USU men's basketball head coach Tim Duryea addressed the media on Friday and answered questions about the upcoming game at Air Force on Saturday, Feb. 24. The complete transcript of the press conference can be found below.
Scouting Air Force:
“Air Force is the same old Air Force. You’re playing the Air Force system, you’re playing the Air Force altitude, you’re playing a team that plays a lot better at home than they do on the road. They play faster, they play more confidently. The system is what you have to worry about you when you play them. It’s back-cut layups, it’s guarding the 3-point line and we did both of those well when we played them here in Logan. They’re a little more inside-oriented now than they were when we played them. They’re really trying to force the ball inside, mainly to (Ryan) Swan. (Lavelle) Scottie is probably their best player overall. He and (Trevor) Lyons are experienced and really playing well. They’re the two leading scorers. The team is very balanced and will probably play 12 or 13 guys. We have to do a good job when the ball goes in the post. We have to keep it out of there, but when it goes in, we need to dig and help and keep it out of there without compromising our 3-point defense.”
On guarding the 3-point line in the last game against Air Force:
“We did a good job in the half-court, but we did not do a good job of guarding the 3-point line in transition. We got fortunate in transition where they missed some wide-open looks. Transition defense has got to be buttoned up a little tighter when you play there. Make or miss, they push it at you a lot faster there than they do on the road.”
On the afternoon tip-off:
“We’ve played a couple of 2 p.m. games, in Nashville we had a little experience with that. I told our guys that we’re 2-0 in those games and played really well. We got ourselves ready to play and we’ll have to do the same thing. You’re always going to play an afternoon game on Saturday at Air Force. We’re going to do a few things differently starting tonight, then an early shootaround tomorrow to get over there and get the blood pumping a little bit. We’ll get back over there and be ready to play at 2.”
On the physical and mental readiness of the team with three games left:
“I really liked our look against Nevada both physically and mentally. I thought we played really hard, I thought we played really smart. You can always play a little bit better on the defensive end. I think we’re in a good spot. Our guys have a lot to play for in these last three games. Some of that is in our own control, and some of that we need a little help in terms of inching up to that fifth seed. Everyone is looking to avoid that first day of the tournament. If you can get to the second day without having to play, you have a leg up. Teams like us, New Mexico, Wyoming and UNLV are all looking at. We’re trying to finish the last three strong and inch our way up, whether through a tiebreaker or our record, trying to get to the top-five spots. Our guys see that that’s ahead of us. We have a lot to play for. We have two games on the road, which are never easy, but we’re trying to take a microscopic look at the season. We’re looking at it as a three-game season, and game one is at Air Force.”
On the practice schedule during the bye week:
“With a couple of nagging injuries for guys that play a lot, we tried to give everyone a rest. We worked out on Tuesday, but gave them Sunday, Monday and Wednesday off. We put them through a hard lift and individual skills workouts on Tuesday, then Thursday was business as usual. The prep for Air Force is pretty thorough, so we started that yesterday and will continue today. We’ll finish that up tomorrow morning.”
On needing more than a 30-point player to win:
“That’s a big indictment. Usually in college basketball, if one of your guys has a 30-point night, most of the time you come out on top. You scratch out a win, one way or another. We have to play better at the 4-spot than we did last week. We did not have a very productive week. Dwayne Brown, Jr. and Daron Henson, we need some more production from those guys on both ends of the floor, rebounding the ball, defending their position a little bit better. Offensively, we can’t have those guys go for zeroes every night. Our 3-spot played a little better against Nevada than it did New Mexico, but we’re wasting some Herculean efforts by Sam (Merrill) and Koby (McEwen). Our supporting cast has to come to play these last three.”
On the wear of the season for new players:
“I think Dwayne (Brown Jr.) was sick and is grinding pretty hard mentally right now with the demands we’re putting on him on both ends of the floor. He had some tough match-ups defensively in the last two games. That’s wearing him down a little bit mentally. He and I talked a little bit last week. It’s hard at this level if you have a hard game. You have to bounce back physically and mentally and keep grinding. It’s hard to be a good player at this level. You’re going to have some bumps in the road, especially your first time through it. Hopefully he and Daron (Henson) will have a better week this week.”
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