USU men's basketball head coach Tim Duryea addressed the media on Friday and answered questions about the upcoming Mountain West contest against Air Force on Saturday, Feb. 25. The complete transcript of the press conference can be found below.
On Air Force
“I’m always really impressed with Air Force. I have so much respect for their players and their coaches: Dave (Pilipovich), Kurt (Kanaskie) and Andy (Moore) do a great job. They play everybody so competitively, nine nights out of 10. Whether it is at home, on the road, you know what you are going to get with them. They are going to battle you. They are going to be competitive. It doesn’t matter what atmosphere they are put in, they stay within themselves and run their system and know who they are. They know what they do well. You have to beat them. They don’t beat themselves. They are never the biggest, never the fastest or the most talented team in the league, but you have to beat them. I’m always impressed with how they bring their team together. They are playing a little faster than they have in the past and can still hurt you really bad from the 3-point line. We got off to horrible start at Air Force and never really got control of the ship the whole day. I expect them to come in and be very competitive and play very hard.”
On the changes in Air Force’s rotations
“Ryan Manning has started the last two games in place of (Jacob) Van. Those two guys are very interchangeable. They’ve switched spots in terms of their roles, but very similar players. They can shoot the ball from 3. They are very aggressive offensively. The biggest change may be at the point. Sid Tomes has started the last three games, a freshman from Minnesota, and is a very good shooter and gives them some size at that position. He and Trevor Lyons handle most of the point guard duties for them. The first time we played them, CJ Siples was starting and playing a lot of the minutes. His minutes have gone way down.
“Another kid who is playing a lot more for them is Lavelle Scottie, playing at the five spot with Frank Toohey. Graham, Toohey, Van and Kocur give them their inside-outside punch. Graham can make tough shots and one-on-one plays. He seems to always seems to play very well against us.”
On what the seniors have meant to the team
“Jalen (Moore) has been such a constant for four years. It will be really strange when next year rolls around and you don’t see his big hair running around. His steadiness at whichever position we’ve played him at has really been the epitome of coming to work each day and gives you steady effort at practice or in a game. He is always going to know what you are doing in game plan and execution. He is mister steady. I give him a lot of credit. He’s been here four years and has had some teammates leave on him, walk out on him that probably would have made a difference on his record over the years as an Aggie. But, he has stayed true blue and hung in there and played with a lot different teammates over the years. I give him a lot of credit for that.
“Shane (Rector) has come in and had a rocky start to the first part of his college experience, at Missouri and then had to go back to junior college. He had to restart and reset things. He’s come in and has done really well. He’s a New York City kid and has come to Logan and has made a lot friends and has done a lot of really good things for our program and has given us a lot of good minutes. He has been a steady guy too. You know on game night that he is going to go in there and make some athletic plays, make some dynamic plays and try and make things happen for you. I’ve really enjoyed coaching both of those kids.
“Connor Garner is our third one. He’ll start tomorrow night on Senior Night. He’s been around here, it seems like forever, and has been a loyal, faithful soldier as well.”
On the starting lineup for Saturday
“You hope when you change your lineup like that, that will put Jalen at the four and Shane at the one, so it will be a little different for us. You hope that you can get off to a solid start and hold your own, until you can get rotation back to where it is normally. We don’t really have a set number of minutes in mind.”
On how to keep emotions in check on senior night
“We’ve had a lot of emotional Senior Nights here in my 16 years. We’ve had some nights where you know the guys that are walking out are players you will never coach again, in terms of the type of player or the type of person or the type of leader. It is emotional, maybe even more so for the coaches than it is for the players. You would think that it would be the other way around because coaches go through Senior Night every year, whereas the kids only go through it once. Coaches see it all in perspective and know the life experiences that those guys have in front of them. As coaches we think big picture, maybe a little more than the players do when they are thinking about this game, tomorrow or maybe what they are doing after the game. It is emotional for us as coaches. You get attached to these guys and go through a lot of things with them, both the good and the bad. You wish the best for them. Some of them when they leave, you know they are going to be okay and are going to make their way. Every now and then there are kids who come through that you hope will be okay and do kind of worry about what the future has in store for them. There is a lot of emotions and thought that go through your head in both a basketball and life perspective.”
On maintaining the momentum down the stretch
“It is a huge game for us. We have a lot to play for in terms of record, in terms of seeding and in terms of momentum. We’ve talked to our players for the last month after every game and we need to assess and make sure that we are getting better. That is our goal to be getting better. In those terms, we are not playing for a league championship, but our guys have a lot to play for and our guys feel the same way.”
On the importance of winning the final two games
“I think it is huge. We’ve haven’t had a long winning streak in conference play. We’ve talked about come March 1, the tournament, that we’ll have to win three or four to get done what you want to get done. For us to put us in a situation to where we can get onto a winning streak would be huge for our mindset and for our confidence and for our energy. The fact that we have a bye the last day of the year gives us the chance to get a little bit of rest before we head to the tournament. It is setting up that we have a lot of things going for us and have a lot to play for. However, we can look no further than tomorrow night. You have to prepare for every game separately. Those are all big-picture things, as coach you try to look at those. But to our players the only thing that we are looking at is trying to win our next game, trying to win two in a row, trying to build on our first road win. We’re hoping that will give us some confidence and some energy and some juice. If it does, then that will help us tomorrow night. That is as far as we are looking with our team right now.”
On the travel during the San José State trip
“Every man has a plan until he gets hit in the face and we got hit right in the mouth on Tuesday. We were all looking forward to our only charter trip of the year as that is your most convenient travel of the year. But it turned into the most inconvenient trip that we’ve had all year, counting the preseason. When you draw up your travel plans, you don’t want to be feeding your team quesadillas at 3 a.m. in the hotel lobby. That was the situation we were in. We are not excuse makers and every team goes through different situations when they travel and those are situations you have to overcome. In the big picture, that was a pretty small one. We were able to get some rest and out in the California sunshine our guys were able to get a little bit of energy and responded and played really well.”
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