Sweet Sixteen: Duke Presser

The full transcript from Duke's Thursday press conference featuring head coach Mike Krzyzewski, Justise Winslow, and Quinn Cook courtesy of ASAP Sports...

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Duke University student-athletes, Quinn Cook and Justise Winslow. We will take questions from the floor.

Q. Justise, some thoughts about what it means to be back here in Houston where you played high school ball, grew up and your coming back home and playing in the Sweet 16.

JUSTISE WINSLOW: It means a lot. Fortunate enough we got the South Region. I wasn't really looking forward to this. I was really focused on the first two games. Quinn told me just as a leader we got to win the first two games first and we took care of business. Now I'm here and I'm really happy, excited, got to see a lot of my family yesterday. At the end of the day, it's a business trip for Duke about getting two wins.

Q. When you heard it was Houston, when you saw it was your home town, what were your emotions?

JUSTISE WINSLOW: I was excited. I use it as motivation to play harder and play more together with my teammates in the first two games because there's no getting to Houston without winning the first two. When I saw the tournament and saw we could potentially play here, I was very excited but I knew we had to take care of business first.

Q. What type of expectation, Justise, what type of expectation from fans coming in are you expecting from St. John's, anything like that?

JUSTISE WINSLOW: I definitely expect friends and family and people from my high school to come out. I'm not going to let that be a distraction. I'm very focused on what this team needs to accomplish. Right now I'm just getting mentally prepared and focused to play Utah tomorrow.

Q. How much has your dad talked to you about getting this far in the tournament and maybe his experiences here?

JUSTISE WINSLOW: A lot, you know, because he's made it to a Final Four. He played on the big stage. Whenever I talk to him, we don't always talk basketball. When we do, he's always dropping knowledge and some of his wisdom on me. He's played in big moments. He's played on the big stage. Just little things, the details that he can pass down to me has been very influential in my game.

Q. Quinn, as one of the senior leaders, what are you seeing out of Justise and his growth this year?

QUINN COOK: A lot. You know, he's grown more mentally. I think the way he prepares, you know, that's what happens with young freshmen, Coach teaching him how to prepare and grow off the course and lot of teaching things on the court, but mentally he's done a tremendous job, and when he has his head on straight and playing to his full potential, we're a tough team to beat. He knows that. He's been playing his best basketball as of late.

Q. Justise, did you ever watch tape of your dad play in that Final Four in Seattle, the Georgetown game, or seen any of that?

JUSTISE WINSLOW: Definitely. They went up against a great Georgetown team with Patrick Ewing. They look back to back Final Fours to NC State and Georgetown. My dad let me watch tapes of all the Phi, Slama, Jamma marks the glory days with Clyde, Hakeem, Michael Young. Growing up in Houston, you're surrounded by it a lot. It's great to see Houston in the glory days.

Q. Is today your birthday?

JUSTISE WINSLOW: Yes, sir.

Q. How about celebrating your birthday here in Houston, what it means to be able to do that here? And second part of the question, what part of your game have you seen advance since you arrived at Duke from the high school level?

JUSTISE WINSLOW: Just extremely blessed. I just see it as a blessing from God, just to make it to 19 years old, but, at the same time, I've been blessed to be a part of the Duke family for the past year, and it's really been the best year of my life. Fortunate enough to come home and play in my home town. It's also my birthday. I mean God works wonders. I'm extremely excited and blessed to be here today. And what was second question? Sorry.

Q. What part of your game has advanced most since you arrived on the Duke campus?

JUSTISE WINSLOW: The mental aspect. Guys can always get better at their skill and their skill work, but the coaches help me out with the best, it's mental preparation, how to approach the game mentally. I battled a lot of injuries this season, attacking that mentally, just trying to be more consistent, staying emotionally engaged, day in, day out being a better practice player. Just a lot of the mental things that Coach has been able to help me advance my game.

Q. There have been times this year you guys have come down the court on defense and all five guys have slapped the floor. Can you take me through the process of how that works. Does somebody call for that? How does that work?

QUINN COOK: It's a moment. It's a moment. It's a time in the game where we need a stop, things are not going right and it's a breaking point. It's a possession where we all need a stop. We've done it about three times this year, and I know Justise called it first and I've called one and I think Jahlil has called one, and it was just a time in the game where we needed a stop. Just comes from the Duke highlights, you see on You Tube, the stuff that they showed you on your recruiting visits and things like that. You want to be in one of those videos 20 years later. We take full advantage of it and the fans love it. It's a motivation for us, because when we do that, we have to get a stop.

Q. Everybody talks so much about this freshman group as a senior and kind of watched this team come together, talk together. At what point did you know this group might have something to get to this point?

QUINN COOK: The first time I realized that we had something special, where it was preseason where guys were just competing, you know. You know, at the time we had ten guys and everyday felt like a game day, guys came in the locker room focused. It wasn't a lot of joking around. Obviously we're close off the court. But guys were competing. The Coach got back from USA. It wasn't a big drop off. The first thing he told us he was proud of us and that was when I really first realized we had something special and we've gotten better. Gone through some tough times this year on the court and we responded. We had our backs against the wall a couple times. It's build character and especially for these young guys to perform the way they have in big games is just getting better for March. Just been a believing in these guys.

Q. Your father said that you told him this season, Justise, you wanted to get NC State. Get a little payback for U of H even though he wasn't there the year they lost. Your thoughts about going back into history and maybe wanting to fill a void from over 30 years ago?

JUSTISE WINSLOW: Just something growing up, my brother Josh, we joke about they'll show the 30 for 30 or whatever on the NC State and all that. It's just something we always joked about. And I was glad that we could finally beat them, but it doesn't really avenge that loss my dad had because it wasn't the Final Four but just something that my family kind of jokes about.

Q. Some small measure, a little payback?

JUSTISE WINSLOW: Not really. My dad was definitely happy we won, but that game doesn't have really much to do with his career and his performance. We didn't beat them the first time, but we were able to see them again and win. Me and my dad, we live two different lives. He had his career, I have mine, and in a way getting out of Houston, getting out of his spotlight and build a name for myself, that's what I'm trying to do here at Duke.

Q. Justise, with your versatility, looks like there could be a couple different matchups for you with Utah guys. Are you preparing for a specific matchup or for a game like this or you just kind of focusing on what you do?

JUSTISE WINSLOW: Lot of times when teams come down in transition, you can be on a lot of games. When we're game planning, you got to know the scouting for all the players. You don't know who you'll be matched up on. I prepare every game like that, try to get as much information I can on all the guys because you already know who you'll be guarding. They can come down in transition or find yourself switch on a big guy. Knowing the scouting report.

Q. Justise, has the team done anything for your birthday? If not, Quinn, should he be expecting some sort of surprise?

JUSTISE WINSLOW: I had a lot of my family come by the hotel yesterday, but just birthday wishes from the guys, you know, couple just joking around, things like that, but hopefully no big surprises or anything like that.

QUINN COOK: No surprises that I know of.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for student-athletes? Anything else for the student-athletes? Okay, gentlemen, you can go. Thank you. Duke University Head coach, Mike Krzyzewski.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Obviously we're ecstatic to be here. We're in good health. We're going to have our short practice so you'll be able to see all of our guys if you want to see them and -- but our guys are excited. We know we're going to play against an outstanding team tomorrow night, very efficient team on both ends of the court, very deep. Larry has done a great job with not just his team but in four short years in his program to get them from 6-25 to where they're one of the Top 10 to 15 teams in the country, I think, is pretty spectacular. Any questions that you might have.

Q. Mike, you won the Regional here in 2010 on your way to the National Championship. Any particularly memories of this weekend or the Baylor game or anything stick out or jump back to you coming back to Houston?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: You know, it was great because we won, and the thing that sticks out I told my team that when we were here in '10, we -- there were like two wars. We played Purdue and that was such a tough game. They're so good, so tough, and obviously playing Baylor who is so talented and tough, we literally earned the right to go to the Final Four, and my point with my team was hopefully we'll be in two games and hopefully we'll be as tough, but in order to get to the second game, you're going to have to win a heck of a game and that's how we feel going into Utah.

Q. First of all, your thoughts about Justise's growth under you, and the second part, how special is it for you to be able to bring him back to Houston in his home town to play here at this level?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah. We recruited Justise for a long time and well worth it. Justise really fits all the categories to the top degree of what you would want for us in our program at Duke. Just characterize an amazing kid. Comes from a terrific family. His mom is one of the really special ladies we've had a chance to become friends with over these 40 years that I've been in coaching and that's good and his dad is a good guy, don't get me wrong. His mom is a real special lady. He's an elite athlete. He went to one of the best schools in the country at St. John's and he's really just taken all three of those categories, character, basketball, and academics, and has developed so much. It was interesting for me to hear him say he just finished the best -- he's in the midst of the best year of his life. I love that because I know that's not just basketball. As a player he's going to continue to develop. He's had some injuries this year and he's learned the play little bit under a hundred percent at times and still perform well. I'm proud of him. I'm happy that he has the chance here to play at home, hopefully he gets a chance to play two games at home.

Q. With Justise getting so much attention, do you have to talk to him about kind of with fans coming in and everything, a lot of eyes on him? Do you have to talk to him about the expectations or anything like that?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, we talk to all of our guys as we move long during the season. With Justise, just the fact that we're there to help him, you know -- as the tournament moves along, you get more requests and more friends and more acquaintances and just everybody in the tournament has that. To actually then come home kind of ramps that up a little bit more. The best thing is that his family wants him to just concentrate on basketball. Robin has done a great job of always saying it's his moment, it's not our moment to be in with him and we're good, let him have his moment, and so I'm not worried about that. I think everything -- if we don't win, it won't be because he didn't handle distractions well. I hate to use the word "distractions" when friends and family are trying to reconnect. It's just more activity, there's more activity. I would never say that his family is a distraction or his friends are distractions.

Q. This is also the home town of Rasheed Sulaimon. Are you able to elaborate yet on the reasons he's no longer --

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Rasheed is no longer a member of our team. It's more appropriate to talk about the team that's here. Thank you.

Q. Coach, what are the greatest challenges Utah presents, Delon Wright, Jakob Poeltl, their department?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yes. It's all those things. That's why they're a heck of a team. In Wright you have one of the best guards in the country and he makes everybody better, both offensively and defensively. Poeltl is a rising star. Bachynski and Olsen, they have big guys who can play and their shooting is amazing. I love the kid Taylor. I think he's just a knockdown shooter and tough kid. They put a lot of pressure on you because they can score from all -- all their kids can score, and then you have that point guard who has great vision, 6-5, handles it well and wants to pass first but obviously can score, too. Pretty good chemistry on that team.

Q. Coach, do you recall Larry said the first time he met you in a 7-Eleven in Las Vegas.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I usually am not in 7-Elevens in Vegas. I'm usually at the Wynn doing something if they had a 7-Eleven. I'm not saying it didn't -- I would never diss another Polish-American. Probably give him our secret handshake. I'm not going to tell you what it is. Admire what Larry has done. Actually he was on my Sirius XM show about a month ago, I think. His interview, his conversation was amazing. His background and how he's gotten to where he is right now, just a really incredible guy and I know the kids on his team benefit greatly from having a coach like him.

Q. You kind of got into what I was going to ask you about. One of the things he talked about when y'all were speaking on the show, you had kind of told him when you were starting at Duke it is not what it is now. What did you tell him and what do you see as kind of comparisons there?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think he took -- well, he took over a program where it had to be rebuilt but has had great tradition. Utah over the years, come on, it's one of the top 15, probably winningest programs in the history of college basketball, you know. Great, great tradition there. But I think the similarity was that we had great ADs and Utah has a great AD and has had one for a long time and that he was going to get support and commitment and Larry said that. So they were a team and as a result, they're benefiting greatly from it and I like that. I admire that teamwork and that's not alive and well as much in college sports as it is today -- as it was a long time ago.

Q. Mike, someone who has built a program over the years and instilled a culture of family in that program, how impressed are you with Mark Few built consistently at Gonzaga?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Mark is a great friend, also. He's one of the top coaches and a really good guy. He doesn't take himself seriously. We just found out something about him that I didn't know, that I'm not sure any of us coaches can do, and that's a handstand. My guys, I hope they didn't see that. They expect me to do that. He's just a good guy. He's given back to USA Basketball, humble. Can't say enough about him. He's really a great role model for coaches who are trying to develop and does not take himself too seriously. He wants his players to have the spotlight, which I admire in him.

Q. Coach, it seems like Duke's defense really improved through the first rounds of the tournament, specifically in terms of team communication. How much of an emphasis did you put on to communication coming into the tournament?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: We do the entire year. I think there are three things, and I don't think I -- I know there are three things I try to establish with every group. It's an offensive system, a defensive system and a communication system, and the communication system makes the other two systems better. And it takes awhile especially with having four freshmen and three of them are starters, because they have to go through the process of thinking things. In other words, you're learning so you're trying to get it, and it's tough to share something you're trying to get until you get it. And as the season has gone along, they've gotten it and now they share it more. We talk more to one another. Our veterans, especially Quinn, has been instrumental in bringing that about, but Marshall Plumlee and Amile Jefferson, although he's only a sophomore, Matt Jones who is from Texas was coached by one of the great defensive coaches in high school, one of the great coaches, a great defensive coach. Those four guys have really helped our guys develop communication. We have progressively gotten better because we're -- we got eight guys and four of them are freshmen. They're a great group. They keep improving, and I hope we can win tomorrow night and play Sunday, and then and I think we would have improved here. I love my team. This has been just a great group of kids.

Q. Coach, the team that you brought here five years ago was an older team. They had played together a lot more than this one. What are the challenges of bringing a more inexperienced team to this tournament?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, we have the experience of having played a great schedule winning over 30 games and being in some very difficult situations, you know, like we were at Wisconsin, playing at Louisville, 2-2 in the conference. At Virginia they're undefeated and we're 4-3 in the conference to play at North Carolina, to play at NC State, at Notre Dame and at Syracuse, you grow up being in those situations, and for the most part they were successful in those situations. My team in 2010 had a lot of young guys on it, but the starting five were three seniors and two juniors who were pretty hardened and they got it. This team isn't like that. They're still -- that team was who it was going to be, which was really good. This team is still becoming, I think, and hopefully we're good enough tomorrow night to win and advance.

Full transcript courtesy ASAP Sports


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