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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 16, 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

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

Big opening win -- sign of things to come, or just beating up a weak opponent?

SCRAMBLE: The Aggies and Lights converge on a rebound. / Photo by Leah Lopshire

By Connor H. Jones

November 16, 2008 | The Utah State Aggies won their 54th straight regular season non-conference home game Friday night against the Montana State Northern Lights, 71-50. The 21-point win left some Aggie fans wondering, is this a preview of the season to come or just an Aggie team playing OK against a less-talented, NAIA team?

The question creeping across the rows of the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum is about USU's center and point guard play. Coach Stew Morrill has been starting 5-foot-9 freshman Jaxon Myaer at point guard this season. Myaer redshirted during the 2007-08 season, which he said helped him get prepared for this season.

"It's coming around," Myaer said."It's [Coach Morrill's system] becoming a lot more natural for me. I feel comfortable out there."

Myaer isn't the only point guard getting used to Morrill's style of play. Junior transfer from Western Wyoming Community College Jared Quayle is also learning to run the team. In the 2007-08 National Junior College Athletic Association season, Quayle finished fifth in the nation in scoring with 24.4 points per game. As a sophomore he also earned second-team NJCAA All-American honors.

NOT ME! Gary Wilkinson disputes a foul call. / Photo by Leah Lopshire

In Friday's game the two point guards had six assists, nine points, and three rebounds.

"I think our point guard play improved a lot. Jaxon being a freshman and Jared Quayle coming in, they just gotta know they can play," said Gary Wilkinson, senior center. "Coach recruited them here knowing they can play. They made a huge step forward tonight and I was really impressed with both of them."

Wilkinson, USU's star center, is the only senior on this year's roster. After being honored in the 2007-08 season with the Academic All-WAC, WAC All-Newcomers Team, and Second-Team All-WAC, he was named the 2008-09 WAC preseason player of the year. Wilkinson scored a career high Friday night with 24 points, hitting 10 of his 11 attempted shots.

Modou Niang, sophomore center from Senegal, is expected to contribute more this year. As a truefreshman last season Niang scored a total of 11 points. He was named the top center two years in a row in the National High School Championships in Japan. In his senior season he averaged a double-double and led the nation in scoring with 32.3 points, 18.7 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 3.6 blocks per game. He had senior highs of 51 points and 40 rebounds.

On paper, USU's center position looks strong. Wilkinson, the veteran, will need to continue with solid play and the majority of the minutes. Niang's size, athleticism and energy off the bench will be important to this year's team.


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