USU men's basketball head coach Tim Duryea addressed the media on Monday night and answered questions about the upcoming contest against BYU on Wednesday, Nov. 30, at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City. The complete transcript of the press conference can be found below.
“BYU, like always, is a high octane team. They are averaging 90 points a game and have multiple weapons. They like to play at a fast pace and can hurt you from inside and outside. They have a great attack inside with (Kyle) Davis and (Eric) Mika and (Nick) Emery and (TJ) Haws are dangerous on the wing and (L.J.) Rose plays his role well and gets the ball where it needs to be and keeps everybody happy. They are well coached as always, and are a better defensive team than they get credit for. They are always a handful. It will be a tall task as always.”
On slowing down BYU
“I’m not sure how much you can slow them down. You have to try and control the tempo. That doesn’t always mean play slow all the time, but run when we want to run and when the opportunity is there to run. And then play good, solid half-court basketball as well.
“You can also control the tempo by changing defenses and that is something we have to do in this game. We have to be good in our zone and be good in our man and have to be able to play them both at different times in the game. That helps you control the tempo as well, along with your offensive philosophy.”
On matching up with BYU’s size and if it is similar to Purdue
“I don’t think anybody is similar in size to Purdue’s starting bigs. I know Gonzaga has a lot of bigs, but there is nobody like Isaac Haas in college basketball. He is 7-2, 290 and can really play. For BYU, Mika is big, strong and can be used in many different ways. He is extremely fast in running the floor, an active offensive rebounder and as a scorer he can put the ball on the floor and drive by you, can be iso’ed on the high post, catch the ball on the baseline and take the ball off the bounce and spin the other way. He is more than just a low-block scorer. He is unique in the way he can score the ball in many different ways. He has a very unique combination with how big and strong he is, as well as having speed to run the floor. It is a unique combination that is really hard to deal with.”
On the outcome of the BYU-Utah Valley game
“I’m surprised anytime, anybody, from anywhere goes into the Marriott Center and wins. That just doesn’t happen very often, especially going in there and putting 114 points on the board. That was a phenomenal showing. Utah Valley had one of those shooting nights that is probably going to be the highlight of the year in how you’ve played offensively. And if it isn’t, then you’ve got one heck of a basketball team on your hands. They played phenomenally well. They got easy baskets around the rim, made 18 3-point shots and really did a good job of doing what they do.
“Defensively they had a good plan, but BYU still put 101 on the board. I thought they did a good job on Mika and Davis, but when you look at the stat sheet (Mika) had 22 (points) and eight (rebounds) even though they doubled him on most of his catches.
“When you play BYU you have to decide what you are going to give up. If you take something away, then you have to give something up on the other end. Where UVU got fortunate is that (TJ) Haws went 1-for-10 and missed a lot of open looks. When you play as hard as UVU did and as well as UVU did, a lot of good fortune goes your way. As many good things as Utah Valley did, it still came down to UVU getting open shots and when they got them they jumped up and knocked them down. That is what you have to do. If you don’t score your ball when you play BYU, you can do a lot of other things well, but you are not going to hold them down enough to where you are going to score in the mid-60’s and win the game. You’ve got to score your ball to win and that is what Utah Valley did.”
On the difference in the games in Mexico against the first three games
“The biggest thing I was disappointed with, especially the Texas Tech game, was that our defensive effort, for the first time ever this year, wasn’t where it needed to be, in terms of activity level, aggressiveness and competitiveness. We were just not a competitive enough defensive group against Texas Tech. In the second half we looked like we just hit the wall after a promising start. We were just poor defensively.
“In the Purdue game, we played harder, but we got in such foul trouble in an early portion of the game. Our post guys got really tentative and just stood behind the post from that point on and let the ball come in way too easily. Both games, we did some good things for a half, or nearly a half, and then for a half or so we were not as good as we needed to be. When you step out on that stage and play that quality of teams, our guys found out that you need to battle, scrap and compete for the entire 40 minutes. The other thing they found out is that you aren’t going to go through a whole game and not face some adversity. You’ve got to be good enough to ride a big run when you are on it for as long as you can, but when the adversity comes and the other team makes a good run that you need to pull yourself together and stem the tide the other way. We did a poor job at that.”
On the health of the team
“On Friday, we had a long travel day and we were scheduled to practice on Saturday. However, five of our players and myself were sick from the trip. We don’t know where that came from, it may have been something we ate or drank. It was more than fatigue because there were too many symptoms that were similar with all six or seven of us that got sick. We had to cancel practice on Saturday and practice Sunday instead. Sunday was going to be an off day and a day to recoup a little bit, give our bodies a little rest, but we weren’t able to do that. We had to go Sunday, today and tomorrow - three days in a row. That is not what I wanted to do, but we really didn’t have any choice with the stuff we were battling.”
On Julion Pearre’s performance in Mexico
"Julion played really well in the Purdue game. That was good to see. He was aggressive and reminded me of how he finished the season last year, coming off of the bench and really giving us a spark in the way he played on the offensive end. He drove the ball really hard and made some shots. Our starting backcourt really didn’t play well either game and that was key for Julion coming in and giving us a lift. Sam Merrill is getting better every day and we are trying to find more minutes for him. If Julion continues to play like that, and if we can get Koby (McEwen) and Shane (Rector) playing the way before we left on the trip then we’ll be in good shape on the guard line."
On helping Koby McEwen get through tough games like he had in Cancun
“I try to encourage him and try to be his support more than anything else because he is so hard on himself that most of the time you need to pick him up and tell him to look ahead to the next play and to the next game. College basketball is not as easy as he has made it look over the first two or three games of the year and there are going to be some tough times and tough games. I try to be supportive of him because he has enough pressure on himself from the outside and from the pressure that he puts on himself. I know he is going to compete hard every night and the thing I can do the best for him is to be supportive.”
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