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February 7, 2011

Mike Krzyzewski

THE MODERATOR: We have with us now Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Coach, if you could, a few comments about your team, then we'll open it up for questions.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, we were pleased with a road win and a home win last week. They had a day off yesterday. It's been a good, long stretch for these guys. They played well Saturday night against NC State. Everyone seems healthy and ready to go for another big week.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.

Q. You've often said that Duke and North Carolina is a great celebration of college basketball. When did you first sense that?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: As soon as I came to Duke. I didn't grow up in ACC country. I wasn't as aware of it. Me growing up, there wasn't much on TV either. But once I got down here, you could feel the passion for it really all year long. You knew it was a very special thing.
As you got to know about the ACC, the tradition, also the tradition of the two programs, very, very unique rivalry. The two programs have done so well in the history of the game, it makes it the best game.

Q. It's only been the last 15 years or so, like you said, you've become television partners, though, right?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, a little bit longer than that. I think if you looked in the history of the league, the key ingredient for negotiations has always been the placement of the two Duke-North Carolina games and the growth of ACC basketball over these last few decades. These games have been the linchpin, so to speak, in what could be done.

Q. I was wondering if you could kind of tell me, if you watched film on North Carolina, what you think of the way Harrison Barnes is playing right now? I know he's a guy that you recruited heavily.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: We would watch him even if we didn't recruit him heavily. We watch all their players no matter who recruited them.
Obviously I've watched quite a bit of them in the last day and a half. They're just functioning at a really high level, especially on the offensive end of the court. Barnes is magnificent. He's averaging over 20 points a game. He's hit big shots for them. I mean, when you average over 20 points a game in the ACC, then you're playing really well. So he's doing a great job for them.

Q. In terms of the keys to beating Carolina, what do you see as the defense's challenges you're going to see with their offense playing so great of late?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Everything. They're averaging 90 points a game over the last four games. I mean, they can get it down the court quickly. They can score from multiple positions, inside and outside. They're rebounding well.
I mean, there's not one key or couple keys; you have to defend them all over the place.

Q. Have you been pretty pleased with your defense of late?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I've been pleased with my defense all year, except for the St. John's game. Our kids have worked really hard defensively.

Q. I've been asking a few coaches this question. Is there a difficult or delicate balance to strike with players getting information or being pulled by parents or outsiders in terms of playing time or how they're being used? Is that something you've had to deal with or is it an easy issue?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: No, I mean, I think since God invented parents and teams, those things are always a consideration. I mean, the relationships that you have with parents, guardians of the players you coach, that's established during recruiting. The honesty that you have with them, here is where things stand, here is where we think you're going to sit, here is where you're going to have to work. They want feedback along the way. Some get that from the assistant coaches. Some parents just say, hey, he's yours, I got confidence in you, do whatever you need to do to make him a better man and a better player.
It's just varies over the years. There hasn't been a team that I've coached that I haven't had relationships with the parents on. I mean, it is their son. It's important for them to know what we're thinking and to have dialogue throughout.

Q. Without naming names, have there been parents or somebody else, an uncle, AAU coach, that to you has gotten out of line?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think, again, in anything there are times where the person you're talking to doesn't see it the way you see it. So, yes, I mean, that happens quite a bit. I'm in my 36th year. I mean, that's happened a number of times. But you try to get some resolution because sometimes they don't see something. Sometimes you don't.
It doesn't mean that there's a confrontation or anything like that. It's just good, honest discussion about where things are at.

Q. How much incentive do you think last season's team had, Mike, in trying to break the four-game losing streak?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think absolutely none. I think the game last year wasn't about a losing streak. We had to win that game in order to share the regular-season title. I mean, that was the key motivation to last year.
Our program is not built on breaking streaks or the history of what our record is. It's about that current game and the importance of that game. If you start building things based on streaks and stuff like that, you don't concentrate on championships.
Really, the records of the past never enter into our motivation for what's happening right now. Like the game on Wednesday night, the team who wins will be in first place in our conference. To me, that is the motivation for that game. Last year that's all we talked about: we need to win, and we need to win in order to make sure we get a share of the regular-season title.
Once we got that, then we won the tournament championship, then we went into the Final Four and won the national championship. If we were just going to break a streak, we never would have learned what it would take to win a championship. That's the type of thinking I want from my basketball team all the time.

Q. Before the season, Seth Greenburg said he sends a letter to parents saying he'll talk about anything they want to talk about. Do you do anything similar to that? If a parent does want to talk about playing time, how do you handle that?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I don't send any letters out to anybody. We just talk to people. We see them. A lot of the parents come to a lot of their games. If somebody had an issue, I would just sit down with them and talk to them straight out.
I mean, that's not a problem. That's what people do. Face-to-face communication is the best thing. That's what we would do in any situation like that. And whatever the result is, who knows what the result would be, but it would be the truth. It wouldn't be the truth written; it would be the truth said with eye-to-eye contact.

Q. The development of Mason Plumlee as a rebounder. In what ways has he become a better rebounder this season?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: He's always been a good rebounder because he's 6'11", he's big, has good hands. I just think he's learned to be a better rebounder as a result of getting experience, playing time, getting accustomed to the physicality that a big guy has to get accustomed to once he comes to the collegiate scene at this level.
He's been outstanding on the boards. But he's always been a good rebounder. He's getting better, which hopefully that's what players do, especially guys who can be really good players, they just keep getting better. Mason is in the process of getting better right now.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thanks for taking the time for being with us today.

End of FastScripts

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