USU men's basketball head coach Tim Duryea addressed the media on Friday and answered questions about the upcoming game at Nevada on Saturday, Feb. 17. The complete transcript of the press conference can be found below.
"They're the most talented team in the league. The other thing that really impresses you with their players is how high their basketball IQ is. They are not only the most talented team in the league, they're the smartest team in the league. They do a lot of things when you watch them play that maybe teams that aren't quite as smart, don't have as much basketball savvy, wouldn't do in terms of countering things, the way they guard things and adjustments they make offensively on the floor. As a group, they have a very, very high skill level and they have a very, very high basketball IQ. You combine those two things with how versatile they are, and they are the biggest challenge in the league not only to guard, but the biggest challenge in the league to figure out how to score against because their defense versatility is just as impressive as their offensive versatility. That's the reason they're leading the league in field goals percentage defense and 3-point percentage defense is because they can literally diffuse any action by switching and their versatility is tremendous."
On Nevada's tight rotation:
"They haven't subbed a lot, really, haven't used their bench extensively really since Eric (Musselman)'s got in there. There's a lot of coaches like that. You get comfortable with six or seven guys. He doesn't have to worry, really, about positions, so those guys can play and one or two guys can sub for, really, any of the five people on the floor and they're still okay. So, you don't have to have a backup post player, a backup point guard and a backup wing player, specifically. You just have one or two guys you throw in there and everybody else adjusts around them because they're so versatile."
On the injury to junior Lindsey Drew:
"Anytime you lose a good player, it affects you. Obviously, Lindsey Drew is a very good player. He's a starting player for them and averages double-figure points, is tremendous defensively in terms of steals, deflections, blocked shots, all those things, and he also does a good job in kind of taking a secondary role offensively. He has to be very efficient, he doesn't get the attempts that those other guys get. He's content with playing that role. He plays it very, very well."
On Nevada senior Kendall Stephens:
"Kendall Stephens is playing tremendous. He's the guy that flies under the radar. He probably likes it that way because the (Caleb and Cody) Martins get tons of attention and Jordan Caroline is a magnetic player in terms of how hard he plays and how he kind of bulls around in there and does things on second, third and fourth effort. Meanwhile, Kendall Stephens just kind of runs to the corners and runs to the wings and catches and shoots. He's that silent assassin. He's made 54 3-pointers in 13 conference games at a 45-percent clip. He is deadly as a catch-and-shoot player. It starts in transition. They look for him, and you have to find him when he crosses the logo or he will stick you in transition with a three. Then in the half court, if you play any zone or anything like that, you have to know where he is at all times. That's a lot of threes to make, especially when people know that's what you do, that's who you are. He's been very, very impressive."
On Utah State's turnovers at Nevada:
"Especially early in the game, we did not take care of the ball very well. We have to play a cleaner game, we know that. They're not going to turn the ball over much. That's the other thing that really impresses me watching them is they're a tremendous passing team. As a team, they almost have a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in the league. That is phenomenal. That goes to their skill, their diversity, and also their IQ, like I talked about earlier. There's a lot of intelligence on the floor to go along with that skill set. When you're 2-to-1 assist-turnover ratio as a team, that's phenomenal. We turn it over in league about 13 times a game which is about a couple more than I would like, but we've had some specific games where turnovers have really been the key that have caused us to lose. That was the key the other night at New Mexico. Obviously, we've got to play a very, very clean game Saturday, probably 10 turnovers or less to have a chance. We can't allow easy baskets, run outs, 3-pointers from Stephens off turnover transition and expect to win."
On Utah State's turnovers at New Mexico:
"In the backcourt, we handled the press. We didn't hardly turn it over at all in our backcourt. Our turnovers came in the front court where we were loose, we were sloppy, we made bad decisions in the half court against man-to-man defense. Sure, it's pressure man-to-man, and they're flying around a little bit and they're doubling you every now and then, but we did not make good decisions in the half court. When you think New Mexico and full-court pressure and turnovers, you think, okay, you turned it over in the back court or against the press in your press breaker. That really wasn't the case for us. We turned it over in the half court in situations where, if we make the right decision with the ball, we're going to get a wide-open shot. We made the wrong decision with the ball and led to a lot of easy, easy baskets for them and really caused us to lose."
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