USU men's basketball head coach Tim Duryea addressed the media on Sunday and answered questions about the upcoming 2016-17 home opener against NJIT on Monday, Nov. 14. The complete transcript of the press conference can be found below.
"NJIT has done a great job of building their program. It wasn’t too many years ago that they didn’t win a Division-I game the entire season. But they’ve built it up to where over the last two years they have had 20-win seasons. Coach Kennedy has been a big part of that as an assistant and is now getting his chance to run the program. We have a lot of respect for them and for what they’ve done and where they’ve come from.
"Personnel wise, it is a different team than last year. They have a piece to the puzzle in Abdul Lewis that wasn’t around for them last year. It gives them a guy that they can throw the ball to into on the block and, one-on-one, he is a pretty skilled guy. That will make them a little different. They have tremendous experience back with Damon Lynn, Tim Coleman and Chris Jenkins. Lynn is their all-time leading scorer and is a strong, aggressive kid offensively. Chris Jenkins, he’s got as good of stroke of anybody from behind the 3-point line. It is a short, compact stroke and he is a great shooter. Tim Coleman can play the three, the under-sized four and is just a shot-maker. He is efficient offensively from all over the floor. He can post up, he can drive the ball well and is a 40-percent 3-point shooter.
"They’ve got a great deal of talent back in a group that has really grown accustomed to winning. They’ve put some talented freshmen in there, as well as Lewis who transferred from South Alabama, and I’m extremely impressed after watching them on film."
On Lynn’s 3-point shooting ability and his ability to drive
"Last year, he took 350 three’s in 35 games. He shot the ball a little over 500 times and 350 of those were three’s. You have to be there on the catch because he has tremendous range, has confidence and has the green light. Those three things make him extremely dangerous. We talked a lot today about not being surprised of when he shoots them and where he shoots them from. You have to expect him to attempt eight to 10 3-point shots in a game. He is extremely dangerous and stretches the defense and is very talented. He gets people stretched out with his range and then drives by them. He is a big, strong guard. He does a great job bouncing off people and drawing fouls."
On what he liked best about the UC Irvine game
"I liked the way we defended. That was really the thing we’ve stressed the most since the beginning of school. Number one, getting back and getting the defense set and number two, closing out defensive possessions with rebounds. I thought our four’s and five’s did a good job of getting those defensive rebounds and they were putting their bodies on people."
On the matchup with NJIT’s size
"This is a team that will look like, at times, have five guards on the floor. We’ve got to adjust. We may have to throw our small-ball lineup out there a little bit to match up with them. When Lewis is in the game, they can score on the block, but can stretch you out in four ways with shooting all over the floor. They can beat you that way, or go five out and just drive-and-kick to get three’s. Offensively, they present a lot of different challenges."
On the three games in six days
"It is difficult. Really, you prepare for that Irvine game and then we took Saturday off. Basically, today, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday are our practice days this week and 90 percent will be devoted to preparation for the other teams. You have to keep your practices a little shorter with that many games in that few of days, but with the teams coming up that we’ve never played before, you need to set aside time for that. In addition, we have a team coming up on Saturday night that will play a defense that you’ll only see one time all year, in the match-up zone. You have to prepare both offensively and defensively for them as well. It is really three unique challenges in a week and your guys will rise to that and like that because games are coming rapid fire. It is a good week and a challenging week, but ultimately for them, a fun week."
On the games counting towards the Cancun Challenge
"We talked about that as a team. This game (NJIT) is the first game of the Cancun Challenge. We’ve got two games at home with NJIT and Idaho State and then play two games in Cancun. We talked today about protecting our home court. We want to get back to where our home court is a place where it is hard for other teams to win. The way to do that is to win yourself and get your fans excited and build on previous success."
On NJIT’s upsets in recent history
"Anytime you play a team that you haven’t played and are unfamiliar with, or has one of the more unique names in college basketball, you have to give your team a little background. We talked about that they have beaten Michigan and St. John’s in the last two years and I told them my story in junior college when we beat Vincennes and Shawn Marion when they were ranked No. 1 in the country in the semifinals of the tournament and thought we were pretty good stuff and then turned around in the finals and lost to Fashion Institute of New York. I can relate and have personal experience in this category."
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