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Tim Duryea making himself at home as Utah State’s new basketball coach

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I don’t have titles or first assistants or anything like that. It’s just going to be a staff of guys who are all pitching in and getting the work done. – Tim Duryea

LOGAN — Tim Duryea is settling in. And the change in the office of the head basketball coach at Utah State is quite noticeable.

While former head coach Stew Morrill had just a handful of trinkets on display in the big corner office at the Wayne Estes Center he occupied for less than a year, Duryea has a much larger selection of items on his desk and in the bookcase behind his office chair.

"Coach was a minimalist. He had just the necessities and I'm trying to make it a little homier," Duryea says. “And I'm not done yet. I've got a few more things to add and put in. But yeah, I'm trying to make it a little homier.”

Among the items is a wooden box full of Aggie championship watches and rings, along with numerous golf balls and other golf-related knickknacks.

There's also a nice selection of books, including some expected titles like "Winning Every Day: The Game Plan for Success" by Lou Holtz and "Hard Work: A Life On and Off the Court" by Roy Williams, as well as some rather unexpected tomes such as "American Soldier" by Gen. Tommy Franks and "Prairie Tale: A Memoir" by Melissa Gilbert.

There's also lot of photographs, most of them featuring his three children or commemorating golf events. But there's also an 8x10 of Duryea from his playing days at North Texas that shows not only his collegiate basketball career, but also a very fine head of hair.

For those who knew Duryea when he first came to USU as an assistant 14 years ago, that photo is just a reminder. But for others who may not have been introduced to Duryea until he was named as Morrill's replacement on March 30, they may be a little surprised.

But as the longest-tenured assistant coach in Utah State history, Duryea is clearly the kind of man who has given his heart and soul — and his hair — to the Aggie basketball program.

“Every day I wake up very thankful for the opportunity,” Duryea says of his first chance to be a Division I head basketball coach.

“Then, the next thing that goes through my mind is, OK, what needs to be done today? And I’ve just been taking it day by day.”

And there have clearly been a lot of busy days for Duryea in April and May.

When he was introduced as the man who would replace Morrill, who retired at the end of 2014-15 after 17 seasons at Utah State and 29 years as a head coach overall, Duryea said that soon after the press conference, he would be heading to Miami on a recruiting visit. That trip resulted in the signing of Shane Rector, a point guard out of Miami Dade College who averaged 17.4 points and 5.5 assists last year as a sophomore.

During his press conference, Duryea also said he was “going to be aggressive in getting into some national situations,” and true to his word, the Aggies announced on Tuesday that will be traveling to Durham, North Carolina, to face the vaunted Duke Blue Devils on Nov. 29.

In addition, Duryea also had a spot to fill on his coaching staff, and the hiring of Louis Wilson just became official late last week. The head coach at Adams State in Colorado the past five years, Wilson went 95-46 during his time in Alamosa, after stints as an assistant coach at Southern Utah (1992-97), Idaho State (1998-2006) and Cal State Northridge (2007-09).

“Louis has always had a reputation of being a first-class person, a hard worker and a very productive recruiter,” Duryea said. “I’m excited about Louis, I really am.”

Wilson joins Chris Jones and Tarvish Felton as full-time assistants on Duryea’s staff. Although Jones and Felton, who was recruited to play at Southern Utah by Wilson, were both on Morrill’s staff for seven years, Duryea says his assistants are “all equal.”

“I don’t have titles or first assistants or anything like that,” he explains. “It’s just going to be a staff of guys who are all pitching in and getting the work done.

“And basketball-wise, I haven’t really decided who's kind of slotting in where, but I’m not going to have their duties so defined as Stew did: ‘You’re the defensive guy, and you’re the offensive guy.’ Although I think that’s great, we’re just going to kind of do it a little different.”

Duryea says he’s glad that he's had the summer to kind of figure out what everyone’s duties will be and is also excited he has an experienced team coming back. After undergoing a major overhaul following the 2013-14 season, just about everyone is back from last year’s squad that went 18-13 and shocked the Mountain West by finishing tied for fourth.

Forward Sean Harris, the lone senior last season, is gone, along with sophomore shooting guard JoJo McGlaston, sophomore point guard Viko Noma’aea and 7-foot-1 sophomore center Bilal Begic. A native of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Begic redshirted last season, while Noma’aea averaged just over five minutes a game.

Duryea says Noma’aea may return in 2015-16 as a walk-on “because he likes it here socially,” but that transferring was McGlaston’s idea. McGlaston saw action in 30 games last year, averaging 5.6 points per game while shooting just under 32 percent from the field.

“That was his call,” Duryea notes. “I think he kind of knew what was coming and beat me to the punch, but he was the one that came in and asked for his release.

“So, we have a scholarship open, and we’re going to take our time filling it.”

While the Aggies have yet to announce their 2015-16 schedule, the one thing Duryea knows for sure other than going to Cameron Indoor Stadium is when and where he’ll coach his first game as the head coach of the Aggies: Nov. 13 at Weber State.

“That’s a tough place, they have a good team returning and they’re probably going to be angry,” Duryea says of facing the Wildcats, who let an 18-point halftime lead get away last year at the Spectrum on their way to a 72-61 loss.

Not to mention Weber State’s head coach is Randy Rahe, another longtime Morrill assistant at both Colorado State and USU, who was instrumental in Duryea getting hired by the Aggies in July 2001.

“Randy’s the guy who is responsible for me getting to Utah State and getting in front of Coach Morrill, and that’s something that I’ll always be very, very grateful for,” Duryea says. “And then you turn around and that’s who you have to play the first (game) right out of the box.”

One thing Duryea says he needs to decide before that game in Ogden is whether or not he’ll use flip cards to call plays from the bench. A Morrill trademark, the Aggies used cards during his entire 17 years in Logan, and even utilized a second set of dummy cards for several years.

“I haven’t decided yet, but I’m kind of leaning towards no,” Duryea says. “They do give you organization and structure and all of those things, and yet we need to be more free-flowing in this league. We’re always going to run some sets and get the ball where we want it and to whom we want it at certain times, but exactly how we’re going to get that done, I haven’t totally decided yet.”

In the meantime, there’s more recruiting and more settling in to do. Duryea and his wife, Angie, and their three children are planning to move into a new house on July 1, leaving him a whole other space to make “a little homier.”

It’s not likely to have as great a view of Cache Valley and the Wellsville Mountains as Duryea’s office, but then those huge windows don’t just look out to the north and the west. They also provide the opportunity for people to look in on the first-time head coach.

“I have more windows to look out now, but there’s also more windows for people to look in, both literally and figuratively,” Duryea points out. “More windows equal more scrutiny, but that’s what you sign up for.

“And right now, there are no negatives, just excitement about a new job, a new staff and having a lot of good players coming back.”