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February 14, 2011

Mike Krzyzewski

THE MODERATOR: We have with us Duke head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski. Coach, if you could, a few comments about your team, then we'll open it for questions.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I'll just open it up for questions.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Krzyzewski.

Q. Was there something that you saw recently perhaps in practice in Seth Curry's game that allowed him to come up to be that third option?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: No, I think it's been more of a gradual process. Remember, Seth had to sit out last year. Whether it be injury or redshirt or transfer, when you're away from competition, that hurts you.
The game that he was getting prepared to play with Kyrie is different than the one he's playing now. So his pre-season was a little bit different. All of us have had to adjust since Kyrie. He's really worked hard. Seth has really worked hard.
He started and has been a contributor in a number of the games. But in the last two he's played in an exceptional manner. But I think it's been a gradual process. He's playing with some really good speed. He's making a lot of plays, not just shots.

Q. Over the course of your coaching history, your teams coming off a loss have rebounded quite well. St. John's in Madison Square Garden, your team has been undefeated since then. What do you hope to improve upon from this point forward?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Everything. If anything, everything. Is that a quote? Probably somebody said that sometime (laughter).
No, we're still very much a developing team. People are going to lose. Everybody loses. You just don't want to lose a lot. When you do lose, you want to use it as some way to improve, figure out why you lost, then make corrections.
We have a lot of young guys. We only have nine scholarship players. Seven of them are kids that have never had a definitive role of significance as far as high caliber of play. They're all developing that. They're doing a good job. You just have to keep solidifying that, getting them better.

Q. A question about having young guys. Compared to last year when you started three seniors and two juniors, what is the difference in terms of terminology, understanding what you want from them in contrast to last year?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, you can have a veteran team that's not real good or you can have a veteran team that was really good. We had one that was really good. Basically they're dependable on every play, to each other, to us. There are really no surprises. They played every possession, they attempted to play it very well. They never had fluctuations as far as their confidence levels, ego. They knew they were good. They knew they were a close-knit group. That dependability is something that's worth a lot.
What we're trying to do with our team is develop that as this season goes along. This group has had since about mid December till now to do it. I think they're doing a good job. They're good kids. We're a good team right now. We just hope we can stay healthy and get better.

Q. Clearly you've had a relationship with Seth's family for a while. It happened quite quickly he transferred. Was that one of the reasons, is you already had somewhat of a built-in relationship with his family?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, we knew them well. Once we heard that he transferred, we made it apparent that we really wanted him. They were kind enough to visit us right away. When they visited us, they saw what they wanted. It went pretty fast. That's good for everybody involved because they wanted to come, we absolutely wanted them to come. They bring a great family along with a great kid.

Q. Virginia got your kids' attention that first game. What do you see from them, what concerns you?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Just the fact that they play hard all the time. They've been in every ballgame, had chances obviously to win a few more. You're like one possession away from a few more wins.
They just play hard, smart, and they play together. They use their resources collectively very well. It's not one person you're defending; you're defending them. It's not one person you're trying to score against; you're trying to score against them.
We expect a really hard-fought game on Wednesday night. We have a lot of respect for what they're building there and the kids they have in their program. They have good young players and they play hard. You have to beat them; they won't beat themselves.

Q. Can you talk about the way you use Kyle defensively on a hot three-point shooter.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think he's as good a defender as there is in the country. Kyle really can defend the one through five. At halftime Wojo says, What do you think about putting Kyle on Grant? I said, The only bad thing about that is it wasn't my idea. I think it's a great idea.
He'll fight everybody. He gets through screens. A beautiful part of his game is when he's off the ball and he's a help-side defender, how he orchestrates our defense. He's very much like Battier in that regard. I think defensively he's very similar to Shane. I think he can actually guard the perimeter, more perimeter positions, than Shane. Shane was one of the best talkers we've had as far as on defense, coordinating an effort. But Kyle is right there. Kyle is one of the great defenders that have played here.

Q. The joy you get in coaching seniors when their understanding of the game mixes with the experience and the system, the college game, the plus that is as a coach to be able to work with those kind of guys.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It's terrific. I think one of the main things is the level of trust that's developed over a four-year period as opposed to a one-, two- or three-year period, especially from a youngster who has been a starter or key player during all or most of that time. Then you have lifelong relationships with them. Their senior year, they can anticipate your needs and you can anticipate theirs, not just individually but for what the team needs. There's no hesitation as far as what to say to one another.
It's really a great thing, these last two years, to have the seniors that we've had in each of these two years, as opposed to we had a lot of young teams for a couple of years.
It's more like old school, more of having like the guys on my staff, Chris and Wojo, Nate, see well, when they were seniors, how good they were. That's what I'm seeing with these kids.

Q. You talked over the summer about how strong your bond with Nolan had become after his first two years. You used the term 'unbelievable' to define how close you've become. I'm sure that's only heightened.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It's like yesterday. Nolan really got knocked back. He had a pretty tough injury, an eye injury. We weren't sure he was going to play. Then he came back. I tried to get him back in the game the first half just so he at least could get a feel for it. He had two fouls, so we took him out at halftime, to just talk about it. A younger player, I'm not sure they can respond like he responded.
His performance in the second half was a very special performance because he had 16 points and I think five assists, then his total disregard for, Hey, I know I was hurt, but I'm not going to use that as a crutch.
When a player doesn't fight his injury, but fights his opponent, it shows a level of maturity that is at the highest levels in competition. That's hard to do. Only some really good-character players can do that, and Nolan is that.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks for taking time being with us.

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