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February 21, 2011

Mike Krzyzewski

THE MODERATOR: We have with us Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski. Coach, if you could, a few comments about your team, and then we'll open it up for questions.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I'm ready for questions.

Q. Last week Jeff Bzdelik was talking about his struggles this year and equating them to some things you went through in your second and third year there at Duke?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I didn't hear you. I didn't hear the first part.

Q. Jeff Bzdelik, was talking about his struggles, him equating to what you went through in your second and third year in trying to establish your program. I was kind of wondering, how much looking at it now is it a disadvantage for new coaches like that trying to establish themselves dealing with like the Internet and message boards and things that you didn't have to back in your day?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I think anybody who is taking over a program where you're rebuilding at any time will face the challenges that that culture or the way the basketball society is at that time.
And I think it's important for the people involved to ignore the outside as much as you should ignore the outside when you're doing well.
In other words, don't respond to criticism and don't respond to praise and just build what you're supposed to build with the people that have hired you to build it. And so it's hard at any time. But it's a lot harder if you pay attention to all those things.

Q. I've got a complicated question here. I hope you'll indulge me here. The last seven years, your strength of schedule has always been in the top 10. This year it's 35. Part of that is that you've played some teams that were projected as Final Four contenders that maybe have struggled a little bit. Part of it might be that the league's RPI isn't as strong as it usually is. Can you talk about I guess the importance of playing Temple to challenge your team in a non-conference game and whether you have any concerns that your schedule may not have prepared you as much for the NCAAs as some of those top 10 in the past?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: No, I think we've played a really good schedule. And I think the fact that -- I think that the Bradley and St. Louis games, those two teams were projected to be really good. But St. Louis lost their two best players in the late summer. And I think they're doing better now. But they're not who they were supposed to be. And Bradley lost two kids.
And those two games came at a time right after we lost Kyrie. And you know it would have been good for this team, this group that's 17 and 2, to have gone through that.
But overall, this year, like 30th in schedule, that means you're probably a couple of games from being 12th, you know what I mean? So we've always played a really tough schedule. I thought we scheduled really well this year, play St. Johns, a veteran team and they beat us, and to now play Temple at this time, those are things that most people don't do. And we've done that every year.

Q. I'm sure you've been asked this question a couple times this year, but just writing something on Seth Curry this week for the Regina Tech game on Saturday. When he first arrived with you guys and you assessed his game, what were some things that he needed to do to get to the point where he is now and how has he gone about kind of working on those things?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, you know, there's an adjustment from playing at one level of Division I basketball and then the ACC level. And the main thing is speed. The athleticism. The heighth. The length, speed and athleticism of the people that you have to play against.
And so your strength and speed, the quickness that you have to develop to be successful in there, it's a process that you have to go through. Just like a high school player has to do it.
And some kids don't have the upside to get it done. Seth does have the upside to get it done and has gotten it done, because he's worked hard, he's listened, and he's smart. He understands that what he did before would not be successful in the environment that he's in now.
And that's a huge thing for any player to understand is that they have to change and then be receptive to change. And Seth has been. He's been terrific.

Q. In looking at Nolan's great year this year, how much of it is to him responding to the role he had to assume this season, and how much has he got better in certain areas even than he was last year?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, it's both. He was better with Kyrie. And when Kyrie went down, there was a lot more placed on him, a lot more attention focused on him. So to me what he's done has been remarkable, because he prepared to be in the back court with one of the outstanding players in the country, and then practiced that way and played eight games that way and did really well.
Then all of a sudden that player was injured and was out for the season. And now, in mid-December, you know, he has to assume a much -- he has much more responsibility and much more attention. And he's actually been better. And I think he's had a remarkable year.

Q. Mike, if I can follow up on Nolan a little bit. Does it ever get old for you, you've had so many great players to watch Ky develop throughout his career like he has, and this run he's on is, like you said, really remarkable?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: No, it's one -- you know, one, he's really a good kid. And a lot of times in our program we've had a player come in whether it be Luol Deng or Redick or Jason Williams, Leichtner, and they're just really good right from the start, I mean really good. And they get better.
Nolan has taken the route of he was good, but he wasn't a starter all the time. Came off the bench. And in the last two years has risen to the level of an elite, an elite player. I mean, a national player of the year candidate. And that's not done very much.
I mean, if you look at his stats over the last two years compared to the first two years, it's a big difference. And he's just been a hard worker and a great kid. And he's really taken his game to a high level.

Q. Four of the last six teams you've played have been held 40 percent or lower from the field. What do you like about what you guys are doing right now defensively?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, we're not committing as many -- we don't give live ball turnovers. People have to play against our half court defense, and our half court defense has been pretty good all season long. When we gave up a few more points, it's usually a game that we've had 15, 16, 17, 18 turnovers.
And when we keep it to nine, ten, you know, we got a good chance, a better chance to win. You know, we're pretty wide. We're pretty big, really, and wide. And our big guys have really come around. They've played really well this last month.
Kelly, the Plumlees, have been really good. And when Kyle goes to the second big, you know, Kyle is just a great defensive player. And whether he's on the man or he's on the help side, he's just -- he really anchors the defense for us.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about Kyle's current shooting whoas? I mean, he's playing very well, but he's just not getting the shot down. Is it a selection thing? Or is there some other --
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I don't know if there's any one thing. I think sometimes you just don't shoot as well. And what you hope, when you're not that good of a player and you don't shoot as well, you don't play as well. What to me is remarkable about that kid is every other aspect of his game is terrific. I mean, just terrific. He's still putting up except for the Virginia game he'll get 15 points or whatever, but he knows he had a chance, like last night, to get 25 or so.
But it has no impact on his defense. Like he did a great job on Rice. He's really one of the great defenders in the country. And he still has the spirit and whatever.
I think you just have to work your way out of the shooting thing, just don't let it affect other aspects of your game. I think at Virginia he let that for one of the few times in his career, let that affect how he played.
And he got frustrated. And he can't do that, because he's just so important for us, whether he goes 2 for 12 or 8 for 12. I mean, we won't win a really important game unless Kyle is playing with that spirit. And then if he hits his shots, then we're a lot better.
But, I don't know, just kind of a phase during the season kind of like a hitter who is a .320 hitter hitting .250. But we think that he will hit .320 and balance out for the season. But I'm proud of him because he's still handling all of the other of his responsibilities well.

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