USU men's basketball head coach Tim Duryea addressed the media on Friday and answered questions about the upcoming home game against New Orleans on Monday, Dec. 19. The complete transcript of the press conference can be found below.
On New Orleans
“New Orleans is one of the most improved teams from one year to the next that I’ve seen in a long time. Their two-year record before this one was 10-52 and they’ve gone from Division I to Division III and back. Coach Slessinger has put this together in a slow and patient way and I’m really impressed with how much they’ve improved. They know exactly who they are as a basketball team. They know how they want to play and they know their roles. They are not a flashy team. They are a grind-you-out, blue-collar-type team.
“They do a great job of showing patience on offense until they get the shot they want from who they want to shoot it. They don’t play very fast. They are extremely purposeful with every possession on offense. They rarely let a defense off the hook with a possession that is not about 20 seconds long and has a lot of screening action, dribble hand-offs and hit you with a lot of stuff.
“Defensively, they are going to show you man and zone. They are going to pressure you in some way after free throws. I expect to see a lot of both defenses, based on how we are playing. They play (Louisiana-Lafayette) on Saturday night and have a short prep time for us. Usually in that situation as a coach, you are going to change your defenses up and rely on your scheme, more than your penetration. All-in-all a much improved basketball team over the last two years.”
On how the week off has gone
“It has been a really good week for us. We have taken advantage of it. We had one of the top two or three practices of the year today and we’ve got a few more days to prepare. We’ve added a few things. We’ve changed a couple of things that we needed to change. This was the week that we took stock in what we did earlier in the year and changed the things we needed to fit our team. You always think you know what your team is in game 1, but after you play a few games you figure out what the team really is. Now we have the time to tweak, fix and adjust the things that need to adjust. All-in-all this has been a great week for us.”
On how the game against New Orleans appeared on the schedule
“Scheduling is a lot of connections and, sometimes, two desperate teams coming together because nobody else will play. There are a lot of factors that go into it. I’m good friends with Coach Slessinger and one of his assistants, Jody Bailey. But this game came about because they needed a game just before Christmas and we needed another home game and the date worked. They were willing to come out. We would have liked to play on Saturday, but they couldn’t play then. This will only give us one day between games, but we needed another home game and they were looking for a road game and it just kind of fit.”
On if the week break was too long
“I don’t think so. We gave our players Sunday and Monday off. We went hard Tuesday and Wednesday. Yesterday we had a shooting skeleton session, where they weren’t required to tape and nothing was live. We just went over the adjustments that we made of some things. It was great. We got a lot of shooting in and a lot of skill work. We were able to go over every inbounds play, zone play and man play that we have in our system. We tweaked a few things we wanted to adjust and then today got back after it and had one of the best three practices of the year. Hopefully tomorrow and Sunday our guys will pick it up again. Our guys are in great spirits because finals are over with and have a little bit of an energy rush.
“Finals are a little more friendly then they used to be. We used to have to practice at all hours of the day to get our finals in. Now, we get to stick to our own regular practice schedule. It isn’t nearly as chaotic as it used to be.”
On the play at the four spot
“It is still a position by committee. It is a position that hasn’t really been decided on in terms of rotation. Alexis Dargenton has started the last couple of games and he’ll start again on Monday. In that respect it has settled down a little bit. We’ll continue to play small with Jalen (Moore) at the four, when we need to. It will be dictated by matchups and dictated by the performance of our other four’s. In a lot of ways, Jalen is our best four and yet playing him at the four downgrades us in some areas that we have been good at so far.
“I feel like a manager of a baseball team that has to bring in the lefty to face the lefty, take him out, and then bring in the righty to face the next guy. It is a bullpen by committee. It isn’t your first option as a coach, if you had your druthers, but through the heat of battle you figure out who you are and who you have and have to adjust based on that. I’m still hoping that Alex or Ngor, either one or both, come to the forefront and claim that position so we can go small only when we want to and dictate that to the other team instead of going small by necessity.”
On the play of UNO senior forward Erik Thomas
“He is a legitimate scorer and rebounder. He starts at the three for them and we’ll match Jalen up against him. That is a tough matchup for Jalen. He is a bull. He is a strong, tough basketball player and plays the four for them when they go small, so Jalen won’t be the only guy that guards him. They are very purposeful and play through him. They get him a lot of shots in areas where he is good. He isn’t a guy that hunts 3-point shots, but he can score from 3. He is very good off the bounce and in the post. He is a really aggressive offensive rebounder.
“They know who they are and who they will play through and he is their Alpha. They do a great job of getting him touches. Because of where he touches it and how they deploy him, he is on the attack most of the time he catches it. He draws a lot of fouls and is playing downhill towards the rim. He is great at drawing contact and is a good free throw shooter. He is a very effective player and made more effective by how well they know their roles and how well coached they are.”
On New Orleans’ advantage in rebounding
“They’ve played teams on the road that rebound the ball really well in Oklahoma State, Tulsa and Northwestern and they are hanging in there. They are a strong, physical group of guys and have a few older players and it is how they play.”
On Alexis Dargenton off the court
“Alex is a sweetheart of a kid. He is helpful to others and is a great teammate. He is the kind of kid who you would have babysit your kids or housesit for you. He is the kind of kind that you love to be around because he is a good person, first and foremost. He is serious about his academics and does well in school. His motives are pure. He is a great team guy. He puts team success before his own.”
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