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February 6, 2012

Mike Krzyzewski

MIKE FINN:¬† We're now joined by Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski.¬† In the last 75 meetings between Duke and North Carolina in basketball, Duke scored 5858 points.¬† North Carolina scored 5857 points.¬† A one‑point differential over their last 75 meetings.
Coach, we'll go ahead and go to questions unless you want an opening statement.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  I'm ready for questions.  Thank you.
MIKE FINN:  Questions for CoachK.

Q.  Obviously yesterday was a disappointing day.  Is there something more systemic with this team that has been bothering you for the last few weeks?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† Again, overall our team's done a good job being 19‑4.¬† In our league, we're two possessions from being undefeated or two possessions from being 4‑4 on the other side of it.
These games, especially in conference, turn out to be like attention to detail where you have to make a play.  In yesterday's game, it still boiled down to you have to hit a free throw.
When you win a number of games, sometimes your attention to detail is not where it needs to be.  The games we're involved in now and will be for the rest of the year, hopefully we make the NCAA tournament, you train for that.  That's what we're trying to drive into our guys:  the importance of every play, especially down the stretch.

Q.  Amazing stat Mike just gave.  You often say the Duke/Carolina game is a true celebration of college basketball.  When did you first sense you were involved in something more special than any other game in the sport?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  Right away.  The first game I coached against them in the Big Four, the intensity of both teams, and the fans, it was just different.  It was at the highest level.  I think the teams bring that out in one another.  The fans and the teams bring it out from one another, too.
It's the anticipation of a great event on both sides.  They've been great games.  Most of them have been really great games.  Win or lose, terrific games.

Q.  Bernard James from Florida State, can you tell me what you think he brings to the table as an opposing big man.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  Well, what he brings to the court is maturity, first of all.  He's a man.  He's 27 years old, has been through quite a bit.  There's nobody in our league who brings more maturity to the court than he does.  Physical, mental, emotional.
Then his skill set.¬† He's a tremendous shot‑blocker and offensive rebounder and a very unselfish, outstanding player.¬† In other words, he's all about what the team is doing.
Everybody in our league would want him on their team.

Q.¬† Mike, with last week's announcement of the partners in the future for basketball, a lot of fans in Maryland and other places are upset that certainly rivalries are going to be changed.¬† Is that just the by‑product of what's happening in college sports or do you think the league should look at rivalries and history or the reality of what makes sense financially?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  Well, I don't think it's a financial decision.  I'm in full agreement with what the league is doing in that I think it was a mistake that we made when we added three teams about 10 years ago, in that we didn't brand the whole conference.  It's not just the traditional rivalries.  Again, we made up rivalries at that time by having two permanent partners.  I think it showed that two teams were more important than the rest of the conference.  I think that hurt us.
In this way, we keep one traditional rivalry.  But we have to establish rivalries.  There has to be a rivalry established with Syracuse and Pitt, the new members.  I don't think that was done as well.  I think the way they're going to do it is better for the entire conference.  I applaud them for making that decision.

Q.  The Duke/Maryland rivalry up here has meant a lot.  Do you feel that rivalry will be changed by playing only once a year?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  For me, every team that plays against us has a rivalry.  I respect the heck out of Maryland, and Gary, what he did, what Mark's trying to do in building his own program.
But we can't look at that game as the end all.  We have to look at every game in the conference equally because everybody looks at us that way.  And so my feeling is, that's the way I've felt the entire time.
Again, with utmost respect for Maryland, because they've beaten us, we've beaten them.  But we've had great, great games.  You want to have great games throughout the whole conference.  Usually the team that plays against us, especially when we're on the road, or anywhere, it becomes a huge game for them.  That's something we've been accustomed to for 25 years.

Q.  As far as the North Carolina game on Wednesday, what are you stressing to your team this week in terms of what the keys will be?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† Is this a 10‑minute answer (laughter).¬† We're going to stress more than I can talk to you about.
The main thing is to be prepared for playing the most talented team in our conference, and maybe the most talented team in the country.¬† They have great experience.¬† I mean, they have four guys who are on the pre‑season Wooden Award.¬† They can be an offensive juggernaut, especially at home.
I mean, we have to play really good defense in order to have an opportunity to beat them.

Q.  Are you worried that you are not capable of doing that or do you think this team can bounce back pretty quickly from yesterday to Wednesday?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  I've never gone into a game thinking that we can't win.  So I'm not going to change during the late stages of my career.  So we're going to prepare to win, just like we will on Saturday when we play Maryland.

Q.  Can you give me your thoughts, pro and con, about the transfer rule for graduates, allowing them immediate eligibility?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  Well, it's something that needs to be really discussed.  I think the very first thing is you never want to hurt a young man's opportunity to do what he wants to do.  In other words, if he finds that another school has a graduate program that is better than the school he has, I mean, probably that's the deciding factor.  It can seem unfair, like you can pick up a free agent, especially in college, an older and mature free agent.
I think I would vote on the basis of what's best for the young man.  But it's something that should be discussed, there's no question about it.  I don't know who discusses that, since nobody runs college basketball, but somebody should discuss that.

Q.  Do you see that increasing in years ahead?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† I don't know.¬† I don't know.¬† Probably people will spend a lot more time figuring out if they should redshirt a kid.¬† I mean, that's part of it.¬† I mean, that's what lends itself to somebody doing that.¬† You've redshirted him, and now the school's four‑year investment in him paid off on the fifth year, but the youngster leaves.¬† Again, that's not the youngster's fault.¬† He's done whatever you've asked him to do.
MIKE FINN:  Coach, thanks for being with us.

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