USU men's basketball head coach Tim Duryea addressed the media on Friday and answered questions about the upcoming Mountain West contest against Fresno State on Saturday, Jan. 28. The complete transcript of the press conference can be found below.
On Fresno State
“Fresno State is a team that is playing really well right now. They were sitting and 2-3 in the league and were a little up-and-down, but the last three games have had impressive performances on both ends of the floor. They are playing with a lot of effort defensively and are a very athletic group.
“Offensively, they are settling into their roles. They have a couple of transfers who are doing a good job for them. They are a very, very athletic group. They are playing unselfishly and are very balanced. They have six guys that are averaging in double figures in the league.
“Rodney (Terry) always does a great job with his guys. They always play hard. You know what you are going to get when you play them. More than likely, you are going to see 40 minutes of pressure man-to-man defense. Offensively you are going to have to defend a lot of handoffs and ball screens and then have to rebound the ball to have a chance. For the last two to three weeks, they have been playing extremely well.”
On Fresno State’s shooting
“They don’t shoot a lot of 3s, but the guys who shoot the most of them, Deshon Taylor and Jahmel Taylor, shoot a very high percentage. Jahmel Taylor may be in the top-10 of the country in 3-point field goal percentage. They do a good job of playing their roles and getting those guys shots. They do a great job scoring around the basket with their athleticism. Terrell Carter (II) is a big body who can score down low. I’ve been impressed with their freshman, Bryson Williams. He shoots the ball at a very high percentage. He doesn’t try to do things that he can’t do. He powers the ball up around the basket and in the lane. Because of that, he is shooting close to 64 percent. Their frontline guys shoot a high percentage, which allows their guards a little more freedom to shoot it from 3. Paul Watson is a much better shooter than what he is shooting in conference play from 3. They have a good mix with inside and outside and are shooting at a high percentage.”
On the status of Fresno State’s Cullen Russo
“Cullen Russo is a talented kid that plays the four. He can put the ball on the floor and go by you, can make a 3-point shot, can block a shot and is an active rebounder. He has missed the last three games because of an academic issue and I don’t know the status of his eligibility. I think it is up in the air for our game, but it is not an injury situation. It is clerical or eligibility related.”
On Fresno State’s Jaron Hopkins
“Jaron Hopkins is a transfer from Colorado and a kid we actually tried to recruit. He is playing mostly point guard for them and is a big point. He is 6-foot-6, 6-foot-5 and is extremely athletic and drives the ball hard and scores at the basket. He doesn’t really shoot the ball with range, but in transition and off ball screens does a great job of getting to the rim and has some impressive finishes around the basket.”
On what Utah State needs to do to be aggressive and avoid scoring lulls
“That is a big thing we talked about yesterday. I really liked our look in the first half against New Mexico. If we make a couple of layups and a couple of free throws, we would probably have had a five or six-point lead going into the half, just making things that we should make. In the second half, we lost a bit of our aggressively. We talked about it yesterday that we need to press the issue and stay aggressive in driving the ball. We quit driving the ball in the second half and with the makeup of our team offensively, it is something we have to do for 40 minutes. That takes determination and a mindset of not settling for average shots. We need to press the issue and know what you want to get offensively. For us, it is driving the ball to the lane.
“I don’t think New Mexico did anything different, but we need to be more determined than that. When we are going through a stretch of two or three minutes without a basket, we need to do a better job of drawing a foul, finishing around the basket when we could have finished, being more aggressive off ball screens and creating a help situation and making a play for a teammate. We need to avoid live ball turnover in those situations and make a shot on goal in those situations. I thought we lost a little aggressive in those situations and the main point of emphasis in practice yesterday was to try and foster that mindset for 40 minutes. We have to do that to be successful.
“We also need to continue to push the pace. That is something Koby (McEwen) does really well. He gives us a little more thrust on the break and that is something we need to do as well. We need to have two halves like the first half at New Mexico and then we can play against anybody, anywhere in the league. If we fall off that level, then we need to play through some guys that have the ability to draw a foul or finish a play at the block or creating a wide open shot for a teammate. We need to do a better job there.”
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