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a silent salute: The audience "claps" at Joke Night during Deaf Awareness week. Click Arts&Life for a link to story. / Photo by Leah Lopshire

Today's word on journalism

December 15, 2008

As part of my own personal "war on Christmas" (which a Utah state senator has offered legislation to outlaw), the WORD celebrates the season by going on hiatus until January. May all out days be merry and bright, and here’s to a safe, healthy and saner New Year. HoHoHo!

Empty Minds: "Of all the people expressing their mental vacuity, none has a better excuse for an empty head than the newspaperman: If he pauses to restock his brain, he invites onrushing deadlines to trample him flat. Broadcasting the contents of empty minds is what most of us do most of the time, and nobody more relentlessly than I."

--Russell Baker, Pulitzer-winning columnist

Speak up! Comment on the WORD at

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

When fans around the US think 'winner,' why don't they think USU?

By Connor Jones

November 10, 2008 | Ask any die-hard college hoops fan to name five college teams that have dominated in the last decade and you'd probably hear names such as Duke, Gonzaga, North Carolina, Kansas and Texas.

One team you probably wouldn't hear mentioned is Utah State. Over the last nine years, Utah State is one of three NCAA schools to have won at least 23 games in each of those seasons; the other two are Gonzaga and Kansas.

Since 2000, Utah State is ranked No. 5 in best winning percentage in the NCAA with .753 percent.

So why aren't the Aggies (no not A&M) one of the first teams to pop into any college basketball fan's head?

USU has a tradition of great basketball teams. From E. Lowell Romney's 1934-35, 17-win team, to Ladell Anderson's 1963-64 team that went to the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the second round, USU knows how to get it done on the hard court. The only question is when will the Aggies get respected for it?

The Utah State basketball team has averaged 24.7 wins in the last nine seasons. In the 2007-08 season Utah State was first in the NCAA in free-throw percentage with 79.2, first in field-goal percentage with 51.4, eighth in assists per game with 17.7, and ninth in three-point percentage with 40.1.

Under coach Stew Morrill's reign, USU has been impressive to say the least. Morrill has been the Aggie coach since 1999, where he's gone 238 wins and 86 losses, making him the winningest coach in school history. Within conference play Morrill's winning percentage is .738 with 124 wins and 44 losses.

Since arriving at Utah State, Morrill has never had a losing season and has led the Aggies to nine strait postseason appearances. Morrill is in a select group of only 33 active coaches with 400 or more career wins at the Division 1 level. He is also one of only 13 active coaches to have 13 20-win seasons.

The Aggies have three starters returning this season: Tyler Newbold, Tai Wesley and Gary Wilkinson. They hope to help USU return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006.

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