Category Archives: Duke Basketball

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Coach K. Kennard, Jones, Jefferson Speak

unnamed (12)THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Duke student-athletes Luke Kennard, Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson.

Q. If you all want to chime in, Jayson's obviously had a great second half of the season and month. And I'm wondering, was there a turning point for him? Was it kind of once he got fully healthy, got into the rhythm of things, or what's led to the month he's on right now?
AMILE JEFFERSON: I think it's just the work he's put in, and he's been doing a great job of getting up extra work with Coach Scheyer working on doing things really quickly and just the small things of being a really good player, because the talent is already there. It's oozing out of him.

So for our team, you know, it was just about him being sharp. And this last month, he's been doing an amazing job at evolving, doing much more, things like rebounding, playing really good defense, drawing two guys and finding the open man. I think he's done a really great job over this last month of just like growing up, not making like common freshman mistakes.

MATT JONES: I think Amile answered your question.

LUKE KENNARD: For me, Amile said it 100 percent right. And I think he's just being himself. I think he's being the player that Coach recruited him to be. And he's just -- he's all in. He's just being himself and that's what we wanted him to do. We wanted him to continue to do that, and we have leaders on this team that have really gave him confidence to be the type of player that he can be.

Q. Amile, Harry Giles gave you guys big minutes in the ACC Tournament. He talked about how he was playing more instinctively with the more minutes. How have you seen that help his game and be able to help you guys out as a whole?
AMILE JEFFERSON: Definitely. When he's not thinking about other things, making a mistake, or just out there playing, he's a really great player. He's one of the most athletic guys in the country. His second jump is unbelievable.

So when he just let it all out -- and that's what he did in the ACC tournament, he just let it out -- we saw a really special player.

He had about six sequences back to back to back in that UNC game that changed the game for us, really won the game for us, if I'm being honest. And he's added a new dimension to our team and taken us to a new level. So we have guys that can do that. We have special guys, and he's one of them. So for him to be playing this well, I'm real proud of him.

Q. Luke, has this year surprised you coming off of -- there's obviously all the talk of all the freshmen coming in, probably been the team's most consistent player. What did you do in the offseason in the summer that you think set you up for this year?
LUKE KENNARD: Last year was a learning curve for me. Last year I had a very inconsistent year and my confidence wasn't there 100 percent. But I have guys like these two, great coaches that have built a lot of confidence in me to be the player that Coach recruited me to be.

And like you said, I've been more consistent this year than I was last year. And just for me to do whatever I can to help our team win is what I want to do most.

Like I said about having great leaders, with these guys and coaches to build confidence in me has been really, really big for me.

Q. For all of you, you probably feel like you went to the Final Four last week with the games you had to play. How much did that take out of you? And being successful like you were, talk a little bit about the confidence you have going into the tournament now?
MATT JONES: I think that we have ultimate confidence. As far as being tired, fatigued, I don't see that happening. Me and Amile especially, we know how it feels to lose and lose pretty early.

We just tried to relay the message, hey, it's on to the next play. And Coach does a good job of doing the same. And, yeah, I think we still have a hungry team, and knowing that, that should be good for us.

Q. Luke, was it difficult this year -- at the start you guys came in as preseason No. 1 -- was it a difficult path to kind of get to where you are now? And do you feel like you're now that team that everybody thought you were going to be back in November?
LUKE KENNARD: Yeah, it's definitely been difficult when we've battled so much adversity with injuries and things happening. I mean, when we started the season, we had some of our freshmen out.

So, it can be tough to build your team exactly like how we are now. And once we started getting everybody back, we've continued to develop an identity, I guess you could say. We learned a lot from this past week winning the ACC championship.

We've developed our identity of a team. And I think we're continuing to grow. So it's been difficult. We've been on a great journey. We've hit some bumps in the road. But it's made us better as a team, made us tougher and made us closer as a group.

Q. Amile and Matt, you guys were part of a team, that 2014 team that lost in the first round, and part of the team in 2015 that went all the way and won. Is there anything going into the NCAA Tournament? Was there a difference, or do you see a difference in terms of attitude, confidence, momentum, anything like that?
AMILE JEFFERSON: I think in both those situations, the great thing is that we have the experience now. So going into this year, we know what it feels like to do both. We know the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.

So we definitely, you know, have momentum from playing well last week, and I think what we have right now is addition. We've added. And that's a great thing.

We've added Marques. We've added Harry, playing instinctually playing at a high level. We've added Jayson, learning more about himself and learning that he can take over games. So I think the biggest thing for our team is that we have been able to add in these last three or four weeks.

Q. All of the players, you mentioned highs and lows and back to the high of last weekend. How do you keep your mind straight, especially in that low part of the season? Coach is out, you guys are struggling, injuries and such, all the adversity. Is there an unsung hero, a player maybe people just don't know about in the locker room that's keeping your minds right? Maybe another coach that's just keeping things back on track. Is there somebody behind the scenes that really just helped you as a team to keep pushing through the adversity?
LUKE KENNARD: You know, we have great coaches, and when Coach was out, our coaches were, they were tremendous. I think they did a great job.

For me, I think it honestly starts with our leadership, our seniors, our captains. They made sure we were on the right track. They made sure we stayed together.

And it was tough when that happened. But we won some big games. And it all started with these guys, making sure we were just on the right track. And that was good for us.

And like I mentioned earlier, we've hit some bumps in the road. We've hit some adversity. When stuff like that happens we make sure we're together as a group and it's made us a tougher team and an even better team.

MATT JONES: Even though I'm flattered by what Luke said, I think for this team, it was the pain we felt, that really drove us to become better, not only as players, but as people on and off the court. And I mean pain forces you to grow, with Coach being out, with guys being injured. And every day being so unconventional, we had to learn how to adjust.

And the talent was there. It was just about putting it together. And we were able throughout the season strengthen areas little by little to where now all those areas that we were able to strengthen are starting to come together and that was a really good thing for us now that we can look back on it. But in the process, it was definitely -- it was definitely hard and we had to learn from it.

Q. Amile and Matt, what has Luke meant to this team this year? And are you at all surprised at what he's done, considering when the season was starting, initially he wasn't going to be a starter. Admittedly inconsistent last year, and now he's obviously one of the best players in the country?
AMILE JEFFERSON: For me, I think Luke has been the consummate Duke player. He's emulated what it means to be immersed in us and because of that he's grown beautifully.

It's obvious that he's been our most consistent threat, our most consistent player. And he's won big games for us. And we wouldn't be in this position without him. So I think it's just a testament to all the work that he put in, especially this summer.

And then just running his own race, not worrying about whether he's going to start, how many minutes he's going to play, just being a player. And when his number was called, he was ready, and I think he's done it beautifully.

MATT JONES: For me, Luke's been the ultimate competitor this year. He's shown that he can be a winner. Kind of like everything Amile says. But the consistency was the most important thing because he always had the talent. It was always there.

But for him to be able to pull out something that was in him that y'all are able to see but we always saw, whether it be in the summer or parts of last year, I'm really happy for him.

Q. What have you guys noticed most about Troy?
AMILE JEFFERSON: Troy can really shoot the ball. We have a kid in Person who is just really a dynamic shooter. Then they have a big guy in Varnado, who is a force down low, but who can spread the ball and shoot it. They have about six or seven guys that can knock down the long ball.

So we're going to have to be really locked in. They're champions, just like us. They won their league. And they did it in a similar fashion, you know, win four games in five days. So we have to be locked in, because they're a really, really talented team.

Q. Couple of games are already over, you guys will be one of the last teams to play in this tournament. Is that a good thing in terms of the extra rest, or is it bad that it's nervous waiting for the first game?
LUKE KENNARD: I mean, playing one of the last games, I guess, it can give you more time to prepare. But at the same time we don't want to be focused on what other teams are doing, paying attention to who is winning, who is getting beat.

We're just trying to stay locked in what we're doing and prepare as a group. And we have one mission, we have one goal, and that's to win. And we've got to take it one game at a time and that's what we're looking to do.

Q. Luke, earlier you said this summer Grayson really helped you. Can you tell me, like, how did he help you? Was it with your game? Was it with the mental side? He had kind of gone through what you were going through in terms of freshman year, not probably playing at your best, and obviously had a great sophomore year?
LUKE KENNARD: Yeah. I learned a lot from Grayson this past year. Well, the two years I've been here. And I think for me just being able to compete against him has made me a lot better to learn from his competitive side. Just to talking about the little things of the game has really helped me a lot.

And just being able to go at each other in practices throughout the summer and in pick-up games has made me more comfortable as a player and all the guys have built confidence in me as the player I am. And it's just been really good for me.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you. We're joined by coach Mike Krzyzewski.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: We're excited to be here in Greenville. Great city to host the NCAA Tournament. And hopefully we'll fulfill our obligations to play some good basketball.

We're in pretty good health. We have a couple of kids a little bit under the weather but who will play, but no, like, sprained ankles and things like that.

But after you have a week like we did last week, I think you're more prone to having some colds and all that kind of stuff because of the emotional and physical output that you had in order to win. But we're good. We're excited. Ready to go.

Q. Back in Charlotte in October, you were like, yeah, we may be No. 1 right now, but there's a long, long way to go. What kind of journey has this been for your team? And how do you -- do you think now they're playing like many people thought they would be in October?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I don't know what many people thought because none of the people saw. So how could -- I guess that's what predictions are. And that's why people make money and that's why people go bankrupt by predictions.

And if you did a careful analysis of each team and understood that each team has a journey, and ours was a difficult one, because every guy on our team got hurt. I was out.

So it's not about what people thought we should be, because that really doesn't make any difference. And it wasn't based on any factual stuff that they saw. So we've just developed. And we're a good team right now. We haven't used any of that stuff as excuses. And our league, in order to survive, you have to be good.

In order to live in that neighborhood, you better become good. And that's why we have a lot of good teams. We're one of them. And thank goodness that the conference exacts that from you and that we're healthy enough to meet that challenge.

Q. What about this year is different or needs to be different compared to years past?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: For what, for --

Q. In order to make it to the finals.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Each year it's different. You have a different team. You're not Brady and Belichick coming back or hopefully the Cubs do it again. I'm a Cub fan. We have most people back. Should have kept Fowler.

It's a different journey every time. And I like my team a lot. I'm proud of them. I think they've become men. And that's a good thing.

So going into it we feel we had a chance to give our best shot. We play a team, and every time that -- you know, can beat us, and we respect that. And I think my team is mature enough to understand that.

So it's what makes it interesting. That's why if you win this thing, it's a heck of a thing. And if you win it more than once, it's really a heck of a thing, because you do it with different people in different circumstances.

So I like my group a lot. And my upperclassmen, Matt and Amile, have really helped us immensely in their leadership to bring this team around.

Q. For years, since the one-and-done got big, you had a guy like Amile and Matt played with you four years. Got to cover Matt in high school. What's your take on what he's done for you over his career?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, he's a believer. In other words, he's an extension of the coaching staff, not just on the court but on the practice court, the bus and team meal.

He basically has lifted up the standards of our program. And for four years. In Amile's case, five. And that helps these young guys immensely.

And then they also understand by being in so many games -- they've been in games where we've gotten beat and they've won championships. And they've won a national championship. And so they understand the process. And to be true to the process and to stick with it.

And Matt and Amile have been so instrumental in bringing this team along. We're really lucky to have them. I love those two guys. We've won a lot of games together, and we've developed this team together as a result of the relationship of staff and especially with those two kids.

Q. With everything that you've been through this year, what do you think's been the big lesson this team's learned?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: No excuses. And try to win with what you have. And with the amount of preparation and whatever continuity you've had. When I was out from back surgery, I went out and Amile got hurt.

And it's much more important that Amile played than I was there. And so we didn't have the continuity and the ability to prepare and get to know one another as well until February.

And then these last three, four weeks we've, Matt's been healthy. Amile and Grayson have been, they've been hurt but they're better, a lot better. But we've had them all there. And as a result they've gotten to know one another better. And we've won close games. We've lost a couple of close games. But, again, we keep getting better.

Q. As much as you've enjoyed being here in Greenville, is there any sadness that this tournament isn't being played in Greensboro, where it was originally scheduled, and it might not be back in North Carolina again?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I don't want to take away from the great people of South Carolina and the people of Greenville. They have the right to host it whether our state is smart enough to have it. It shouldn't be a contest of one another. South Carolina is known for great basketball, and this is a great town. So we feel really good about being here.

It would be nice if our state got as smart and also would host not just basketball tournaments but concerts and other NCAA events. But maybe we'll get there in the next century, I don't know. We'll see.

Q. What's the solution then to the previous question?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I don't want to get political right now.

Q. Fair enough. Then following up one more time --
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Look, it's a stupid thing. That's my political statement. If I was president or governor I'd get rid of it. And I'd back up my promises. As unusual as that might be. Anyway, I don't want to get too political.

Q. What do you think has been the difference with Jayson this last month? And obviously he's playing as well as anyone in the country?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It's a good question. You'd have to just follow how Jayson was able to prepare. And the third week of October he was really playing well and he hurt his foot. And he's out for more than five weeks, missed eight games.

And even when he came back he didn't have -- because there were exams, Christmas break or whatever -- there's about a two-month gap of the preparation that any player needs but especially a freshman needs, and he's so good and he's so committed and our guys are good with him, that since the beginning of January when we were able to have that he's progressed that much. And I'm proud of him.

I think he'd be playing at this level earlier. But I'm glad he's been able to achieve the level that he's playing at during this season that he's playing college basketball.

Q. Kind of back to the point you asked about before, how surreal has this year been for you because you had a stop and start again in terms of being in sync and being in the flow of a typical season?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, for me, even though I had the surgery, I was watching tape and being with the team every day. Maybe not physically. So I never got completely out of sync. And I have a great staff. Jeff Capel did an amazing job while I was gone and he's my associate head coach. And a lot of what we do is what he thinks we should do.

So I like that. But I haven't really been out of sync. The team has not had the ability to be in sync. And I've gotten well. So I'm fresh. I'm good. I've been ready to go. And but for about a month and a half or so there not good.

Q. What is one thing you think your team has gained from winning the ACC championship to prepare for the tournament?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, an ACC championship. That's the very first thing. And I say that not being like joking. It's a tremendous honor. And confidence comes through with achievement. And when you -- I think our confidence -- it was good, real good going into the tournament.

It's better as a result of playing those four games and winning. And now just we have to make sure that our confidence coincides with the ability to still prepare, not have a rearview mirror and look back at it but to be in the moment.

They were in the moment in New York and they got better. Now we have to be in the moment here against Troy.

Q. When you look at Luke's year, how surprising is it when you consider the preseason there was talk that he wasn't going to be a starter, and he admittedly had an up-and-down freshman year? Now he's had as good of a season as anyone in the country.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: There you go again based on listening to people who haven't seen him. People didn't see him in practice or whatever and predictions and all that. We can't live in that world.

And it's -- we live in a world of quick judgment and shallow analysis. And that's not how you prepare a really good team. Luke's been great since the get-go. He had a terrific freshman year.

Actually, in one of our inner-squad scrimmages before Jayson and Marques got hurt, I think Luke scored 47 points. And I said, well, he might be pretty good even though it wasn't based on factual prediction of what he might be. So it doesn't surprise me what look has done.

Luke's a heck of a basketball player and competitor. And because he doesn't have a position, we can use him in different parts of the court, and his efficiency is unbelievable. To put up those numbers but not take the number of shots is really good. It's really good.

Q. How much do you confer with Steve Wojciechowski during the season? And what kind of qualities do you see in his team that you see in your team?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I wish we could shoot as well as his team. They lead the nation in shooting. You don't converse that much, I think. After a big win you text or call. After a tough loss it seemed more important to text or call. Both ways, when I was going through my surgery and that, my assistants who are now head coaches.

We have a family. Steve and I are family. We spent -- heck, it's probably 19, 20 years. Are you kidding me? And besides that, he's Polish. So we share an even greater bond. And he didn't change his name and I didn't change mine.

Q. [Indiscernible]?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: The fact that they share the ball so well. And I think what Steve has done is he's taken the talent that he has and meshed it into a style that can beat you instead of trying to fit guys into another style that wouldn't be as successful.

And a big thing for him, they play good defense but they play even better offense. I mean, they play -- I haven't watched them to study them yet. That's just when I get a chance to watch them. I've studied Troy. That's all. So I just hope we get a chance to play on Sunday.

Q. What have you seen out of Troy that impresses you the most?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, first of all, the fact that they've won four games in five days. The Sun Belt is a really good conference, historically and again this year.

And what Person's done is unbelievable in the tournament. And they have a team that can really score the ball. Almost 50 percent, 45 percent of their shots are 3s. They're dangerous. And the fact they've won makes them even more dangerous.

So we respect them, no question about it.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

Duke heads to Greenville

Duke Heads to Greenville for NCAA’s

Duke heads to Greenville
Duke heads to Greenville

The Duke Basketball team left for Greenville, S.C. today where they'll take on Troy this Friday evening.  The Blue Devils are coming into that game carrying the flag of the ACC Champs with them having won four consecutive games in the conference tournament.

By now, the team has had some much-needed time to rest and put their most recent  delightful accomplishment behind them.  Duke wants to the confidence of their victories to carry over but only that. Now, Mike Krzyzewski will insist they get back into their take one game at a time mode.

In their wins in Brooklyn, they had to adhere to the above statement for if they looked ahead fatigue would set in.  What they accomplished as a team took away the doubts of many. The reason being that this group is coming together at the right time of the season and seems destined for even better play.

By playing four games in as many days and hoisting the ACC Champions Trophy, the confidence should carry over.  It is true that Duke will have a two-day break between games moving forward, but they proved to themselves they could play tired as a unit and tough out wins.

While Duke was successful in coming back against three nationally ranked teams, they hope to move past that in the opener with Troy.  While you certainly cannot take any team lightly, the opponent is not considered a top 25 team by any means.

Duke must now take another step in showing they can gain and hold a lead against teams they're favored to defeat.  To do this, they must play every game as if it is their last in that is a winning habit.

It's one and done now folks.  Any slippage can send players home. Duke will likely advance past Troy to take on the winner of Marquette-South Carolina.  While media and fans can look a little beyond, there is no way Krzyzewski will let it happen with the team for that is what has worked for them.

If the Blue Devils look at Troy any differently than a must win game, they could lose the chemistry they've developed.  At this point of the year, it is not only survive and advance, but  about building winning habits along the way.

Duke is healthier than at any other time this season.  They have confidence and no how hard they had to work to defeat a gauntlet of outstanding team in the ACC Tournament.

This weekends event will be another test which in theory they should pass.  Duke will be favored to advance and head back to New York but they want to do so in style.  With North Carolina, South Carolina and other fans in the same facility, it may even seem like an away game of sorts.  But that is a challenge this team can handle.

It often times benefits teams to watch others play the day before them.  Upsets occur and it is a reminder that it can happen.  Duke has a nice blend of outstanding young talent to go with three players who own National Championship rings.  But victories and moving forward at this time of year requires immense focus and togetherness.  Only time will tell if Duke has enough resolve to advance each time out.

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Coach K, Duke Players Talk ACC Championship

C6sHh3VWcAQ_k9DNew York, New York

Duke - 75, Notre Dame - 69

THE MODERATOR: To my left is Coach Krzyzewski, Luke Kennard, Matt Jones, and Amile Jefferson.

Q. Congratulations on your win. Coach, you've compiled more wins this week and over the season than both of our New York teams (laughter). Can you just take us through the week and how you were able to do it?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, well, thank you. I don't know exactly. I was mentioning to a few people that my team has taken me on this journey this week that you could not plan.

First of all, the high caliber of teams that you had to beat in order to achieve this. And the deficits that you had to overcome in each of the last three games, and even against Clemson it was one point, and Luke made a move on the baseline, lit the shot fake, and made a bucket that put us up 71-68. So they're all close games.

They stayed fresh. You know, they're really a good group, and they've been through so much with injuries and me being out, just so much. So they're close, and I think that closeness paid off for us.

Q. Fellas, did you all have to make a conscious effort at all to stay focused.
AMILE JEFFERSON: Definitely. It was a tight game both ways. They made a really good push in the second half. I thought they speeded the game up in the second half, and it kind of knocked us back.

But all our guys stayed poised. No one was ever like rattled. That's sometimes when you see when things like that happen. You see guys splinter. But after the time-out, we huddled, and we were strong. That's why I was really proud of my guys because everyone was strong today.

THE MODERATOR: Matt, did you have any further thoughts on that?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: He's not the talker of the group. He only hit the biggest shot of the game. He's just up there with his chest out.

Q. Coach, congratulations. I think you mentioned outside you didn't call a play in the last ten minutes. Can you elaborate on that, or was it a unilateral decision? What went into that?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I don't even know what that means. It meant that I didn't know what the hell I was doing, and I just let these guys do -- what we call as motion. Basically, we thought that they would assert themselves more. They own motion more than if we run a play.

I know they were really tired, and so by taking ownership and attacking like that, they made it work. We've done that in each of the last three games but not as long as today. I know they looked over, just motion. Motion. Come on, Coach. Come up with a really good play. Motion, motion. And it worked.

But I believe in these guys, and they can make plays. You know, we have guys who can make plays. They're not selfish, and they can make plays for one another.

Q. This is for both Coach and Matt. Kind of what you were just talking about. If you were scripting a play -- Matt's threes have not been falling for a couple of games. If you were scripting a play, you probably wouldn't -- one of us wouldn't run it for him. Would you talk about him coming through? And then, Matt, I'd like you to talk about that shot.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: First of all, Matt's coming through the whole game. He and Amile defensively turned the game around. So, again, you take ownership, and if it's your house, your game, it's the rhythm of the game, all of a sudden it's your shot, you're going to hit that shot. We have confidence in any of our players doing that. We tell them.

We actually were yelling at a few of our players -- I yell at Luke and Jayson all the time for passing up shots. It was just a rhythm shot, and it was beautiful. It was the shot of the game. It was the shot of the game.

Q. The 6 seed has won this tournament five times. The 5th seed in 64 years has never won until tonight. As one who loves the history of the tournament, I'm sure you're also aware that no team has ever won four straight nights to win the tournament. Can you put into words what these guys have accomplished coming from behind three straight games against three of the best teams in the country?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, it's difficult, Bob, and I can see why no one's done it before because I didn't think we were going to do that as that game evolved in the second half. Because they're really good. Mike does such a great job with his team. And Colson, you have one of the best players in the country.

It's a journey that's kind of hard to describe, and like I was trying to tell the guys, the kids in the locker room, I said, you know, we've won a lot of these. We've won, this is our 14th, but this one's so different. I can't say, well, it was like this one or like that -- no, it was not like anything.

It's not like a Final Four or the NCAA Tournament because you don't play four teams in a row like this. So it's like this -- how cool is it for me, for these kids to take me on a journey that at 70 I've never been on? Whether it's Olympics -- I've been on a lot of good journeys, but this was such a good one. Thank you. I thank my guys for doing it.

Q. This is for both Matt and Amile. Everybody talks about freshmen and all these one-and-done guys, but you two seniors, when Notre Dame took the lead, Amile, you kind of, it looked like, willed this team to kind of get back. Then, Matt, you hit the big shot. Can you guys discuss the importance of that experience and being a senior and in a situation like this, especially when fatigue kicks in?
MATT JONES: Kind of like what Coach said. It was just the rhythm of the game. The last couple of days, the freshmen and Luke and Grayson have done their part, and Amile as well. So in this game, it kind of just went down to everything we've been through, as both players and people.

I mean, we just put our hearts out there on the line, and that's what everybody's been doing, and it usually pays off. (Phone ringing.)

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It's my wife. No, she's right there. It's actually my AD. Sorry, Matt.

MATT JONES: No, you're fine.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Isn't it nice that I have an iPhone, though, that can do that? Sorry, did I interrupt you?

Q. Especially when fatigue kicks in in a situation like that, kind of willing your team to win this thing.
MATT JONES: I'm sorry. One other thing, just me and Amile, everything we've been through, we told each other we weren't going back to the dorm without it. So that was the big motivation for us at least, and we just made that message known to all the other guys that, hey, like they're not going to accept us back there if we don't get it, and we're not going to accept ourselves back there if we don't get it as well. So that was kind of the motivation throughout that ball game.

AMILE JEFFERSON: I think Matt just hit it on the head with what he said. All day we've been talking about not going back to the dorm without this championship. It took me long enough to finally get one. I had to come back another year. I just wanted to win.

During time-outs, the looks on guys' faces were the looks of champions, even when we were losing. So it made me and Matt's job easy to lead guys who want to be led, to lead guys who are fighters, and to have players like Jayson Tatum and Luke Kennard, who are just dynamic scorers and always tough players. It makes our job easy.

So today was just a time for me and Matt to be able to lead these guys, and I thought, especially Matt, we did a great job of it.

Q. Guys, congrats on the championship, and Coach as well, congrats to you. My question is for you, Coach. Pardon me, this is a little bit different. After an eventful season, whether it's on the court or dealing with the media or even you, Coach, with your back. Can you shed some light on how you've seen the guys grow, whether it's any of the guys up here, Jayson or Grayson. Also, if you've grown at all this year, can you shed some light on that as well.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It's a book answer you're looking for. Of course I've seen them grow. That's the purpose of coaching is to give them an opportunity to have them impact on one another, to have a staff impact on them, to have competition impact on them, and trying to move them along and see how they develop as a group.

For me, I grow every year because I want to. I think, for me, this game, no one's got the proven solution for this game. You've got to keep learning, and you've got to be a lifelong learner. It's not about strategy too. You have to be a lifelong learner about people. These guys let me in well. So I get to know them, and it's one of the things that keeps me young, and they do me a favor. They laugh at some of my jokes. We have a good time growing together.

Q. My question is for Coach K and for Matt. Over the tournament, Matt's had 11 points, but you've kept him in a significant amount of the game. That says a lot about the confidence you have in him and the leadership he provides on the team even without scoring. So talk about the confidence you have in Matt. And, Matt, how do you stay in the game and do other things besides scoring to still lead this team to a win?
MATT JONES: First and foremost, I came to Duke to be a part of something that's bigger than myself. Like Amile said, we have so many dynamic scorers around myself, why try to fit in and be something I don't have to be? So I just try to find other areas that I can help this team out.

Obviously, me and Amile's voice is something that can really help this team. So just try to focus on that. And the time comes where I do need to make a shot or make another play that's outside of defense or talking, then it just kind of happens.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, and in sport or in anything, there are valuable things that people do to help you win that everyone sees, and there are valuable things that only people who want to look deeper into it see. He does valuable things for us or else we wouldn't be sitting here right now. And he wouldn't be my captain, and he wouldn't have been a part of so many wins and a National Championship and now an ACC Championship.

Q. Mike, have you ever had a team go into an NCAA Tournament that has evolved so quickly at the end, a team that's so in flux late in the season? '01 maybe?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: You know, when you use those words -- I know you're being positive about them, but kind of like there was something wrong with us. They were in flux. What? No, we were hurt -- a back operation, and they had bad feet. It wasn't about attitude. It was about -- you know, the garage burned down. Things happened to our family, and we never let that stop us.

We haven't paid any attention to standings or seeds for this tournament or rankings. We just haven't -- we haven't talked at all about that because so much has happened. We just said let's talk about us and let's get better.

It's worked. Even for this tournament, we said, let's just win one game, and okay, we won it. Let's win one game. And today was the championship game. And hopefully, we can take that same attitude into the next tournament.

No, it's been a different year for me than any that I've coached and a remarkable year. Because they've all -- we've really -- we were always together, and all that stuff made us more together. Maybe if it didn't happen, maybe we wouldn't have been as together, you know? Like that's how I look at it. Okay, everyone's healthy and whatever, maybe we do have dissension then. Maybe we don't have. Maybe, maybe.

So instead of dealing with maybes, let's just do what's going on with us, and that's what we've tried to do. I think with my experience and age and whatever, my ego's not attached to whether we win 20 games or 30 games or whatever. I'm going to be all right.

Q. Coach, and maybe even for the seniors, Jayson down the stretch made a lot of really big plays -- a block, a pass, a couple of shots. Was there any one in particular that stood out to you as particularly key, particularly unselfish? Any one that stood out?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I said that, and Luke would agree with me. I think there should have been co-MVPs. I think these two guys were -- you couldn't split a hair on them. So I'm bringing his plays up. You can bring Luke's plays up. They were remarkable.

I thought when he went full court, and I said what are you doing? Yes, you did it. Like how the hell did you do that? All these -- no, no, yes, yes, how, wow, that was good.

And it gave -- I thought it gave everyone energy, like somebody on our team could move that fast right now. I thought that was a great play, the block and everything, but that's like oh. It was terrific. It was so darn good.

Q. Luke, what does it mean to you to be named the MVP of this tournament?
LUKE KENNARD: You know, it was great. Through this all, I've just been so emotional. I'm just so happy. Just to be -- like Matt said, we came to Duke to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, and just to be able to put my heart on the court with guys like this, it means so much to me. And I'm just so blessed to have that opportunity.

I've done as much as I could to help our team win, to bring success to our team, to this program, and I'm blessed to be able to share that with these guys. We're happy right now, and we're looking forward to our next step this season.

Q. Mike, you have 13 wins against the RPI top 50. That's two more than any other team in college basketball. Obviously, the backdrop of this season with the injuries, you being out during the back surgery, you're going to be hotly debated tomorrow as to whether or not you should be a 1 seed. Perhaps you should be a 2 and get sent back up here to New York. Villanova will probably be the 1 in that region.
Do you think you deserve a 1? Do you care if you get a 1? You have so much experience in this tournament. I want to know whether a 1 matters to you personally.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: You know, whatever they decide really. We've had a heck of a year, and we're at our best in the last month, once we got everyone together. And how that compares to everyone, the committee will do a good job. We'll go wherever they want, and we're okay with whatever seed.

We haven't paid any attention to that. So even your question, I haven't -- I didn't know those things. I'm trying to figure out how to stop Bonzie Colson. So we'll just let it happen, and I think that's the best way of doing it.

Q. Coach, after such a tough emotional championship, do you ever worry about a letdown in the NCAA Tournament?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, I worry about that after -- you know, like I told these guys, when we beat Carolina during the regular season, 40 hours later, we have to play Clemson, and we didn't play well. We were able to win by two points. You know, we talk about part of becoming a really good team is beating human nature, where you want to stay in the last thing. So we've had to beat human nature like crazy here because you beat Louisville in that game, whoa, now we play Carolina, whoa. Human nature saying, come on, man, let's watch the highlights of those two, and now you've got to play Notre Dame.

I think the experience of doing it this week will help us, and I think also we have spring break this week. We need to get a day and a half, two days of just get rest, get rest. And we'll find out tomorrow night where we're going.

Hopefully -- the only thing I would say in reference to the tournament is I would like if it was a Friday, Sunday, but they're not going to listen to me. They'll probably make a new rule and have us play in Dayton or something.

Q. Question for Amile. Every rally has to have a starting point. Yesterday was Luke's four-point play. The Notre Dame guys felt like the basket that you made after the resounding dunk that V.J. Beachem had got you started. Then you had another big basket after that. You always rebound. You always defend. You don't always score. What was your mindset about really taking it hard to the basket to try to get your team back in the game -- to get your team even in the scoreboard? Not that you were out of the game.
AMILE JEFFERSON: For me, it's about always trying to make a play on the offensive end or the defensive end. Whether it's the screen, offensive rebound, tipping a ball, just making a play. At that point, I thought the play was -- I had my back to the basket, and I was really close to score the ball. I'm confident in my abilities, so I'm glad it went in.

But I thought there were so many plays that turned the game around and sparked the game made by a bunch of our guys. Jayson made terrific plays down the stretch. Luke, this whole tournament, has been making unbelievable plays. And then that shot by Matt was the biggest shot of the tournament.

So I'm just really proud to be on this team with this group of guys at this time where we're becoming pure. So really proud of my group.

Q. Mike, four games in four days, is there some point where you just see the adrenaline taking over for these guys and the potential -- the limited time between games and the possibility to overthink things isn't really there because you've got to come here and play.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: One thing is we adjust how much we give them in a scouting report. It becomes less because there's less time. We're at the end of the season, so they're accustomed to that.

And time-outs -- one of the things I try to remind them in the second half when there's time-outs is that, look, this is why -- this is tough. Winning championships is not easy. So whatever you need to do to be tough, it's not about being motivated now. They are motivated. They're tired. The other team is really good. How are we going to be tough right now?

And they figured that out. And they figured it out for four straight days. Hopefully, they can figure it out some more.

Thank you to all the people here at Barclays who made this so good. The tournament was great up here, as it has been in all locations.

dnc11

Notre Dame Stands Between Duke and ACC Title

dnc11You could not possibly draw up a better scenario for the Duke Blue Devils than how the ACC Tournament has gone to date. They started the week off by beating a game Clemson team and then took out two top ten teams in Louisville and North Carolina.

The last two wins saw the team make furious comebacks down 12 against the Cardinals and 13 versus the Tar Heels.  During these two wins, Duke showed confidence and played their best basketball of the season.

The bottom  line is when Duke gets multiple players hot on the offensive end, they are tough to beat.  The Blue Devils will now play their fourth consecutive game in as many days.  This time they must find way past Notre Dame .

To defeat the Irish, Duke must put their sensational performance against North Carolina in the rear view mirror.  The team can go back and enjoy that win more if they have another game in them. Many expected the Blue Devils to look leg-weary last night and most feel fatigue will play a role this evening.

Only time will tell if Duke hits a wall, but the team has shown that they are up for all challenges of late.  You can bet this team wants that trophy.  They want to cut down the nets in Brooklyn.  They want to be the hot team everyone is talking about  going into the tournament.

For whatever reason, Mike Brey and Notre Dame have always played the Blue Devils tough.  They were the last team to knock them out of the tournament a season ago.  While Duke enjoyed a win over the Irish in South Bend, it was Jeff Capel at the helm in his best job filling in for then sidelined Mike Krzyzewski.

So what I am hinting to here is that Krzyzewski would like nothing more than to beat his former assistant in Brey.  That can happen but it will be far from easy.  The reason is the Notre Dame program is more or less modeled on Krzyzewski principles.  They love the three-point shot, shoot free throws well and play with spirit.

The one place Duke has a clear advantage could be inside.  For the Blue Devils to exploit that Harry Giles will have to show up again.  In the teams 93-83 win over North Carolina, Giles settled into the game over time and had his best outing as a Blue Devil.

But the big four of late have been Jayson Tatum, Luke Kennard, Grayson Allen and Frank Jackson.  This group has been playing much better together by sharing the ball and believing in one another. Tatum is becoming a matchup nightmare, while Grayson Allen is Grayson Allen once again.  Kennard has been steady and Jackson is showing he is coming out as well.

Duke will once again be tasked in slowing down a long time nemesis in Bonzie Colson.  The All ACC first team player has had major success against Duke.  This will be a grand test for Amile Jefferson to keep him in check.

The Irish feature a three-headed monster of a backcourt that consists of VJ Beacham, Matt Farrell and Steve Vasturia.  And like the last two Duke opponents, the Irish have a days rest on their counterpart.  Another Irish standout in Rex Pflugber actually came close to talking a little smack in saying his team wanted the Blue Devils.

With a late start, Duke has been able to get a little more rest.  I expect Krzyzewski to show a few wrinkles against the Irish.  In the games against North Carolina and Louisville, he changed up his defenses which spurred key runs.

You will see a spunky effort from both teams in this game where things might even get chippy.  It will be physical and feature some runs.  In th end, it almost seems as if Duke is destined in my opinion. There has been so much adversity and disappointment and now the team can smell the ACC Championship Trophy.  It won't be easy but I am picking Duke to win as I have in every game in the tournament.

The Pick here is Duke 84 Notre Dame 78

 

 

Duke whips UNC

Coach K, Kennard, Allen Talk Duke Win Over UNC

Duke whips UNC
Duke whips UNC

New York, New York

Duke - 93, North Carolina - 83

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Another great game. Holy mackerel. For us, in the last nine days, we play Florida State, Carolina twice, Clemson, and Louisville. Wow, you know, just to play, and then to win all but one of them is terrific.

Tonight we beat an outstanding team, obviously a team that can win the national title. Did a great job of winning our regular season.

Our guys just fought. When we were down by 13, Jayson got that dunk, called a time-out just to get rested. Let's go. Let's try to make a charge now, and that was the play in Chapel Hill that he tried to lay up, and tonight he dunked it.

Then we came out, and the next play that we scored on I thought was the play of the game for us. We missed, and Grayson chased down a loose ball right in front of our bench, and he hit Luke in the corner. Luke hit it and got fouled, and it's a four-point play.

I thought that Jayson's move and these two guys -- these two guys are very, very special competitors. And then we just fought, and it worked out. Our guys -- they were fouling to get back, and we hit every free throw, or most free throws, and we only had that one turnover.

Again, we're really pleased and proud of the win.

Q. Coach K, you had a new player today by the name of Harry Giles, who was absolutely amazing the 15 minutes he played. And we've seen you a couple times to talk aggressively to get him in the game. What were those talks about? How did you get him to come out and be explosive those 15 minutes?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It's interesting. Harry said his cousin was going to be out in the audience. Thank you for asking about him.

Harry, the last two games, has been terrific. I mean, his rebounding, and he had four blocked shots. But the energy -- you know, these guys give energy, and Harry -- you know, Harry is coming off of some really bad injuries. He's still -- you know, a year from now will probably get it. And he's put it all out there. When our guys have seen that, it's been a lift. It's been a huge lift for us.

So we're getting better. I said it even when we lost to Syracuse and Miami by one possession each game, that our team's getting better. We just are getting better. And these two guys and Jayson, when they're on the court, those three guys, when they're sharing it and scoring, it's a potent offensive unit. Not a big unit, these guys are guarding big guys and whatever, but a big -- and it's where Harry's contribution is coming in.

Q. Kind of following up on the Harry question. Knowing what he's gone through this season, and you were talking yesterday about the scrutiny that Duke is under, what is it like to watch him have these two games and have that success? Grayson, can you talk about it? He was talking about being a role player and coming off the bench and how he's learned that role, and you've helped him with that. If both of you can address that.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Let them talk, and if they give the wrong answer, then I'll say something.

GRAYSON ALLEN: Basically, every time I've talked to Harry, I just told him that he's really good, and it doesn't matter if he's coming off the bench, if he's in the game for two, three, four minutes. I think he can play with whoever's out there, whoever he's going up against.

So I told him that. I said, you might be playing limited minutes. You might feel like a role player, but you're not. You're extremely talented, and when you get out there, act like it. Don't be shy. Don't be trying to play into a role. Do what you can do.

That's something I learned my freshman year, and he's learned that, and he showed that.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: When you have like two ACLs, like it definitely does something to you physically. What I've told Harry, especially this last week, I said, you didn't get an ACL with enthusiasm. Like you're the most enthusiastic kid I've ever been around, and you're not bringing your enthusiasm. That was never hurt. But I think you're not using it.

And I said, just be enthusiastic and see what happens, and I think he's done that. Instead of being methodical and trying to think about everything, he's been more athletic. It's great. I'm so happy for him. And us too.

Q. Mike, just to follow up on what you just said, from a coaching, from a teaching standpoint, just how satisfying is it for you that Harry has gotten to this point now?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Great. If he didn't have that setback in September, I think he'd be really far along. It's just been that kind of season for Jayson, missed eight games and all that. For them to stay with it, not look ahead, like I'm going to the pros and whatever, but a lot of people said, well, Harry shouldn't play and whatever. Harry wants to play. Harry wants to be at Duke. Harry wants to be their teammate. Harry wants to be a college kid and be on Duke's team.

I love him for that, and these guys know that too, and they love him. He's always up. He's always up. He's got such a good personality.

Q. Mike, we've all seen teams that in March kind of get that intangible that carries them through into the tournament. Are you sensing that this team is kind of getting that in this week?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think they're getting to know each other really well. Even when we had that seven-game winning streak and Grayson got hurt and Amile got hurt and we didn't have a continuation there. This week, even the game in Chapel Hill, I thought we played well. We just got beat.

So they're getting to know each other better. It's a good time. It's a good time.

Q. Grayson and Luke, this might be hard to answer with Coach sitting right there, but what have you learned? You mentioned the time-out saying let's make a charge. What have each of you learned about the messages he delivers in those moments, what the tone means, what the different demeanors are? Maybe you could address that.
LUKE KENNARD: I'll start, I guess.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Remember I control playing time, just so you know.

LUKE KENNARD: I think one of the biggest things for us is we have to stay poised in situations that we're in. I think, as a group, we have learned -- we've grown up because of so many different things we've been through this season. We've had so much adversity. But I think we've grown in a sense that, when we are down in games and we want to make a charge, we continue to stay poised. We continue to stay calm. We don't let anything affect the way that we're playing as a group. We stay ourselves, and that's what it's been about, and we've really grown from that.

GRAYSON ALLEN: First of all, he's a pretty good coach. So he knows how to manage the game. That's what he's trying to teach us in moments like that. When we go on a run or when we score, okay, now it's the next play. We need this stop right here. Just learning the ins and outs of the game and which plays are important and what you need to do out of each moment.

That's what he's telling us, and when he's getting us fired up, we focus on the message, and if we need energy, we'll see that from him. So it's really just taking his message in and producing on the court.

Q. What does it mean to you to beat North Carolina here and also to advance to the ACC final?
LUKE KENNARD: I mean, it's huge. Every win is huge for us. We've taken it one day at a time, one game at a time. That's what Coach has been telling us. We've taken it day by day, making sure we're ready to go, making sure we've been rested. It's been good.

Like I said, each win is a big win for us, and today was another one. It's time to move on to the next one, and we're excited for it.

Q. It feels strange to ask you a question about anything being new all these years, but the challenge of four games in four days, never been done in this tournament, four straight wins. Have you made basketball decisions with that in mind, or is it entirely today?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It's entirely today. Throw it all in today and -- our guys are in really good shape. I was actually amazed today because Carolina really comes at you. They not only came at us offensively, they were playing outstanding defense, really good pressure. So it could have worn us out, and it didn't.

We've cut down on practice time and physical stuff, and they want to win. We have good athletes. So they respond well, and we'll see tomorrow. Tomorrow, that's four in a row, and we'll play -- whatever it is will be really good. And we won't see anything like that in the NCAA Tournament. So this is very unusual.

But we've gotten better here. That's the main thing. We've gotten to know each other better. Playing against a team that's really desperate in Clemson and two teams that could win the National Championship in Louisville and North Carolina, just so opportunistic for us. And what everyone was saying about this bracket or that bracket, we just said we've got a chance if we can keep winning with a chance to play against the best in the conference. It's been the best.

Q. Mike, you went to that bigger look today, a little bit against Louisville too, with Jayson at the three, Harry and Amile on the inside. What does that do for you going forward? How much more confidence do you have after these last two games with that group?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It means we have different opportunities, different looks. Offensively and defensively, we have different matchups. We're more of a team that looks for matchups, looks for things that we can try to exploit. We're not as much a play team, as much as they have a lot of freedom, and they should have it. And that gives us a new look like for Luke and Grayson to run around, two big guys, instead of Jayson being down there and popping out.

Defensively, it might give us a look about the zone. We've used zone the last two days. And it adds to our inventory, which is great.

Q. Grayson, you hit your first four three-point attempts. Were you feeding off the environment at all? And just after the past two games, how high is your confidence?
GRAYSON ALLEN: First of all, my confidence is the same. It doesn't move whether my shots are going in or not. For me, just when I'm coming off the bench, I'm just coming in and trying to give energy. Once I see the first one go in and I get another open one, just keep shooting, and that's the confidence that Coach has in me just to keep shooting. If I don't shoot it, the guys are going to tell me I need to shoot it.

Really, it's just coming in and trying to explode. I've been able to do that the last two days, and I want to continue to do that.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I should have mentioned this. If he doesn't do what he does in the first half, we're down by 20. I mean, we could get blown out. I thought he saved us in the first half.

And that's what we need. If it's not him, then feed off Luke or, you know -- but him, what he did in the first half, they were playing a lot better -- they were playing a lot better than us than the score indicates. And his four threes made it look like we were okay, but we were close. It was almost a third round knockout, you know, without him playing the way he did.

Q. Seeing Shelden Williams gave me flashbacks to the days when Duke held teams to 39 percent from the floor. This team has not done that, but it has excelled at defending the three-point shot. Everyone knows Duke shoots the three so well. How do you defend the three so well? A huge factor, North Carolina was 5 of 22.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think they're accustomed to how people get threes. That's their territory. They know how to score from it, and they know how to defend it. You are who you are, you know. We can't defend inside as well, but on the perimeter we have really good players. Not that we don't have as many or as bulky. You've got to, if it's a ten-round fight, try to win six of them. Try to win certain aspects of the game and know that you're not going to win all of them.

But if we can be really good at shooting it and defending it, that differential in the game can be the difference. And tonight that helped us.

Q. Mike, sorry to ask something of a philosophical question.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: That's all right. I'm in a philosophical mood.

Q. As am I.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Why is that funny for a Polish coach? We're not allowed to be? Are you making fun of me?

Q. No, sir.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: All right.

Q. If we can go back to the Tatum dunk and your time-out there, some coaches might be reluctant to call that because you've just gotten a big play and stop the game and stop the team's momentum. You obviously saw it as a time to consolidate momentum in your little huddle.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I say ignore.

Q. Is that something you used to do back in the days of Army or something you developed?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think whatever, good decision or bad decision, I'm not afraid to make a decision. And I make my decision knowing my guys, whether it be Duke, U.S., Army, I don't know my guys as well as I do now. I know these guys. I trust them. They're just moments.

There isn't like this recipe for how you coach a game, where you should take them out, there is not a recipe. You determine based on your team what you're going to do, and I've always done that, and then you pay the price. The price has been good. So it's not perfect, but what the hell.

Q. I had a similar question talking about philosophy. Roy sat in here and talked about his time-out philosophy, and you mentioned you called one after the Tatum dunk to give people rest. I was curious, you also called one in the first half when Justin Jackson hit a three to put them up 33-23. Was there a different purpose for that time-out?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yes, to throw water in their faces and slap them. I didn't really. Verbally slap them. No, we were getting ready to get knocked out.

Sometimes -- games are not won always at the end. They're won at certain periods of time, and if you can win those periods of time by your feel, as many games as you're in, that's what I try to do. Again, I may not feel the right thing tomorrow night, but I'm going to trust what I feel. I know my guys well, and they know I believe in them, and I give them the freedom to be themselves. So that's what we're trying to do.

It's fun for me doing it that way. It never gets old because they're always -- it's always evolving. Is that philosophical enough? I didn't even use -- I don't think I used a three-syllable word or anything.

unnamed (33)

Duke Whips Louisville- Coach K, Tatum, Allen Comments

unnamed (33)Duke - 81, Louisville - 77

THE MODERATOR: If we could go ahead and start with a brief opening statement from Coach, and we'll go to questions.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: So that was a quarterfinal game. Holy mackerel. Wow, that was a big time game. We're so pleased and proud of the win because we beat a heck of a team and a team that could win it all really.

We just made some shots and played our hearts out. They played their hearts out. We hit a couple more shots than them. I don't know how you can split hairs on that game. Both teams played so hard. That was a heck of a game, just in case you didn't know that. I would hope that you would know that.

Hopefully, we have some gas in the tank here as we push on. I'm proud of my guys and made big time shots. When we got down by double digits, made a little change defensively. But defensive rebound, and we attacked. We started attack. They attacked us so much in the start of the second half, we were on the bottom of a hill covered with snow catching a sled. Their fast break, man, they were just coming at us. We just had to do something to stop momentum. These guys were able to do that.

Again, we beat an outstanding team. Obviously, I love -- Rick and I are great, great friends and admire everything that they do in their program. It was a big time win for us.

Q. Grayson, first off, congrats on the win. My question is after your scoreless in the first game, it's the first time you haven't scored since 2015, in the Elite 8 game against Gonzaga. What does it mean to put out a good performance in a big game, and what's your confidence like going into the game against North Carolina?
GRAYSON ALLEN: Well, I've had a lot of confidence. It's big for a game like this because I was happy I was able to contribute to the team in what we did. We really needed a spark off the bench, and I didn't think I did a good job of that in the first game. So I thought I could be better than that.

Today when I came in, it was really just trying to give these guys energy. A lot of our starters played big time minutes just 24 hours ago, where I had a little bit fresher legs and was able to go out there and really just attack and hopefully pick the team up and give us a little spark.

Q. Mike, obviously, when you talk about Duke versus UNC, that's a sacred thing. Obviously, those games are played in Durham or Chapel Hill or Greensboro. Is it at all awkward or different that this game is taking place tomorrow so far from home in New York?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: No. I sound like Popovich, don't I? I spent the week with him in the summer. So he told me how to answer a good question, a really good question, but with a very short answer.

We're going to enjoy this for just a little bit before we think about them. The bottom line is we're going to play two Final Four caliber teams in a row in 24 hours. I mean, Louisville and North Carolina are Final Four caliber teams. We just played them, had a great game. If we're fresh enough, I think it will be a great game.

Q. As you guys were coming up the stairs, it was nothing but joy on all of y'all's faces. Tell me about this win and how happy you guys are for this win.
JAYSON TATUM: This was big time for us because, obviously, we lost to them early in January. We realize that we're a much different team from then. We went through a lot of ups and downs. We're continuing to grow and learn and get better each and every day. So this was a big stepping stone for us.

Like Coach said, Louisville is a Final Four caliber team with a great coach and great players. So for us to come back and play the way we did today after a good win yesterday in less than 24 hours was huge for us.

Q. Coach, can you talk about going to the zone and its effectiveness and then why you changed on the last possession back to man.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, any port in a storm, so to speak. We could not stop them in transition in man. They come down so hard.

I don't know if our guys got tired, you know, guys who were -- because we had a tough game against Clemson yesterday. So I just thought maybe we could just run back there, everybody try to stop them.

And they missed some shots. It's not like we played a great zone, but it changed a little the tempo. And then we went back to man because we didn't want to give up an open three. So we could switch everything. And our guys, really, that was like the possession of the game defensively for us when we -- our guys switched everything.

Snyder is such a good player. You've got to be careful that you don't foul him because he's trying to draw a foul.

Luke had eight, I think -- what did he have? Eight defensive rebounds, and Jayson had six. That was the key in the second half was the defensive rebounding from our perimeter, which led us to fast breaking. It's kind of like we were fast breaking, and now we were fast breaking.

I had so much fun coaching our team today. I felt like a little kid, man. They were fun to coach. They gave everything. You wanted to not get in their way really. That's why we just called motion, 12, and play. That's a big time coaching strategy. And our kids just played. They played. It's all on them. They played great. They deserved to win.

Q. After Louisville got up 12, your team looked maybe a little tired or certainly looked knocked back a little bit. Within a few minutes, they were reenergized. My question was with the tactics Louisville pressed one time which led to an easy basket, seemed to get him going. You went zone. Was this tactics or more something from within the players?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think more from within the players. Always a little bit of tactics when you make a change. I thought in that play, you bring up a really important play because they're going for a knockout punch right there. If you can remember the play, the guy who caught the ball was Marques Bolden in the middle. He passed it ahead and we got a layup. It gave us a spark.

Also, Harry, that's the best Harry played. He didn't hold anything back, and Marques gave us good minutes. It was so good because these guys have fought injury, especially Harry. To see him out there and having fun and being himself, wow.

These guys right here, they're excited -- I hope you're excited about -- that kind of stuff. That's what I mean. Like today was just joy. Obviously, there's joy of winning, but how you win and to see kids put it all out there, it's great.

I mean, Luke, he's not up here, but wow. A couple of his shots were daggers. Daggers. It's fun. It was fun coaching them.

Q. Jayson, and if Coach wants to chime in too. When Grayson gets fouled shooting that three, there was a lot of energy in the building at that point. You had boos and cheers after each shot and a lot of energy on the bench. Did that energy hit you guys? Were you able to use that energy to help boost that comeback?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, for me, energy produces energy. I think we already had energy, and people saw it. And then Grayson has played for three years all out. All out. All out. That was another example of it, and his teammates and everyone responded.

And the people who don't want us to win, they responded. God bless everyone. But energy produced more energy.

Q. Grayson, was there a difference in how you felt yesterday, today, or anything that you kind of told yourself mentally last night to kind of rejuvenate today?
GRAYSON ALLEN: No, I just attacked the same way and made some shots today. That was really it. And got going a little bit and just was able to bring us energy when I got in, and then once the whole team got energized, just feeding off of that, like Coach said.

Q. This could be for any of you. Coach, you just talked about the energy today. Usually, when you're playing Carolina, it's either in Cameron or in the Dean dome, where there's energy for one particular team. There's probably going to be energy on both sides. I'm sure Duke and Carolina fans are buying up the ticket from losing teams today. What do you think that energy's going to be like?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Typical. Look, they're a great program. We're a great program. We're two of the great programs. We're accustomed, they're accustomed to playing in buildings that have a lot of energy, for or against them. That's why the kids go to those schools is to be in those moments, to be in a moment like today.

So to be in that moment tomorrow, the people who were in the stands, they have a chance to enjoy that because those moments don't happen all the time. Our two programs have created a lot of them.

Q. You talked about today being pure joy for you.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah.

Q. You've been through this a few times. When it's pure joy at this point in the season, are those the years that you guys are usually the last ones standing?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Just depends if you have a series of pure joys. There can be pure heartbreak too. Our sport's crazy. It really is. And that's why it's madness. These kids put their hearts -- all these teams, the conference tournaments and all that. They win by a point. They lose by a point. It's what captures our whole country. I'm so happy that I'm a part of it and been a part of it for 42 years.

So to have an afternoon like today, I'm 70 years old, and I felt like a kid. I was hugging him, punching him. He didn't punch back, which is a good decision on his part. I love that. I love that. It's nice to be a guy -- it's nice to be a guy in a situation like that, and we got good guys.

Q. Amile had a long stretch on the bench in the first half. Is he okay?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, he's okay. I think he's worn out. He had to play the two big guys from Clemson, and Harry was playing so well that I just felt too that, one, I think, if he's playing well, we've got a better chance to win. But, two, going forward, to get him time in a game like that was really valuable. Very valuable. And it turned out it was more than just getting him time. He produced.

But he's okay. He'll be ready to go.

Q. Mike, what's it been like for you to watch Grayson this year, you know, go through physically and emotionally what he's gone through, and how hard was it to keep him on the bench even last night in crunch time?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, he wasn't ready to play as well last night. Look, I love Grayson. Grayson, I got his back all the time. And everyone in our program has his back all the time. We're just -- the public eye on our program is a blessing and can be a curse. So we have to be able to deal with all of it.

The thing in dealing with all of it is for everyone to know that we're together. I believe in him. I love him. And I thought what he did today was sensational. I loved it. I loved it. He was himself today.

Q. Jayson, can you tell when your team's playing well defensively -- you guys had some really good stretches on defense today and had some other stretches where they were getting easy baskets. Are there some things you're able to tell focus-wise or things you're doing when you're playing well defensively?
JAYSON TATUM: Just when everyone is in a defensive stand and talking. That's when we're at our best. It has to be all five guys. It can't just be two or three that are just talking and the other two are not. When all five guys are talking in a defensive stand and trying to get a stop together, that's when we're at our best.

Q. Coach, you said you're 70 but you felt like a kid today, and today was more proof that you're still able to get some of the best players in the game. How do you reach prospects who are a lot younger than you are and still connect with them and get them to come play for you?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It's called communication. You're in the communication business, right? And being honest with them. I think I can -- do I still get along with you guys?

GRAYSON ALLEN: Yeah.

JAYSON TATUM: Yeah.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: One thing about coaching, you're always with young people, so you're able to stay younger. I'm lucky. I've done what I wanted to do since I was 16, and I've been able to do it at two great schools. They bring kids like this in. This school brings a little bit more talent than the other one. But it's been fun.

When you're around good people all the time, you don't age as badly, let's put it that way. At least I hope it looks like I haven't aged that badly. Thank you all.