USU men's basketball head coach Tim Duryea addressed the media on Tuesday and answered questions about the upcoming game at San José State on Wednesday, Feb. 28. The complete transcript of the press conference can be found below.
On San José State:
"San José State is an old-fashioned, power basketball team. There's fewer and fewer teams playing like they're playing, but they want to jam that thing down your throat, ram it inside and that's kind of where they start. Everything is inside out. I'm really impressed with Keith Fisher II, freshman, postman. He's improved a lot since we played them. Really good rebounder and can score 17 feet all the way into the block. Obviously, Ryan Welage is one of the best players in the league. Hurts you in a lot of ways. At 6-8 he can post, he can take the ball on the dribble and he's a really good 3-point shooter. He's always shot the ball extremely well against us. When you watch the film, you don't see an 0-16 team, you really don't. It's still amazing to me that they really are 0-16. They're well-coached, they're organized, they're disciplined offensively in the shots they try to take. Defensively, they're solid. They're big, they can switch a lot of things, they try to keep the ball in front of them, they're very simple, but their size alone makes them competitive defensively. Their defensive stats aren't bad at all. I'm just amazed when I see their record. I know they lost some overtime games, they've been in really every game. If there is such thing as an impressive looking 0-16 team, to me they're it."
On San José State being in a lot of close games:
"Their home games, their margin of defeat is less than double figures. They've lost two overtime games to two very good teams in our league. I can't figure it out really. Obviously, a lot of games coming down to the end and maybe a new system, a couple new players have got to learn how to get over the hump a little bit. It just hasn't gone their way yet. I watched New Mexico go in there and the game's down to the wire. Colorado State went in there and the game's down to the wire. Wyoming was lucky to get the game into overtime. All those teams have given us lots of problems. Scary game for us."
On if anyone else stands out besides Fisher and Welage:
"Probably a consistent third scorer has been an issue, which has kind of been an issue with us on certain nights when we don't get that production from that third and fourth spot. Those secondary scorers stepping up. That's been an issue. Then the one glaring issue you see when you look at their team is turnovers. They turn the ball over. Which, again, in spurts has been a problem for us. You look at the first game we played against them, we had four turnovers, they had 23. That really won the game for us. Our defensive activity and our offense off our defense really won the game. We shot the ball 20 more times than they did based on our defensive activity and getting extra possessions with our activity."
On not relying on turnovers every time:
"With our performance on the boards and the way they shot the ball, the percentage that they shot it when they got shots up, they were pretty impressive. We were able to force them to turn the ball over, and really point-blank that was the reason that we won the game. We got easy baskets off of our defense. That doesn't happen every night for us, either."
On USU having a large lead against SJSU before the Spartans started to come back:
"We had the big lead and late in the game we subbed and played some other defenses and they knocked down some shots. (Noah) Baumann is a scary shooter. He's a guy that if you're not there when he catches, he can get it going. He's got length and size and he's a very good 3-point shooter. You have to take him out by being there when he catches and making him put it on the floor."
On the second-half performance at Air Force:
"A few people have asked me that and it's a disappointed locker room as we've had all year, really. I really can't explain it. The first half was really an offensive highlight film for us. We're shooting close to 60 percent overall from three. We only had five turnovers. Our spacing is great, our movement is great. We're getting contributions from Dwayne Brown Jr., Daron Henson, Diogo Brito, Alex Dargenton, Quinn Taylor. Everybody's chipping in along with Sam (Merrill) and Koby (McEwen), and you look up at half and we have 45 points on the board. The second half, if it was one guy that was causing the issue, you can make a sub and make a change. It was really across the board. The tide changed, their pressure picked up and we did not respond. We had some things open and didn't see them or turned the ball over trying to get the ball there. Then we had looks and didn't make them. It was just kind of a perfect storm. Two of the most different halves in one game that I've probably ever been involved with."
On the team having different halves throughout the season:
"We talked yesterday, the last eight halves we've had, we've played six good halves and we've played halves that have literally cost us those basketball games: at New Mexico and at Air Force. The second half, literally, turning the ball over has cost us the game. The two halves against Boise State, the two halves against Nevada, and a half each at New Mexico and Air Force, we were a good basketball team. Nevada had to play exceptionally well to beat us. The first half of the Air Force game was a carryover from the Nevada game. Poised, skilled, seeing everything, making plays, balanced scoring. It was our third good half of really good basketball in a row. Then to see the second half come out of nowhere, I still really can't explain that."
On playing San José State so long after last playing them:
"You watch them on film and they're really the same team. They're running the same stuff. We thought they had done a really good job when they came here. They had just come off a win at Santa Clara, and coach (Jean) Prioleau had them on the right track in terms of their personnel and what they're doing, it really matches up. They're the same team that way. They do what they do, and at home, obviously, they're a much better team."
On if there's a lack of effort in the San José State team:
"Nope. They've been in every game, they play hard, they play different people, they have big people they run in and out. But, it's about stopping Welage, it's about stopping Fisher and it's about rebounding the basketball. We hurt them in transition here. To do that, we've got to get stops and rebounds and we've got to get out and go."
"I say they're the same team. He's a different player. He's like a lot of freshman. He has really made a jump from the beginning of the league to the end and is one of the more improved post players that we've seen."
On having success in San José:
"We have played well there. Coming off a tough loss, obviously, very disappointing for everybody in our program, we've got to ramp it up. The game will be decided on our activity. Defensively, we've got to fly around, we've got to take things away from them, we've got to get some deflections and, again, we've got to get out and go. We've got to be up-tempo on both ends of the floor. If we are, then I like our chances. But if we're not, we are in for a tough night."
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