USU men's basketball head coach Tim Duryea addressed the media on Friday and answered questions about the upcoming Mountain West contest against Wyoming on Saturday, Feb. 11. The complete transcript of the press conference can be found below.
“Wyoming is a very impressive team, athletically. They have a lot of interchangeable and very versatile parts. (Hayden) Dalton and (Alan) Herndon are extremely tough matchups because they are long, athletic, can shoot from 3, can drive it, can post up, they block a lot of shots, are active in transition and both can bring the ball on the break and run the break themselves. Their versatility gives you a lot of problems.
“They are unusual because they probably have the best bench in the league. When you have Justin James and Dalton as your two leading scorers, both coming off of the bench, then that gives you a different feel than most teams do. They have shot the ball very well against us in the past, better against us than other people. I don’t have an explanation for that. With the scheduling quirks in our league, this is our fourth year in the league and they have only played here one time. That has been a little unique as well, but it has either been at the tournament or on their home court. It will be nice to play them here for a change.”
On the first meeting with Wyoming and taking away the 3-point line
“When you play them you have to focus on your transition defense because they get out in a hurry and run to a lot of different spots. They are very unpredictable on the break. When you get your defense set you have to guard the 3-point line. They do a very good job. They shoot a lot of 3s and that is what you have to take away first. (Jordan) Naughton gives them a low-post scoring threat. Herndon can also score down there. Justin James is a very versatile player. He can make 3s and does a great job of driving into the lane. With our history with them, it all starts with defending the 3-point line.”
On the best defensive matchup against Justin James
“Most of the time, Jalen (Moore) will be the guy that will draw him. It is similar when we play Boise State and Chandler Hutchison. They are both 6-6, 6-7, long, athletic kids that can do a lot of different things. When you have a guy the size of Jalen it is an advantage because you can physically and athletically matchup and negate some of the advantages that James may have on some nights. Hopefully Jalen can eliminate some of those.”
On how preparation changes at home
"We approach it the same way in what we do. Everybody is in more of a routine at home, but we approach it the same way. We prepare with our film session then go out on the floor and what we do on the floor in preparation is really the same every game, non-conference or conference, home or road. We try to stay really consistent in how we prepare and get our guys in the habit of a certain way of preparation. At Colorado State we didn’t do anything different, but I didn’t think we were as sharp mentally as we had been the previous two or three games. We’ll get out there again and do our normal game day prep. Our guys, for the most part, have been very good in that respect. They have been sharp group mentally in their preparation, but I sensed a lull in Fort Collins and even talked with some of our players and warned them of where we were mentally. It carried over into the game. I don’t think we played without effort. We just didn’t play with the edge we needed in terms of toughness and scrappiness. I thought we played hard, we just were not physical enough. It was something we had talked about, so that’s why it was disappointing.”
On the play of Jason McManamen
“It was like you plugged in the McManamen from last season if you watched that Fresno State game. He had a quick trigger and was very aggressive. He played 57 minutes in that game, which is unbelievable in terms of minutes played. He is a tough kid and is always scrappy and tough and confident. It was really surprising to see him struggling early in the year, based on the way he had played the last few seasons, especially last year with the confidence he shot the ball with. That is the way he looked the other night against Fresno State. It looked like the old Jason McManamen. Even when his numbers are not where they should be, you still know what he is capable of based on his past history. That won’t change how we guard him. Having a great night like that just reminds you what he is capable of.”
“Those two kids, along with Sam Merrill, are putting a lot pressure on themselves offensively to produce and get things done. It isn’t for a lack of effort or focus. Other teams have done a fairly good job on them and they are just missing some shots that we’ve grown accustomed to them making on a regular basis. They need to stay aggressive, that part needs to stay the same. But, they need to relax so that they don’t feel that each one of them has to carry the load and make every play. Hopefully being at home will get them in a comfort zone where they can do that.”
“Those two kids have really done a good job the last few games. We need to have somebody pick up the slack because we do not have Shane Rector in the lineup right now. If you look statistically at Shane’s numbers, he is having a better year than last year in terms of field goal percentage and 3-point percentage. His free throw percentage is down a little bit, but he is shooting the ball very well. Not having that punch coming off of the bench has been a big blow for us. It is good to see Julion and Quinn pick up that slack and we need to have those guys play like that for the rest of the year. Hopefully we can get Shane back as soon as possible to add to that. Quinn is a pretty steady guy in a lot of ways. He helps in a lot of ways that don’t show up on the stat sheet. We need Quinn to be a little more aggressive offensively and it is nice to see him getting that done the last few games.”
On the status of Shane Rector
“He is still day-to-day. He practiced on the defensive side yesterday in terms of some of our preparation, but hasn’t been able to get in there offensively. We’ll see how much improvement we see today and tomorrow and then make a decision after shoot around tomorrow. He is still listed as day-to-day. If it doesn’t show improvement soon we may have to go back in and look a little closer with an MRI and try and figure out why it is not improving.”
On the defense of Sam Merrill
“We put a lot on Sam, that’s a lot to put on a freshman. We want him to score on the other end and be a good 3-point shooter and he is already a good passer. He already has that on his plate and then we’ve thrown the stopper role on him as well on the defensive end. He has done a good job of guarding the other team’s best perimeter player night in and night out. He worked hard the other night the whole game, (Gian) Clavell just made some shots in the second half that I’m not sure how you guard him better. We actually made some mistakes on him and left him wide open a couple of times and those are the ones he missed. Sam is a mentally tough guy and enjoys having that challenge put to him. He can lock in on a guy and try and take him out and we let him do that defensively. We let him get outside our defensive system and really try and take a guy away. He has really seemed to thrive in that role.”
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