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February 25, 2013

Mike Krzyzewski

THE MODERATOR:  We have with us now Duke head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski.  We'll go right to questions for Coach Krzyzewski.

Q.  Coach, talk a little bit about the progress of Rasheed Sulaimon has made.  He's been a defensive factor for you all season.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  He's been a starter all season.  He made a lot of progress to be a starter right at the start of the season.  He was a key factor to us getting off to a good start when Ryan was healthy and since then has had to do more.
I think he's had a great week at Virginia Tech and against Boston College.  He's a key guy for us because he's got to be a really good defender.  He's our tallest perimeter guy of our first four guys on the perimeter, when you have Quinn, Seth, Tyler and Rasheed.  He gets matchups that are tough matchups and has done well.
So we're really pleased with Rasheed.  I think he's had a great year and he happens to be a freshman.  He's had a great year for any player, but as a freshman, it's been terrific.

Q.  What are the skills that go into making him such an effective defender on the perimeter, which is not an easy place to guard people?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  Well, he's an outstanding athlete to begin with.  He has long arms.  He has a body that can get into a defensive stance better than most people.  He's made that way.
But he has exceptional quickness.  A huge thing for a freshman is to figure out how tough it is to do it game in and game out.
For a freshman to do that in our program, every game we play is a huge game.  We're 24‑3.  For them to play that way on a 24‑3 team, having a major injury in the last 12 games, it's exceptional.  It's exceptional.  He's not on a team that's .500, you're in games where you can pad your stats, things like that.  His stuff, the game's on the line.
So I'm really proud of him.  I knew he'd be good, but he's turned out from necessity.  Part of it is Seth's injury, not allowing him to practice very much has allowed Rasheed in a practice to take a more dominant role.  That was one of the benefits of Seth not practicing.  I'd rather have him practice, but Rasheed has taken advantage of that.

Q.  A question about Miami.  Is there anything alarming that you read into their loss over the weekend at Wake?  What do you need to do differently to change the outcome of that game?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  You know what, I'm not looking at Miami right now, I'm looking at Virginia, so...
I didn't watch their game against Wake Forest.  I don't really know who they are currently.  We haven't played them for a while.  I'm not a good guy to comment on Miami.
I'm not surprised when anyone loses.  I mean, people lose because people are playing good teams and we have a good league.  Again, to me the story about them is how much they've won, not that they've lost a game.  They've had a terrific year, just a sensational year.

Q.  You are sick of answering this, but any timeline on Ryan Kelly yet?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  No, but he's moving along really well.  We're very optimistic.  We know he's going to return.  We've taken a good amount of time to make sure that he's in a position, a really good position.  You don't want to rush things.
But he is going to be back hopefully before the end of the regular season.  We feel like he will be, but he's got to keep progressing.  Thanks for asking about him.

Q.  Mike, you're taking on a Virginia team who has won 15 games in a row at home.  Seems like a lot of teams around the league play significantly better at home than on the road.  Is that just kind of the nature of basketball or do you sense it's become any greater than it has been?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  Well, statistically it's greater this year, especially with like the top half of our league, top half being record‑wise right now.  Teams have really played even better at home.
Again, you'd rather play at home than away, so there's a certain comfort zone there.
I haven't watched them as much as I will watch them.  Last night after our game and this morning in watching tape of them, they're just a really good basketball team.  It's a team that fans would like.  Your fans would really love a team the way that Tony's put his team together.  So they're going to have even a little bit more confidence.
They're just a good basketball team.  Harris is really one of the better players in the country.  He's a warrior.  He reminds me of Singler as far as their toughness.  They're a little bit different players, but their toughness.  They play every play.  He's terrific.  He's one of the favorite players that I've watched, not just in our conference but around the country.  I think he's that good.

Q.  Regarding the home versus road angle, they're playing freshmen.  Do you think that has something to do with it, particularly for freshmen, they're much more comfortable at home?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  I think a freshman probably is that.  We play freshmen at times.  We started two freshmen.  I think early on it really helps you.  Look, we all would rather play at home.  So I guess the younger you are, it helps you a little bit more.
But for their team, having Harris, Mitchell and Evans as upperclassmen, you have a point, a great player in Harris, and Mitchell, who is having a terrific year, you have stability, high performance at three key areas.  When you are a freshman, in a home environment, you're playing with some good players, guys who are winners.
I mean, I really like Virginia's team.  I think they're real good.

Q.  When you look at Virginia through January, they were playing one of the slowest tempos in the country, in the bottom 20.  In the last month they've really picked it up.  They've been averaging close to 80 points a game.  What do you see that's changed with their offense in the last month or so?  Are they playing faster or just more efficiently?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  I think they play a little bit faster.  With the newness of certain guys on the team, with their freshmen, you get acclimated.
I don't think they're a slow‑down team, I think they're a smart basketball team that will take opportunistic shots.  When they get a good shot, they'll take it.  They're more so an efficient team, they're a very efficient offensive team.

Q.  How do you manage this week?  You got three days to get ready for Virginia, then you have to come back 48 hours later with a big game.  Do you take it a little easier during these three days?  Today is a day off.  But do you take it easier knowing not only you have a game Thursday night, you have another one less than 48 hours later?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  It's an unusual week.  Scheduling‑wise it's been a very weird month for our basketball team regarding preparation and other team's preparation for you.  This week is a difficult one.  We won't get a good preparation day on Friday, then we play on Saturday.
THE MODERATOR:  Coach, thanks for taking time being with us today.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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