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BAR CHORDS 'R' US: Jasmine Michaelson kicks off a rock benefit for Bridgerland Literacy Tuesday night in the TSC. / Photo by Mike Sweeney
Today's word on

Sunday, April 10, 2005

"Lest we forget, while you're writing, you're not living. What do they call it? Splendid isolation? I don't find it that splendid."

--Bob Dylan, singer and songwriter, on the writing of his autobiography, 2004 (Thanks to alert WORDster Andy "One-Thumb" Merton)

Carroll slam dunks into his first year of college basketball

By Jerome Le Carrou / photo by Josh Russell

March 31, 2005 | Jaycee Carroll's first college basketball's season has been everything he has expected and hoped for. Not only did he help win the Big West Tournament, play a first-round NCAA Tournament game and earn important awards, but he also learned a lot.

Carroll is the first freshman player in the Big West history to be named Most Valuable Player of the tournament. It is a great honor to receive, he said.

"I am just glad that my teammates didn't get mad, they were unselfish, there is no complaining as I shot the ball," Carroll said. "I also thanked the coaches for the confidence they had in me to build the play and compete at this level."

Carroll said one of his best memories of the season is winning the tournament against nationally ranked Pacific. Carroll was glad that his team finally beat Pacific, especially after losing twice to the team this season.

"Beating [Pacific] was a real privilege," Carroll said. "Finally we are the best team, we now have proved it, 15 points win, you could really see who is the champion." His second best memory is having the chance to compete against nationally renowned players, like Andrew Bogut from University of Utah, and Salim Stoudemire from Arizona.

Carroll said he was really excited to get into the NCAA first round. Utah State was one of 65 out of 365 teams to make it to the tournament.

"To get there was a big step," Carroll said.

He said playing against "a great bunch of athletes" in Arizona's tournament-experienced team was a tough draw.

For Carroll, the most exciting part was playing against Stoudemire.

"I had a chance to go head a head with him for most of the game. It was great," he said.

Carroll said he likes to observe Stoudemire, who plays Carroll's position, and learn from the good plays he does during a game.

During the season, Carroll said he learned a lot from Senior Spencer Nelson. Nelson helped Carroll to handle his return from his mission in Chile. Nelson had previously experienced the same situation.

"[Playing with Nelson] It was a great learning experience for me, and I probably couldn't have had a better senior to look at for a first year," Carroll said.

Last August, Carroll returned to Logan after serving an LDS mission in Chile. Carroll needed to quickly get back in shape in orderfor the coming season.

"My second day back here in the U.S., I went to the gym, and three weeks later I came down here and started the workout program [the team] had," Carroll said.

Carroll said the players helped him to figure out how to play in Coach Morrill's system.

"The team helped me to learn a lot more quickly than if I was just kind of on my own," said Carroll.

During the season, Carroll's schedule was busy. Every day the team met at 1 p.m. and left the Spectrum at 5.30 p.m. The team practiced and studied game footage. For Carroll, Monday was the busiest day, which started at 7 a.m. He had to lift weights, attend classes in the morning, and go to afternoon practice. Just when the day was thought to be over, Carroll still had to study before bed.

"It was kind of hectic to begin with, but I have found a pretty balance," Carroll said.

Coach Morrill said Carroll plays with "no fear."

Carroll said "no fear and self-confidence" is the key to his success. Carroll said his experience as a missionary in Chile helped him to behave in that way.

"As a missionary, you get down there, you don't know how to speak the language, I would get a new kid that just came from the U.S. and he couldn't speak Spanish and I have always taught to act like you belong, act like you know what you are doing. It's just the same I did this year, act like you belong, act like you play basketball, no fear and just confidence that you are able to play." Carroll said.

Carroll is able to play without any apprehension, however, he said playing in the Spectrum was very impressive.

"Our fans are very important, there is no other gym we have ever been to where the other teams' fans are louder than ours," Carroll said. "It's so much fun to sit there on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday nights and just kind of think about what's going to happen Thursday night at the Gym."

Carroll said he was really impressed during the game against Utah, when for the first time the Spectrum was in "full-force" at halftime.

"My ears were ringing, It was a real feeling especially when you hit a shot everyone is kind of going crazy," said Carroll.

Far from all this agitation, Carroll said he has taken a two weeks break with no basketball. During this period Carroll said he has spent time playing others sports that he likes, as racquetball, tennis, frisbee, football baseball and golf. He also likes fishing, hunting, hiking and is also going snowboarding for the second time in a few days.

Carroll said he likes watching NBA, his favorite team for the moment is the Heat, however he often wears his Celtics jersey, another team he likes. Carroll listens to the rock group, Creed, Linkin Park, Nelly and some classical music.

Carroll said he is looking forward to the next season.

"I have very high expectations, I expect to improve my skills this summer to be a better ball-handler, a better shooter, a better passer as well, as a team we are going to a tougher conference so I expect my teammates to improve individually and when we get back together in the Fall, we can just work our team stuff," said Carroll.

Carroll is one of those players every university would like to have. Carroll will be playing for Utah Stae for three more years. For those who dream to succeed as a college basketball player, Carroll is a model to follow. Carroll gives golden nugget advice for success.

"Believe you can play, no matter how big you are, how tall you are, just first of all believe you can play. Practice to prove it, practice to get the skills, take some dedications and take the time to perfect the skills that you need," he said fearlessly.


Copyright 1997-2004 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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