USU men's basketball head coach Tim Duryea addressed the media on Thursday and answered questions about the upcoming exhibition game against the University of Providence on Friday, November 3. The complete transcript of the press conference can be found below.
On the University of Providence
We’ve played them in the past. They usually try to play a little up-tempo offensively. They are undersized, which can give you some problems. But, we are a little undersized too, so that shouldn’t be as much of an issue. They push the ball up the floor on made and misses. They play pretty fast and wide open on offense.
Defensively, they always give us a few different looks. They give us a three-quarter court zone press, a zone in the half court, they’ll play some pressure man in the half court, and they’ve shown some 1-3-1, half-court trap in the past. I expect to see multiple defenses, which will be good for our team. I expect them to play mostly a four-out scheme, with four, sometimes five guards on the floor, which will be good for us as well. It should be a night where we can see some improvement and get the kinks out in front of the home crowd.
On the scrimmage at Oregon State
That was one of the best things we’ve done in a long time. It was beneficial for both parties. We scrimmaged close to four hours. We did stuff on the half court and then started on the half court and then broke back one time. We played against each other’s man defense and zone defense. We did a lot of situational things and then after that played a full 40-minute game. We warmed up for an hour, they have two separate practice gyms in their practice facility, so we did things separately and then came together and worked. In all, we were there for about five hours and overall it was an unbelievably good experience and was beneficial for both parties. Hopefully we can do it again next year. I can’t give scores or anything, but I can say that it was very competitive and closely contested.
On last year’s record and how it impacts the team
At this level, where your team has new players coming in, every season is different. We’ve referenced things with our players about last season, namely a lot of very close losses. We’ve referenced defensively where one or two possessions can make a difference in winning and losing. We’ve reference a lot of road losses, where mentally we weren’t quite where we needed to be. There were a couple of nights that cost us in terms of our level of competitiveness. This group has a lot of different characteristics from last season’s group. They’ve been a tremendous practice group so far. We haven’t had more than one day in 21 or 22 practices where they haven’t shown up to work. I’ve been really encouraged with their competitiveness. I hope that carries over because we are going to have to take the court with a little bit of a swagger, a little bit of an edge, some feistiness to us in order to compete. It will be obvious that we are a little undersized. I don’t know how deep we are yet. That is yet to be determined. We need to play with a lot of feistiness to get done what we want to get done.
On where the strength is in the USU lineup
Our backcourt is all I can ask for at the one- and the two-spot with Koby McEwen and Sam Merrill. They are competitive and they are doing a really good job as team leaders. They come every day to work. They have both improved individually. They both like and respect each other. They play off of each other very well. They are both talented in their own way. Koby gets a lot of well-deserved attention. I don’t think Sam gets as much as he probably should, playing with Koby. But, at the one and two, those kids are about all you can ask for as a coach. With all they bring: they are high-character kids, good citizens, good students, good players, they are what you want.
On what the exhibition game is all about
It is all about us. We put our team through a mock preparation process, just so our team knows how we prepare for games. When you play a scrimmage, that is the aspect you lose. Really, we have one dress rehearsal, but for this we put together a highlight film for game action, we do a scouting report, we do a scout team prep both at shootaround and practice. We do those things so our new guys have a feel of how we prepare for each and every game. We keep our game plan pretty simple for these, but want to give our guys something to think about. They will have to take things from the blackboard to the floor and execute the things you want and that is good practice for them. Once you get in the season, every night is different and all of the game prep is a little bit different. You want your team to be able to adjust in terms of what you want your team to do on both ends of the floor. It is all about us and then seeing improvement in the game film from Oregon State in a couple of areas where we need to be better. You hope to see some improvement after this game because we’ve stressed some areas that we need to get better in practice this week. Rebounding is the key to the entire season. We will be a decent defensive team, but the question is can we finish those defensive possessions by getting the ball off of the glass? The biggest worry, biggest key, biggest concern, biggest indicator of what we want to do in one word is rebounding.
On what the team can do to get rebounds
On the offensive side, that is an area we need to improve in. We were last in the league in offensive rebounding last year. We led the league in 3-point field goal percentage and were second in field goal percentage so we made a lot of shots. But, we need to get more second chances. There is a fine line there between transition defense and getting second opportunities on offense. On the defensive end, it is a little more clear cut. On the defensive end, we need to have five guys with defensive rebounding on their mind. We can’t have guys running out, have guys thinking that one guy is going to get the majority of them and that they don’t have to. We are not that kind of team. We need to rebound as a unit and spread it around. Sam and Koby need to get five or six. Alex (Dargenton) needs to get his share. On some nights, he is going to be outmatched size wise and up to his eyeballs wrestling around with guys. We’ll have to have some other guys step up and run those loose ones down. It really needs to be a group effort on the defensive glass. Offensively, we want to be better rebounding the ball, but we don’t want our transition defense to slip. That is an area that we are experimenting a little bit to see how much we can get done on the boards without compromising anything else. I’m not totally sure where we are there yet.
On the state of the Mountain West
The Mountain West could be described very easily. When the seventh-place team in the league won 23 games last year, has four starters back and has the sixth-man of the year back – Wyoming – that is all you need to know. That is how deep the Mountain West is as a league. I expect it to be really good. You go through eight or nine teams and if that certain team is at home that night, I’m not so sure that I would pick the team ahead of them in the preseason to win on that other team’s home floor. I’m not sure I would pick three to beat six on six’s home floor. It is just that close and that deep and hopefully that will come out at the end of the year, as opposed to the view that the league is down. People need to look at the league by how deep it is and it is scary. At media day the consensus was that the league would be up this year, that teams were a little more experienced, a little more talented and deeper and that it would be a good league.
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