Coach K addresses the media aft his team lost to Oregon in the Sweet 16.
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: First of all, congratulations to Oregon. They were the better team. That was pretty obvious tonight. They were an old, extremely well-coached team. Great athletes playing together and they knocked us back. They were always in control of the game. Right at the end I thought we could do a Texas A&M thing there when we got it down to 10 and got the three and it rimmed out. But then like amazing things have to happen.
I'm proud of my team. My team had just a great, great year. With the injuries and youth and limited guys, for them in our league to win 25 games, and Sweet Sixteen, just a terrific group. A terrific year, and proud of them. Wish we could have played better, but Oregon didn't let us play better.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Krzyzewski.
Q. Coach, looked like you spent some time talking to Dillon Brooks after the game. I wonder if you could share what you spoke to him about and if you could address that.
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, I just congratulated him. He's a terrific player. He's a terrific player. He makes their team go. He doesn't have a position. He doesn't have a position. He plays all positions, and he plays them so strong. His versatility, Dana uses it so well. They have a few guys like that, but obviously he's the best one. He's the best one.
One thing I should have mentioned right away, Benson had a great game. The threes he hit to start the second half, I thought we were in a good mood to get going and he knocked down those two. To get eight assists and only one turnover, he's like an unsung hero for their team, with all the athletes and the blocked shots and all of that. The game he played, the floor game and the shots he hit were terrific.
Q. Mike, you've been to the Elite Eight many times. It will be the first time for Dana Altman. What would you say to a coach who has been doing this a long time --
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, congratulations first of all. That's what I'd tell him. For any coach who gets there, that's an honor, and you don't know if you're ever going to get there again. You're one step away from -- I think as a coach, we all would like to win National Championships. But you cross a certain bridge when you go to the Final Four. And some of the great coaches in the history of our game have never gotten to the Final Four. So you're one step away.
I think every coach knows, especially him, he's been coaching for three decades. I mean, he's a really good coach. He understands that. He's coaching against another really good guy. You talk about two of the really good guys in the profession, he and Lon are pros. But that's one step away from utopia, and I don't know, National Championships, the penthouse, and wherever utopia is. Thank goodness we've been there a few times.
Q. Coach, the offensive rebounds and the rebounds in general were again a point of emphasis and a big discrepancy --
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Not as big as it usually is. We're not 20 or 30 behind.
I don't think the rebounding had much to do with it tonight. You know, the blocked shots, their athleticism where you think you're open and then they're so good laterally and then they have guys that go vertical. That combination, if you do get past the lateral on the drive, boom, the other stuff is there. That combination was, to me, something you just don't face very often. You can't -- first of all, we don't practice that much, we can't, but you can't simulate that. Actually, rebounding-wise we weren't as bad. It was just the other stuff.
Q. Coach, I know he wasn't up here earlier, but Marshall Plumlee, his last game for Duke. What will you miss most about him but not only that but the fact that there won't be a Plumlee on your roster next year?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I'd rather not talk about the Plumlees. I'd rather just talk about Marshall. No kid has improved more in one year in my 36 years here at Duke than Marshall. He was as important a player as we could have especially after Amile got hurt, the amount of minutes, the situations that he was put in. He had a fabulous year for us, and that's what I'll remember.
I'm proud of him. I love the kid. There is no way we have the season -- we've had a terrific year. Not a good one, we've had a terrific year, and he's one of the main reasons for it. In his profession, hopefully he's going to be a pro player, but the service, the best thing you could say, because I was in the service and a captain in the Army, is "well done", and that's what I would say to him, "Well done, son. Well done."
Q. I know it's really fresh, but taking a step back, looking back, would you say that this team met or exceeded your expectations coming into the Tournament?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, we expect to win every time we go on the court or else I shouldn't coach, you know. That doesn't mean we're going to, but when we started the year, we had four guys coming back, who only one of them started, from the National Championship and we have a lot of young guys. Then we lost our best rebounder and leader on the court. Our team could not even have been in the Tournament. Instead this group of kids fought like crazy and went through a gauntlet of Louisville, Virginia, North Carolina, and Louisville, and we won three and almost won the fourth one and it made us. It knocked us back, too. It knocks a lot out of you, but it defined the season and put us in a position where we're No. 4 seed and pretty good.
I wish we could be more fresh and all that, but you go into all those battles, you can't be. That's why I'm proud of my guys. I mean, they still battled at the end. There was a part of that game where you could just get blown out because they're hitting threes and they're playing so well and they're in control. All of a sudden, again, I'm not saying -- not like I believe in the Easter Bunny, don't tell anybody, or fairy tales, but when we got it down to 10 and Brandon had the three at the top, I've been involved in stranger things. I thought my team, if you hit that, they're gutsy enough to win. So that's why I love them.
It wasn't smooth for us tonight, but, again, playing them it's not going to be very smooth. They're so good.
Q. How long do you think about a game like this before you have to switch your mind and prepare for coaching Team USA?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, well, I owe it to my group to be their coach and make sure that they feel the pride that we feel for them in what they've done, and then make sure as they move on, whether it's a freshman to a sophomore, whatever, that we put them in the right spot.
But, you know, I have a hard time when you lose and you've been a loser. When you lose and you've been a winner, I'm okay with that because not everybody wins. That's why winning this whole thing, there aren't very many. There's only one team that's going to win this whole thing.
So I take pride in what my guys -- they were winners this year, and I want to make sure they feel that and then they get in the right spots academically, basketball, what Brandon is going to do, Marshall, all these kids. That's my responsibility.
But I'll be ready. I've got a little medical procedure I've got to take care of, but I'll be ready for USA.
Q. Mike, when you look back at your scouting of Oregon, what does Jordan Bell offer that Chris Boucher does not, even though they're both tall, they're both post players and they're similar in that regard?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, they're both good. They're two of the best shot blockers in the country. You know, Boucher is somebody that stretches you with shooting and Bell is athletic and inside. But both of them protect the rim. When they have both of them in the game, it's tough to get there.
But they're both terrific players, so there's not going to be that much difference except that one shoots threes and the other one doesn't.
Q. Apparently after the game Dillon said that you told him that he was too good of a player to be showing off at the end like that --
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I didn't say that.
Q. He said of you that you were right.
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: You can say whatever you want. Dillon Brooks is a hell of a player. I said, "You're a terrific player." And you can take whatever he said and then go with it, all right?
I want to thank all of you. I want to thank all of you, and thank you, especially, for following us and following us so well during the year. I appreciate the invitation to play in this great tournament more than anybody. We've been in it longer than everybody, and we lost to a hell of a team. We lost to a hell of a team. And all the volunteers that make this tournament what it is, we want to thank them for that because it's the greatest show on Earth, and it's the greatest show on Earth, and it's an honor to be a part of it. All right. Thank you.