USU men's basketball head coach Tim Duryea addressed the media on Tuesday and answered questions about the upcoming Mountain West contest against New Mexico on Wednesday, Jan. 4. The complete transcript of the press conference can be found below.
On New Mexico
“New Mexico is really playing well. They’ve had two really good wins in a row and it looks like they are playing their best basketball of the year. When you go to San Diego State and win, you don’t do that unless you are playing well on both sides of the ball. They don’t give you any surprises. You know they are going to play through Tim Williams on the block and do a lot of things to get Elijah Brown shots. They are going to run him off screens, set ball screens for him and iso him. They are two of the most talented players in the league.
“I’m really impressed with the poise they showed at San Diego State after being down in the first half. They came back and didn’t panic and played one of their best defensive halves of the year in the second half at San Diego State.
“They give you multiple looks defensively with man and zone and run a lot different things offensively to get those two guys the ball in their spots. Overall, they are big, talented, have speed at the point, can shoot the ball from the wings and Williams is a handful on the block.”
On players to watch outside of Williams and Brown
“Dane Kuiper. He is a guy that is sneaky good. He is a good shooter and shoots at a high percentage. He doesn’t get a ton of looks because of all the things they are doing for Brown and Williams, but if he is left unattended he can knock down 3s. He is deceivingly good off the bounce. In transition, Jalen Harris, is extremely fast. He is their starting point guard. He makes the game easier for other people. He does a great job of pushing the ball with speed on misses. Kuiper and Brown get to the corners and he gets them easy shots because of his speed.”
On Tim Williams’ consistency
“The thing that allows him to be consistent is that he can score in a variety of ways. He is a big, strong guy and if you leave him in one-on-one coverage on the block, he can score. He can go over his right shoulder, left shoulder and is very skilled down there. He gets doubled so much at the block that he can make midrange jumpers in a high-low situation or by popping off of a ball-screen situation. He can put the ball on the floor and go by you. They can iso him and he’ll drive by his defender. He is also a good offensive rebounder. He really has no holes in his offensive game. He doesn’t shoot 3s, but 18 feet and in there is nothing he can’t do offensively. If he were just a low-block scorer, then you could take him out with a double team, but he is a good enough passer that he can make you pay in that situation. If you double team him all night on the block, then he can go out and face up and put the ball on the floor and has a variety of ways that he can score. That is the secret in his consistency.”
On what needs to be improved defensively
“The issue with our defense hasn’t been a team thing or getting beat on missed assignments because of game preparation. We are getting beat on individual defense. We’ve given up a lot of baskets over the last four games with under 10 on the shot clock. As a team we are handling our assignments and taking care of things for 15, 18, 20 seconds, and then getting broken down guarding the ball one-on-one or one-on-one in the post. It is an individual defensive thing, rather than a team defensive thing. We need to sure up and be a little more tougher on the ball, tougher at the end of the clock and tougher on keeping the ball out of the post at the end of the clock. That is really how we have been hurt, more individually than team-wise.”
On the play of Alexis Dargenton
“We are going to keep giving Alex a look. His confidence is coming up. The Air Force game is a tough one to play with two bigs on the floor. You really have to play with four perimeter players on the floor all the time. We went small a lot. He had a couple of turnovers early that didn’t help his cause, but the thing that hurt his cause more than anything was the style of the game and the style of offense we had to play against. We were going to go small with Jalen at the four for most of the game. That was really more an indictment on what kind of defense Air Force plays, more than an indictment on how Alex played. He has been making progress and getting his confidence up and doing some more things. He still has to defend, rebound and can’t afford to turn the ball over or be careless with the ball on offense. He has to play his role every night to help us out. I’ll continue to go with him at the four as it stands right now.”
On the play of Koby McEwen
“He is a natural leader and competitor. He is a guy that will naturally rise to the challenge. He is not afraid to fail and wants to take big shots. He has made a lot of big shots in his career. He wants to be in that situation. That is his personality. We need to play toward that. We need to go to him a little more late in games and in special situations. We are going to start doing that with him being the closer and the ball going through his hands and allowing him to make a decision, make a shot and take a shot. Our team needs to head in that direction. He has all the qualities you want in those situations because he is not afraid to fail.”
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