Full Transcript: Krzyzewski on Elite Eight

The full transcript from the Duke head coach's Saturday press conference, courtesy ASAP Sports...

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

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah. Well, you know, obviously it's a great honor to be in this game, well earned by our team, certainly well earned by Gonzaga, also. We're in good health, excited to play. Gonzaga is not just a great team but a great program. Mark has built a great, great program there and a veteran team, a team that's very difficult to defend. With one day preparation we're hoping that we can come up with something to limit them a little bit.

Q. Coach, I was wondering, I'm probably forgetting some years, is this the most you've depended on a freshman class, you know, except for the Dawkins, Bilas, Alarle, that class.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: You should do your research. Yeah, I mean, you start. We started three freshmen the whole year. So to me it's been one of the most unique years I've had at Duke in 35 years, to have these young guys do what they've done and to put us in a position to play for a Regional Championship, and that's why I credit Quinn's leadership as being such a key component to help these guys. You just heard them. They're very poised. They're very mature. And they're great guys, and they're all about what we're doing, not about -- which is very -- not very typical of a real young person, you know. They're usually about themselves, that one person. These guys are all about what we're doing.

Q. Mike, for so much of the last 20 years or so, when Duke was the alpha dog of college basketball, people either love or hate, whatever, has it been almost a relief for a different kind of perspective this year and the last couple of years that so much of the attention is now on another team, Kentucky, and you guys -- obviously you're not disappearing into the abyss, but it seems a little different from the outside.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Certainly, especially this year, Kentucky deserves all the attention that they've received. I mean, they've been perfect. Could go down as one of the great teams of all time. That hasn't really lessened the focus on us. It just means there's another -- I'm not saying we're the only two, but still the most viewed games in the last two years are Duke games, and, you know, overall, we love that, you know, and we're going to get everyone's best shot. And it's another reason why for these young guys to be able to handle all that. You don't know about it until you're in it, and they've been really good about handling all that. It's fun and they focused on their moment, not what happened last year or in 2010 or anything like that. I think that's helped a lot.

Q. Mike, Ken Pomeroy did something last night, a statistical analysis suggested it's not random that teams do tend to shoot more poorly from a three-point range here. Does that enter into your game plan at all, thinking that it might be more difficult to try to shoot 3s in this arena?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I try not to let it, because if we did, then they'll go 15 for 22 from 3 or whatever, and I'm a little bit surprised, like we had our shoot-around in front of everyone, we shoot the heck out of the ball and our guys felt good about shooting. I'm not sure it's just the arena or the level of game, you know. Maybe that combination has something to do with it. I would think both teams will shoot well tomorrow because they're accustomed to their environment, not just the space but the magnitude and -- but, you know, all four teams didn't shoot real well here last night. I know in our game I think some of it had to do with the defense. I thought both -- I didn't watch -- I wasn't watching their game as much like UCLA's defense and that, but in our game the defense was very good both ways.

Q. To follow up on that, what could be done to maybe improve the visual perception for shooters, you know, in a situation like this, not just here but maybe other big stadiums?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think the black curtains they have is really good, you know. I don't remember that from five years ago. They should put a bigger scoreboard on or -- I don't know. Seems like -- what is that on that black curtain? We do play at Syracuse's dome and teams shoot well there. I think in the domes where you put the court and how much space there is and here they put it kind of in the middle, and so those black curtains help. I was a little bit surprised that all four teams didn't shoot better last night. That's why I think tomorrow -- I know Gonzaga can shoot and we can shoot. So, I hope they go 3 for 19. I don't expect it. I don't expect it. Pangos had great looks last night. Every time he shoots I think it's going in. I think that kid is such a good player.

Q. Amile is someone who has had his role change over the course of the season. How has he handled that?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Great. He should. He's a key player. The team is ever evolving, and, you know, we were even thinking of starting him in the second half yesterday because -- sometimes he just finds something while the game is going on. Our guys have to be flexible enough that usually with that fifth position that any of those guys including Marshall could start in it. Probably not Grayson. Grayson is really good coming off the bench. I think those three kids understand that and all of them think of themselves as starters. With only eight guys, we've tried to build that up, that everybody has that level of importance, and it's true and I think they believe that.

Q. Three of the teams in the Elite Eight are from the ACC. It's not surprising they're having another successful year in the conference. Was there anything different about this year's teams for you?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Just more good teams. You know, I think our conference has just gotten better, and some people want to say it's top tiered, but, you know, the teams right in the middle, they had to play all those teams so their -- you know, their conference record is deceiving. There are teams that got in -- well, I guess Texas got in with a losing conference record. I'm glad that the committee is looking at a total body of work, because conference schedules in our conference it's skewed. Everybody -- there's a different level. Sometimes you might play the hardest schedule, medium, or little bit less. So I'm glad they're looking at that. Our league is a monster and it will be that way from now on.

Q. I was wondering if you could -- I know you covered it in the opening statement a little bit, but the mutual respect among two head coaches and where Mark Few is as a head coach in his career and where he's going.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: He's at a great place. When you win over 80 percent of your games, you establish one of the great programs in the United States at a terrific school, got great kids. Mark's a guy's guy and one of the really outstanding people in our profession. He gives back, whether it be the coaching profession, Coaches versus Cancer, USA Basketball, he's a very humble, great coach and a winner. Obviously his kids love playing for him, and they play an exciting brand of basketball. And I'm a big fan of his and a good friend, and, you know, I'd be pulling for him tomorrow if we weren't playing, to be quite frank with you. He's all the things that are good. He could be a little bit taller (laughter) and he shouldn't be doing all those crazy things in his locker room making us older coaches look bad. Other than that, he's a good guy.

Q. Coach, Gonzaga's big men especially against UCLA presented so many challenges for the Bruins. How do you look at them?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: They're three different guys. Wiltjer you have -- like I thought Quinn made a good point, to me reminds me a lot of Ryan Kelly. Ryan Kelly was healthy until he broke his foot. I thought he was the best player in our league, then came back and was good, but not to that level. So, Wiltjer just stretches the defense but can go inside and 6-10. Karnowski is huge but he has -- he's got great ball skills, so you can -- it's hard to double him because they have four shooters around him so he has room to operate. When Sabonis comes in, he has the best feet and the best runner and different -- they're all three different. And so when two of them are in, they complement meant each other in a different way. Very difficult -- they're a difficult team to defend because they have a lot of good players and they're old. I haven't -- I didn't do the stats on this, but I just wonder how many games Bell and Pangos have played together and how many they've won? I bet it's over 120 games and they won most of them. You don't get that very often. They're a well-oiled machine, especially on the offensive end.

Q. Mike, I know you appreciate the history of the game and so forth. You coached some teams that are in the Conference, among the best ever. You probably watched UCLA in college. Is it a fun discussion for you to think about comparing eras, this team against that team, this team from the '60's against this team from the '90s? Does that interest you, somebody who appreciates history?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It does. Not at this time of the year. It interests me when the season is over and have a good glass of wine, I'm with some coaches, because you like -- I love the game and you love to see excellence. The year Kentucky has had -- has been remarkable. And in some respects it's overshadowed like a year that Gonzaga has had. I mean Gonzaga has won 35 games. They lost in overtime and then they lost in a league that they had all wrapped up. So, I don't know. Outside of Kentucky, I would say that they've had this very, very special year and that's why they're -- they would be tough to beat because of their talent, but they're tough to beat because they've won so much together. They have to be so trusting as a team, and hopefully we can get a few things done against them, because we've had a sensational year but we're still an evolving team. We're still trying to get better because of all the young guys.

Q. Coach, you were talking a minute ago about you and Gonzaga, obviously, Mark, you've only played each other two times before. Have there been any discussions about playing them and why haven't there been meetings?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Distance. Our league, you know, take a look at our league. You can't go -- lot of people say why don't teams in some of the conferences go out and play more. Come to the league and then say if you could do that more. You can't. You can't. We play a Top Ten schedule every year but only -- like if you're in a tournament together or you're -- the one time we played them in New York, it was a special, like just-before-Christmas-type thing. That's why. To get out there, for them to come, very, very difficult. With the 18 games now for a conference, like for us, you have the 18 games, you have the ACC Tournament and you have the Big Ten ACC Challenge. Not many more. There's not many more opportunities, which you got to be careful about because inter-conference play is great for the game.

Q. Although you have I guess a pretty poised young bunch, how do you respond when I know in the first, I guess, two rounds, Jahlil Okafor showboated a little bit, Justise got caught sleeping on defense. How do you use those as a teachable moment instead of getting on the players about showboating? COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I don't know, "showboating" would be a little strong. I don't think -- I think they acted like kids, and Jahlil didn't do that in both games. He did it once against Robert Morris and -- you just tell them don't do it. Just like you would tell your kid, like don't do that. You're not supposed to do that because that's not who you are. I think -- remember that like when you're a freshman, you've never done this before. I don't care how good people think are you, but then all of a sudden you do something, you say -- you can get out of character. Thank goodness it's not out of character where you're hitting somebody or getting a technical or whatever, and it's good that you get punished for it, not just yelled at. So we got punished. He got punished right away last night for doing James Harden. That's what he was doing because that's his favorite player. They scored. So then we talked about it right away, and then he came up and hit a few more good shots for us. I wouldn't call our kids "showboating." Just the opposite. I think our guys -- look, the way they handled themselves, they're the best kids. I mean, this has been -- I'm 68 and this is my 40th year. To have this group of kids after coaching USA Basketball until mid September this past -- they've been an incredible joy. I don't want to -- I don't want the season to be over. I'm fresh and that's why I've tried to make sure these kids are in their moment and I'm in their moment because it's a good -- I wish you could be in it, you know. I wish you could be in it. It's a cool place to be.

Q. I was wondering --

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Are you the real Sam Adams? Starting to get thirsty here (laughter).

Q. Drinks are on me afterwards. Couple beers do you have, by the way? There's 36. Could you do me a favor and try to spell "Przemek Karnowski"?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Polish people don't have to do that, you know. I would say Karnowski would do a little -- ask him how he really pronounces it. Have you ever asked him? Yeah. I think he'd pronounce it a little bit different. Ask him to pronounce my name.

Q. Coach, you earlier touched on Pangos and Bell and how many games they played together as a unit. They've won over 120 since coming onto the campus. Can you touch on kind of their leadership experience they bring to the floor?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: They play beautiful basketball. Pangos is a very, very special player, and I don't know him as a young man, but he's got to be an amazing young man. He looks unflappable. He's got a great face all the time. He's got a strong leadership face. I remember Mark was on my Sirius XM show earlier this year and talked about his commitment, how much he comes back to the gym. And he's got routines and you can tell he's very confident because of his discipline in what he's put into what he does. And Bell is the running mate with that. You know, to be the defensive player he is in addition to being that offensive player, you know, they have a great, great backcourt in those two guys and they're going to be really difficult to defend. But I'll tell you, it's an honor to play against them. It's going to be one of those days in the Elite Eight where the ten kids you see on the court are pretty darn good kids. Not just good players but really good young men. And so a good group of guys is going to win tomorrow. Let's put it that way.

Q. Mike, the proximity to the court that your coaches are now behind you off the court, you're on it, on a stool, how does that change coaching for you being in Cameron Indoor it's so tight, now you actually got room?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I don't like it. I don't think it's good for the game to change anything that you don't normally do during the season. Like I'm not -- I don't usually stand up during a game. I like to communicate with my staff while the game is going on, and so I hardly ever have a timeout, a coaches' meeting and then come forward because I'm talking to my guys. So, it takes away from your normal, you know, communication patterns and I don't like it. But you have to do it, and I wish there was something different instead of sitting on a stool there like you did something wrong, you know, like get away from the other people, you didn't shower today or -- that's the way it is.

Q. Coach, Byron Wesley did a really good job slashing and getting in the lane yesterday against UCLA. How do you kind of stop him defensively?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It's just part of a team, what you're trying to do against a team, his skills complement the big guys and Pangos and Bell. You got to pay attention to everybody. That's why they're such a good offensive team. When they come off the bench, their bench players can do that, too, especially with Sabonis. They're a deep team, deep, really good team. He got thirsty. Shouldn't have brought it up (laughter). Left all of us hanging here.

Q. Mike, regarding Mark and Gonzaga, he took over at a time when there was very little tradition at that school, two NCAA appearances and the Elite Eight in '99, but really, fundamentally very little going for that school at that time. How difficult would it be to do that and be where they are here?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: He's done one of the great jobs in our country in college basketball, and they must have -- they must have great rapport as an administration and athletics, you know, the president, AD, must be a great team effort there, otherwise, you know, he wouldn't be there, because, I mean, so many schools would want Mark to coach and -- he loves it and he seems incredibly happy there and he's built -- he has his own -- I think I heard him say one time, maybe he said it on our show that, you know, staying one place if you like it to -- and build something special, I think he said something about Jim at Syracuse and myself at Duke and probably mentioned a couple other people, like why not? You know, why not do that if you really love where you're at and you can compete for the whole thing? And so I applaud him for it and they're lucky obviously to have him. He's a good guy and very, very humble. You would never -- he never throws his success up to you.


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