It's not an ideal position to be in for the Utah State basketball team toeing the edge of Western Athletic Conference play. But it's a reality after freshman Quincy Bair left the team this week.
Butterfield, Preston Medlin and Marvin Jean will be spread out among the 2- and 3-spots, and none of them look to get much of a break after tipoff. Although TeNale Roland and Kyisean Reed might get time at those positions, it's a backup plan, not the way Utah State is comfortable running full-time.
Although the Aggies have gone 9-1 so far, the problems come at a time when the team is facing a foggy conference slate ahead. Two teams new in the WAC UT San Antonio and Texas State are first on the list, and Utah State has only played a pair of away games so far.
Not only does coach Stew Morrill feel a bit strange about not having faced a conference foe before, he still is trying to figure out exactly where his team falls on the map. As WAC play continues, Morrill says he'll have a better sense of the team's identity.
One thing he was up front about: The Aggies need to guard better. The fourth-best WAC scoring defense and the fifth-best percentage defense won't win a championship.
"We are not there," Morrill said. "That's an area that's definitely a concern. … We're in the middle of the pack defensively, and we've got to try to get better in that area."
These challenges are stacked on top of a busy schedule, four games in the next eight days.
From this Saturday to the next, Utah State will be tested with its depth, with its defense, with its ability to play on the road.
All the Aggies can do is play.
"The biggest challenge will be for us to stay together," Reed said. "On the road, that's the big thing. I feel like we have some momentum from our tournament going into this week, we just need to keep it going."
Utah State at UT San Antonio
P At the Convocation Center (San Antonio)
Tipoff • 5 p.m. Radio • 97.5 FM
Records • Utah State (9-1); UT San Antonio (4-6)
Series history • First meeting
About the Aggies • Utah State is on an eight game-winning streak which leads the Western Athletic Conference. … Kyisean Reed earned WAC Player of the Week honors after averaging 16.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game at the World Vision Basketball Challenge.
About the Roadrunners • UTSA has played all but one game on the road, its last home game was on Nov. 17. … Senior guard Kannon Burrage is the WAC's second-leading scorer with 18.6 points per game.