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January 30, 2012

Mike Krzyzewski

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  I'm ready for questions.

Q.  I just wanted to get your thoughts on how Austin Rivers' season has gone so far.
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  It's gone well.  I mean, he's made good progression for a freshman, and obviously he can get a lot better.  To learn about all the things you need to learn about at this level is not easy.  But he's shown a willingness to learn, and overall he's had a really good year.  But I think he could have a much better ending of his freshman year if he keeps at it, and I'm sure he'll keep at it.

Q.  Can you talk a little bit about his personality, how he's been able to handle some of that pressure of coming in and playing for you guys immediately?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  You know, well, he's had pressure on him during his short career as a player, whether it be for his high school team or in the summer or playing for the United States.  So he's accustomed to that.  I think the thing for him is to learn about the speed at which the game is played, the physicality that it's played at, and also that when you're in high school and you're a star your senior year, you are the oldest guy on the court.  There's nobody older than you.  When you get to college, there are guys four, five years older than you who you're guarding and they're guarding you.  You can be playing against men.  And that's a big adjustment.
But again, that's the learning curve that all these guys have to go through.

Q.  Just to follow up on that, what growth have you seen in him this month, especially since the Wake Forest game a few weeks ago?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:¬† Well, I think he's been stronger in his offensive moves, and he can ‑‑ he has to keep getting better defensively.¬† He's had some really good defensive games and then a few others that he could do better in.¬† You know, he's still a work in progress, which he will be for a number of years, but he's still a young kid.

Q.¬† The fact that he's your leading scorer, albeit‑‑
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:¬† Yeah, I don't know if we have a leading scorer.¬† We have a real balanced attack.¬† So somebody has a half a point more than another or one point‑‑ a leading scorer is somebody who has a huge differential over the rest of the team.¬† Otherwise it's a balanced scoring attack, which is what we have.

Q.  I'm writing about Seth this week, kind of looking at his season.  I know you're asking him to do a lot of different things, point some, off the ball some, guarding on the ball, guarding off the ball.  How would you assess how he's handled things so far this season?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  Overall he's been good.  I think Seth can be a lot better.  In the last couple weeks he's not played to the level that he can play at, and some of it could be the change going back to handling the ball more or just being a human being, you know, where he's not shot the ball well.  I think one of the biggest things I'd like for him to do is not let his shot impact who he is as a player.  Who he is as a player shouldn't be a shooter; he should be a player.  And sometimes when you're really good at one aspect of the game like shooting, and he's not shot the ball as well lately, it impacts on other parts of your game.  You get to be inward.
It's not a bad attitude, it's just the wrong attitude.  You know, he understands he has a responsibility to put the ball in the basket and can do that, and when it's not going with the frequency that he thinks and we think it should, you kind of focus only on that, and it hurts other aspects of your game.

Q.  Is that causing him to force shots or is he getting the shots that you want within the offense?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:¬† He's gotten good shots.¬† I think against St.John's he forced a couple shots.¬† The other thing is he has to get to the foul line.¬† He's a guy with his body type that needs to be crafty, and when he gets fouled‑‑ when you're playing‑‑ this is for every team.¬† Guys get fouled who are shooting quite a bit, for every team that they're not called.¬† In other words, you have to play through contact.¬† It primarily happens in the post, but it can happen on the perimeter, and you have to be strong, crafty and sell your call.¬† Not fake, but when you do get fouled you've got to get fouled.¬† You have to be an experienced player, and I'd like to see him be more experienced in that aspect of it.

Q.  I was curious, with some of the players talking after Saturday's game about what they felt were some recurring issues, I guess, with the team, I wonder if there are any examples that immediately come to your mind of teams you've coached that changed who they were as the season went along and addressed issues they'd still be having trouble with for the latter part of the season.
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:  Well, the main recurring issue that we have is that we're winning.  To me that's the most fundamental issue that we're talking about.  And then other issues is to get consistency at a high level, both offensively and defensively, and pretty much that's what we're working on.
I like the first one, though, that we're playing at times really, really good.  And how can we play really good for longer periods of time.  So basically that's it.  That's where we're at.

Q.  Can I ask you about your defense?  You were pretty unhappy with the lack of defensive consistency, not just in the St.John's game but at times this year.  Is the problem losing focus and effort, or is the problem something tactically, fundamentally, physically with this team?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:¬† Well, I think one leads to the other.¬† Even the best dance team, if they're not‑‑ sometimes they feel like they don't dance as well at the end or whatever.¬† A lot of our defensive lapses occur when we have a lead.¬† And do you feel like you have enough, or are you now focused on something else, those type of things.
But I mean, look, overall, we have had to play pretty damned good defense in order to have the record we have against the competition we have.¬† I don't care what stats there are out there now.¬† When we get the leads the times, some of our worst defense has been with leads.¬† But in order to get the lead, you have to play good defense.¬† So what we're striving for is consistency, and when you're up by ten‑‑ I don't want to be down by ten very much.¬† Basically we've been doing that with a lead or at the start of a game.
You know, against Clemson, Clemson came out and started really strong against us, and Maryland did that.  And then all of a sudden we played great defense.  We're not inherently a defensive team, the mentality of these kids.  They're more offensive players.  But they've shown that they can play really good defense, and we just have to get it going for longer periods of time.

Q.¬† I realize team defense is fundamental in your scheme, but you've always had guys that you could count on for consistent defensive effort from a Nolan to a Billy King even.¬† Is there anybody on this team that you see as a consistent defensive force, or has‑‑
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:¬† Ty was our best defensive player, and usually when he's in a game, our overall defense is better, because he talks and he can defend multiple positions.¬† Look, you play with who you have, and we have good players.¬† We don't have Billy King.¬† We don't have Nolan Smith. ¬†We don't have Kyle Singler.¬† In two of those‑‑ well, all three of them, they're multiple‑position defenders.¬† They can defend multiple positions.
Our team does not‑‑ Tyler comes closest because he can defend the point and the wing, but our team is not made up of those kind of guys, and so it's a little bit‑‑ it's a different team than we've had, and we've known that since China and Dubai.¬† Again, we're not going to be this juggernaut defensively, but we have to keep striving to get better, and again, I hope that our only lapses are when we have big leads or when we have double digit leads.¬† That's a good spot to lead from, but then you're playing with fire because people can come back.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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