USU men's basketball head coach Tim Duryea addressed the media on Tuesday and answered questions about the upcoming game against Air Force on Wednesday, Jan. 24. The complete transcript of the press conference can be found below.
On Air Force:
“Both of Air Force’s last games have been on the road and were both wins. They are playing with a lot of confidence. You can tell that they have some kids who have played in that system. They are playing fast. They are making the extra pass and helping each other be better by playing together and really playing with a lot of confidence.
“When you play them, they have solid players up and down the line. They play a lot of guys. You have to play against their system, both offensively and defensively. Offensively, you know what you are going to get in terms of the Princeton stuff and the back cuts. They have really increased the number of threes they are shooting and the number of threes they are making. That is probably the reason for the last two victories.
“You also have to worry about how you are going to score. They change it up, they’ll play you straight man, they’ll play you straight zone or play the Princeton defense that is half man/half zone. Nobody knows what it is, nobody knows the rules, the nobody-can-figure-it-out defense that they have been playing for years. They’ll change it up defensively and scoring is always an issue, as well as figuring out how to stop them. That system is time-tested and really gives you a lot of problems. They are the hardest team in the league for us to prepare for and we started that process yesterday.”
On Air Force’s depth:
“I’m very envious when I look at their minutes and their depth and all of the kids that are contributing for them. It would be a nice problem to have. We are not in that situation and there isn’t much we can do about that. We need to buckle down and be smart about when to push the ball and when we don’t, and be smart about that with our depth and foul situation. They are playing a little faster than they have before. It is partly Dave’s (Pilipovich) personality and partly because they have the depth and they have so many kids they can play.”
On Air Force’s Trevor Lyons, Lavelle Scottie and Jacob Van:
“Those three guys do a really good job and are all very experienced. All of them are very good shooters from three. The other kid I’m really impressed with is Ryan Swan. He’s come in, Frank Toohey has been a solid player in that P-spot, and taken a lot of those minutes. He is a big-bodied, talented, skilled guy. He can shoot the three, he can put it on the floor and he does a really good job posting up. He’s got a big body. He’s 6-7, 225/230, and I’m really impressed with his ability there at the P-spot.”
On what it will take to get off to a good start against Air Force:
“It is all about a defensive mindset. The great start needs to come from being locked in defensively. They can get you on skates, they can make you look really bad if you are not focusing one pass at a time defensively. It takes defensive patience. Once they get you on the half court, you may have to defend for 20, 22, 25 seconds and keep your focus and concentration. One little slip up or one pass where you don’t do the right thing or lose your focus, you can give up a back-door layup, you can give up a wide-open three. It just keeps coming at you. Hopefully, being locked in and requiring that much focus on defense will put us on task mentally and get us where we need to be. We’ve had some wildly inconsistent starts. We’ve had some wildly inconsistent halves lately. We can’t afford that tomorrow night.”
On if two days is enough to prepare for Air Force:
“The perfect scenario to play Air Force is when you are coming off of your bye. When you have a week to prepare. This is normal conference preparation time. They just take a little bit more in terms of what you need to teach your guys on the floor. For us, we need to teach our scout team and get them to emulate that system in a couple of days and that is hard. Our coaches do a good job of preparing those guys. We started yesterday and it was a good first day. The new guys, when they see this for the first time, their heads are really spinning in terms of preparation. Usually by the second practice and by the shootaround on game day, you can see the progress, mentally, that is being made.”
On if Air Force has had enough time to prepare for Utah State:
“They were probably able to practice yesterday. Sunday is probably a day they take off. I’m not sure of their schedule, but when the issue was solved I would bet they had yesterday and today and then shootaround to get ready. It didn’t have a huge effect. They basically got a bye on Saturday without having to play. I’m close to Andy Moore on their staff and we text quite a bit. But, we haven’t texted about this situation.”
On the health of Alex Dargenton:
“I don’t know. Alex practiced about half of the time yesterday, didn’t do anything live and just did skeleton stuff. We are just trying to get him to be playable. That would be about 75 percent, minimum. He wasn’t there yesterday. We are hoping with 24 more hours and three more treatment sessions today that we can get him closer to that and then get a little adrenaline going. With 24 more hours on Wednesday, then we can get him to 75-80 percent to where we could use him. That is what we are trying to do. Right now, I can’t tell you for sure.”
On what the team needs to do to get its swagger back:
“We have to win. We played three really good halves last week. Our game at Boise (State) was one of our best games of the year, probably top two or three performances of the year. We just didn’t finish the last three minutes on either end of the floor. Our guys have confidence that they can play against anybody in the league on most nights. The Wyoming game, we just didn’t finish. We spent all of that energy and came back and took the lead, but it came down to a four-minute basketball game and we didn’t execute as well as Wyoming did. The lesson there is these games are going to be decided on most nights by one possession. You have to execute every time on both ends of the floor. Defensively we are not doing that right now. Offensively, we are not doing a bad job, but we haven’t made any clutch shots over the last two games. Defensively, down the stretch, we have not been good at all in executing our game plan the last four or five minutes of the game. That is a step we need to make. You mentioned our frontcourt and most of those defensive lapses have come from our frontcourt. Our guards are doing a good job defensively. Our frontcourt, because of a lack of depth, lack of size and lack of experience (we are playing Dwayne Brown (Jr.) and Daron Henson, both in their first year, Quinn (Taylor) is always undersized), is where most of those lapses are coming defensively. Those guys need to improve. Other than Alex, hopefully we can have Alex back, but Klay Stall isn’t putting a uniform on, Norbert Janicek isn’t putting a uniform on and ‘nobody else is walking through those locker room doors’ to quote Rick Pitino. The guys we have, have to get better, there is really no other option.”
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