LOGAN, UTAH (AP) - They may be the Rodney Dangerfields of college basketball, playing in a conference that doesn’t get much respect in a state where they’re not even the best team to take the court.
All Utah State does is win, which is why the Aggies (20-2) are No. 22 in the latest Associated Press poll after winning 15 straight games, including Saturday night’s double-overtime thriller at Hawaii.
“I’m sure when people see the Top 25 now and see Utah State they say, ‘What the crud is going on?’” Aggies senior guard Tyler Newbold said Tuesday. “Especially on the East Coast, I’m sure they don’t know a lot about us.”
That could change with three of their next six games being televised nationally, starting Wednesday night against Nevada.
Of course, coach Stew Morrill knows nothing is guaranteed.
“It’s great to be ranked, but I told (the players) to enjoy it while it lasts and try to make it last because … if you get beat, especially in a non-BCS conference situation, often times you move out of the rankings in a hurry,” Morrill said.
It can only help that four of Utah State’s next five games are at home, at the 10,270-seat Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, an arena that some rank behind only those of Duke and Kansas for sheer electricity.
Start with the coziness of the Spectrum, where the students are close enough to whisper in opponents’ ears. Except they don’t whisper. They taunt and tease, egged on by a cheat-sheet called The Refraction that often provides intimate details that get magnified by a rowdy student body.
Last year when one opposing player faced indecent exposure charges, they chanted “keep your pants on” throughout the game.
The students know nicknames, Facebook posts and even where players were born.
“If there’s info out there, we’ll get on it,” said Matt Sonnenberg, a 25-year-old senior journalism major and sports editor of the Utah Statesman who started printing The Refraction tabloid four years ago.
If the students don’t get to opponents, Wild Bill _ aka Shirtless Bill Sproat _ usually does.
The 300-pounder has been known to dress up like cupid, a hula dancer, snorkeler, pirate, or even a Chippendale dancer to distract opponents shooting free throws.
“He comes out in some pretty funny stuff and gets everyone in the (arena) laughing and going nuts,” Newbold said. “Students love it. They’re into it. It’s what makes it so great.”
It all works to create an atmosphere that is loud and raunchy.