"I apologize for Coach not being here, but he had to attend to something with his family. That's all we know right now. Certainly for us, we thought this was a real positive game. We've been playing a lot of games at nine, nine thirty at night, now all of a sudden to have a quick turnaround at noon was a little bit different. So you always worry with games like that, having the energy right off the bat, especially with playing St. Louis. They're such a physical, well-disciplined, hard-nosed kind of team. We wanted to make sure that we right away had that energy and that strong will play out there. I thought we did a good job. We struggled a little bit offensively to start the game, but our defense was really good. To hold them to 16 points in the first half. I thought we adjusted to the way they play defense. It was really good for us because they lead the nation is fewest threes allowed, and they did that last year as well. So we're coming off of a game where we shoot 33 threes against Bradley and make 15, and now coming into the game, you knew that wasn't going to help as much off the shooters. They stay home. They want you to beat them off the dribble. They want you to beat them inside. And for us to be able to score 84 points in a game like that, where we weren't as proficient from the three point line and we weren't getting those looks, was really good. I think one of the biggest bright spots was our bench. I thought Tyler Thornton, Josh Hairston, Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry were really good. And two guys having double figures off the bench, I thought for us was a good step forward having all nine guys play well."
On the senior play of Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith:
"Yeah [aggression]'s something we've talked about. Certainly with Kyrie [Irving] going down, it changes our team. I mean he was such a dynamic player when he had the ball and we would open the floor and we kind of played off him doing his thing. Now we have to change the way we do things, especially offensively. And a lot of that is predicated on those two guys being aggressive. For Nolan to get back, I mean he didn't have a field goal against Bradley the other night, but he played a good floor game. For him to come back today and have the six rebounds, five assists but also get 22 points at the point guard position, I thought was really good. And you know, Kyle was Kyle. And Kyle is at his best when he is moving and coming off of screens and curling and so some of the things we're doing now really tailors itself well to Kyle's game. And I think you're going to see him continue to get better with that."
On Kyrie Irving's absence: "I think the key guy to step up in his absence is Seth [Curry]. I mean Andre [Dawkins] has been there the whole year and not that he's starting, it doesn't really change his role all that much with how he's been playing. The guy now who is getting more minutes and getting a chance to have the ball more and run things is Seth. And I thought he did a great job today, not only having the 11 points and making some shots, but he gets six assists. You don't necessarily think that when you think about Seth. You think about a shooter and putting it in the hole. One of the things we want to do with Seth, is even when Nolan's in the game, have him handle the ball so it gets Nolan off the ball some. We don't want Nolan to be on the ball for 40 minutes. It takes away his ability to score and come off screens. And so when Seth come in, and Tyler [Thornton]'s in, we like for those guys to handle the ball more, to guard the ball on the point guard. And I thought Seth and Tyler, both of those guys, did a great job today."
On Kyrie Irving's return:
"We don't [know anything else]. I'm sure you guys saw, we decided to put him in a hard cast now. The doctors we've consulted with feel that, right now, that's the best course of action while we're still figuring out what's going to be the best long-term treatment. I mean he's in good spirits, and it's just kind of wait and see. We're trying to consult some of the top foot guys that have dealt with these injuries in all sports and with athletes, and figure out what's going to be the best, not for him in the short-term, but in the long-term. I mean he's 18 years old. You guys know he's going to play basketball for a long, long time. So we have to think about what's best for his health and what's going to be best for him in the long-term.
On Andre Dawkins' performance:
"Well I think the thing with Andre is, he's now on everybody's scouting report the way he's played and the way he's shot the ball. And I think with St. Louis, the way they play, they don't help much. They don't leave shooters, they stay home on guys. Really, Andre was doing a great job of spacing the floor, playing off penetration, getting open threes in transition, and that's why he's shooting such a good percentage. And I think now for him, he can continue to build as people chase him off that three point line. To be able to go off the dribble, one or two dribbles, get to the basket, find a way to get yourself to the free throw line. Different ways now where people find a way to take away what you do best. How can I still be productive offensively? And I think this will be a great teaching tape for him and we can continue to get him better. I mean you still forget, he should be a freshman. He's still a very young player and he's still getting better. I think today's game will be a very good learning experience for him as we move forward and continue to see how we can get him more shots."
On distribution of minutes:
"Well I mean Coach K always does that by feel. And I think it was a feel thing. I mean we felt great when the guys came off the bench. I mean Josh Hairston and Tyler Thornton did a great job, especially in the second half. They hit us with a little run to start the half. We weren't as happy with our energy coming out of halftime. We went to our bench and those guys played great. Coach K is always a guy, that if you're playing well, you're staying out there. That's why we were just so proud of those guys. To be ready when called upon. And I think those two guys in particular, who haven't been getting a lot of minutes. For them to get 15 and 14 minutes and play really well, I think it was just more of an instance where, ‘hey, let's go with them. They got it going today, so let's keep them out there.'"
Sophomore Seth Curry
"That's one of the things Coach told us coming into this game – they didn't want to help off the three-point shooter, so when you drive to the hole you have to finish and play through contact. I feel like we played pretty well."
On the team's play without Kyrie Irving in the lineup:
"It's just a work in progress right now, trying to get used to filling in for his minutes and what he does on the court. He has the ball in his hands a lot, so it's different with him not out there. Practices leading up to these last two games, we've been working hard, trying to get comfortable playing without Kyrie."
"[The coaches] still want us to push it because that's what we're comfortable with and what we've been working with all year. We still have Nolan [Smith], who can push the ball, make plays, and stuff like that. But we've kind of changed the offense a little bit, trying to get a little more continuity, more ball movement, run off screens and throw it in the post a little more. So we're changing a little bit."
"In the second half of [the Bradley game], I got in the game and made some shots, so I got my confidence and then just continued to work on that in practice, handling the ball, having a different role without Kyrie in there. This is the product of having the ball in my hands a little bit more. I feel like if I have the ball, I can make some plays for other people."
Senior Nolan Smith
On his transition back to the point guard position:
"[The Bradley game] was definitely the transition. My mindset going into that game was, ‘Let me be the point guard and let me facilitate.' Obviously, Coach [Mike Krzyzewski] told me I did a great job of that with 10 assists and two turnovers, but he said, ‘We still need you to score. We still need you to be aggressive.' So that was the change today."
"After a game like [the Bradley game] where Andre [Dawkins] hit eight threes, I knew that they were going to be staying on our shooters, so that was an opportunity to drive to the hoop."
"I have to make changes. When something like this happens unexpectedly, you have to be ready. My summer at Deron Williams's camp and Chris Paul's camp, I was running the point guard position, so those camps really prepared me for this time to run the show and then, at the same time, be aggressive. Practice this week has really allowed me to adjust and feel more comfortable out there."
"We're putting in more [offensive] sets. With Kyrie [Irving], we could run ball screen stuff and get a great shot on every possession. Now I'm going to continue to be involved in ball screens at times, but with the squad we have now, our emphasis is also on trying to hit the post a lot. Our big guys have been playing great basketball – Miles, Mason, Ryan, we want to hit them in the post and then make sure they stay involved. So we were running plays to get movement and try and see if we could get it inside."
Senior Kyle Singler
On his contributions today along with Nolan Smith's:
"We just wanted to lead the team today, whether that is turning it up a notch or whatever you want to call it. And also playing in the afternoon – we don't really have too many of those games, so we wanted to come in, especially in the beginning of the game, and get off to a good start."
On his role with Kyrie Irving out:
"My role doesn't change as much as Nolan's and Seth's and Andre's role. I pretty much do the same stuff. There are some little differences, but not as big as Nolan moving to the point or Seth and Andre being more involved in the offense."