a minor move be able to move up the most? How about the Suns slowing down, despite Shaq's insistence that they won't have to? Will a team that stood firm while everybody else was shaking be able to take advantage of other teams who might take a little time trying to adjust with a new player?
Who knows. There are way too many questions to try and figure it all out. Honestly, let's just see what happens. It truly is anybody's guess.
With that said, here's my guess- uh, I mean, 'expert prediction' on who will win the West and how it will be won:
1) Phoenix Suns. Yes, Steve Nash may need to drive the Mustang a bit slower for the Diesel to keep up, but the track will still be plenty fast for the rest of the league.
2) San Antonio Spurs. As tempting as it is for me to want to believe that the Spurs franchise is slowing down, keep in mind that this is the defending champions of the league. Once Tony Parker returns from injury, the point guard position will be super-deep with Damon Stoudamire and Jacque Vaughn backing him up.
3) Los Angeles Lakers. The Pau trade has been working (the Lakers are 5-1 with him so far), and when Bynum returns from injury, it will work even better. What a great trade for the Los Angeles franchise, and bad for the rest of the NBA. (Memo to Memphis: thanks a lot for ruining the hopes of a lot of other teams in the Western Conference.)
4) Utah Jazz. While the Jazz may or may not be a couple of games behind a couple of other teams for this spot, they will get this seed by virtue of winning the Northwest Division. Winners of 12 of 13, 16 of 18 and 18 of 21, Utah is now rolling. Hopefully the All-Star break didn't cool them off too much.
5) New Orleans Hornets. I want to put the Hornets here just so I can dream of a first-round matchup involving Deron Williams' Jazz and Chris Paul's Hornets. For once, the NBA would have all eyes on a series involving Utah. Plus, I think the Hornets will hit a six-to-eight game slump, which will be enough to drop them a few spots in the uber-tight conference.
6) Dallas Mavericks. I'm not sure how much the Jason Kidd trade is going to help. They are getting him for defense, yet Devin Harris, the young point guard who they will give up in the trade, is a pretty decent defender himself. In the West, Kidd will find himself to be almost average as far as point guards go in a conference with Nash, Paul, Williams, himself, Davis, Iverson, and Parker. Yes, seven of the league's elite eight point guards (including Chauncey Billups) will now all be in the same conference. What the Mavs really need is a dominant big man, something they are no longer getting from Erick Dampier.
7) Denver Nuggets. While not a complete team, the Nuggets have enough with 'Melo and Iverson to get the club in the playoffs. Throw in Camby, Nene and Martin, and Denver has one of the league's better front lines. Rumor is that they might trade for bad boy Ron Artest. As a fan of the Nuggets' rival Utah, I say bring it on. Artest will not help their team in the slightest. Case in point: how has he helped Chicago or Sacramento? Plus, he plays the same position as Anthony.
8) Golden State Warriors. Though their style screams win-in-the-regular-season-and-then-get-shut-down-in-the-playoffs, the Warriors do have enough talent to at least make the postseason. 31-14 since Stephen Jackson returned from a seven-game suspension to open the season, the Warriors aren't that deep, but are electrifying when on the run with Davis, the much-improved Monta Ellis, Jackson, and Al Harrington. The bench? Um... Andris Biedrins, anyone? Oh, yeah. At least they got Webber. Maybe he will help in the slightest bit.

Just barely missing out:
Houston Rockets. T-Mac and Yao are proof that although two stars may be on the same team, it doesn't necessarily form a dynamic duo if they can't make each other better or play to the others strengths. Though they are hot right now, I don't think they have enough pieces on their roster to make a return trip.
Portland TrailBlazers. The Cinderella team is slipping. It should continue into March and April.

What's to say in the Eastern Conference? Boston and Detroit, who can play with any mighty Western Conference team. 'Nuff said.

Aggie season going down the toilet bowl (from a depressed Aggie fan)

The Deseret Morning News headline summed it up perfectly:

"Aggie tailspin continues"

Couldn't be better said. After three straight losses on the road in an eight-day span, the Aggies are now in a 3rd/4th place tie in the WAC with Nevada. They no longer control their own destiny in the conference race. They are COMPLETELY off the bubble with regards to the NCAA Tournament. Simply put, they are ordinary, a little overrated, and a pathetic team on the road.
What's there to hope for anymore?
It's tough to see Jaycee Carroll's senior season winding up like this. While he has had an absolutely fantastic year personally, his team is apparently just too inexperienced and lacks the toughness both physical and mental needed to win tough games on the road.
With no real quality wins, unless you want to count home victories over Boise State, Oral Roberts and Austin Peay, but plenty of bad losses (Weber State, Cal-Poly, UC-Irvine, blowout to Utah, blown 14-point lead at Hawaii, San Jose State yesterday), the Aggies are actually a fringe NIT team at this point. That's how far they've dropped in the NCAA Div. 1 totem poll after becoming the first Aggie team in the Stew Morrill era to lose three consecutive games.
How sad and embarrassing.
Though they still have three home games left among their five regular-season contests yet to come, this horrible road team must still play at Boise State, who is now the #1 team in the conference.
How sad. I expected SO much more from the Utah State Aggies this season, only to be letdown with nothing coming from it, not even the highly-expected WAC regular-season championship.
Let the swan song begin...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Posted: Feb. 15, 2007 10:50 PM

Practice News Story 5: Obituary
The world mourns as Oprah unexpectedly passes away

CHICAGO, Ill.- Having been noted as caring, benevolent, understanding of various groups of people, and someone who truly made a positive impact not just in her native country but the entire world by peers and non-peers alike, the the international network of those touched by Oprah Winfrey are mourning her passing yesterday afternoon.
Though healthy at the age of 54, Oprah Gail Winfrey tragically was mobbed by adoring fans after her afternoon talk show in Chicago. While walking to her car at 3:30 p.m. in lieu of driving home after another successful show, a large throng of fans entered the parking lot and stormed her. While the bodyguards around her tried to halt the mayhem, the sheer number of those madly wild to see her was too overwhelming. Having fallen to the ground in the onslaught of excitement, our dear Oprah suffocated beneath the pile.
Winfrey was the host of The Oprah Winfrey Show, which has won multiple Emmy Awards and is the highest-rated talk show in television history. Besides succeeding in the one medium in television, she was also a highly influential book critic, an Academy Award-nominated actress, and a magazine publisher. This bevy of successes has ranked her as the richest African American of the 20th century. Those who knew and spent continuous time with this remarkable woman, and even those who didn't know her on a personal level, call her the most influential woman in the world.
Oprah's time spent helping others and being accepting of those who hold preferences beliefs that may even be far from her own comes from her experiences earlier in life. She was born into poverty in Mississippi to an unwed, teenage mother. Throughout much of her child, she lived in Milwaukee. Tragically, she was raped as a nine-year-old, but fought through the trauma. Additional tragedy fell into her life when she at age 14 gave birth to a son who died as an infant.
However, her career was launched at just age 19, a young age to already be co-anchoring the local evening news, in Tennessee. The emotional impact that she made on her viewers quickly presented her with even greater opportunities until her own show eventually grew into the highest-rated program ever known to television.
Winfrey's humanitarian efforts were off the charts, especially in South Africa. In 2004, she and her crew went on a 21-day journey through the country exposing others in the United States to the poverty and AIDS that many of South Africa's citizens offer. The report was focused primarily on the children. In addition, she developed the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in the same country.
Oprah is survived by her partner of 22 years, Stedham Graham, and her four dogs. Additionally, she is survived by what she would call her 227 daughers of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, and her best friend Gayle King, who has said how touched she has been by Winfrey's work as a philanthropolist.
Millions of people in a great variety of countries could say how much Winfrey means to them in their lives, so a few quotes will not do this great woman justice. With that said, many powerful and influential leaders within this country do recognize the contributions that she has made in the world, thoughts that no doubt are reflected in the minds of many across the world:
Senator Barack Obama, current delegate leader for the Democratic nomination to be the next U.S. President, has said she "may be the most influential woman in the country," while renowned political and news analyst Bill O'Reilly has said that "this is a woman that came from nothing to rise up to be the most powerful woman, I think, in the world. I think Oprah Winfrey is the most powerful woman in the world, not just in America. That's — anybody who goes on her program immediately benefits through the roof. I mean, she has a loyal following; she has credibility; she has talent; and she's done it on her own to become fabulously wealthy and fabulously powerful."
While indeed powerful and influential, countless numbers of people in this country and beyond appreciate the love and the humility which she has shown others while she has gained such notoriety. Surely the world is losing one of its greatest contributors in its history in Oprah Winfrey.

With Kobe injured, could D-Will be an All-Star?

The big latest news in the NBA came down last night in the form of Kobe Bryant (what's new)?
The Los Angeles Lakers team doctor found that Bryant has a torn ligament in his right pinkie finger, making his appearance in Sunday's All-Star Game questionable.
Could this be the window of opportunity for Utah Jazz point guard Deron Williams, whose deserving All-Star spot was taken by others?
Could happen.
However, he has plenty of competition to fill the spot vacated by Bryant, if Kobe indeed opts to sit out as the doctor and coach Phil Jackson advise. Golden State guard Baron Davis runs the high-energy, shoot-with-no-conscience Warriors offense that currently has them tied for a playoff spot.
Other would-be contenders include another Warrior, Stephen Jackson, Houston's Tracy McGrady, a five-time All-Star, and perhaps the L.A. Clippers' Chris Kaman or New Orleans' Tyson Chandler.
But honestly, we all know who deserves this possible open slot.
The doctor also recommended that Bryant undergo surgery that would keep him out of action for 6-8 weeks, but Kobe is, at the moment, with perhaps the Lakers' chances looking good in the second half with new acquisition Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum soon to return from injury, declining on that option.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' movie coming August 15th!

George Lucas, you seize to amaze.
'Star Wars' is coming back to theaters.
On Aug. 15, 2008, the world will be introduced to an innovative style in filmmaking with 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars.' It will introduce a whole new television series that will premiere in September on the Cartoon Network, and then TNT.
Both the movie and the television series of 'The Clone Wars' is being created through computer-generated images, or 'CGI' technology. The film will be one of the first of its kind to be made entirely by this style, while the TV show will mark the very first of its kind.
A slew of television networks bid highly for the series before the CN and TNT- allies under Warner Bros. entertainment- won out.
Surprisingly, this means that Warner Bros. will be the studio behind the film, rather than 20th Century Fox, who was the studio for the six previous 'Star Wars' films that as two trilogies put together make the most famous film series of all-time.
As a 'Star Wars' fan, I was shocked and amazed by discovering this previously well-kept secret this morning in one of my classes on I must commend USAToday for being the first news organization to discover this news on and release it to the public.
'The Clone Wars' will chronicle the three years of time in between 'Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones' and 'Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith," a time period where the Old Republic fought against an increasingly large group of seceding star systems known as the Confederacy of Independent Systems, led by the evil Sith lord Count Dooku. The Republic learned of a clone army created for them on the watery world of Kamino in Episode II, and used it during the action-packed and story-filled war against the droid armies of the Separatists.
Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and his apprentice Anakin Skywalker, who will become the evil Darth Vader, were heroes during this time. Both the film and the show will follow these heroes, who are already among the most famous movie characters of all-time.
There is no doubt that the characters will become even more notorious after they have been additionally explored in this movie and television show.
The Clone Wars era of the expansive and ever-growing 'Star Wars' universe has tantalized fans ever since its very first reference in the original 'Star Wars' film in 1977. Farmboy Luke Skywalker asks old 'Ben' Kenobi about fighting with his father in the Clone Wars. Ben replies that he did indeed, and 'was once a Jedi Knight, the same as your father.'
Creator George Lucas has been directly working with supervising heads Dave Filoni and Catherine Winder over the entire project, including collaborating with them over what makes good storytelling, and making sure that they get the right 'Star Wars' look so that it blends in with the six films.
The 16-person crew, in addition to Lucas, who are working on the project have plenty of source material to draw from, including six Clone Wars novels from Del Rey books and a nine-volume graphic novel series from Dark Horse comics, not to mention the 2-D animated 'Clone Wars' series created and released from 2003-2005.
However, this new movie and series will replace the cartoon as part of the official continuity of the entire 'Star Wars' storyline.
Unfortunately, I will not be able to see neither the film or the show for over two years, since I will be going on an LDS mission in May or June. But that is okay. I will have a lot to look forward to in 2010.

Monday, February 11, 2008



OK, talk about a big game. Well, I will write about it. Utah State (18-6, 8-1), as the current top team in the WAC, plays against Nevada (15-8, 7-3), who are #4 in the league but yet are just 1.5 games behind the Aggies for first place. Just nine days ago, USU defeated the Wolfpack 77-63 in Logan in their best-played game of the season, extending their win streak over Nevada to three dating back to victories over the Top-10 Wolfpack last spring.
Simply put, the Aggies win this game, and the conference is theirs. Lose, and it's up for grabs among five teams- not just the Ags and the Pack, but also Boise State (8-3), New Mexico State (8-3) and also darkhorse Hawaii (6-4).
Quite honestly, it's tough for me too see my beloved Aggies winning tonight. Their winning streak is tentively sitting at three, but it's tough for me to see it getting extended. Nevada is 10-2 at home this year and have won their last two games in the Lawlor Events Center by an average of 29 points, including a 38-point win over San Jose State, whom USU beat by just five two days ago in the mighty Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. The Pack followed up that victory by clobbering contender Hawaii by 29 on Saturday.
In fact, I'm so down on the Aggies' chances tonight, that if anybody actually reads this post and the Aggies win, then you can comment here below the article, or call me if you have my number, or speak to me if you know me, requesting a candy bar or something, because it's not gonna happen. Nevada is too strong at home to lose. My Aggies are good, but they aren't good enough to turn around from a lackluster win over a bad team with almost no rest and win a game that has already been postponed.
Aggie fans, remember Justin Hawkins' two games against USU this year? After getting shut down in Logan, he lit up the Aggies in Las Cruces for 30 points with nine rebounds as the NewMags very un-gracefully laid a 30-point shellacking onto the northern Aggies 16 days ago.
Well, fellow NBA prospect Marcellus Kemp similarily struggled against USU up here in Cache Valley. I would expect him to respond at his team's home court in a similar way that Hawkins did.
If the Aggies want to have a chance, they cannot get out-rebounded the way they did against the Spartans two nights ago. If somebody told me that a team would get out-rebounded by eight boards and still win, I would say to be unlike DeUndrae Spraggins and get off the pot. Utah State MUST out-rebound Nevada like they did up here if they want to win. That might be difficult considering nine of Wolfpack seven-footer JaVale McGee's 11 rebounds in Logan came on the offensive end. That shouldn't get any better from Utah State's point of view when McGee is playing in front of a friendly crowd.
All right, I'm off, and hoping for a miracle.

Midseason WAC grades for the Aggies

The third in a three-part series analyzing the play of the Utah State basketball team- preseason, halfway point of the entire season, midseason in WAC play, and the final part, after the season ends.

Post players- The '4s' and '5s'
Gary Wilkinson: A-
The Aggies' starting center stepped up his play when the conference battles began, particularly on defense and rebounding the ball. With perhaps the exception of Vanderbilt's Andrew Ogilvy and Utah's Luke Nevill, he has had to face tougher post players in the WAC compared to non-conference games- including Boise State center Matt Nelson, Nevada big man JaVale McGee, and San Jose State pivot C.J. Webster- and has, for the most part, played bigger and rebounded more consistently than before the calendar year rolled around. Webster did own him and his teammates Tai Wesley and Steve DuCharme, but in the other eight games you've got to be happy by the way Wilkinson has stepped up his game on both ends of the floor. His rebounding has increased by nearly two boards a game (4.5 to 6.3) since starting WAC play.
Tai Wesley: B
Tai has continued to be a pleasant surprise for Utah State, especially since moving into the starting role, where since that day USU has gone 13-1. He has had some monster games in conference, starting with a bang against Hawaii with 26 points. In fact, the factor that holds the 21-year-old freshman back the most is himself, since he often suffers from foul trouble. Take the very next game after he dropped 26, for instance, against New Mexico State, where he played just 6 minutes in the first half due to foul trouble and finished with just four points. However, he has played well in most of the WAC games, particularly in six of the nine contests when he didn't get into serious foul trouble. Take the Idaho game in Logan, the very night that Jaycee Carroll celebrated the scoring record. Although it was Carroll's night, and he finished with 21 points, Tai scored 23 and simply embarrassed Vandal post Darin Nagle. Consistency really is the key for Tai: against Nevada, he scored 14 points and ripped eight boards, but then followed it up two games later with 13 points but zero rebounds versus SJSU two days ago.
Steve DuCharme: C-
DuCharme has struggled in conference play. He simply hasn't seemed to have the confidence that he had before losing his spot in the starting lineup. Turnovers have been a big issue with DuCharme. Against Nevada Feb. 2, he committed four straight turnovers in the first half when the ball went into his hands. In fact, Tai Wesley has probably passed DuCharme in his abilities as a basketball player. Still, DuCharme plays a pivotal role on the team, playing 20-22 minutes per game despite coming off the bench. In fact, he plays two positions for the Aggies, at power forward alongside Wilkinson or at center with PF Wesley, a true challenge indeed made even more complicated coming off the bench.
Overall: B

Swingmen- The '2s' and '3s'
Jaycee Carroll: A+
There is nothing wrong at all with Jaycee Carroll. In conference play, he has proven that in addition to being able to light it up from three-point land (over 50 percent for the season, best in the nation), he can score in a variety of ways- mid-range, running in the fast break, scoring off offensive rebounds- which he has a great knack of doing- and off the dribble a little bit. That is exactly what the NBA scouts, particularly frequent Spectrum visitor Richard Smith of the Utah Jazz- need to see from him. He is even an average defender now, or as Stew Morrill would put it early in the season, 'adequate.' Though he had slow starts in two of the nine games so far- at home against Boise State and San Jose State- he still finished with stellar games of 29 and 26 points, respectably. In fact, against BSU he turned a slow start into one of the three or four personal best games of the season, hitting six three-pointers in ten attempts in a huge, nail-biting 82-78 win that made coach Morrill the winningest coach in Utah State basketball history. Add in 92-plus percent from the free-throw line (2nd best in the country) and 54 percent from the field, and you have a guy that should be an All-American when the year is over.
Tyler Newbold: B+
The 6-4 Newbold has been a wonderful surprise, usually taking on the defensive assignment against the opponent's best player, whether they be 6-1 or 6-8. Particularly impressive on the defensive side is that he has managed to slow down a couple NBA prospects, completely shutting down 6-7 forward Justin Hawkins (well, at least once in Logan- the game in Las Cruces was a different story), and limiting Nevada swingman Marcellus Kemp, among others. When his team didn't show up to play in that Las Cruces game, at least Newbold had the offensive night of his career with 20 points on efficient outside shooting. Though he is not asked to score, Newbold can hit the 3 with regularity and is a great free-throw shooter at 84 percent. Newbold has shot the majority of these free-throws late in WAC games, as well.
Pooh Williams: C+
The 6-3 small forward has essentially taken DeUndrae Spraggins' spot in the rotation, as the 20-year-old freshman has been in the regular rotation four out of the last five games- and the one game he wasn't was when he was suspended for partying at Louisiana Tech. He has helped Newbold slow some of the conference's better perimeter players, even players who may have three or four inches on Williams. This includes SJSU's small forward Tim Pierce on Saturday. While the Aggies as a whole did not play well, Williams was a large part in the 6-7 senior going just 5-14 from the field and tiring him on offense to the point that he got too fatigued to chase around Jaycee Carroll effectively while playing defense. Williams needs to get more comfortable shooting outside when he gets the rare opportunity.
DeUndrae Spraggins: C
Spraggins has been replaced in the lineup by Pooh. While a solid perimeter defender who deserves credit for his work the first five games of WAC season, for whatever reason he can no longer crack the rotation in his first year with the Aggies- though he is a junior.
Overall: A-

Point Guard- The '1s'
Kris Clark: A
Clark has maintained his place as a member of the top tier of point guards the league has to offer, along with Fresno State's Kevin Bell and NMSU's rather plump Fred Peete. He leads the conference in assists per game (6.2) and assists-to-turnover ratio for the second straight season. He finds his teammates in all the right places for scores, especially Jaycee outside on cuts and also Wilkinson on cross-screens underneath. While not a great shooter, his jump shot is improved from last season and even non-conference play this year, and has a really good ability of finding teammates in tight spots on a fast break.
Desmond Stephens: B
Stephens has improved during WAC battles compared to an up-and-down November and December. For the most part, he has been able to hold down the fort while Clark is on the bench, playing 10-12 minutes per game. He just can't get suspended any more and put the team, who only runs a two-point guard rotation, in an uncomfortable situation.
Overall: B+

Team: B+

The improved play at point guard has made the biggest difference in the Aggies' play through the WAC so far- at 8-1 and in first place. The play of three freshman in the eight-man rotation, including two in the starting lineup, cannot be overlooked either, nor can the astounding play of Carroll. Utah State has just gelled better over the course of the season. However, they have played six home games and just three road games in conference, and now face a stretch of playing three straight road games in eight days. USU just needs to play the way they did against Nevada, New Mexico State, and at Fresno, their three best WAC performances among their eight victories, and among their five or six best-played games of the season, and they will have a shot at the end of every game.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

USU on top of league, winners of three straight

Following a 100-70 debacle at the hands of New Mexico State in Las Cruces, N.M., the Aggies have turned things around the last two weeks to remain #1 in the WAC. Utah State faced Nevada a week later at home, and turned in perhaps their best performance of the season in defeating the Wolfpack 77-63 in a game that the Aggies controlled from start to finish. USU took a 13-2 lead three minutes into the game, and never looked back.
Keep in mind that this Wolfpack bunch lay claim to the WAC championship four years in a row. No, they no longer have Nick Fazekas, now a member of the Dallas Mavericks organization, or Ramon Sessions, but they do have NBA prospect Marcellus Kemp and a fine freshman point guard in Armon Johnson, who commits several turnovers a game (4.2) but often delivers the ball in good places for his teammates and already knows how to score at the Div. 1 level.
In addition, seven-foot sophomore center JaVale McGee is averaging 13 points and eight rebounds per game this season, and in a couple of years, if not next year, will be as good as Fazekas. He may not have the outside touch that Fazekas did, but is already just as good if not better at offensive rebounding.
OK, enough drooling about the Wolfpack. The point is, they are a fine team, and Utah State completely took them out of what they wanted to do. In fact, they outrebounded the bigger Pack, and thanks to primarily Tyler Newbold but also Pooh Williams, held Kemp to 15 points (nearly five below his average) on 6-15 shooting, including 1-5 from three-point land.
Coach Stew said that Gary Wilkinson "played his best game as an Aggie" in scoring 21 points and nabbing 13 rebounds. USU desperately needed that type of rebounding game from Gary, particularly going against McGee.
The Aggies followed this game up with a 77-72 road victory over Fresno State this past Thursday. USU built a 22-point lead in the first half, only to see the lead slip to 3 in the final minute before holding on for the win.
Yeah, they lead a big lead get away, but you can't complain too much about a road victory, especially considering the Ags' last road outing and their 3-6 record away from the Spectrum coming into the game. It is worth noting that Jaycee shot 6-9 from three-point range in the contest, and totalled 22 points. Gary also scored 16 points and grabbed seven boards and along with Tai and DuCharme slowed down the Bulldogs' Hector Hernandez, a power forward who can also shoot from the outside.
Finally, yesterday's game. Simply put, it wasn't the sharpest game of the year for the Aggies. Hey, it was a win though. Utah State put away San Jose State 78-73 in a game that the Spartans forced to the wire. You gotta give SJSU credit for the work that they did in defending Jaycee for most of the first half, however. 6-7 forward Tim Pierce received the defensive assignment on the 6-2 Carroll, and used his length and fairly decent speed to hold Jaycee to just 3 points with 3 minutes to play in the first half. At that point, the Spartans actually held a 27-23 lead on the Aggies. However, Carroll began to get more creative in finding decent looks, and was at 10 points on the night by the time a 32-all halftime rolled around.
Finally, USU began to break away from the 10-13 Spartans after intermission, and held a 50-40 lead eight minutes into the half. In fact, the lead got up to 62-47 following a DuCharme free throw with 8:03 to go in the game.
It just occurred to me, the Spartans outscored the Ags 26-14 the rest of the way? That's no good. Good thing SJSU sent the Aggies to the line a lot from that point on- Utah State went 18-22 from the line from there with just one field goal during that time.
Happy to say that Jaycee got going, though. He came out with a lot more energy and aggression in the second half and wound up with 26 points on 8-16 shooting. He had 11 rebounds too! He's only 6-2, and the Spartans played four players who were 6-8 or taller! That's impressive.
Gary scored 15 and grabbed eight boards, and Tai scored 13, but didn't grab a rebound. Hmmm. That's really surprising, especially considering how physical Tai plays.
Every Aggie played pretty well, except for DuCharme, who went 1-6 from the floor and badly missed two three-pointers. It has been interesting but kind of sad to see him struggle in recent games.
SJSU outrebounded USU 47-39. This is a stat that makes it quite remarkable that the Ags actually got this game in the bag. It isn't very often that you win when you get out-boarded by 8. That's simply an attribute to the Magic of the Spectrum. Good job, students.
The win was not perfect, but in conference play, you sure gotta take it. In fact, the Aggies must forget about it since they will have a load to deal with tomorrow at Reno in playing Nevada again, as the game was postponed from mid-January when snow conditions were so bad in Reno that the Aggies wouldn't have been able to make a safe flight into the Biggest Little City in the World.

Tale of Two Tournaments: South Padre Island vs. Gossner Classic

Evidence at how the Aggies improved over non-conference play can be pointed at two preseason tournaments: the South Padre Island Invitational in Texas and the Gossner Foods Classic in Logan.

In one (South Padre Island), it showed the Aggies how much they needed to improve if they were to attain their goal of winning the WAC; in the other (Gossner Foods), it proved that they had indeed improved, and needed to keep taking strides to be ready for conference play.

Utah State finished third in the six-team S.P. Invitational, behind champion Vanderbilt and Bradley and ahead of fourth-place Iowa, Austin Peay and Montana Western. The Aggies, Vandy, Iowa and Bradley were the four teams that actually traveled to Texas over Thanksgiving break. Austin Peay played at Iowa and Utah State, and hosted Montana Western, while Montana Western had to take their Invitational games on the road.
USU was pounded 76-55 by the Commodores, who have been ranked in the Top 25 nearly all season. However, the Ags responded by knocking off Iowa 65-52.
Previously in Logan, USU beat NAIA Montana Western 77-58 in an ugly game, and Austin Peay 71-68 in a much better played game.
Overall, the Ags played two good games in the tourney, and two bad ones.
In their two wins, USU played like a WAC contender. In their two losses, pretenders.
It really was that simple.
The Aggies were smacked around by a top SEC team, but took it to an average Big Ten team, proving that they can be Big Dance-worthy this year, but only if they give a consistent effort every game.

Then came the Gossner Foods Classic.
The Aggies were drubbed by Utah 72-48 to put their record at 5-5 fifteen days earlier. However, Utah State came out of the gates strong in the opening game against Utah Valley, and maintained the intensity in an 87-65 win. Two of the nation's top scorers, Jaycee Carroll and UVSC's Ryan Toolsen, faced off against each other, and Carroll took the battle in a landslide.
Then in the championship the next night, the Aggies played another solid game in a 78-62 victory over a 7-4 Northern Arizona club. Gary Wilkinson had perhaps his best game in the Aggie blue up to that point in the season.
Utah State looked SO much better in these two games than they had when they played another inferior team in Montana Western a month earlier. It really indicated that they had taken strides and made the choice to be a tough team after the wake-up call at the Utes' home in Salt Lake City. Add in a victory over a solid Oral Roberts group eight days later heading into WAC play, and Aggie fans, after initial concern with a .500 start to the season, could breathe a bit easier.

Midseason grades for Utah State basketball

This is an article that I wrote back on Jan. 2, the day before conference play was about to begin. At this point in the season the Aggies had just wrapped up non-conference play at 10-5. However, I saved it and never published it...

Post Players
Gary Wilkinson: B Center
Wilkinson has proven that he can score. However, many players have been able to out-rebound him with ease, particularly really talented posts like Vanderbilt's Andrew Ogilvy.
Tai Wesley: B- Power Forward
Tai has taken over the starting power forward position, a spot that he took and hasn't relinquished since an early December game at Cal State Bakersfield. He has played better in the role with more and more playing time, and with the way he is going will be in the running for WAC Freshman of the Year once conference play gets rolling.
Steve DuCharme: B- Power Forward/Center
Steve started strong earlier in the season, particularly in weekend games in southern Californinia at Cal-Poly and UC-Irvine, when he averaged 20 points and was really the only Aggie to perform well. However, he has struggled to find his place on this team that has been ever-evolving over non-conference play.
Moduo Niang: C- Center
Moduo saw some playing time in the first ten or eleven games of the season, but has found his place on the bench his freshman season as coach Stew Morrill has been trying to solidify a rotation. Niang is still very raw but has shown signs of being a big contributor in seasons to come.
Overall: B-

Swingmen- Shooting Guards & Small Forwards
Jaycee Carroll: A Shooting Guard
What can I say? He has kept the team afloat as they have come together and improved, especially over the holiday break from school (a 32.5 ppg average during the Gossner Classic, a school record). Is still shooting just as well, or even better, than last season. While his scoring average was a little down from last year early on, he has scored at a higher pace the last 7 games while still involving his teammates.
Tyler Newbold: B- Small Forward
After burning his redshirt when Nick Hammer's tenure with the time ended right before the season, Newbold took over the starting small forward position vacated by DeUndrae Spraggins in the same December game at Bakersfield that Tai Wesley took the starting power forward slot. He has played good defense most of the time, and unlike Spraggins has fully accepted that he isn't going to get a lot of shots in an offense that looks for Carroll and passes to the post players coming off of low-post cross screens.
DeUndrae Spraggins: B- Small Forward
Spraggins has been a stellar defender, often taking on defensive roles against the opponent's best scorer. However, he has taken too many questionable shots for coach Morrill's liking, and perhaps has had a little too much pot recently, especially when compared to returned missionary Newbold.
Pooh Williams: C- Shooting Guard/Small Forward
Pooh played quite a bit in the first 6 or 7 games of the season, but has fallen out of the rotation as Morrill has sought to tighten the playing lineup. He can be a very solid player, but as coach Morrill has said, needs to develop consistent practice habits and fight fatigue in practice.
Overall: B

Point Guards
Kris Clark: B
Clark surprisingly had a major issue with turning the ball over in the Aggies' 5-5 start. However, since an embarrassing loss at Utah, Clark has been more steady with the ball, beginning with the Prarie View A&M game. In the two-game Gossner Classic, in fact, Clark turned the ball over just once. It is good to see that he is regaining his steady form from last season.
Desmond Stephens: C
Stephens has proven that he is a pretty good outside shooter, and while he isn't the largest man on the floor (5-9, 160 pounds), he contains serious speed to emphasize the fast break. However, he has had a huge problem with making lazy passes that lead to points for the opponent on the other end. However, the last few games he has seemed more accustomed to Div. 1 basketball.
Overall: C+

Team: B-

The team needs to continue to improve at the rate that they are improving to be contenders in the WAC. Starting conference play at home should help a lot in that regard.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Posted: Feb. 7, 2008 10:18 AM

Man accused in burglary of LDS Meetinghouse
35-year-old man, in addition to juvenile, is suspected

LOGAN, Utah- Jim Michaels, a 35-year-old man, and a 15-year-old juvenile have been accused of being involved in the burglary of the meetinghouse of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that took place last week, early Thursday, January 31, at 900 North 1600 East in Logan, Utah.
Michaels and the juvenile face trial in a preliminary court March 21.
Prosecuting attorney Noel Mayfield believes that there is “plenty of incriminating evidence” to be presented in court. Mayfield seeks the maximum punishment for both Michaels and the unnamed 15-year-old.
Intriguingly, this is not the first time that Michaels and the unnamed juvenile have intruded on the law together.
“I’m definitely going to seek for the maximum of the law for these two individuals… they are acquaintances, I can say that much… they have committed crime together in the past,” Mayfield commented.
While Mayfield is committed to seeing justice be done on these two individuals, Robbie Cochran, the defense attorney representing Mr. Michaels, doesn’t believe there is sufficient evidence for his client to be proven guilty.
“There is concern (over the evidence for the case). My client doesn’t want to go to jail… I don’t even believe (Michaels getting prosecuted) is an issue. I’m surprised that the judge even called a trial, because I believe (what Mayfield has against Michaels) is flimsy evidence.”
On the other side, Noel Mayfield claims that there is forensic-type evidence that she can present in opposition to Michaels and the 15-year-old. According to Mayfield, Michaels faces six months to a year in jail for the burglary of the meetinghouse on account for breaking and entering the building.
Mayfield refused to release any additional details of the burglary.
Judge Alan Mayfield is to run the trial. Michaels has posted a bond of $5,000 in his defense.
Cochran strongly opposes Judge Mayfield in this case.
“This will be an interesting trial because Judge Alan Mayfield (no relation to Noel Mayfield, prosecuting attorney) is unpredictable. You never know what side he is going to go on.”
Sheriff Geoffrey Hasty, who has been involved in the burglary since it first happened last week, remains involved in the accusation and will appear in the court March 21.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Jazz still haven't lost since the post a week ago

Since the last Dubyaworld posting about the Utah Jazz exactly one week ago, the Jazz still have not lost. In fact, they have won four games in a row since that post to build their impressive, NBA-leading winning streak to eight games.
At 30-18, the Jazz are the leaders of the Northwest Division, which currently puts them as the fourth seed in the Western Conference. However, their record is actually the sixth-best in the conference, one game behind the Los Angeles Lakers and a half-game behind the San Antonio Spurs, whom the Jazz defeated five days ago 97-91 in Salt Lake City.
Utah takes on the New Orleans Hornets in a continuation of the never-ending Deron Williams-Chris Paul comparison tonight at seven in SLC at the EnergySolutions Arena. This will be the tenth meeting between the two. Williams currently has a 6-3 advantage head-to-head versus Paul. With that said, Paul is going to his first All-Star game this season, while Williams did not get selected. However, Williams has taken his team to the playoffs in his three-year career- something that Paul cannot claim. In fact, Williams led his team to the Western Conference Finals last year. 'Nuff said.
In addition, and more importantly, the Jazz are just three games behind the Hornets in the standings, who are second in the Western Conference, a half-game behind the Phoenix Suns.
This is, without a doubt, the biggest game in the NBA today amidst a schedule that includes ten games.

Four suspended Aggie ballers most likely partied at La. Tech

The whispers coming out of the Utah State University campus are that the four men's basketball players who were suspended for the Aggies' Jan. 26 game at New Mexico State- Steve DuCharme, Desmond Stephens, Pooh Williams, and Jaxon Myaer- are that they went to a party on the Louisiana Tech campus.
The Aggies played La. Tech that Thursday, the 24th, two days before the game at NMSU. It is unclear whether the players partied on the Bulldog campus before or after the game in Ruston, La.
The most credible source for this information is Aggie athletics insider and women's basketball assistant team manager Atlee Zipf, who knows every single player on the men's team as well and counts most of them as his personal friends.

David West and Josh Smith on the All-Star teams?!

The NBA All-Star reserves were announced four days ago, and though I agree with most of the coaches' overall selections, there were a couple of instances that made me scratch my head.
David West was named to the Western Conference roster?
Josh Smith was named to the Eastern Conference roster?
These were two named that really blew me out of the water when I first saw the listings of the reserves on ESPNews. Though West's New Orleans Hornets are currently one of the best teams in the NBA, with the second-best record in the Western Conference, he did not deserve to go to the game. He has decent averages of about 19 points and nine rebounds per game, but are these All-Star numbers? A fellow power forward that is on the All-Star roster is Carlos Boozer, who is averaging over 22 points and almost 11 rebounds per game, not to mention shooting a very higher percentage than West. Or Dirk Nowitzki, another power forward averaging 22 points and 10 rebounds per game, and as a seven-footer is also shooting over 35 percent from the three-point line. Besides, the Hornets already were going to be represented in the game by a very-deserving Chris Paul.
I guess the coaches were feeling generous to the Hornets for two reasons: number one, because they are a very good team this year, and secondly, because the game is being played in New Orleans. Maybe the coaches are being mindful of the fans, who will be paying big bucks for the game and would be more than happy to see TWO of their own players in the game.
I feel like that All-Star selection, however, should have gone to Golden State's Baron Davis or Utah's Deron Williams. Both players are point guards who are commandeering their clubs to fine seasons, as both the Warriors and Jazz are currently in the playoff picture. They matter to their teams much more than West does to the Hornets; in fact, they are their respective teams' MVPs, much like West's teammate Paul.
In the East, an All-Star spot went to Atlanta Hawks swingman Smith. While a great talent, who can shoot from the outside and can jump out of a gym, Smith is not an All-Star, at least not yet. This spot most definitely should have gone to Boston's Ray Allen, whose teammates Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are on the team. Allen matters to the Celtics' success just as much as Garnett and Pierce do. The Celtics would not be as good as they are without all three of those superstars. With only two of the three, Boston would be average at best. It does not do the Boston organization justice to not include one of these three players who have sacrificed much of their own personal glory for the success of the team this season.
In addition, what has Atlanta done this year, especially in comparison to Boston? Go 10 games under .500? Simply said with the facts, Smith is not nearly as pivotal to Atlanta as Allen is to Boston.
I agree with all of the other selections for the game. I thought that New Jersey's Richard Jefferson would be on the East roster rather than the Wizards' Caron Butler, but I can let that one slide. Two spots that I cannot let slide at all, however, are the two above-ranted selections.