Utah State basketball coach Stew Morrill was at Danny Berger's bedside this week as the junior forward was lapsing in and out of consciousness.
Berger, in one of his lucid moments, thanked his coach for coming.
"That just about killed me," Morrill said. "Like it was a big deal for me to come. He's just an awfully, awfully good kid."
For Morrill, it was his job to be by Berger, who collapsed Tuesday and whose heart had to be restarted. The coach reiterated that making sure Berger recovers during his stay at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray is one of the most important things for his team.
But with a game on Saturday against Western Oregon, Morrill and the Aggies have to resume the business of winning basketball games. It's been a challenging week for the team since Berger collapsed in practice, but Morrill said the squad was in good spirits when they started up again Thursday.
"It's just that Danny's doing better," Morrill said. "I think it would have been therapeutic [to get back into a routine] at some point no matter what, but the fact that Danny's doing better has made it seem like it's time to go back to the practice floor."
Fortunately for the Aggies, the wing position is one of their deepest spots. Spencer Butterfield will start in Berger's stead, and Marvin Jean is likely to get more playing time. Freshman Quincy Bair is no longer redshirting this year, as Utah State needs all hands on deck.
When the Aggies host Western Oregon at the Spectrum, it will have been 10 days since Utah State's last game. But it's a good game to bounce back with: the Aggies' only Division II opponent this year.
Still, the Wolves boast some threats, especially freshman forward Andy Avgi, who averages 21.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Although Utah State is likely to again have a size and rebounding advantage, Morrill said his team was taking a cautious approach.
"It's a special deal for those kids," Morrill said. "We've never liked somebody big-timing us, let's not big-time anybody."
Western Oregon at Utah State
P At Dee Glen Smith Spectrum (Logan)
Tipoff • 7 p.m.
Internet • utahstateaggies.com
Radio • 610 AM, 102.1 FM
Records • Western Oregon 6-2; Utah State 4-1
Series history • Utah State leads, 1-0
Last meeting • USU 78, WOU 42
About the Wolves • Western Oregon, a Division II team, has won six straight games after starting the year 0-2.
About the Aggies • Utah State is playing its first game in 10 days since the BYU matchup was postponed. … The Aggies enjoy a rebounding margin of 13.6 boards per game, which is good for fourth in the NCAA.