USU men's basketball head coach Tim Duryea addressed the media on Tuesday and answered questions about the upcoming game against UC Irvine on Wednesday, Dec. 6. The complete transcript of the press conference can be found below.
On UC Irvine:
“UC Irvine is a very good team. Their record is a little deceiving because of the schedule they’ve played. Russel Turner always does a nice job with his team and his teams are always very big. This team is no exception. They have multiple big bodies that they can throw at you. They play power basketball. They don’t try to be something they are not. Ninety percent of the game they have two big guys on both blocks and they are hunting bodies to post up, they are hunting bodies to duck in, they are trying to catch the ball with two feet in the lane. Those guards do not shoot it too quick and they are getting posts catches and do a great job of that. Their identity is inside-out. Their identity is a power team. When you look at their stats, they are doing a great job offensively.
“Defensively, they will mix defenses on you. Most of the time they will play man, but they will mix in a 2-3 zone that is big and active. You have to be ready to attack both defenses and be very efficient against either one. I’m really impressed with Tommy Rutherford as a power forward/center. He can score with both hands, over both shoulders, he can put the ball on the floor and can knock down three’s. Their guards are fast and they are very good shooters. They are a handful to guard. We’ll have our hands full and will have to come ready to play.”
On UC Irvine’s Elston Jones:
“Elston is doing a good job for them. He’s started a couple of games, but he mostly comes off of the bench. His rebound numbers are similar to what they were when he was here and they are fantastic. He is a really good rebounder. He is doing a good job scoring around the basket and is shooting over 54 percent. He’s a handful when he is in there. He and Brad Greene are two big bodies that move in and out of there. They can go a little smaller when they play (Jonathan) Galloway and Rutherford together. They are a big, power team.”
On UC Irvine’s rebounding:
“They are the best rebounding team we’ve played to this point. They are plus-8 on the boards and do a fantastic job on both sides. The fact that they have two big bodies close to the rim, and have depth means that they are not afraid to foul and bang into you and be physical and chase the ball. When you have a guy that weighs 320 (lbs) and you have a guy that weighs 275 (lbs) that are not afraid to foul then there are a lot of collisions in there. They are very aggressive rebounders on both sides of the floor.”
On UC Irvine’s Evan Leonard and Eyassu Worku:
“Evan Leonard is having a really solid year for them. He is a guy who can put the ball on the floor and go by you. But, first and foremost, he is a guy who is a catch-and-shoot guard. When you have post players on your team and you want to throw the ball inside, it is really important to surround those guys with good shooters to keep the floor spaced as much as you can. Evan Leonard does a good job of doing that. Eyassu Worku is a kid we are really familiar with. We recruited him hard in high school. He is really fast with the ball and put up some impressive scoring numbers in high school. He’s still finding his way as a shooter at this level, but he is capable of scoring double figures on any night. He is really fast in the open floor, as is (Max) Hazzard. Max Hazzard puts a lot of pressure on you in transition and is also a tremendous 3-point shooter.”
On the series with UC Irvine:
“Russ and I have talked and it made sense to keep this series going. We signed a contract with them for a home-and-home series and after last year they decided they wanted to continue the series and so did we. It is a matchup that has a little history to it. It is an old Big West rival. It gives us a chance to get to southern California and play a game. It gives our fan base a team they we have some history with. There have been some tremendous games both here and in Irvine.”
On how the team is recovering from the BYU game:
“It is one of the most frustrating losses I can remember for a long time. As players and coaches you put a lot of time and effort into preparing for every game, but especially that game because of how special it is to the people around here. And now with how the series is, you only have them in your building once every three years. There was a lot emotional investment in that game. To do so many things right and well and to feel like if you did a simple thing like hitting a few free throws, you feel like the game could go the other way. It has been a hard one to get over. Our team had a little bit of a hangover in practice on Monday and even today had to work that out a little bit. We need to come in tomorrow ready to play. We need to get over it because if we don’t, with the quality of team we’re playing, we could let one bad night become two bad nights in a hurry.”
On the Utah State rotation:
“Julion (Pearre) is a kid who will come off of the bench for us. I started Julion because I wasn’t sure what Diogo Brito’s availability/effectiveness would be coming off of a sprained ankle three days beforehand. I tried to get Julion ready mentally leading up to the game, not knowing where Diogo was. Diogo bounced back really quickly and he’ll start against Irvine. It will be Koby and Sam and Diogo. Hopefully we can settle into that lineup and rotation a little bit and avoid some injuries and get some rhythm and familiarity with some roles, both starting and coming off of the bench. Before the game, it was a tough game for Julion to break into. He didn’t play poorly, he just had a hard time getting into the rhythm. He’ll settle into his role coming off of the bench and we need him to help us.”
On the play of Koby McEwen in the BYU game:
“Koby played a lot of minutes and did a good job. You could tell he was a little rusty in the finer points of executing our package and set plays. We made a few execution errors that we normally wouldn’t make, but when you haven’t played in two or three weeks and are thrust in that environment, things are moving pretty quickly. I thought he did some good things on the floor and played hard defensively. He knocked down some shots, but I know he would have liked to have made more free throws, as would have Sam Merrill. Those kids are going to knock those down, it was just one of those nights where a perfect storm gathered and we paid a heavy price for it.”
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