USU men's basketball head coach Tim Duryea addressed the media on Tuesday and answered questions about the upcoming game at New Mexico on Wednesday, Feb. 14. The complete transcript of the press conference can be found below.
On New Mexico:
“Every time you put on a film and watch a game at The Pit, you’re really impressed with, number one, how hard they play. The effort in which they come at you at 94 feet. They try to get the crowd involved with their pressure defense. Their whole deal is to speed you up, turn you over and let that build on itself and force you into mistakes. We have to handle pressure from 94 feet, be able to control tempo---, be able to execute in the half-court to slow the game down. Then, defensively, you have to change it up on them a little bit, change your defenses and keep them off rhythm. If you just let them press 94 feet, come the other way full speed the way they want to play, totally in rhythm, it hasn’t worked very well for everybody that’s been in there this year.”
On if New Mexico played with less pressure in Logan because of a personnel shortage:
“They backed off. They played mostly three-quarter court press against us. They played more zone than they will play tomorrow night. They’re going to play more 94 feet-defense and then it’s going to go back to half-court, pressure man. They pressured in the half court here, but the full court, we didn’t get the full dose of what we’ll get tomorrow night.”
On their depth with players coming back:
“They have a lot of depth. They can play 10 guys, they really can go two-deep at all five positions, and there’s really not a whole lot of difference. Makuach (Maluach), the starting four-man, is playing really well and had 26 at Air Force. They get (Joe) Furstinger back, who really helps them protect the rim, they did not have him at Air Force. That made a big difference. Air Force got a lot of shots right at the basket that they wouldn’t get when Furstinger’s in the game. They’re at full speed, and we’ll get the full dose of their pressure. The game will come down to, really, can we handle their pressure without turning the ball over? Then, on the half court, I think you have to drive the basketball because they are so pressure-oriented, I think you have to beat the pressure with penetration and make shots for each other. If you can do that, you have a chance to stay in there. If you turn the ball over in the back court or have live-ball turnovers, you’re going to have a long night.”
On how New Mexico guarded Koby McEwen in Logan:
“They basically play everybody the same. They’re going to pressure you, they’re going to deny you, they’re going to make every catch difficult, they’re going to make you back cut and force you out of what you try to run. It doesn’t matter who you are. If you’re Sam (Merrill), if you’re Koby, if you’re Diogo (Brito), if you’re Dwayne (Brown), if you’re Quinn (Taylor), every catch is contested. That’s if you have the ball side out of bounds, if you have the ball end line out of bounds, if you have the ball under your own basket, their philosophy is to make every catch hard, to pressure you, to get their hands on the ball, get deflections, get steals and then turn those opportunities into points at the other end.”
On the importance of this game in the standings:
“I think all of us that are in the fight are looking to try to stay out of playing the first day in the conference tournament. I think there’s five teams right now with seven wins, which is amazing in how we’re bunched up. That makes it a big game. Big game for them, big game for us. The game’s on their home court, so there’s always a little more pressure to hold serve at home for them. One team has gone in there and won in the conference, and that’s Boise State at the very end. Nobody else has had much luck. We’ve got our work cut out for us. But I think our guys are feeling confident. Obviously, the second time we’ve played them, even though it’s not quite the same style, helps you a little bit in terms of feeling what the pressure is going to feel like tomorrow night. We didn’t have the crowd at The Pit against us, as well. We can’t let one turnover turn into three turnovers. We have to stay away from the 10-2 runs and grab hold of it and try to keep the game at the pace we want to play. That’s the recipe to win. If you can’t do that, it’s going to be a long night.”
On if their high defensive field goal percentage is related to their pressure defense:
“The defense is high risk, high reward. They’re going to force a lot of turnovers, but they’re also, on the other end, going to give up some easy, open opportunities. If you can take advantage of those, you’re going to be able to hang in there. That’s where I think Furstinger is so important to them because when you do break the pressure and he’s in the game, he does give them some rim protection. He blocked a couple shots when he was here. Again, I think that’s what they were missing at Air Force on Saturday. You watch that film, and Air Force gets a lot of uncontested layups because he’s not there to change shots.”
On breaking the press:
“We talked to our guys, we have to attack the back end of the press. We can’t be content just to get the ball over the half line all night long and then set up. We need to attack anytime there’s a three-on-two or a two-on-one situation. We always look on the back end of pressure. We want layups and we want wide-open threes, and we’ll take either one of those. You’re going to get those, and if you can hit a high percentage of them, you can be in the game with four or five minutes to go.”
On facing New Mexico a second time with more depth:
“The depth, we’ll see a little bit different style of game, a little more 94-foot pressure as opposed to three-quarter-court pressure. On the half, it’s going to be about the same. They pressured us here. We did a good job of driving the ball here for scores, driving the ball to make plays for our teammates. We probably scored more baskets off penetration in that game than we have any other game this year.”
On struggling defensively against New Mexico:
“We couldn’t put them away. (Anthony) Mathis got loose for some threes. Penetration hurt us with (Troy) Simons, who’s really athletic. Makuach (Maluach) drove the ball on us a little bit. It comes down to one-on-one defense. We had a lot of really good defensive possessions, but where they hurt us was just basically operating one-on-one in space and getting the ball to the basket. And then we lost Mathis a couple times in the zone, we can’t afford to do that there.”
On how the team responded after the win against Boise State:
“They’ve been great. They’re feeling good about themselves. I think, when you’re healthy, it gives you confidence. When your team is the team that you’re supposed to be, I think it gives everybody a boost of confidence. We kind of washed, flushed the Wyoming game after one day. We didn’t hardly even talk about it on Friday, and we just moved on. We talked about shot selection a little bit, and I thought we were a lot better in the Boise State game than in the Wyoming game because we moved the ball, we moved ourselves. We just weren’t out of sync. Coming off a win like that, you’d like to take about a four-day vacation, but you look at this week and it’s at The Pit and Nevada coming to your home court, so it just gets even harder.”
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