Category Archives: Duke Basketball

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Kennard Named NABC All American

dnc15KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Duke sophomore guard Luke Kennard added another All-America honor to his résumé on Friday, garnering second-team recognition from the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).

The NABC team is one of four used to determine consensus All-America honors (also AP, Sporting News and USBWA). Kennard has already garnered second-team All-America status from Sporting News and the USBWA with the AP team set to be announced next week.

Kennard led Duke in scoring with an average of 19.5 points per game while shooting .489 from the floor, .438 from outside the arc and .856 from the free throw line. His 722 total points on the year represent the 16th-best single-season total in program history, while his .438 three-point percentage ranks 10th on Duke’s single-season chart.

The Franklin, Ohio, native scored in double figures in 35 of Duke’s 37 games on the season, eclipsing the 20-point mark a team-high 19 times. He ranks second in the ACC in scoring and three-point field goal percentage, fourth in free throw percentage, seventh in three-pointers per game (2.38) and eighth in field goal percentage while averaging the third-most minutes per game (35.5) in the conference.

He has made at least one three-point field goal in 40 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in Duke history and the 10th-longest stretch in ACC history.

Kennard eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for his career on Feb. 25 at Miami, becoming just the 12th Duke player (and fifth under Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski) to hit that milestone prior to the end of his second season. His 1,147 career points are the fourth-most in Duke history by a player in his first two seasons, trailing only Jason Williams (1,333), Art Heyman (1,237) and Johnny Dawkins (1,165).

For his career, Kennard owns averages of 15.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 31.2 minutes. He is a career .461 shooter from the floor and .383 from three-point range. Kennard’s .867 career free throw percentage is currently the second-best in Duke history (min. 200 FTs made).

He has scored at least 20 points in 35.6 percent (26-of-73) of his games in a Duke uniform.

Kennard was the only unanimous choice for first-team All-ACC honors this season and was also a first-team NABC All-District 2 member and an All-District III selection by the USBWA. He has been named a member of the national ballot for the John R. Wooden Award and a final-five candidate for the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award.

Kennard was named MVP of the ACC Tournament after averaging 20.0 points and 5.3 rebounds to help Duke become the first team in league history to win four games in as many days to claim the ACC championship.

2017 NABC All-America Teams
First Team
Lonzo Ball, UCLA
Josh Hart, Villanova
Justin Jackson, North Carolina
Frank Mason III
Caleb Swanigan, Purdue

Second Team
Dillon Brooks, Oregon
Luke Kennard, Duke
Malik Monk, Kentucky
Johnathan Motley, Baylor
Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga

Third Team
Markelle Fultz, Washington
Ethan Happ, Wisconsin
Josh Jackson, Kansas
Lauri Markkanen
Alec Peters, Valparaiso

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Chase Jeter to Transfer from Duke

chaseDURHAM, N.C. – Sophomore forward/center Chase Jeter will transfer out of Duke University at the end of the 2017 spring semester, school officials announced Thursday. Jeter will depart Duke in good academic standing and is expected to transfer to another Division I institution.

 

“Chase has been an outstanding young man in our program for the last two years,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He has been one of our top academic performers since he arrived on campus. Unfortunately, he was held back this season due to injury. We wish nothing but the absolute best for Chase and his family.”

A native of Las Vegas, Jeter played in 16 games with six starts as a sophomore in 2016-17. He averaged 2.6 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 14.9 minutes per appearance.

He played in 48 games in a Duke uniform, helping the Blue Devils achieve a 34-14 record in those contests. Jeter finished his Duke career with averages of 2.1 points and 2.2 rebounds in 10.3 minutes per game.

“I have loved my time at Duke, getting a world-class education and competing alongside my brothers every day,” Jeter said. “After careful consideration, I decided it would be best for me to transfer to a school closer to home. I’ve made long-lasting relationships here and I want to thank my teammates and coaches for the support they’ve given me over the last two years.”

Duke finished the season with a 28-9 record, making its 22nd consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. The Blue Devils made history at the ACC Tournament in Brooklyn, becoming the first team ever to win four games in as many days to capture the crown. Duke has won a record 20 ACC Tournament titles, including 14 under Coach K – the most in league history by a coach.

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Krzyzewski, Allen, Jackson Address the Media

unnamed (4)Coach Mike Krzyzewski, Grayson Allen and Frank Jackson just addressed the media in Greenville. S.C. before his team takes on the Gamecocks in what is sure to have the feel of an away game.

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Duke student-athletes Grayson Allen and Frank Jackson.

Q. What do you know about Sindarius for South Carolina? Have you been able to watch him throughout the season or from film?
GRAYSON ALLEN: He's really good. He's an old player, he's very tough. And he does a bunch of different things for their team. Scores the ball, rebounds, blocks shots, gets steals. And so he's going to be a very tough matchup for us. I think he's really a big key for their team and with how much he provides for them.

FRANK JACKSON: I think Grayson touched on that perfectly. He's a talented basketball player. They're a talented basketball team. So we're looking for a good matchup tomorrow. And I know he's going to bring it, and the rest of their squad is going to bring it as well.

Q. Initially this region was supposed to be in Greensboro, North Carolina, but because of the HB2 law it's here, and it's a 90-minute drive from their campus. Last night felt like a home game for them. What are your thoughts on basically having to play a road game as a No. 2 seed in the second round?
GRAYSON ALLEN: It's another game for us. And we like tough environments. We played in tough environments all year, really. And I did hear their crowd at the end of our game. When they were coming on to the court, they got a big standing ovation from their crowd. And they're going to be well supported. I mean, we know we're going to have Duke fans in the crowd, too. But it's really just another tough game for us.

FRANK JACKSON: We've been in these tough situations throughout the year. Everywhere we play is a brutal environment. And, you know, I think we'll be ready. And we've been preparing the whole season for tomorrow night and for the weeks to come.

Q. Frank, how do you -- obviously you hear the boos Grayson gets every time he touches the ball from a lot of places. How do you think he handles it? And do you think you could handle it if it were happening to you? That seems like a lot to put on somebody's shoulders.
FRANK JACKSON: It is. And G's a tough kid. And I think with the support from his teammates and from the coaching staff, you know, he's been able to fight through all that stuff. He's not worried about it. We're worried about what goes on in our locker room.

No one knows what we go through day in, day out. But you know, I know that if that happened to me, I have a group of guys who care and love about me, and that's all that matters to us, is what happens inside of our locker room.

 

Coach K, Allen and Jackson address media
Coach K, Allen and Jackson address media

Q. Grayson, I read a story in the Jacksonville paper, which is pretty amazing story about you and your friend Savannah. And I first Googled around and I was surprised the story didn't get picked up very much anywhere else. The fact she died two days before the Elon game, I had to think that that had something to do with the emotions you were feeling during that period of time. Can you comment on that?
GRAYSON ALLEN: Yeah, that's a long time ago. And there's really no connection between that and what happened on the court. And really anything further with that, that's -- the story that was in the Jacksonville paper, that story was for Savannah and her family, and we wanted to get Savannah's story out there. It wasn't trying to make it about me or anything like that.

And so really to answer your question, there was no connection with what happened on the court. And the reason it wasn't out there was just because I didn't want it to be out there. I wanted it to be between me and her family.

Q. South Carolina did a pretty good job stopping a good 3-point shooting team last night, especially in the second half. For Grayson first and maybe for Frank, some of the things that jump out that you saw defensively out of them and how you'll try to attack that kind of defense?
GRAYSON ALLEN: They're very strong defensively and they really just come after you the whole game. I know they forced a lot of turnovers last night and even throughout the whole season. That's really what they do defensively.

And they're a very aggressive defensive team, so they're going to go for blocked shots, they're going to go for steals, they're going to rat at the ball and dig. So you have to be very tough with the ball. And you just have to be tough when you're attacking them.

You can't take breaks on offense, just because of how strong they are and how active they are. And another part of that is they're a very big team. They're very big and long, and even when they go small they're still big, and that really helps with their length and contesting shots.

Q. Grayson, tomorrow is the first time South Carolina is playing after a victory in the NCAA Tournament. You guys seem to do it every year. Do you think that experience that you have can be a help come tomorrow?
GRAYSON ALLEN: It can be a help, but you know our team has never played after a win in a NCAA Tournament either. And we have a lot of freshmen we rely on, and that was their first NCAA Tournament game. And where South Carolina is a very experienced team, regardless of tournament experience. And so I don't know if we're getting any advantage from that. It's just both teams gotta come out ready to play.

Q. Yesterday, Coach spent a lot of time talking about Amile and Matt and their leadership roles on the team. Can you guys tell us what they mean to the team off the court and how important their roles are this time of the year?
GRAYSON ALLEN: Well, those two guys, they've been in the tournament. They've played a lot of tournament games. Amile's played a lot of Duke games and so has Matt. So they know our coach. They know our program. They know everything.

And so really they can just echo whatever the coaches are saying, and even say some of the stuff they're not. Both of those guys were big parts of our freshmen-year tournament, my freshman-year tournament in 2015.

So they've been here. They've been in the tournament and they have the experience, Amile especially has the experience of really leading the team. And really we're just all ears just listening to them and following their example both on and off the court and how we're conducting ourselves at the hotel.

FRANK JACKSON: Yeah, and I think on court, they're both tremendous leaders, but as you were talking about off the court, you know, being a freshman, they've been able to get me through maybe some hard times and rough patches my freshman year.

So to have those two guys as our captains and team leaders has been huge. They really have been there for quite a while now and they know what goes on. They know how to get through kind of hard times in situations they were in when they were my age. So I couldn't ask for better captains on our team.

Q. Grayson, you said you guys have been in tougher environments all year, so tomorrownight's not going to faze you. But is it different in a NCAA Tournament, a win-or-go-home game to be a road team, do you think?
GRAYSON ALLEN: Well, just thinking about recently for us, we were playing in the ACC Tournament where we were playing a game and not only are the opposing fans there but Carolina's fans are also there waiting to boo us too. So we've played in games that are supposed to be neutral where it felt like an away game. There's not much difference.

With it being a tournament game, there's always going to be a lot of pressure on the game for both teams. So both teams just gotta play and win.

Q. Isn't it going to be kind of similar tomorrow because you've got Carolina here?
GRAYSON ALLEN: Exactly. It's always going to be like that for us.

Q. I wanted to ask both you guys, because you're shooters, about the mentality of bouncing back from a bad game or bad streak. Luke yesterday had his worst shooting game of the season. You've had good games, great games, bad games. Can you just talk about bouncing back and what you have to think about, both of you because you're both shooters?
FRANK JACKSON: Luke, he's human. He's a human being. You're not going to be perfect all the time. But he's been terrific throughout the season. And he continues to shoot the ball well every single game no matter how many shots or how many shots he makes.

But you just want to have a mindset to stay aggressive. I know that all of our perimeter players are knock-down shooters. And you keep shooting and seeing the ball go in. It gets easier as the game goes along.

GRAYSON ALLEN: I tell guys just to, I like math. I just tell them look at it like math; if you miss four and you're a 50 percent shooter, the next four gotta go in. It will even out eventually so just keep shooting it.

Q. Frank, just in terms of South Carolina, obviously they're a strong defensive team, but they took it to Marquette late in the game with that, I think they had a 16-0 run. They're definitely a physical team on both ends of the floor. You seem to have handled that better toward the end of the season. How will you handle their physicality on both ends, not just defensively but their ability to take it to you guys offensively?
FRANK JACKSON: I'm still going to look to stay aggressive at the same time, not try to let them speed me up, just play my game, let the offense flow into whatever we're running.

Like G said, they're an experienced team. That's what they do. They pressure the ball, they force turnovers. So I think I gotta find the open guy and stay poised and just run our offense.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Coach, an opening statement.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: We're good, health-wise, except for Marques. For about three days now, he's just had flu-like symptoms. We didn't even bring him over here today. Give him IVs and medication and see what happens with him. But the other guys are in good shape and -- ready to play an outstanding team.

And one of the best -- the best, unheralded, great player in the United States in Thornwell. But they're not a one-man team. They're obviously very, very well coached. They're men and they're coached by a man. And so we're going to have to be men tomorrow night in order to beat them.

Q. You mentioned Sindarius Thornwell. Does he remind you of anybody you might have coached throughout your career?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: He's really unique. He's so unique. I'd hate to -- I think he's him, you know? And he leads their team in everything. But then he's their leader. And then you don't see as much on tape until you see him in person.

But last night I saw a couple times where Wojo was giving a signal to his team what to run. And then you would see him tell his teammates, this is what they're going to run. And then put -- come on. That's -- that's not alive and well in our sport. Like, he's really like an old-school great player. And I say that with the highest level of compliment.

Q. I read today that 37 years ago you were hired at Duke. You've put together an impressive coaching tree. And Frank Martin said yesterday that he patterned his defensive philosophy after your Duke teams. What does that mean to you as a coach to have that type of legacy?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I'm honored that he would say that. I didn't know he said that. And if you're in the business as long as I've been in, that means you've probably had pretty good success. And so someone's going to pattern a little bit what you do about any of those guys.

Like I'm sure Roy, Jim Boeheim. Pitino, these guys, they've stood the test of time. And he can hang his hat on his own thing, because he's really good. But I'm really pleased to hear that. That was a nice thing for him to say.

Q. I wanted you to help me with a little history.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I don't know about that.

Q. 1969, NIT, you played South Carolina. Did you defend John Roche that night?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I did defend John Roche.

Q. What memories?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: We won. He had six points. And I'd like to say it was because of me. But it was because they played a double-high offense. They put their two big guys at the elbows and they screened for him. And one of my teammates, Mike Levey, was so good at it, he just yelled stuff at him. And I think John never went to that side. So I knew he was only going to the side that Dick Simmons was on.

And, you know, there was no shot clock or anything. If there was a stat for time of possession for an NCAA player, I probably would have won it that year, because I kept -- I was not allowed to shoot. And I just went from side to side trying to get the ball to our two shooters. And we won, I think, 57-45. I think that was it. That was a good one. That was a good win.

Q. Sticking with the historical angle, what do you remember about Bill Foster when you replaced him?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, Bill was, I think, one of the innovators about promotion. He was not only an outstanding coach. He's really an outstanding guy. And, but he promoted the game well. He did things earlier than people did them.

Like it would be unbelievable if he was a coach in this era to see what he would do with social media and -- he was just really innovative. And some of the things that he did at Duke -- our logo, not this one, but the other one -- I think he's the one who started that. And just a good man. Good man. Loved by the kids who he had the honor to coach.

Q. How has Grayson remained an integral part of what you guys do? He's coming off the bench now, but now that you're immersed in the tournament, what is key to what you guys do?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: The main thing is he's healthier. He knows he's as good as anyone on our team. And you can only put five guys out there. And so by putting him in when we do, we can keep at least two of our major scorers in all the time. He, Luke and Jayson, those are our three best scorers.

And it actually, I think, helps us keep a better offensive continuity. But he'll play as many minutes as anybody in a game. And end-of-game situations and end of half. Like the end of half yesterday was big. For him to hit that 3 and then Jayson get the block, we had like a five-point differential there. But Grayson's playing real well.

Q. As someone who appreciates good defense, what were some of your observations last night watching South Carolina, in addition to Thornwell and some of the things they do that makes them so good?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, they'll be as good as a defensive team as we've played against. First of all, they're together. Every position is pressured. You have to work hard to get open. And then they rebound well. You have to beat a great defense.

And we have to be strong to get open and strong in our movements, because they're going to be strong in trying to stop us in doing that. When you say a team plays physical it doesn't mean that a team is fouling. They are a physical team, and when you're physical and you play hard, it usually means you've got a well-coached team, and that's what they are.

They're an extension of their coach. He's a really good -- he's a tough competitor. And his kids believe in him. And he's built something really good here.

Q. The other day you talked about the HB2 bill. But now because of it you have a pseudo-road game in the second round as a 2 seed. What are your thoughts on the kind of atmosphere you guys are going to run into tomorrow night?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: You know, we're okay. We're fine. We usually always play in front of a packed arena. And when we're on the road, we're always in an arena where people want to beat us. We'd rather have an upbeat crowd. I don't think it will hurt us. It probably helps them because it's nice to hear people cheering for you. But it won't be intimidating to us.

And it's just the way it is. I have no complaints. Let's just play. We're okay. If we lose, it won't be because we couldn't -- because they had more people here than we did. It will be because they played better defense than we played offense, you know.

Q. I'm kind of fishing here, but we haven't really seen a lot of the, quote/unquote, madness this year, the buzzer beaters, the crazy upsets. Is there anything -- what would you attribute that to?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I haven't watched the whole tournament. There have been a number of close games, just because you haven't seen one team hit one more shot than another doesn't mean the tournament's bad.

You know, I mean, you know, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Somebody said that one time before. I think when you see the teams that are so-called favored to win, it means they're playing well. I don't think that means it's a dull tournament.

Q. PJ Dozier has a lot of length and athleticism. Is there a player you guys have played against that maybe compares to him? And what does he do that's so special?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, he's really good. He's got a great wing span. He's a basketball player who doesn't have a position. He can be used anywhere. They use him a lot at the point. But I wouldn't call him a point. He's just -- and he can defend a lot of people.

Again, I don't like for me to kind of compare players. You guys do that. You do it probably better. I know you guys make predictions better than me. So those two things -- comparisons and predictions are in your court, all right.

Q. I want to follow up a question I asked Grayson. I have a very good Duke friend, you may not believe that, but I have a good Duke friend, Dorn Parnell (phonetic), sent me a good example from the Jacksonville paper about Grayson and his friend Savannah. It traces their relationship, the fact that she died a couple of days before the Elon game. And at that time you said, trying to keep -- coaches trying to keep everything in the family -- and you said you guys don't know half of what's really going on. So --
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Actually, more than that. More than half.

Q. 90 percent. Right. So I don't want you to comment on this particular case, but as an example of something that the public might not have known at a time when --
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think, Art, you hit on a point for all these kids, in that, again, we live in this quick-judgment, shallow-analysis world really because of Twitter and all of this stuff to get something out. And we don't have to document anything. We don't have to investigate. We can hear something and we put it out. And then we're not held accountable for whether it was true or not. And it can take on a life of its own. And that's for any player.

And we're dealing with college kids who are growing up, and they're not professionals. And as educators, we're supposed to preserve and educate the kids that we have the honor to coach, and not to appease a quick-judgment, shallow-analysis type of judgment on things. And so that's all. And we're going to continue to do that. And we'll bear the praise or the criticism of what happens in that regard.

Q. Grayson said that the story didn't get circulated very much because he didn't want it circulated. Was the story written --
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: That's a shallow analysis. In other words, if somebody wanted to look deeper, it wouldn't ruin their story. A lot of people don't want their story ruined. They want to create a story. And by more in-depth analysis a lot of times the story would go away. And then you wouldn't have a chance to tweet it or have surveys or judgments or all these things that people have right now. And, again, so be it. But we can't live in that world, in the world -- I can't live in that world.

Q. It seemed that would have been a good story for the public to know, to balance it. But he said they wrote it just for Savannah's family and that's all he wanted.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: God bless them for doing that. And there's a lot of things all these kids do on all teams that go unnoticed that coaches do and whatever. But it's called using your platform the right way, and not just for bringing attention to yourself, but bringing maybe comfort, some help to people and not everyone needs to know it.

There doesn't have to be a TV camera or a Snapchat or a tweet of it or Instagram or anything. A lot of times that ruins it. That ruins it. And so, again, we're not the only -- look, there are a lot of these kids who do things like that. And he did that and he's done more. But we're not going to say, well, now it's okay that he tripped. We're not -- like he did that. That was wrong. But there's a lot more into it than that.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

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Duke Basketball Tournament Notebook

unnamed (3)So, it's an away game

It should be clear to many by now that the Duke team will face South Carolina in what will be an away game in the NCAA Tournament. Two things come to mind, one how did a ninth seed get such a great location and UNC fans will be pulling against Duke as well.  On the surface this seems like a foreboding task and makes one angry at the ongoing loss of money for the North State due to HB2.  But my thinking is Mike Krzyzewski will use this to his advantage.  What better way to get your team on its toes than to know the next game will be us against the world.  Duke should focus in even better knowing of the situation and that can overcome boo birds and all that comes with it.

unnamed (9)Grayson Allen

Duke seems to plays at their best when Grayson Allen is having success.  Yesterday, the team had no problem getting past their opponent when Luke Kennard scored under double digits for the second time this season.  The key for Allen is not to do too much as it is the rest of his teammates.  On the other hand, Duke will need Allen and fellow veterans to provide poise and a lift.  Allen will have to do so against what will probably be the most hostile crowd against him this season.  If he thrives on that, good things will happen.

A pet peeve

So last evening an extra ordinary amount of fans seemingly failed to enjoy their teams game.  The reason is they lit up my social media with ''What is wrong with Bolden...' '  No matter how many times I would say he was sick, people did not get it.  What is he supposed to do, high-five teammates and spread germs or sit in the middle of them?  It was as if common sense was not present and what followed was some of the most negative and worrisome comments during the live game.  It is not my job to constantly explain to the Chicken Littles in 140 characters on twitter about anything during a live game.  And to ask me or anyone else to do so during a live contest, well... Duke actually put out a statement this morning that Bolden was having flu-like symptoms.  Lastly, some of you hurt the team you pull for when you act like the world is ending or see everything in a negative light.

unnamed (5)Records galore

It is rare that a player has been around as long as Amile Jefferson has been fo Duke.  He is literally the senior captain on this team.  It is doubtful that any player will ever break his mark of the most games played in a Duke uniform.  While he benefitted from a redshirt season, the accomplishment is still a great one.  Meanwhile Mike Krzyzewski can extend his Sweet 16 record for appearances with a win on Sunday.  Duke has been a top 3 seed more than any other school since 1985, that number being an impressive 28 times.

unnamed (2)Enjoy him while you can

Jayson Tatum has been quite dominant of late and he will be a top pick in the coming NBA Draft.  The staff has worked him to where he's improved his stock greatly.  His ability to work all over the court and especially on the boards has been the key to his getting better. Instead of worrying about all the little things, Duke fans should embrace his final games in a Duke uniform.  He's just too good not to leave, although everyone would want to see him back for three more years.

Let Krzyzewski and his staff do their thing

Last night there was a needed light moment when Javin DeLaurier scored a basket nobody will soon forget.  The look on the players and coaches faces were priceless.  It was a well needed smile but now it's time to get down to business.  The games will get tight moving forward but there is no reason not to trust this staff to make continued adjustments.  Fans will worry about why so and so did not see minutes and get stuck in that negative thought or moment.  But far too many times, Krzyzewski has pushed the right buttons at the right time and a player has flourished.  Being around the program since he arrived, I have seen this move help this year and carry over onto the next season.  Trust the method and remember great players past like Nolan Smith, who did not play a lot as a freshman.

unnamed (15)Speaking of under the weather

I missed the first game myself with a bug, but will head down to Greenville, S.C. for the final games.  We hope you have enjoyed photos from my long time friend Lance King.  Be sure to follow our Blue Devil Facebook group or twitter feed to view him capturing great moments. Its's one game at a time now folks.  Duke has had a tough schedule all season and that now prepares the team for a tough second half match up.  The glass should always be half full for the fan base.

Lastly

Duke is practicing right now in a close session.  The team will address the media as will Coach K in a couple of hours so check back then for their comments.

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Duke Rips Troy – Coach K, Player Comments

dnc10Greenville, South Carolina

Duke - 87, Troy - 65

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Duke, coach Mike Krzyzewski and student-athletes Jayson Tatum and Grayson Allen.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, we beat a good team. I thought they had their team well prepared. All these teams that win championships, they got really hot at the end of the year in a very close-knit conference. And they can score the ball. They have -- all their kids can score and they're very well coached.

I thought we did a good job of defending the 3, which that's what they do. And that was going to be a key to the game. I thought our guys played hard and well. And one thing about March is everybody believes they can win, and they were not going to go away. Our guys did some things in the second half with the defensive rebounding.

Jayson was just terrific on the defensive boards -- nine defensive rebounds. And G was terrific. He gave us a huge lift at -- the three at the end of the half. But seemed like whenever we needed a bucket, he got it. And his passing was good.

We played well. We had to play well or else we would have gotten beat. Because they played well. And their coach can talk about it, but I was pleased with that first performance of ours.

Q. Grayson, toward the end of the season you've had great success coming off the bench. What do you bring to the team, and how has it worked for you coming off the bench?
GRAYSON ALLEN: Well, coming off the bench doesn't really change the player that you are, necessarily. It's just when you come in, my job is to give energy.

And most of the times when I'm coming in it's kind of right after that first media. And it's just to give the team that extra boost.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: And score points.

GRAYSON ALLEN: And score some points. But just come in and bring energy. And just I'm coming in with fresh legs right off the bench. So I'm just coming in to explode, really.

Q. Jayson, the fan reaction, when you touched the ball, does it motivate you at all? Do you hear it? What's your reaction when it goes on?
JAYSON TATUM: Well, it's something that I don't hear anymore. But we like playing in buildings where it's loud. So we hear the noise, and when there's noise in the crowd, it gives everyone on the court energy. And so we use that energy and play with it.

Q. Grayson, do you feel like coming off the bench, did it actually gives you a chance to see some things that maybe the guys on the court don't see, that when you come in you can contribute in a different way?
GRAYSON ALLEN: Yeah, when I'm on the sidelines to start the game I can definitely see how the game's going, what's open, what the defense is doing, what we need to do on offense and what's being successful for the other team.

And so when I come in -- while I'm watching the bench, make sure that I'm into the game, and so that I don't feel like I'm just slowly getting into it.

And so I know what's going on and I can go in and make some reads and maybe tell some of the guys what I see.

Q. Jayson, Coach mentioned your nine defensive boards, but you also had four steals and four blocks. Can you just talk about your effort tonight on that end of the court?
JAYSON TATUM: Yeah, we all played great on the defensive end. Not early but towards the second half. We were just talking more. That's what Coach emphasized the first half. Guys weren't talking on the defensive end. And we really paid attention to that in the second half, guys were talking. And I was just fortunate enough to come up with some loose balls.

Q. Is there room for improvement going into Sunday?
GRAYSON ALLEN: There's always room for improvement for us. That's why with the short turnaround you don't have much time to watch what you just did. You need to learn from it. And that's the goal here now that you're in the tournament is learn from winning and keep improving, because we know in the next round whoever it is we're going to play, they're going to be a really good team. And we need to show up a better team than we were tonight.

JAYSON TATUM: Just to piggyback off what he said, we can just learn from what we did today. And it's just a short turnaround. And it gets tougher each and every round. We know we're going to play a great team Sunday. And we're looking forward to it.

Q. Grayson, Jayson came out and made that first 3 to kind of start the game, and then you guys were able to hit a lot of 3s tonight. How key was that shot for you guys?
GRAYSON ALLEN: It was big. I thought it really started our offense off. And really started the game off for us. And for us to see the first shot go in, and kind of loosens it up for everyone else.

And then I thought we did a really good job of moving the ball around. And we did a good job kicking it and moving the ball fast, so when the ball's moving like that, the shots tend to go in.

Q. Both guys, talk about Frank Jackson and what he really has brought to the table the last couple of weeks. And what was Javin's shot? What was going on at the end of the game there?
GRAYSON ALLEN: Frank's done a great job. He keeps improving and getting better. He's like a running back at the point guard position -- he just goes and he's so strong that when he drives the ball he can finish. And he's playing great defensively.

And he just plays so hard and it really just -- I think it goes throughout the other guys on the team, just lifts everyone up. And I know Javin wanted to dunk that one at the end, but he'll take those two.

Q. I know defensive numbers are often a function of what's going on with the offense, especially a explosive offense like Duke's. Can you speak to the evolution of Duke's defense during the course of the year?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, I think we're a good defensive team. I don't think we're a great defensive team. I think we're a better offensive team than defensive team. And I think sometimes when you have guys who can score a lot, they're only going to be so good defensively, because at the end of the day they believe they can outscore you. Not that they're thinking about that while it's going on. But it just works out that way.

But we're a good defensive team. And we're switching up a little bit in the ACC Tournament, and this game we did a little bit of zone and what we call 32, it's a 2-2-1 press. And I thought that helped us.

It stopped their driving and kind of stood them up for a little bit. And we're just -- because they had good momentum. They had good momentum. They cut it to single digits. And they had really good momentum. And we kind of came back and then I thought that helped us.

Q. You coached a lot of first-round NCAA games over the years?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: 33, yeah.

Q. Some of them have been tight and difficult. Some have been fairly easy. Can you read anything into these games?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think there are more good teams. And there's not the so-called great teams and the poor teams or whatever.

I don't know if there are any great teams. There are teams that may be the best this year. But the difference between them and a team from the Sun Belt that wins, in Troy, is not -- it's not as big a difference.

And especially when you're playing the championship team, the championship team, because that means they've come off something really good. But they're champions. And that's how these kids played tonight.

I was really impressed with Troy and how they prepared for us. I thought they did a really good job -- I thought we played well. It's a 20-point game, but it was a hard, hard 20-point game because they played so well.

Q. You've done 33 of these, as you've said. I imagine some teams have more energy going into the tournament than others. And coming off four straight games last week, Coach, the energy level of your team tonight, are you happy with it?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, I thought we had good energy. I thought we started great. We've done some things in the week in between to get our guys rested and they prepared well. They warmed up well.

If you guys wouldn't do stuff to the court where we have to wait, I don't know who did that. One of you probably dropped a camera or did something. And we'd of had even better momentum until that happened. No, I'm just screwing around.

But, no, we were ready. Our guys were ready and they're fresh. And they just played well against us. We had to play well to win tonight.

Q. Are you going to watch this game as a fan or --
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: No, no, no.

Q. Are you going to be pulling for Wojo?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I'm just going to -- I can't think of it being Steve. He's like my son. And so I hope they do great. And we gotta play whoever. And so I'll watch from -- I don't like to go out on the court and watch. And I'll watch from behind the first half and then we're going to leave at halftime and then watch the rest of the game and prepare.

And whoever it is, you know, I think both teams -- they're different. One is a great defensive team in South Carolina. And they're coached by a good friend.

And Steve's team is an outstanding offensive team. They're the leading team in the country, 3-point shooting. So I'm just proud that he's brought his team there, just as I'm proud of Chris for what he's done at Northwestern. And I wish we weren't in the same pod, in the same bracket. But we are.

Q. Harry Giles was a huge reason for your ACC Tournament run. He didn't get a lot of minutes today. Was there anything behind that?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, he didn't play well. Did you watch the game? I mean, he fouled right away. And he has played well. And I thought the fouls affected him. He played -- he was young tonight, where when he got those two fouls and then when he had a chance to come in, he couldn't get rid of those two fouls.

And that's part of the experience he hasn't been able to get. But we have confidence and he'll play Sunday. And Antonio Vrankovich came in and gave us a few minutes that were really, really important. But we have confidence in Harry. He's still a young guy.

Q. Obviously the Jayson-in-the-right-block post area's become an increasing part of your offense. Are there more wrinkles you can do with him now that he's got that one down? Can you start to add more things like that?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I wish he would have had that one down a little bit better, where we scored on it. But yeah, we have other things in there.
Greenville, South Carolina

Duke - 87, Troy - 65

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Duke, coach Mike Krzyzewski and student-athletes Jayson Tatum and Grayson Allen.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, we beat a good team. I thought they had their team well prepared. All these teams that win championships, they got really hot at the end of the year in a very close-knit conference. And they can score the ball. They have -- all their kids can score and they're very well coached.

I thought we did a good job of defending the 3, which that's what they do. And that was going to be a key to the game. I thought our guys played hard and well. And one thing about March is everybody believes they can win, and they were not going to go away. Our guys did some things in the second half with the defensive rebounding.

Jayson was just terrific on the defensive boards -- nine defensive rebounds. And G was terrific. He gave us a huge lift at -- the three at the end of the half. But seemed like whenever we needed a bucket, he got it. And his passing was good.

We played well. We had to play well or else we would have gotten beat. Because they played well. And their coach can talk about it, but I was pleased with that first performance of ours.

Q. Grayson, toward the end of the season you've had great success coming off the bench. What do you bring to the team, and how has it worked for you coming off the bench?
GRAYSON ALLEN: Well, coming off the bench doesn't really change the player that you are, necessarily. It's just when you come in, my job is to give energy.

And most of the times when I'm coming in it's kind of right after that first media. And it's just to give the team that extra boost.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: And score points.

GRAYSON ALLEN: And score some points. But just come in and bring energy. And just I'm coming in with fresh legs right off the bench. So I'm just coming in to explode, really.

Q. Jayson, the fan reaction, when you touched the ball, does it motivate you at all? Do you hear it? What's your reaction when it goes on?
JAYSON TATUM: Well, it's something that I don't hear anymore. But we like playing in buildings where it's loud. So we hear the noise, and when there's noise in the crowd, it gives everyone on the court energy. And so we use that energy and play with it.

Q. Grayson, do you feel like coming off the bench, did it actually gives you a chance to see some things that maybe the guys on the court don't see, that when you come in you can contribute in a different way?
GRAYSON ALLEN: Yeah, when I'm on the sidelines to start the game I can definitely see how the game's going, what's open, what the defense is doing, what we need to do on offense and what's being successful for the other team.

And so when I come in -- while I'm watching the bench, make sure that I'm into the game, and so that I don't feel like I'm just slowly getting into it.

And so I know what's going on and I can go in and make some reads and maybe tell some of the guys what I see.

Q. Jayson, Coach mentioned your nine defensive boards, but you also had four steals and four blocks. Can you just talk about your effort tonight on that end of the court?
JAYSON TATUM: Yeah, we all played great on the defensive end. Not early but towards the second half. We were just talking more. That's what Coach emphasized the first half. Guys weren't talking on the defensive end. And we really paid attention to that in the second half, guys were talking. And I was just fortunate enough to come up with some loose balls.

Q. Is there room for improvement going into Sunday?
GRAYSON ALLEN: There's always room for improvement for us. That's why with the short turnaround you don't have much time to watch what you just did. You need to learn from it. And that's the goal here now that you're in the tournament is learn from winning and keep improving, because we know in the next round whoever it is we're going to play, they're going to be a really good team. And we need to show up a better team than we were tonight.

JAYSON TATUM: Just to piggyback off what he said, we can just learn from what we did today. And it's just a short turnaround. And it gets tougher each and every round. We know we're going to play a great team Sunday. And we're looking forward to it.

Q. Grayson, Jayson came out and made that first 3 to kind of start the game, and then you guys were able to hit a lot of 3s tonight. How key was that shot for you guys?
GRAYSON ALLEN: It was big. I thought it really started our offense off. And really started the game off for us. And for us to see the first shot go in, and kind of loosens it up for everyone else.

And then I thought we did a really good job of moving the ball around. And we did a good job kicking it and moving the ball fast, so when the ball's moving like that, the shots tend to go in.

Q. Both guys, talk about Frank Jackson and what he really has brought to the table the last couple of weeks. And what was Javin's shot? What was going on at the end of the game there?
GRAYSON ALLEN: Frank's done a great job. He keeps improving and getting better. He's like a running back at the point guard position -- he just goes and he's so strong that when he drives the ball he can finish. And he's playing great defensively.

And he just plays so hard and it really just -- I think it goes throughout the other guys on the team, just lifts everyone up. And I know Javin wanted to dunk that one at the end, but he'll take those two.

Q. I know defensive numbers are often a function of what's going on with the offense, especially a explosive offense like Duke's. Can you speak to the evolution of Duke's defense during the course of the year?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, I think we're a good defensive team. I don't think we're a great defensive team. I think we're a better offensive team than defensive team. And I think sometimes when you have guys who can score a lot, they're only going to be so good defensively, because at the end of the day they believe they can outscore you. Not that they're thinking about that while it's going on. But it just works out that way.

But we're a good defensive team. And we're switching up a little bit in the ACC Tournament, and this game we did a little bit of zone and what we call 32, it's a 2-2-1 press. And I thought that helped us.

It stopped their driving and kind of stood them up for a little bit. And we're just -- because they had good momentum. They had good momentum. They cut it to single digits. And they had really good momentum. And we kind of came back and then I thought that helped us.

Q. You coached a lot of first-round NCAA games over the years?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: 33, yeah.

Q. Some of them have been tight and difficult. Some have been fairly easy. Can you read anything into these games?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think there are more good teams. And there's not the so-called great teams and the poor teams or whatever.

I don't know if there are any great teams. There are teams that may be the best this year. But the difference between them and a team from the Sun Belt that wins, in Troy, is not -- it's not as big a difference.

And especially when you're playing the championship team, the championship team, because that means they've come off something really good. But they're champions. And that's how these kids played tonight.

I was really impressed with Troy and how they prepared for us. I thought they did a really good job -- I thought we played well. It's a 20-point game, but it was a hard, hard 20-point game because they played so well.

Q. You've done 33 of these, as you've said. I imagine some teams have more energy going into the tournament than others. And coming off four straight games last week, Coach, the energy level of your team tonight, are you happy with it?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, I thought we had good energy. I thought we started great. We've done some things in the week in between to get our guys rested and they prepared well. They warmed up well.

If you guys wouldn't do stuff to the court where we have to wait, I don't know who did that. One of you probably dropped a camera or did something. And we'd of had even better momentum until that happened. No, I'm just screwing around.

But, no, we were ready. Our guys were ready and they're fresh. And they just played well against us. We had to play well to win tonight.

Q. Are you going to watch this game as a fan or --
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: No, no, no.

Q. Are you going to be pulling for Wojo?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I'm just going to -- I can't think of it being Steve. He's like my son. And so I hope they do great. And we gotta play whoever. And so I'll watch from -- I don't like to go out on the court and watch. And I'll watch from behind the first half and then we're going to leave at halftime and then watch the rest of the game and prepare.

And whoever it is, you know, I think both teams -- they're different. One is a great defensive team in South Carolina. And they're coached by a good friend.

And Steve's team is an outstanding offensive team. They're the leading team in the country, 3-point shooting. So I'm just proud that he's brought his team there, just as I'm proud of Chris for what he's done at Northwestern. And I wish we weren't in the same pod, in the same bracket. But we are.

Q. Harry Giles was a huge reason for your ACC Tournament run. He didn't get a lot of minutes today. Was there anything behind that?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, he didn't play well. Did you watch the game? I mean, he fouled right away. And he has played well. And I thought the fouls affected him. He played -- he was young tonight, where when he got those two fouls and then when he had a chance to come in, he couldn't get rid of those two fouls.

And that's part of the experience he hasn't been able to get. But we have confidence and he'll play Sunday. And Antonio Vrankovich came in and gave us a few minutes that were really, really important. But we have confidence in Harry. He's still a young guy.

Q. Obviously the Jayson-in-the-right-block post area's become an increasing part of your offense. Are there more wrinkles you can do with him now that he's got that one down? Can you start to add more things like that?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I wish he would have had that one down a little bit better, where we scored on it. But yeah, we have other things in there.

And then one of the main things is that he can't -- he can't get down when he misses. And tonight he had that one finish where he should have just tried to dunk it instead of -- because he can hit free throws. The kid is really a good player. And he's getting better and better. And we'll use him, we'll go as many ways as we can.

The thing tonight to show that, you know -- nine defensive boards, 12 boards, four blocks, four steals -- that block he had right at the end of the half was sensational.

And he had a dunk attempt in the first half where I thought he got hit. Otherwise that would have been, like, the spectacular play of the game, besides Javin's. All right. Okay. Thank you.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

And then one of the main things is that he can't -- he can't get down when he misses. And tonight he had that one finish where he should have just tried to dunk it instead of -- because he can hit free throws. The kid is really a good player. And he's getting better and better. And we'll use him, we'll go as many ways as we can.

The thing tonight to show that, you know -- nine defensive boards, 12 boards, four blocks, four steals -- that block he had right at the end of the half was sensational.

And he had a dunk attempt in the first half where I thought he got hit. Otherwise that would have been, like, the spectacular play of the game, besides Javin's. All right. Okay. Thank you.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

unnamed (12)

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.