USU men's basketball head coach Tim Duryea addressed the media on Tuesday and answered questions about the upcoming Mountain West contest against Nevada on Wednesday, Feb. 1. The complete transcript of the press conference can be found below.
“I’m really impressed with Nevada. When you watch them play, they are a very good, all-around team. Offensively they are scoring 82 points a game in league play, which leads the league. They have balance. They are very good on the boards. They can make 3s, can score it around the basket and can drive the ball.
“On the other side of the ball, their defensive percentages are tremendous. They are extremely good one-on-one defenders. What they do is not complicated, but each guy can handle his matchup night in and night out athletically. Cameron Oliver does a good job of protecting the rim and blocking shots. When you are holding people to 27 percent from 3 and 40 percent overall with your defense, that is a fantastic foundation from which to build your basketball team.”
On Nevada’s starters and depth
“They bring a couple of kids off of the bench that do a good job for them. But their starters are going to win or lose the game. Each one of them have a specific role and do a good job. Lindsey Drew is very good defender and plays with no ego. He gets everyone the ball and stays out of the way. He is going to defend and rebound and shoot high percentage shots. The wings, (D.J.) Fenner and (Marcus) Marshall, can really score the ball in about every way possible - from driving it to the rim, to playing off pick-and-roll, midrange shots and both shoot the ball from 3 really well. The guy that plays with the most energy in the league night in and night out is Jordan Caroline. He is a threat from three, but his energy is infectious for their team. Cameron Oliver, for a five-man, is a tough matchup because he makes you guard him all the way out to the 3-point line and is very good around the basket in rebounding the ball. You know what you are going to get when you play them and you know who you are going to get it from, that’s the easy part. The hard part is they are very talented, very balanced and don’t win the game with offense or defense, but play both sides of the ball equally well. That is why they are 7-2.”
On Nevada’s pace and relentlessness
“They play with a great mentality. Jordan Caroline provides a lot of that. Relentless is a good word for their team. They don’t play extremely fast, they are a mid-paced team. They can run when they want and can get points off turnovers, can get second chance points and are a very good free throw shooting team. There really isn’t any holes in their game, other than their depth if you get somebody in foul trouble. If you look at their history with fouls, they do a good job of staying out of foul trouble. They are a smart, well-coached, balanced team on both sides of the ball. They make you show up and beat them. It is simple in their approach, but they are very good in what they do.”
On how Fresno State was able to beat Nevada
“Fresno State was able to get out to a quick start, made some 3s and some tough shots right off the bat to get up 14 or 15 points within eight to 10 minutes of the first half and then held on. Nevada came back in the second half and got to within two or three. Marcus Marshall was making some tough shots and made a run, like you would expect with them being at home. Fresno State made some tough shots to start the game and got them down and then held on. In any league, matchups are unique in that when you take the court against one team you feel like you have so many problems to overcome and then you take the court against other teams and it feels like you should beat them the majority of the times you meet them. Then, those two teams are totally different with other teams. It is just a matchup that Fresno State does a good job matching up athletically against Nevada on a man-for-man basis and have won two close games against them. Nobody else has been able to solve that riddle.”
On how Utah State matches up against Nevada
“We match up on the perimeter fairly well with Nevada. We’ve got some size there and can get that done. Caroline’s strength at the four is an issue. The toughest spot will be Oliver’s athleticism and mobility at the five. That will be a tough matchup for Norbie (Janicek), in terms of having to defend that kind of player that roams around the perimeter so much and is an active rebounder and live-bodied athlete. Norbie will have his hands full and will have to guard in some situations that he may not be comfortable with in terms of being so far away from the basket and guarding a guy that has that much mobility and runs the floor that well. We’ll have to see how that one goes and adjust accordingly.”
On the health of the team
“Sam Merrill is making strides (after battling a case of bronchitis). He felt better against Fresno State than he did at New Mexico. On Tuesday he just couldn’t play in long stretches and that was probably the worst of it. He felt better against Fresno State. He was still having some trouble breathing at a high exertion rate in practice yesterday, but I’m hoping that everyday we get a little bit better. We are trying not to wear him out at practice and keep his activity level at a minimum. But, you also have to stay in shape and in game shape, so we are nursing it along.”
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