Krzyzewski Talks Team Win

The full transcript from Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski's post Sweet Sixteen press conference, courtesy of ASAP Sports...

THE MODERATOR: We're joined now by Duke University Head Coach, Mike Krzyzewski. Coach, your opening statement.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: We beat a really good team tonight. It was tough for both teams to score. You know, they've been one of the outstanding defensive teams in the country and I can see why. Just they're double team was great, just about took Jahlil out of the game. He made some great passes in the second half that helped. I thought our defense was outstanding. It's the third straight game in the tournament that we've played, I think, just great defense and the only thing that was negative was the offensive rebounds that they got, but the big part of that we're trying to take away their 3s. They're the best 3-point shooting team in the PAC-12. And what that does, it spreads your defense out. And over the years when we've put pressure defense, that's one of the things that happens sometimes, people get offensive rebounds against you. But our guys came through. I thought our guards showed great poise and to hit all those free throws down the stretch, clutch free throws. Justise made some big-time plays and timely, timely baskets, that kept us in a position where we were in control. So, congratulations to Utah. Larry, he's a great coach. His kids are so well coached. And so we know we beat a really good team that was extremely well coached.

Q. Coach, when you stepped away to work with USA basketball, can you talk about where you saw Justise as a player before you left, and then when you came back, did you see improvement in him, and if you did, what does that say about a freshman player who can kind of take it upon himself in a time span like that?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I've seen Justise just improve throughout. I saw him improve while he was here at St. John's, you know. He was well coached here, well coached for U.S. teams, and then, you know, now you have the benefit of being able to work with your guys during the summer. And although Jeff Capel and I were away with the U.S. team, Jon Scheyer and Nate James worked with them. These guys want to be in the gym, you know, you don't have to twist their arm. We've cut down our practice like crazy. We don't -- we never over the last two months, we've never practiced over an hour in a day and we only have eight guys. But then the individual work -- they might be in there for another hour, and that's what Justise does and Tyus, they're all really good kids who want to get better and they're easy to coach. They're enthusiastic learners which makes you a more enthusiastic coach. Great kids to work with.

Q. How humongous was the news that Tyus would be cleared to play in tonight's game and you said -- COACH KRZYZEWSKI: That Tyus was cleared?

Q. To play this evening. COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I don't understand.

Q. Just coming back from his injury. COACH KRZYZEWSKI: No. I mean, our guys were all healthy coming into the game. There was no -- we had no injuries.

Q. Coach, great defensive effort tonight. What have you thought about the progression your team has made this season and also the importance of playing well at the end of March? COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Our guys keep working and my staff has done a great job of simplifying game plans. And when you have this much time to get ready, usually have a day like we're going to have one day to get ready for Gonzaga, but when you have three days or four days, and that's why they were tough to play against. He's good and I think we're good and our guys want to play defense. Having eight guys who are fresh playing hard, you know -- we've been a good defensive team all year except on a few occasions. We get -- you know, they've gotten a bum rap really for not being able to play defense. We wouldn't win over 30 games unless we're playing good defense. In the tournament we've played outstanding defense, and we're going to have to do that on Sunday.

Q. Mike, in the tournament is it basically about sometimes winning in ways that maybe you don't think you would normally win? Like if I told you before the game, Jahlil would have 6 points and 63-57, would you say Duke wins that?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: We need Jahlil to score more than 6 points. That's where the defense has to come in and it's just -- you know, games aren't the same, and a game while it's being played you have to be incredibly adaptable to what's going on. I thought at the beginning of the game their defense and them switching defenses was a great tactic by Larry. They went zone, man, switching, and our guys, I don't know if we were nervous or the fact that we didn't recognize things as quickly made us nervous. But I didn't think we were ourselves early, and I'm proud of my guys because during the game they changed, they changed. They were into it. They did feel comfortable, they did -- instead of waiting until you lose and say, "man, I wish the next time we play, I'll try to do that differently." That's what my team has done this year, they've been able to adapt while the game is going on. Hopefully Jahlil will score more than 6 points on Sunday. They did a great job on him, though. That's some of the pro things that, you know -- he's a heck of a Coach.

Q. Your players kind of touched on this, but do these guys seem like freshmen to you at this point in the season?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: They're still freshmen in the fact that you have to recognize that they're young. Like Justise, he just turned 19. The guys we're playing against on Sunday are probably 22, 23. There's a difference. Now, we've had experiences though together in playing in great conference in the ACC and a great non-conference schedule. So, hopefully we've got enough experience to play huge in that game on Sunday. This has been one of my favorite groups. I mean, they've been easy to coach and they really get along. There's never an -- there's only a good attitude, only a good attitude and a willingness to learn. So, sometimes freshmen don't learn that until they're older, but these guys knew it from the beginning, that's why they've had a special year.

Transcript courtesy ASAP Sports


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