USU men's basketball head coach Tim Duryea addressed the media on Tuesday and answered questions about the upcoming Mountain West contest at San José State on Wednesday, Feb. 22. The complete transcript of the press conference can be found below.
On San José State
“It is a little bit strange not playing a team until this late in the year in the only time you play them. I’m very impressed watching them. Offensively, they do a great job of playing one-on-one basketball. They run a ton of isolation plays. They isolate three or four guys that are all capable of taking advantage of you in a one-on-one situation. We need to do a good job with our team defense and give help wherever we can.
“Defensively, they change defenses as much as anybody in the league, other than us. They give you full-court pressure and three-quarter-court pressure. They play man and zone on the half court. They’ve shown box-and-1, triangle-and-2, so they really throw the kitchen sink at you defensively and that is a little unusual in this league. Most teams don’t do that. We probably play as many defenses as anyone, except San José State. It will be a little different look from them in that regard.
“Brandon Clarke is a tremendously effective player and has a very high motor. He gets a lot of points, rebounds, blocked shots and deflections and scores in a lot of different ways. He isn’t a conventional player. They start him at the five and play him as a center. But he is not a center, he is more of a forward and a basketball player that can score anywhere inside the 3-point line. He doesn’t shoot 3s, but is very effective driving the ball, as an offensive rebounder, can make 15-foot jumpers and is a really good player in isolation situations. They play a lot of guys, but he is the guy that makes them go.”
On the defensive matchup with Brandon Clarke
“We’ll play a couple of different guys on him, but to start the game Norbert (Janicek) will match up with him. Ryan Welage is their 4-man and he roams around the perimeter and is a spacing 4-man. That is not a good matchup for Norbie. He is improving defensively and does a good job in a lot of ways on guys that play 15 feet and in. That is where Clarke is. The fact that he doesn’t shoot 3s will help Norbie guard him effectively.”
On Mountain West scheduling
“I would rather have a balanced schedule where you play everybody twice every year. That totally takes away the random advantages or disadvantages of who you play and where you play them based on the year they’re having. That totally takes those factors away and gives you the most fair conference schedule if you play everybody twice. But, with an odd number of teams, that is never going to happen.”
On if this is the best San José State team that USU has faced
“It is probably the best team, or as good as the team that we played in the semifinals of the WAC Tournament in our last year in the WAC. They had a couple of transfer kids that were very talented and a couple of other kids that had been there four years. The thing about this team is a lot of the same kids that played a lot of minutes last year are back and have grown up a year and are doing a good job. Clarke and Welage, (Jaycee) Hillsman, Jalen James, Isaac Thornton, Brandon Mitchell, Cody Schwartz, all those guys have been there one or two years before this year and have played a lot of minutes. They are very effective and have had some very impressive road wins and were able to beat San Diego State at home. That is something we haven’t been able to do yet. Coach (Dave) Wojcik is playing the right way, playing a lot of guys, changes his defense and gives you a lot of looks. It keeps you off balance and those kids are very versatile in terms of who can play with who and what combinations they can play. All-in-all, it is working out very well.”
On his concerns with his freshmen guards
“Obviously, I’m concerned. But we have to do a better job of helping them to get a higher percentage shot. One of the reasons why their percentages haven’t been good on the road is that teams are taking them away and making a concerted effort to do that. Because of that, the shots they are taking are tough shots, are highly-contested shots or shots at the end of the shot clock. They are just not getting a lot of really good looks. We are trying to adjust to give them a little more help and free them up in some different ways than what we have to give them easier looks at the basket. They are good players and good shooters, but we need to help them more and get them some easier looks.”
On if going small is helping free up space on the perimeter
“That is something we did at Nevada, we payed Jalen (Moore) a lot at the four. Part of our struggles offensively come from teams not guarding our 4-man out on the perimeter, other than Jalen when we play him at the four. That clogs things up and we are a four-out offensive team. We set a lot of ball screens and spacing is very important and when you have a guy out on the floor that the other team isn’t guarding, keeping his defender in the lane, then that makes it harder for your guards. There is less space and fewer driving lanes and we need to get those 4-men to be more effective out on the floor. We have been trying to do that a little bit.
“We are a better defensive and rebounding team when we don’t go small, but we are a better offensive team, at times, when we do go small. I would like to try and be the best defensive and rebounding team we can, but still have some effectiveness offensively. That is our challenge.”
On chartering to San José State
“Chartering is a luxury and this is our only charter trip of the year. There are other teams that charter some and some that charter every trip and it is a luxury that I hope we can advance in that area with our budget. Your guys stay fresher in terms of the travel. In terms of weekday road games, they miss less class. You can go to class all day on the day you leave and then you are back for the morning after the game to go to class. So, you miss one day instead of two-and-a-half days at some times with a road game. It is really beneficial in a lot of ways and we feel very fortunate whenever we can get a trip that we can charter.”
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