USU men's basketball head coach Tim Duryea addressed the media on Tuesday and answered questions about the upcoming game against Colorado State on Wednesday, Jan. 10. The complete transcript of the press conference can be found below.
On Colorado State:
“Watching Colorado State, you almost know what you’re going to get before you even turn the tape on with Larry (Eustachy)’s teams. You’re going to get a team that plays with a lot of offensive confidence, a lot of offensive freedom. They have a lot of guys that can do a lot of things on the floor offensively. Then you know, obviously, they’re going to pound the glass. (Nico) Carvacho has picked up right where he left off. I’m really impressed with his activity. He’s one of the most active 6’10”, 6’11” kids you’ll see in the country. He runs around the perimeter, he sets ball screens, he posts up on the block and he does a lot of things to help his teammates get shots. Then, like I said, he’s relentless on the glass. Obviously, they miss (Gian) Clavell and (Emmanuel) Omogbo a lot. Those are two heavy, heavy losses right there. But with Carvacho, Prentiss Nixon and J.D. Paige back, that’s three core guys from last year’s team. I think they’re right there in almost every game they play. They compete, they play hard and they defend you physically. That’s what Larry’s teams do. They’ve always done a good job with us in terms of taking our number one and number two options away and really trying to be physical and aggressive with us, and I don’t expect anything different tomorrow night.”
On CSU’s shooting and rebounding woes in conference play:
“It’s a little deceiving. You don’t see that when you watch them play. They’ve had a lot of shots kind of go in and out. Their percentages, I think, belie how effective they are or can be. You look at the kids they throw out there, Anthony Bonner has been starting for them, he does a great job from the 3-point line. Lorenzo Jenkins kind of comes in as a stretch four and can make threes. Obviously, we know how capable Nixon and Paige are. I think it’ll even out, and when it’s all said and done, their percentages will be much better than where they sit right now. We have to do our best to make sure we put enough pressure on them in our defenses to make them take tough shots. They’ve played two really good defensive teams in San Diego State and Fresno State, and that has a lot to do with their shooting percentages as well.”
On if playing similar opponents has helped prep for Colorado State:
“I think it helps your preparation as a coach when you can watch them play against the same teams you’ve played against, see if they have the same problems or issues that you had playing against those teams. I think it gives our players kind of a reference point, but we talk to our guys all the time about how in this league, you’re making a mistake if you just look at records on paper or compare scores. It’s really hard to do when teams are as closely matched as they are in this league. But as a coach, it gives you a good reference point as far as your preparation goes and what your problems or issues might be that you have to prepare for.”
On how motivating it is to be in a position to play for first place in the conference:
“Our guys feel good about the start we’re off to. Obviously, last week, we had two really, really tough wins. I think they look at it more that way, in terms of they feel good about how they’re playing. I think it’s way too early. I don’t think they’re looking at all in terms of what place this win our loss would put us in. It’s just so, so early. What they do look at, and what they do feed off is the success they’ve had in the short term here, and again, how well they’re playing. I think last week was a big confidence booster for them. It validated, maybe, what they felt about themselves before then, but hadn’t proven. You can start to feel that a little bit in terms of second half, late-game timeouts, the conversations, the body language and those types of things. They’re much more confident than they were maybe six weeks ago.”
On winning games while being shorthanded in the post:
“I think our guys look at it on both ends of the floor. Because of the way we play, we are very interdependent on each other. Defensively, we have to help our bigs. We know that. We double the post a lot. We have to rotate out of there. It’s really a team-wide issue. It’s not like we had a guy that could guard one-on-one in the post before, and we started the season with him and he got hurt and now we’ve had to totally change what we do. We’ve changed parts, but we haven’t really changed scheme. Offensively, it’s the same thing. We try to be balanced and play together. Our screeners need to screen, and our perimeter players have to make shots for each other. It’s more of a group-type attitude. Yeah, the parts have changed on both ends, but the way we try to go about it hasn’t. I think they’ve developed confidence in a couple of guys, too. So, maybe it’s helped us develop a couple guys a little bit. It’s not really the way you want to go about it, and it’s not the way our guys really want to go about it, but it’s the way we’ve been forced to go about it.”
On the health status of the team:
“I don’t think we’re going to have Julion Pearre for a couple weeks. The way it looks, it’s not really a day-to-day situation, it’s more of a week-to-week issue. Alex Dargenton, if we don’t have any setbacks, we’ll have him tomorrow night at some percentage. It won’t be 100 percent, but he’ll be able to play. Klay Stall goes and sees the doctor today. I think the expectation is to set a surgery date today, and he’ll be out for the year.”
On how leadership is keeping the team grounded:
“We do have a lot of leadership and some maturity in there. We probably had two of the more fun locker room celebrations in the same week than we’ve had in a long time, and yet when we celebrated Wednesday after the tough win against Fresno, just because of the way we won the game, there was a lot of emotion and celebration after. But Thursday and Friday, they got right to UNLV and were very mature in the way they prepared. Then, Saturday, obviously a historical win, and again we had a great time in the post-game locker room. And yet yesterday we got right on to Colorado State, and there really wasn’t any big physical or mental hangover. They’re a pretty mature group. And I’ve said it before, the best thing that I like about them is they want to be good. They want to do what it takes to be good. They realize we’re not just a show up and play kind of team. We’re not that way. We have to prepare, be organized and we have to have a plan. That takes preparation. That takes a couple days to get that done. I’ve been really pleased with the way they’ve gone about it.”
On USU’s success when sophomore guards Koby McEwen and Sam Merrill play well:
“Those two guys have to kind of lead the way, stay out on the floor and stay out of foul trouble. Stay injury-free. Stay on-point on both ends of the floor. I thought Dwayne Brown had his best overall defensive effort, his highest defensive grade at Vegas. He was steadier for longer periods than he has been. Quinn Taylor made some big plays. We’re just kind of pitching in where we can. But Sam and Koby, obviously, have to lead the way for us to be who we want to be.”
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