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March 4, 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, Saturday night, you've seen a lot of brilliant performances of players in your history at Duke, how does Ryan Kelly's performance match up?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  It's a completely different type of performance.  Other guys performed while they were in good health, with practice.  I've seen some exceptional performances from players over the last 33 years.  But nobody had a performance like Ryan, considering the fact that he was out for 51 days, really practiced part of one practice.
It's one of a kind.  In awe of what he did really.

Q.  How does him coming back differ from when Kyrie Irving came back a couple years ago and seemed to disrupt the flow of the team, where Ryan Kelly stepped in and seemed to elevate the team?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  Kyrie Irving did not disrupt the flow of the team.  I think we were a really good team and Kyrie gave us a chance to be an exceptional team.  In some ways Ryan disrupted our team on Saturday.  I thought we were standing around and watching him.  He disrupted it in a really nice way.
But still there's a period of transition.  To think that there's no transition just because he had this exceptional performance would be naïve for me to think that.  So I'm not going to think that.
The other thing is no one really took Ryan's position at the level that he had played it before.  So they didn't redefine a position.  It shortened the court on us and made us less of a defensive team because Ryan is an outstanding defender.
I think, to be quite frank with you, that had more significance defensively than offensively.  So him coming back, he really doesn't change anybody's role at all, he just makes everybody's role better.

Q.  Ryan and his impact on the defense, is it the kind of way he directs traffic on defense?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  I think in a number of ways.  First of all, he guarded.  Just take an Ohio State game, he guarded Deshaun Thompson.  He's guarded outstanding players.  When he's guarded them, they've always scored less than their average.  They haven't had as significant of an impact on the game as they normally do.
The other thing, he's a great help defender.  His talk on defense helps put everybody in position.  He's a great position defender.  He knows the game.  His intelligence, his basketball IQ, is very, very high.
He impacts the game in every way.  That's why losing him for 13 games was such a significant loss.  Although I'm not sure people wanted to say that.  In fact, I know they didn't.  But he was.  That's why our guys did such a great job when he was gone because we lost a lot.
Now, can we become really comfortable with him being back during these next couple weeks?  That's the goal, to get back to the level that we were at when we had him on a continuous basis.  That's our goal.  That's what we're trying to do.

Q.  Josh Hairston got a lot of extended minutes when Ryan was out.  In what way is his game different or better than it was before?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  I think the primary way is he has more confidence.  I would think Amile Jefferson does, too.  They both started games.  They've made big plays and wins.  They've been out on the court in critical end‑of‑game situations, some that we've won and some that we've lost.
Just the experience of having been in those situations is invaluable.  I mean, that's a plus from having Ryan injured, that we got that type of playing time, court experience for those guys.

Q.  I was curious how Ryan came out physically after the other night.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  Good.  I just saw him a few minutes ago.  Yesterday we only watched tape.  We've been on this murderous schedule really during the last few weeks.  All our kids are a little bit rundown.  But he felt pretty good.  Sore, but his foot wasn't sore.  His body was sore.  He feels pretty good now.
We won't have a rigorous workout today, but we'll go through our game plan and try to move ahead and get prepared for Virginia Tech tomorrow night.  But he's feeling pretty good.

Q.  I was wondering, once you did review the film from Miami, what did you see that you would like to improve as you get more work in with Ryan?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  With Ryan?  I mean, I'd like for him to play that way all the time.
I think the main thing is to see how different the court looks.  That's what we tried to show our players yesterday on tape.  The court, the spacing of the court, looks different.  There's more space.  You have to be ready to make some moves, some looks, some reads that you had on Saturday you didn't see because it was the first time in a couple months that they were there, just as a result of having Ryan run our sets and where he is on the court.
So that's the type of thing, to instinctively react to the things presented which are different.  It's different.  So we have habits with the last 13 games that we have to adjust to now that we're doing this.
Our guys played well.  I thought Miami played really well.  It was just a big‑time game.  A lot of times you're playing good defense, and even when you're playing good defense, you can't stop guys who are exceptional players.  I mean, Larkin and Kadji, Scott's drives, you're talking about three of the better players in the country.

Q.  Given your experience in the college game, even internationally, could you help me looking at the history of the dunk.  What do you feel are some of the good or bad influences that the dunk has had on the game of basketball in general?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  I only think of good influences.  I think it was bad when it was outlawed because it was us putting a rule against athletic ability and a great play.
I like the international rule, the ball being alive on the offensive rebound at the rim, to go after it.  I think it's more exciting play, instant reactions, and protecting the goal, where you could knock the ball away.  I like that part of the international game.
But even though I never did it, I did on an eight‑foot basket a lot of times, but even though I never dunked, I think the dunk, it's all positive.

Q.  How have you seen that progress over time?  Going all the way back to the ABA, other coaches have talked about that.  There's been a transformation and progression where it's really become more of an art and even now you can argue it's a huge part of entertainment for the crowd.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  Well, things that the normal person can't do, exceptional things, become watched.  I mean, people love it because they can't do it.  A huge thing is when you dunk and there's resistance.  It's not just a straightaway thing.  That's where Dr. J was so unbelievable with his.  He would maneuver, then at the end still have the ability to elevate or stay elevated and complete it.  Jordan would do that.
It's a beautiful part of the game.
I do think as we celebrate it, sometimes we don't celebrate other aspects of the game:  our movement without the ball, reads, things like that, so that a lot of youngsters just get caught up with dunking.  So as we celebrate one part of it, I'd like to see other parts of the offensive game celebrated a little bit more, especially the pass.

Q.  Can you talk about the ripple effect that Ryan has, how he helps other people on the team by having him back there as part of your offense.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  Well, he stretches the defense, how you defend the pick‑'n‑roll with Ryan whether he's involved in it or not involved in it is huge.  It's huge.  How you step in if he's setting it, his spacing, gives the guy coming off of it more room.  You know, you have to cover him so when he has the ball it creates more space.  It goes on and on.
I mean, the more good players you put on the court, the harder you are to defend, especially when those players have complementary skills.  Ryan, Mason and Seth of very good complementary offensive skills.  That's why when Ryan was out, the performances of Seth and Mason were even more exceptional because they didn't have the spacing.  You could game plan against them even better.
THE MODERATOR:  Coach, thank you for being with us today.

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