USU men's basketball head coach Tim Duryea addressed the media on Friday and answered questions about the upcoming game at Fresno State on Saturday, Jan. 27. The complete transcript of the press conference can be found below.
On Fresno State:
“I really like Fresno State’s team. They are an extreme challenge to guard. You look at Fresno State, and they are extremely talented one through five offensively. What I like about them is they really have an identity. They have the ability to make 15 threes a game if you let them and leave them open. You have Deshon Taylor and Jahmel Taylor, those guys can really shoot it, and yet, their identity lately, winning tough games, has been to throw the ball inside to Terrell Carter, to Bryson Williams. Those guys have done a tremendous job. They’re making six threes a game in league, not because they can’t make more, but because they’re taking advantage of matchups in every game that they feel like will help them win the game. I love their mentality as a team. I think they’re experienced, I think they’re smart and I think they’re well-coached. Obviously, whenever you play there, you have to handle their pressure defense, both on the full court and on the half court. You know they’re going to play you pressure man, they’re going to get after you. They want to make you turn the ball over. They want to create offense off their defense. If you want to win there, that’s an absolute no-no.”
On Fresno State closing out tight games:
“I think it’s all about the purpose that they are playing with, offensively. You watch them play game after game, and you see very few, what I would call loose possessions. Where someone takes a shot that’s ill-advised or that you would consider a selfish shot or not really following the game plan. They have tremendous purpose on offense. They back that up with a solid defense. They can block shots, they can get out and pressure you and that’s a pretty good combination.”
On Fresno State’s post play:
“Late in the game (against USU), they went inside to Bryson Williams, and we had a hard time there. I think Sam Bittner was a little bit more of a focal point of their offense early, he was getting more 3-point looks. A lot of times, when you get into your league, people take things like that away, so they’re playing big a little bit more. (Nate) Grimes was huge for them at San Diego State. San Diego State played a lot of zone against them, and Grimes did a great job on the baseline, around the basket, finishing plays, getting offensive rebounds, which is what he does. He may be the best offensive rebounder in the league per minute played. So, I just think they’re a really intelligent, well-coached team. I think they’re doing a great job.”
On Fresno State’s balance:
“The sum total comes out about the same. They probably change what they do as little as anybody in the league from game to game when you play them. But, what they do, they do really well. Whether it’s make 10 or 12 threes, which they have the ability to do, they’re going to end the game shooting a high percentage from three, a high percentage from two, they take care of the ball pretty well, and again, they have talented offensive players at every spot. You go down spot by spot and look at each player, and that player has a skill set. Whether it’s (Ray) Bowles (Jr.) driving the ball into the mid-range and scoring, but then he makes one three a game at a high percentage. Deshon Taylor gets to the foul line because he shot-fakes you so well. Jahmel Taylor, you have to guard him anywhere past the logo. If you give him a free look, he makes long-range threes at a high percentage. Then, those post guys can really score. They have you, anyway you want to guard them, they have a remedy for that, and not only do they have a remedy, but they recognize what that is, and they go to it.”
On what Fresno State will try and take away from the first game against USU:
“I’m not sure that there’s one thing that stuck out, watching our game against them. We did a lot of things, defensively. We threw a lot of things at our guys, in terms of changing defenses man to zone, zone to man, pressed them a little bit, half-court a little bit. Our guys did a good job, for the most part, of following the game plan, and really threw a lot of looks at them to keep them off-balance. Maybe that’s one thing, if I’m them, I know that I’m going to come into the game and Utah State’s probably going to change defenses a lot. We have to make that transition and be good in one defense and then be good against another. Other than that, I thought they played really, really well. Our guys just made a lot of plays at the end of the game to force overtime, and we played really well down the stretch. I think they would take the same type effort that they had against us in the first game, and challenge us to meet that.”
On the health of the team:
“Alex (Dargenton) didn’t re-injure anything the other night against Air Force. He kind of got his feet wet. He’s probably 80 percent. Everybody else is pretty healthy. Julion Pearre is getting closer to being able to help us. He’s not there yet, but at least he’s back doing some basketball things on the court. Everybody else that we’re going to have is good to go.”
On what the team will focus on in the second half of Mountain West play:
“I think our main focus has to be to finish games. You look back at the first nine games, and there’s obviously two or three that were there to be won, that we just did not step up on either end of the floor in the last three or four minutes of the game and get that key stop, get that key rebound, make that key shot that’s going to put you over the hump to win close games. There are a lot of close games in this league. We’re going to have a lot of close ones in the second half. We have to just finish. We have that confidence that things don’t have to go well from start to finish for us. We can have some poor stretches, but when it gets down to the last four minutes, we have to have that winning confidence, and we’ve let a couple get away.”
On DeAngelo Isby:
“I thought it was a tough defensive matchup for him, being a new player guarding the Air Force system. The other thing, we’ve lost a couple, three in a row, and just looking for a different vibe, a different spark off the bench. Crew Ainge deserves a chance to play a little bit and see what he can do. A lot of factors go into that. Minutes are earned. You have to produce in practice, you have to produce in games. If you don’t, like I said, at some point, somebody else deserves a chance.”
On if this game against Fresno State is one where Isby could match up better:
“We’ll take it and see how the game’s going. I do plan on giving Crew Ainge another chance in this game to play some one. What that does, also, is it moves Koby McEwen off the ball a little bit, which I think helps him mentally. Koby’s more of a combo guard than he is a straight point guard. If we can get him off the ball, maybe that disrupts the other team’s scheme a little bit in terms of taking him away. I think it can help our team in a lot of different ways. Then, Crew Ainge is a very good on the ball defender. A good matchup, maybe for Deshon Taylor or Jahmel Taylor. He gives you a little spark in there, and that’s something we need off the bench.”
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