USU men's basketball head coach Tim Duryea addressed the media on Thursday and answered questions about the upcoming 2017-18 season opener against Weber State on Friday, November 10. The complete transcript of the press conference can be found below.
On Weber State
“They are very solid. I’ve only watched one exhibition game, that’s all we had, plus the history we have with Randy (Rahe) and his program. He is one of the best coaches in the country that nobody talks about. He is very solid year in and year out. What you see if what you get. They are going to line up and guard you in the half court, man-to-man. They are going to be tough. They are going to be physical. I think (Zach) Braxton is a phenomenal low-post defender. He does a great job and requires no help from them when the ball goes in there. That is a huge luxury when you can guard the post one-on-one and also protect the 3-point line.
“Offensively, Jerrick Harding has really come a long way since his game here last year when he broke out and scored the first points of his career. He is tremendously talented and is a slippery, little scorer that can score at the rim and is good at the 3-point line. You have to guard the 3-point line when you guard them. They shot 42 percent last year, which has got to be top-10 or 15 in the country. Brekkott Chapman has given them some of the same things that Kyndahl Hill gave them last year, except a little more skill at the 4-spot. He is a a very good defender and rebounder as well. They can put two wings on the floor in (Dusty) Baker and (Ryan) Richardson that are as good as good a 3-point shooter on the catch that we’ll face all year. They present a lot of problems defensively. They’ve changed their offensive scheme up a little bit this year, but they are always very organized and intelligent in the things they do. They do a good job of putting their players in a good position to succeed. Just watching one exhibition game, I really like Randy’s team.”
On how the team has been approaching the first week of the season
“We’ve had a really good week of practice. Our guys have been doing a really great job. We gave them last weekend off so they could recharge, knowing that we had quite a stretch in front of us. They’ve had a really good week in practice, both in the film room and on the floor and they are ready to go. Having six of our first eight games on the road is brutal, and it is something we haven’t done before. There were a lot of reasons why it fell that way. Because of that, it makes this a huge game for us. We have to look at all of these road games as opportunities to be better. We had a lot of close calls on the road last year, but didn’t get over the hump very many times. That is where we need to improve. We’ve got to show each other and ourselves that our defense will travel and that we can rebound the ball. If we do those two things, then we can put ourselves in a position night in and night out to have success. We are still a young team. We have a lot of young guys that we are still trotting out there. Some of them have good experience and hopefully we can use that to our benefit. There is really only a couple of guys that have played on this floor in high school, but none in college, with Julion (Pearre) hurt. It will be a good test. There are a lot of easier ways to open up than going to Weber State. With that being said, we are excited for the opportunity.”
On how injuries have impacted the Utah State depth
“The biggest question will be backup minutes at the one. Julion was getting a lot of those, as well as backup minutes at the two. We are extremely unproven at the point when Koby (McEwen) goes out for a rest. Crew Ainge is just off of his mission and Abel Porter has just been in the program for a year and hasn’t had the chance to play. Both of those kids are hard workers and tough competitors, but both are unproven. One, if not both of those kids, will be forced into minutes that they wouldn’t have otherwise, but that is the luxury that Julion was giving us. He was an experience guard that could play more than one spot. DeAngelo (Isby) and Brock Miller will get most of the time at the three. Sam (Merrill) and Diogo Brito will get most of the time at the two. Those three: Koby, Crew and Abel, will share the minutes at the one.”
On the matchups in the post
“Alex (Dargenton) and Quinn (Taylor) are both very solid defenders and know what they are doing. They know our scheme really well and know where to be. It just comes down to that those two guys are undersized. We are going to have to be creative enough, on a night-to-night basis, to be able to help them out in any way we need to, based on the other team’s strengths at the four and five. It is a pretty good matchup at the four. We can play Dwayne Brown Jr., there, who can play both in and out, and Daron Henson. We can move Quinn over there at the four, so we have some bodies and experience at the four to matchup. We don’t have any size on our team like Zach Braxton, so Klay Stall needs to be ready to go and play some minutes when needed. He is an unproven guy as well, but gives us a little more size than Alex does. Alex has been tremendous in our exhibition game and in our scrimmage. His post defense, on film, has graded out to an ‘A’, and he uses his strengths, his quickness, his intelligence and his experience to do a good job of keeping the ball out of there. That is a huge key, if we can limit the catches down there, then we can shore up our defense by not having to rotate or help or anything like that. I think those guys can get the job done, but we just have to do it a little bit differently than Weber does in leaving Braxton down there one-on-one. He is big and strong enough to just handle his business.
On Weber State’s balance
“With (Jeremy) Senglin and (Damian) Lillard, Randy has had two dominant guards that have needed a lot of shots and were such good players in the Big Sky that it is how your team is going to go. They will be a more balanced team and have the chance to get double-figure scoring from, really, everybody that plays. Those two wing players (Richardson and Baker) really don’t do a lot off of the bounce, but because they are so dangerous from three, they can get you 12 or 15 points on only six or seven shots. They have a good balance inside and outside. Braxton doesn’t get a ton of touches in there, but when he does he shoots at a very high percentage and then Brekkott is kind of the wild card. He can score in transition, he can score off of his defense because he is so long and athletic. He is a very good offensive rebounder. He can make a 3-point shot. They can post him up. He is very versatile. And then Harding is just a natural scorer. When you put all the elements together, I think you will see three or four guys in double figures for them most nights.”
On the starting five
“DeAngelo (Isby) at the three and Dwayne (Brown Jr.) at the four is the way we will go. Dwayne has really grabbed that position by the throat and has really earned most of the minutes there. The 3-spot is a little more up for grabs. Brock Miller is getting better on a daily basis. He has always been a big-league shooter, that hasn’t really changed at all, but he is seeing the floor better and it is slowing down for him a little bit. He is feeding the post better. He is better in the pick-and-roll as his ball handling gets better from coming off of his mission. Defensively, with both of those guys being new they have struggled. Probably, the guy who is going to end up playing the most minutes there is the guy who jumps ahead defensively. They can both score in their own way, but we need a more solid defensive effort at the position than we have gotten so far. If one of them sticks their head above the other, then that is the way we are going to go and give most of the minutes.”
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