more 'Jared Who?' Quayle's part Mr. Cool and part Mr.
IN YER FACE:
Jared Quayle gets off one of his three-point shots early
in the second half against Fresno State. He made it.
/ Photo by Connor Jones
By Connor Jones
January 18, 2009 | Jared Quayle -- ask any Utah
State basketball fanatic who this guy was at the
beginning of the season and you would have maybe
1 of out every 50 people know about the Western
Wyoming Community College transfer.
Ask those same 50 people now and they'll tell
you things about the rising star Quayle's own
mother doesn't know.
At the end of last season Aggie fans moped about
their business, not sure if they would ever recover
from losing their most cherished son, the oh-so-holy
Jaycee Carroll. To his credit Carroll was an amazing
shooter averaging 22.4 points per game, he also
led the nation in three-point shooting at 49.8
percent, and he was third in the nation at free
throw shooting with 91.9 percent.
But isn't there more to a great player than records
and the ability to knock down one out of every
two shots from behind the arc?
Right now Aggie fans are hoping Quayle has that
little something extra to boost USU to the next
level, to take the Aggies somewhere even the all-mighty
Jaycee Carroll couldn't take them . . . beyond
the first round of the NCAA Tournament. This feat
has eluded Utah State for years. In 17 NCAA Tournament
appearances, stretching from 1938, when Coach
E. Lowell Romney took USU to their first tournament,
appearance all the way to Coach Stew Morrill's
five trips to "The Big Dance," USU has only come
out with six wins.
NO SWEAT: Check
the form. Does he look in control? Jared Quayle
swished this shoto to ice the game. / Photo
by Connor Jones
The Aggies' deepest trip into the
brackets of the tournament came in the 1969-70 season
when USU probed into the unknown world of two NCAA wins
only to get crushed in a devastating 79-101 loss to
Quayle started the 2008-09 season slowly, coming off
the bench for the Aggies in their pre-season games.
After-all it's a well known fact that adjusting to and
learning Morrill's plays can be hard, taking players
seasons on the bench to learn the system. Students around
the Spectrum expected Quayle to spend the season coming
off the bench playing shooting guard when Tyler Newbold
needed a rest, and playing point when freshman Jaxon
Myaer came to the bench. He would contribute when and
where he could and develop as he came to terms in his
first year with Morrill's system.
Early on Quayle was consistent, contributing just
as expected, playing anywhere from 18 to 30 minutes
a game and scoring four to 10 points. But then on Dec.
17, when USU students were scattered across the country
waiting at their parents' homes for jolly old St. Nick
to pay them a visit, Quayle broke out, scoring 23 points
in 26 minutes.
Since then he hasn't looked back, scoring in double
figures in every game, save Louisiana Tech, where, let's
face it no one played well. Quayle has led the team
in scoring in four games, and has led in assists and
steals in five games since that cold mid-December night
in Southern Utah.
In Thursday night's game against a tough opponent,
Fresno State, Quayle showed those fans who still mourned
over the loss of Carroll that little Orphan Annie was
right, the sun will come out tomorrow. He showed just
how clutch he can be, scoring a team-high 21 points
while hitting four three-pointers, the last of which
came at a crucial moment late second half making it
a two-possession game. With 2.5 seconds left, Fresno
State having closed the lead to two points, made the
grave mistake of intentionally fouling Quayle.
As a reporter for both the Hard News Café and The
Utah Statesman I was able to sit literally inches
from the baseline as Quayle took his two free throws.
As I looked through the lens of my camera and framed
Quayle as best I could, two things amazed me.
First, after playing 35 minutes of hard, physical and
fast-paced basketball, Quayle's face looked dry, no
sweat pouring off his nose like Shaq or LeBron. He was
calm, composed, ready.
Second, after stepping up to the line and doing his
ritual dribbling, Quayle never once looked away from
the rim, although 10,000 people plus were looking just
at him, arms raised and breaths held -- it was like
he couldn't see them. The first shot swished through
the net, and the "whoosh" came from the crowd as their
arms fell. Quayle had just put the team up by three,
sure it was better than a two point lead but with number
30, Sylvester Seay, who scored 32 points for Fresno
State, on the court for the Bulldogs it was little comfort.
Quayle got the ball back, dribbled and looked up; once
again it was as if the Spectrum was empty, only Quayle
and the rim. He took his shot, with Newbold and Williams
waiting in the backcourt, along with thousands of students
their arms raised. The ball rose from his outstretched
fingers and fell straight through the net, not even
bothering to tease the crowd by bouncing across the
The crowd, as if each individual were playing their
own game of Operation, let their arms fall, whooshed
and then erupted, as if they had just removed the broken
heart from the game board without touching the sides,
without the lit-up red nose or the buzz of defeat. There
was no way the Bulldogs could overcome a four-point
deficit with less than three seconds -- not even the
dreaded Sylvester Seay could pull his team out the this,
the crowd knew it, and the Aggies had won.
Could Quayle be the Aggies' knight in shining armor,
riding on his "Mustang" from WWCC, to finish his quest
for glory on a "Big Blue" bull?
Aggie fans can only cross their fingers, pray to their
holy Jaycee Carroll, and wait, wait to see if Jared
Quayle can lead Big Blue forward to slay the Panthers
of Pitt, the Deamon Deacons of Wake Forest, and the
ever-present Tar Heels of North Carolina.
Will he vanquish the curse that has so long plagued
Utah State basketball? Only time will tell.