LOGAN — A .500 finish wasn’t enough to save Tim Duryea’s job.
Utah State University athletic director John Hartwell announced early Sunday evening that Duryea has been relieved of his duties after three seasons as the head coach of the Aggie men’s basketball team.
“We appreciate everything that Tim and his staff have contributed to Utah State the past three seasons, both on and off the court,” Hartwell said in a statement. “However, we feel it is in the best interest of the program to make a change.”
The Aggies’ 2017-18 season likely ended last week at the Mountain West Tournament in Las Vegas with an even 17-17 record following a win over No. 10 seed Colorado State, an upset victory over No. 2 Boise State and an 83-68 loss to No. 3 New Mexico Friday night.
Plagued by injuries all season long, Utah State finished tied for seventh place with UNLV in conference play, going 11-4 at home but just 2-11 on the road.
The longest tenured assistant coach in USU history, Duryea was hired in April 2015 by former athletic director Scott Barnes to replace Stew Morrill following the Aggie legend’s retirement after 17 seasons as the head coach at Utah State.
The Aggies went 16-15 and finished in a tie for eighth in Duryea’s inaugural season in 2015-16, USU’s third year in the Mountain West. In Duryea’s second season, Utah State slipped to 14-17, the program’s first losing season since 1992-93, and finished tied for eighth place once again.
Bolstered by the return of Mountain West Freshman of the Year Koby McEwen and his backcourt mate Sam Merrill, the Aggies had hopes of a turnaround in 2017-18, but a slew of injuries and illnesses left Duryea uncertain of which players would be available on any given night.
Junior center Norbert Janicek suffered a knee injury in the offseason and never played in 2017-18, and freshman center Klay Stall was shut down for the season in early December with a back injury. Senior guard Julion Pearre missed 16 games with leg issues, freshman guard Brock Miller played in five games before being lost for the year with a foot injury and forward Alex Dargenton and McEwen both battled bad ankle sprains that kept them out of games.
The result was a lot of inconsistency throughout the season as the Aggies won three straight games on three occasions, but also lost four games in a row twice. And while there were big victories over Boise State in Logan and in Las Vegas, as well as season sweeps of UNLV and Fresno State, Utah State lost all three of its in-state games this year and dropped its final two road games at ninth-place Air Force and 11th-place San Jose State.
Overall, Duryea went 47-49 during his three seasons as head coach, including a 22-32 record in the Mountain West. Prior to taking over for Morrill, he spent 14 seasons as an assistant on his staff after serving as the head coach at Hutchison Community College in Kansas for two seasons.
The statement released by USU on Sunday said “a national search for Utah State’s next head men’s basketball coach will begin immediately.”
Utah State loses just two seniors (Dargenton and Pearre) from this year’s team, but junior guard DeAngelo Isby’s status is uncertain after he was not at USU’s game against New Mexico due to “personal reasons,” according to Duryea.
McEwen also has a longtime, personal relationship with Duryea’s former assistant coach Louis Wilson, which could be a factor in whether or not the standout guard remains in Logan. Duryea’s associate head coach Tarvish Felton has been at Utah State for 10 years and is married to USU Deputy Athletic Director Jana Dogget, while former Aggie star Spencer Nelson has been on Duryea’s staff the past two seasons.
McEwen (15.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.2 apg) and Merrill (16.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.1 apg) led the Aggies in scoring this season, followed by junior forward Dwayne Brown Jr. (9.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg). Merrill and Brown were the only USU players to play in all 34 games in 2017-18.