Category Archives: Duke Basketball

Coach K, Allen, Bagley Talk Duke-Syracuse

Omaha, Nebraska

Mike Krzyzewski

Grayson Allen

Marvin Bagley III

Duke Blue Devils

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski as well as student-athletes Marvin Bagley and Grayson Allen. Questions for the student-athletes?


  1. Grayson, what's the biggest difference between their zone and your zone?

GRAYSON ALLEN: A lot of times you'll see when the ball goes into the middle against them their center steps up. A lot of times there's two (indiscernible) stepping up to take the ball in the middle, whereas we try to keep our big to protect the rim and have another guy come to contest the shot in the middle or challenge the ball, try to make them uncomfortable then.


  1. Does it help you offensively going up against the zone, the fact that you now play it?

MARVIN BAGLEY III: I mean, I don't think it really has anything to do with our offense. We've moved the ball pretty well lately. It's going around to everybody, everybody's touching it, everybody's involved in the game. So I think if we continue to do that then we can have great success throughout the rest of the tournament.


GRAYSON ALLEN: I think it might help a little bit, just because we know movements and positionings. But at the same time Syracuse's zone is different. For the majority of the year you go up to man-to-man teams. So you don't prepare; you don't have game preparation to go against the zone every day.


We have preparation to play a zone against everybody, obviously, but as far as trying to execute against the zone and the zone that's as long as Syracuse is, it's difficult to actually prepare for that.

Grayson, you were the 2015 championship team, obviously had a great senior leadership back with Cook. You being a senior on this team with so many freshmen like Marvin, have you tried to take on a leadership role and be a leader for those freshman?

GRAYSON ALLEN: Yeah, I'm the leader of the team right now, and as the captain that's what I'm trying to do, trying to prepare them, trying to lead them in the right direction. And at this point in the season it's really cool how we've come together. And the guys are listening to me out there on the court and in huddles and everything. And they're starting to speak up, too. And we're all listening to each other out there. And we've really come together as a team here.

Marvin, you and Wendell had a pretty good game against Syracuse back in February. How much adjustment do you expect to see Syracuse make against you guys?

MARVIN BAGLEY III: We're expecting to see a completely different team than we played last time. That's something that I've learned throughout the years -- teams that we watch on film, they play completely different when we actually get on the court. And it's kind of like we have to learn how to adjust. And we did a great job throughout the year.


But I think Syracuse is going to be a different team. Last game we both had pretty bad games as teams as a whole, but it should be a great game. And I'm excited to get out there and compete with my teammates and just try to continue to get wins.

Grayson, can you slap the floor while playing zone, and do you miss it?

GRAYSON ALLEN: Yeah, you can definitely slap the floor playing zone. Slapping the floor is all about intensity and getting a stop. I don't know if anyone's seen it yet or seen it in a zone yet. Definitely can, though. It more symbolizes getting a stop than it does man-to-man defense.

Grayson, there's been a lot of talk about just player compensation and the potential of college players getting paid. Where do you stand on the viability of that?

GRAYSON ALLEN: I'm here, so I've been pretty happy with my four years of college. It's been awesome. It would be really tough because you're changing something that's been in place for a long time. And so it sounds good. I'd love to receive some extra money. That would be awesome. But thankfully I'm not the one in charge trying to figure out exactly how to do that.


THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.


THE MODERATOR: Questions for coach Mike Krzyzewski?


COACH KRZYZEWSKI: We're excited to be here in Omaha. A great reception thus far; hopefully we get one tomorrow night too. But we're healthy, excited and playing very good basketball right now. Hopefully we can keep that going

Can playing the zone on defense help you offensively when you go up against another zone?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think so. A little more familiarity. I think you respect it even more because you know a little bit more of the intricacies of playing it. And so when you see Syracuse play it, you have an appreciation for how well they do, the way they do their zone.


And some of the changes that they make as the year goes along, as their players improve -- which Jim's players always improve -- but, yeah, I think it helps both teams, I think, understand that.

You kind of have been an up and down team from 3 this year --

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I'm sorry, we've been an up and down?

From 3-point land this year, but last week you drained 20-plus 3s and had a high percentage. What was the key last weekend to get anything to go in from 3?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Our guys hit shots. I mean, I think offense is an up-and-down type of thing. But overall we've been outstanding -- we haven't been an up-and-down offensive team. We've been a good offensive team all year long.


And if you only depend on the 3, then you're going to be in trouble. But we've been a good rebounding team. And we have good inside players. So I think more balance, balance is the key to being a really good offensive team. And for the most part we've had that. Hopefully we'll be able to hit the 3tomorrow, but I'll be more concerned with just having balance.

There's been a lot of talk just about player compensation. Do you feel like the model that you guys have currently is the right model for college basketball or does it need changes or tweaks at all?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It's not my model that we guys have. We do what the guys tell us to do, okay? So, no, the model needs to be changed, especially in regards to what a kid and his family can do before they come to your institution because the school and the coaches have no control over that.


And I think it starts with that and a different definition of amateurism. And whatever that does, once they get there -- kids get a lot right now. In the last three to four years, I'm not sure how much research you've done on it, but if you would compare what kids get today as compared to four years ago, it's a dramatic improvement, dramatic -- not small, dramatic.


But, again, I'd like for them to take a look at what happens before you get 'em to make sure that the kid and his family are afforded the opportunity to max out like anyone else in our country what talent will give you.

I guess looking back at that meeting that you had with Syracuse back in February, how useful is the tape of that in preparing for this one?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, the game we had, we didn't meet with them, but we had a game with them. And I thought -- I didn't think either team played well. And sometimes that happens in a grueling conference schedule. Hopefully the other team isn't playing well and you're playing well. But I thought we were both a little bit run down during that time.


And so I don't think it's a good indicator. I think I heard Marvin mention something about it, that -- they're different and we are too. They're better. We're better. Marvin had been out for two weeks and he just came back that day. Brissett and Dolezaj are different players for them than they were on February 24th. We're both better teams right now.

Mike, you've been around Jim Boeheim, you've been around Jim for a lot of summers. I want your best Jim Boeheim impression?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Look, I'm not Billy Crystal here or whatever. Jim Boeheim to me is my best friend in coaching and one of the really great coaches in the history of our game. And what he did to spend 11 years as -- I call him my co-coach with US -- was terrific. And I could not have had a better guy. That's why I chose him and asked him three times to be that.


And so we have a bond that is very, very tight. And so do our families. So that's the difficult part about tomorrow. But the fact that we're both here, that's good, that's good. But I love Jim and his family and what he's done for us and for the United States.

Anything specific to the zone where it almost feels like he's kind of joked about you stealing something out of his playbook?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: He doesn't have a playbook.

You're right about that.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: No, he does not have a playbook, it's all right here (pointing to his head).

Since you've been through this more so than anybody, is there skill in going into this round to this weekend?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Some of it is luck. Some of it is luck and you're healthy, you've got a matchup that was more conducive to you than the other guy. And sometimes, just like for us, we're playing well. So we're playing our best basketball.


But the zone itself, I learned a lot from Jim but also from Mike Hopkins and Jeff Capel. With the U.S., you're with all these guys and you're not just watching tape of Uruguay or Puerto Rico or whatever, Argentina. You're there with Thibodeau, with Monty Williams, D'Antoni and McMillan and all these guys. And so you talk a lot about basketball.


And no one really has that opportunity. You don't do that. And so Jim and Mike were -- Mike Hopkins did an amazing job behind the scenes. So we learned a lot. We used it one time and we won a game in Madrid, against Spain, a big-time game. But we practiced it a little bit.

Two things, how difficult is it to coach against a good friend when you get in the NCAA Tournament, someone has to go home? And secondly how much do you enjoy being the youngest coach in the game tomorrow?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I like the second question better. A lot younger in every aspect. But you know what, we're both professionals. And for me, coaching against a former player who played for me or a good friend, I never look at the other sideline. It's Duke against Syracuse and he's going to go after us. We're going to go after him. And we'll be friends before and after and during.


But you wouldn't show respect for someone you loved and had respect for by not giving your best. And so I expect his best and I know he expects that from me.

What do you recall from traveling the back roads of Nebraska in 1981 and 1982, and Bill Jackman says hi?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, Bill is a great kid, and for us, we had to fly to Denver to get to Grant, Nebraska. We enjoyed it. They're great people and we're really good friends. And it's a time where he felt the necessity of getting back to Nebraska for family reasons. But we've maintained a great friendship.


I thought he was a fantastic player and even a better person. And he's proved to be a really good player, but he's really fulfilled the other part of it extremely well.

Michael Buckmire, walk-on, what have you seen from him and his role as a walk-on, and what does he bring to the team?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It's tough to get, without insulting our student body, the level of athlete that could be a walk-on on our team and Buck does that. Plus he's smart and he played in a really good league in Philadelphia. He's been terrific, better than I could have expected. His dad was a great soccer player at Duke. So the athleticism, I think, comes from that. But we're happy to have him.



Duke vs Syracuse Notes and Stats


Making its 26th appearance in the Sweet 16, second-seeded Duke battles 11th-seeded Syracuse Friday in the semifinals of the Midwest Region.Duke is 110-36 (.753) in the NCAA Tournament, which is No. 1 all-time in winning percentage and No. 3 in wins.

The Blue Devils’ 26 Sweet 16 appearances are second-most while its 16 appearances since 1998 are the most.

  • Head coach Mike Krzyzewski has led Duke to the Sweet 16 for the 24th time, a record number of bids by a coach. Coach K’s 93 tournament wins are also the most.
  • Freshman Marvin Bagley III, who scored 22 points in each game last week in Pittsburgh, leads the ACC in scoring (21.2) and rebounding (11.3). He is aiming to be the 13th player in ACC history (and first freshman) to lead in both.
  • Syracuse are 23-13 this season and advanced to the Sweet 16 with wins over Arizona State (60-56 in the First Four), TCU (57-52) and Michigan State (55-53).
  • The Orange are led in scoring by Tyus Battle who averages 19.3 points per game. Battle (38:58), Frank Howard (38:25) and Oshea Brissett (38:05) are first, second and sixth in the country in minutes per game.
  • Duke is 6-5 all-time against Syracuse and it will be the third NCAA Tournament meeting between the two schools. The Blue Devils bounced the Orange 91-81 in the 1966 East Regional Semifinal in Raleigh and 80-67 in the 1998 South Regional Semifinal in St. Petersburg, Fla.
  • The two teams met Feb. 24 in Durham, with Duke winning 60-44 behind 19 points from Bagley III and 16 from Wendell Carter, Jr.


Cautiously, Confident Duke Heads to Omaha

There is a reason you see a lot of smiles around the Duke Basketball program as they prepare to head to Omaha, Nebraska.  This will be the 26th appearance for Mike Krzyzewski in the Sweet 16 where he hopes his charges can take care of business against Syracuse in a game that tips off around 9:40 this Friday evening.

Duke had a light practice on Monday and one today as they get ready to play against the vaunted Syracuse home zone defense.  One might think there is a benefit to familiarity having faced the Orange in a 60-44 win in Cameron,  But Duke captain Grayson Allen squashed that quickly saying that Duke would face a different team and one which has improved.

While it is true that Syracuse is playing their best basketball with three consecutive NCAA Tournament wins, the same is true with Duke.  Krzyzewski said that his team was playing their best basketball of the season when he addressed the media today in Durham. N.C.

The long time Duke coach, said his team was amazingly excited to still have the opportunity to play in the tournament.  He fielded the usual questions about his zone as compared with that of Jim Boehem's but Duke has been moving slowly towards the change to zone since it started to recruit one and done talent.

The reason is that it does not take as long to teach the fundamentals of a zone defense as opposed to man to man, a formerly long time program staple.  Krzyzewski has guys together for a mere eight months with NBA level talent ready to enter the draft and he has to mesh them together into a cohesive unit.  That seems to be happening this season and the hope is that it will lead to the same results it did in 2015 when Duke won the national title.

Krzyzewski said his team talks more in the zone defense and that is a good thing with a team that has a leader in Grayson Allen who had to learn to talk.  While Duke is talented, if not loaded, they are not always the most vocal team.

Duke is confident as a team and they seem to have no fear despite their youth.  But there is still some caution.  There is talk of not looking ahead and Allen is trying to help his younger teammates in playing and living in the moment by taking it one game at a time.

"They're in a good place," said Krzyzewski of his team and now the staff must manage the teams confidence in a way to harness it into full game concentration.

That concentration has happened of late.  Duke is learning to build on leads and not let up. In wins over Iona and Rhode Island the average margin of victory was 23 points, but the games are getting tougher now as they face teams hungry to steal their hoped for glory.

It is a good thing that this is not Krzyzewski's first rodeo, nor is it for Jeff Capel and his staff.  A season ago, the sting of an early loss still remains as do critics of one and done players and whether they can get it done.

In 2015, Duke came together but the next two seasons didn't go as planned.  Some tough lessons were learned and those lessons provide the caution.  But at the same time, there is a can do attitude forming with this years team.

Duke seems to be on the same page as a team. They seem to know their roles and have a desire to collectively play together for a goal.  The Blue Devils are peaking at a good time but a look at recent tournament results shows that upsets are possible.

There are many who feel Duke dodged a bullet in not playing Michigan State.  The reason being that Duke has defeated them so many times that the law of averages has to catch up at some point.  But the team needs to realize that Syracuse beat the Spartans with will and determination.

Duke will basically be playing on the road this weekend.  Kansas which is two hours down the road will have a vast majority of the fans in attendance.  And you can bet they will be rooting for a Syracuse upset.

"It'll be a different game this time," said Grayson Allen when asked about the game and  having seen therm before.  "They're a better team but so are we. "