2021 marked the end of the era for the Utah State University men’s basketball program, with head coach Craig Smith taking over the head coaching position at the University of Utah, and three-time Mountain West Defensive player Nimeas Quetta announcing the NBA draft.
The player-coach duo made a huge impact over his three years at Cache Valley, and the 2020-21 season was no exception. Replacing the second top scorer in USU history, Sam Merrill, who graduated in 2020, the Aggies persevered through a season hampered by COVID-19 to win 20 games, finish second at Mountain West and earn an overall showing. NCAA Championship.
Several Aggies have won all-conference awards throughout the season. Quetta was the first Mountain West team and first Mountain West defensive player of the year. Junior Justin Bean was the All Mountain West runner-up, rookie Marco Anthony was the defensive first team All Mountain West, and rookie Brock Miller earned an honorable mention from All Mountain West.
after USU Fell in Texas Tech 65 to 53 In the first round of the NCAA Championship on March 19, the program began to change rapidly. Smith left Utah On March 27. Two days later, Quetta Advertise a project.
Before the end of spring 2021, six agents entered the transfer portal, most notably Roly Worster and Marco Anthony. Both players followed Smith to Utah.
The basketball team faces an overhaul of the team and coaching staff that helped secure a consistent win at Logan once again. John Hartwell, Utah State Athletic Director, was quick to acknowledge Smith for his accomplishments.
“Obviously the past three years have been a tremendous and hats off journey for Craig Smith and his staff,” Hartwell said. “I wouldn’t envy anyone for pursuing another opportunity that made sense for them from a family perspective, from a career perspective and quite frankly that’s what Craig did. I know some of our fans might be a little upset because he did it 80 miles down the road instead of somewhere else” .
The question now is how to keep the program moving forward on an upward trajectory. And it starts with Agee’s new coach, Ryan Odom.
Odom He had hired On April 5 and in the months that followed, he assembled a new crew and filled the roster’s vacancies.
Starting in the 2021-22 calendar year on Thursday, Odom appears stable in his new job and is happy with the standing of the basketball program.
“(We) are coming off three consecutive NCAA tournaments and a chance to build on that and challenge ourselves to continue playing an active role and competing for championships in Mountain West, and I feel this is a positive time,” Odom said. . “COVID ends abruptly, so our fans can go back to Spectrum and create this spectrum magic and get back to who we are.”
Hartwell is also pleased with the current state of affairs. United States University Athletic Director for six years caused an uproar when He told the media After Smith’s departure he would rather be great and repeat the search for coaching every three to four years than keep the same coach for ten years and be mediocre. Whether or not Odom fits that indoor-outdoor profile, Hartwell believes the coach can take Aggies to even greater heights.
“What I’m excited about from Ryan’s point of view, and you know, we talked about this from our first interview a few weeks ago, is his ability to come in and help us achieve higher goals,” Hartwell said.
Odom made some predictions during his participation introductory press Conference, focusing not just on making the NCAA Championship, but winning when he gets there.
The US League drought in the championship has been an elephant in the hall for two decades. Despite massive success under former coach Steu Morell and then Smith, USU is in an eight-game losing streak in March Madness. Their last win was over No. 5 ranked Ohio State in 2001.
“People are like, OK, we’ve only won once in that 21-year period. We need to take it to another level, and you know, I think Ryan is embracing that,” Hartwell said. He’s got something on his resume that no other coach can say – he got 16 seeds and beat one when UMBC beat Virginia two years ago.”
Odom has added seven players to revamp the roster, including three transfers he expects to have an immediate impact in the winter.
Seniors RJ Etyle-Rock and Brandon Horvath were as players of the All-American East first team at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County while junior guard Rylan Jones is a Logan native who started multiple games in Utah.
“He (Raylan) can shoot, dribble and pass,” Odom said. “He’s a competitor in defense, and he’ll do a lot for our team…Brandon would fit in well with our team. He’s archery beyond the arc, rebounding ability, and he’s committed to doing both… RJ gives us size, shooting and defending on guard.”
With three transfers joined by returning starters Brock Miller and Justin Bean, the Aggies are gearing up to compete in Mountain West once again.
But despite the big ambitions, Hartwell warned fans to temper their immediate expectations.
“You have to be really good to get to the NCAA championship in straight years, less than three, but you have to have a little luck on your side as well,” Hartwell said. “So I don’t want our people to say, ‘Oh my God, we didn’t make the championship or we didn’t. That doesn’t mean it was a failure. It just means we have a high level of expectations of success now.'”