USU men's basketball head coach Tim Duryea addressed the media on Wednesday and answered questions about the upcoming 2016-17 season opener at UC Irvine on Friday, Nov. 11. The complete transcript of the press conference can be found below.
On UC Irvine:
“Obviously, they’re a very solid program. There’s a lot of history between our program and theirs going back to our Big West days and we’ve had some great rivalry games. They had a couple big wins here, we had a couple of big wins at their place, big crowds, sold-out arenas, just a really good rivalry when we were in the Big West. So, it’s going to feel a little bit like déjà vu. But they’re obviously a team that won 28 games last year that’s very solid, have some good players, lost a couple of really good players in the backcourt and on the frontline, but also have a couple of really good players coming back in Luke Nelson and Jaron Martin in the backcourt. (Ioannis) Dimakopoulos is a problem down low because he is very, very skilled, can score one-on-one on the block, so anytime you have a guy like that to deal with, you have to figure out defensively what you want to take away and what you want to give up. Watching them on film, [Russell Turner]’s teams are always going to be big and they do a great job around the rim of changing shots and their guards are fast. They have a lot of young guards that are playing that you can tell are still kind of trying to figure it out, but they’ve got a couple experienced guys, too, that are very talented.”
On traveling west for the season opener:
“Anytime you get to go west and get in the warm weather it seems to energize your guys a little bit. With it being the first game of the year, obviously, there won’t be an issue with us being excited to play and ready to play. Hopefully, the fact that we’ve taken a road trip with our scrimmage already this year will help our guys settle in maybe a little bit quicker. But there will be an adjustment there, we’re going to have to settle in and find our rhythm. I have no idea what kind of crowd we’re looking at or anything like that with it being so early in the year, but it’s also a school that doesn’t have football, so I would expect a pretty decent crowd with the success of their program.”
On the size matchup:
“I feel better about our size. We can go a couple of different ways: we can play pretty big or we can play pretty small. Obviously, against them, you have to decide whether you want to try to cause them matchup issues because you go small or whether you want to try to match their size and play a little bigger. We’re still not as big as they are on the front line, they’ll start 6-10 and 7-2 at the four and the five, and that’s as big as really anybody you play all year. They’re not quite as big as last year. Obviously, you’re not going to have Mamadou Ndiaye very often at 7-6 very often to deal with, he made an amazing impact on the game, watching our game against them last year and watching them play a couple times last year is just amazing the impact he had. The interesting thing about them is how much they’ll change their style defensively from what they played last year. Basically, when he’s on the floor, they played some man and were very good at it, but they played a lot of 2-3 zone and let him basically just patrol around the basket. This year, in their exhibition game, they’ve shown way more man-to-man, getting out, pressuring passing lanes, obviously, they were a little more mobile in there. So, they’ll probably make some adjustments to their style as well in terms of defense, but, again, they can still play man or zone and be very big and give you problems in both.”
On the earlier scrimmage at Washington State:
“We went to Washington State and it was a great experience. It basically felt like a road trip and we got our guys kind of accustomed to how we do things on the road and then went and scrimmaged, obviously, on their floor. So, that will be a big benefit in terms of how this game will feel. You just get so used to being in your own gym everyday through 30 practices, a couple of intrasquad scrimmages and an exhibition game, it’s really good and it’s really different the first time you get on the road each and every year. So, I hope that experience will help us some.”
On rotations and starters:
“I haven’t totally decided that. I wanted to watch a couple of days at practice this week after we had a game under our belt. A lot of times when that happens and players see themselves having success in a game, a lot of times a couple of guys will step forward a little bit. For the most part, we’re pretty solid in the same lineup. There may be a change or two, I’m not 100 percent sure yet, to be honest.”
On who will redshirt:
“We’ve approached a couple of players about that, they are still mulling those things over with their family, so nothing has been decided yet. And I basically said, ‘Hey, I just need to know before Friday what you’re thinking.’ So, haven’t really pressure them yet this week. But, in the next day or two I’ll sit down with those players and see where we are, so there’s really nothing I can report yet.”
On the approach with freshmen before the season opener:
“I don’t try to single them out. I really talk to them in the same way I talk to our whole team in terms of what it will take to win versus a specific opponent, what it will take to win versus any opponent on the road. Road wins in college basketball are hard to come by, it doesn’t really matter where you play or who you play, they’re hard to come by. You have to kind of stay in character, and that’s the main thing you talk to your team about before games early in the year, is you try to get them to rely on the habits that we’ve built through 30 practices, an exhibition game and a scrimmage, try to say, ‘Hey, that’s why we try to build these habits, that same habit we try to build will be the habit that will carry you through early on in games, so don’t try to do too much’ and it’s important, ‘Hey, don’t try to pull back, you’ve got to be aggressive if you’re going to go somebody else’s court and win.’ So, be yourself, settle in, find your rhythm, but I don’t single young kids out specifically, that would even put more pressure on them if you did that or cause them to be overly cautious. So, I try to talk to the team as a group about those things.”
On the addition of coach Spencer Nelson:
“Spencer’s kind of finding his way on the court in coaching. Anytime you come into a staff that has veteran guys that have all been in a program before you got there, you kind of have to settle in, find your niche, and he’s done a great job of that. Our big guys really enjoy working with him and Tarvish Felton, they do a great job at working with those guys. And then Spencer’s done a great job already in recruiting, establishing contacts in different places and really trying to work a certain niche of the recruiting market that we need and he’s already tied into a couple of players from overseas that he’s gotten tied into from his contacts that he made as a player. He’s doing a great job with our guys every day in practice, he’s a very positive influence and he comes with a lot of credibility. Anytime you’re being coached by a guy that had a 10 year pro career and has played against a lot of guys that are in the NBA and a lot of guys these players have heard of, that comes with a lot of credibility. He’s been everything I would hoped he would’ve been so far and even a little bit more.”
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