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April 2, 2015

Tom Izzo

Mike Krzyzewski


THE MODERATOR: we're joined by Coach Izzo and Coach Krzyzewski. We'll go right to it with questions.

Q. You both have key players who have struggled from the free-throw line at times. How do you coach kids through something like that? Is it mostly mechanical?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think it can start mechanical and end up being mental or start mental and be mechanical. Each kid's different. The bottom line is some kids can shoot better than others. Everyone that says the free throw is an easy shot, you're assuming every one is a good shot. It's not. It's a hard shot, especially in front of 70,000 people.

COACH IZZO: In our case we had some problems early. As Mike just said, it went from a couple guys missing them, then became an epidemic a little bit. That means it was more mental. But we've worked our way through it in different ways. We worked on it. We begged them. We threatened them. We prayed with them. We did everything. I think at the end of the day, Jud Heathcote once told me, If you get the right guys to the line, you'll shoot better. I don't think we have that opportunity or option all the time. It's not something we're worried about. We are what we are and we'll go there.

Q. You both have had players who have been there for four years and become cornerstones of the program over your career. Is it possible to have an impact in one year in the current state of the game, to leave a legacy?
COACH IZZO: Well, I think you can still have an impact. I was telling Mike earlier, Quinn Cook for me, you just appreciate him because we got a chance, meaning not there every day, to watch a kid grow throughout the year. For Travis Trice for me, I got a chance to do it from the inside looking out. There's some pretty impactful freshmen. Times have changed a little bit. I still think they can make an impact. I don't think we always appreciate it as much because we want them there longer, means fans, media, everybody else.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: They have. Like our kids have, they're regional champs. I do think, though, that it helps them tremendously to have at least one upperclassman who is a key player, not just upperclassmen who are on the team. In this case, Quinn has helped these guys. I also believe a lot of the young kids who are exposed to USA Basketball come in a lot more mature than the normal freshmen. They're just exposed to more teamwork, different roles, more of a sense of reality than they are when they come from their regular high school programs.

Q. You both have experience bringing teams to the Final Four. There seems to be a relief for your team because you were expected to get here, Coach Izzo there was extra jubilation for your team being the underdog. How much more of a challenge was it to get your guys refocused on the fact there's still two more games to played compared to previous Final Fours?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I don't know who expected us to be here. We have eight guys and four freshmen. I think at times you expect a program to be here instead of looking at a team and saying, Boy, they should be here. Our guys deserve to be here, just like Tom's kids. They deserve it because they've earned it. This is all new. It's not about what either of us have done in the past with our teams, it's about what we're doing with this group, and to give their team, make sure they have their moment. He and I have talked about this a lot over the years. It's about being in the kids' moment, not being in our moment.

COACH IZZO: I think, you know, for us, because maybe it wasn't as expected, we had a little rougher run during the year. But when he says about a program, when you get your program to a certain level, I think everybody, you know, that's our expectations, that's what we want our kids' expectations, the media and fans. At the same time getting them ready is no different because we've had a lot of battles throughout the year. We played Duke second game of the year, we played Kansas, we played Notre Dame. There's so many big games. You hope that kids aren't satisfied until they get to the ultimate goal. I think that's why they choose places that have been there before because that's what they want in their own mind.

Q. Coach Krzyzewski, you won your first national championship I believe here in Indianapolis. In order to do that, you got past a team that was the last undefeated team to get to this point, UNLV. What do you remember from that matchup? What made your team successful in that matchup? From the outside looking in, do you see any parallels between Kentucky and Wisconsin this year?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: That's a lot, geez. I should have taken notes (smiling). I do remember we won our first national championship here. I will always remember it. I still think Indianapolis puts it on the best. It's remarkable how beautiful it is here and how everything -- it's as good as it gets. In that year, the thing I remember is we had Grant Hill. We didn't have the year before when we lost to UNLV by 30. The biggest thing for me, that team, was a lot of people think that beating UNLV was the national championship. We had to beat a great Kansas team two nights later. I loved that about my team, that they were able to put two big games together. I haven't really watched Kentucky. Monday is not a given for either one of us. It's an earned opportunity. I think we would both be happy to play whoever is there on Monday. I'd rather not speak to Kentucky, although I will say this: John has done an amazing job with his group, and it's been good for college basketball in that you've been talking about a team instead of talking about freshmen or individuals. For a few years we've gotten to be like the pros where it's a matchup of individuals. This year it's a renewal of what college basketball should be: it's about teams. Kentucky's been a great team.

Q. Having played back in November here in Indianapolis, as you watch film preparing for Saturday, how has the other team improved?
COACH IZZO: Well, I don't think there's any question, they've improved like they should have because of the freshman. He brings them along well. Again, I think it was a new position for Cook kind of, in where he was playing, how he played. He's grown so much. I think some of these other guys, like a Winslow is playing so well in this tournament, Matt Jones has improved so much. So I just think they're a better team. I think we're both not completely different, but I think we're a lot better than we were back then. Yet it was really good for us because we didn't know as much, although I'm not sure he did either, about his freshman. It's easy for you guys to say all these freshmen are going to pan out, but that doesn't always happen. I think it was good for us. I think I learned a lot. I think they're much better and much improved.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I haven't really watched that much of that game. I think we're both different teams. We have different strategies because we have different teams. It's much better to watch them in the NCAA than in some of their Big Ten games. But the game helped us because the Champions Classic, actually three of the teams are here, prophetic that three of them got here. That's been a good deal for our programs, I think, to play that doubleheader at the start of each year.

Q. Tom, you've alluded a lot of times about guys doing their job. When you get to a point like this on this stage with star power on the other teams, is that about guys playing their role, not trying to do too much?
COACH IZZO: I still think you have to play your role. You can't be somebody you're not. Just like as coaches, we can't change and be somebody we're not. If I think back to my early years, our first championship was here, too, in this city, there are mistakes that were made. In fact, my first Final Four, we played you down in Tampa. I just felt like I was still doing hotel tickets on Friday night and game tickets Saturday morning. So you grow as a coach. I think the same as players, you grow, but I don't think you want to try to be somebody you're not. I don't think we will be. I don't think we have those kind of players. It's not a big ego group here. I think what he said about John's team, too, is interesting, because usually the superstars are supposed to have the big egos. I don't see a lot of big egos in this tournament. Probably the fewest I've seen in a lot of years.


Q. Back in the old days you would win a regional, sometimes you would leave the nets. Now you cut the nets, get a hat and trophy that looks similar to the one that wins on Monday night. Do you like that? How do you get your guys back into the mode of there's a lot more to play for?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, we really like it (laughter). You're a champion of a region. In other words, you're a Final Four team. This is my 40th year as a head coach. Starting out coaching, I always felt that if you crossed the bridge to the Final Four, you got to the Promised Land. To me the biggest win overall, besides the national championship, is a regional championship because there's so much pressure on a coach and a staff to get there. You're judged, first of all, by the Final Four, and then national championships. So, no, it's a big deal. I think it's pretty easy to get them on to the next thing. They want to get on to the next thing.

COACH IZZO: I feel the exact same way. I think it's a memory-making moment. Championships, whether it's beginning of the year, it's a Christmas tournament, Thanksgiving Day, I think teams have to learn hard to win championships. That means you've done something, you've won a game, then you have to win another game. The regionals kind of gives you that. You're playing elite teams at that point. I agree. I mean, I don't think you'd win the regional if you had a team that that was their goal, you know, to just win the regional. I mean, if you're good enough to win a regional, you don't have to get your kids up for this game. They'll be up for the game. That's the least of my worries.

Q. Mike, there's an aura around your program at this point obviously. Do you ever feel like you have teams down before the game starts because of that? Tom, in any of your previous matchups, have your guys been affected because the other program was Duke?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: No (smiling). I mean, I hate to be -- actually, I think teams are more ready for us. Certainly, you know, during the regular season when we're on the road, it's T-shirt day or blackout day. I think in the last 18 years we've lost like 60 games or something. 47 of them we've had storming the court. So they're not down. They're up when they play us because they want to beat us badly. We know we're going to play somebody who's ready. Obviously in this competition, it doesn't matter. But in the regular season, we usually get a team's best shot.

COACH IZZO: Speaking of storming the court, it's a little different for me. It took our program a while to get to that point. I remember playing Indiana, they stormed the court when we they beat us, a cop was trying to get me out of there, I told him not to touch me. I was trying to enjoy the moment, that it meant that much that they beat us. Get your hands off me.


COACH IZZO: I think in general, though, maybe later on in your career you go through that. The wars we've played, the number of times. There's a respect factor, too. Respect does not mean you give in, it just means you respect what they do. We have great respect for them because of what he's done over a period of time. I think that's where our program has gotten to, too.

Q. What do you think about the level of talent here in the Final Four over the four teams? How much does it help each of those guys to show what they can do to have talented teammates?
COACH IZZO: Talent is a funny thing. Talent doesn't always win games. Talent doesn't always make you great. It gives you maybe a better opportunity if you utilize your talent, if you are coachable, a good teammate. This isn't boxing. It's not tennis. It's not golf. You got to be talented. And I think Mike alluded to it with Kentucky this year, guys are willing to take on different roles, not play as many minutes, not score as many points. I think the more talent you have, the better it is, as long as it's talent that's coachable and talent that has a team concept in mind.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, this Final Four has a lot of talent. I think it's coordinated talent. It's talent that makes other talent better. It's a piano player and the guitar player and the singer who are making each other better, not just a great piano player. That coordinated talent is why you see four outstanding teams, because they're not playing against each other, they're playing with one another against somebody. This is a great Final Four. We have four really outstanding teams here.

Q. At the point you are in your career, having achieved so much, is the internal pressure you put on yourself changed? Has it increased or decreased as you sit here?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It's the same. I still try to approach everything like I'm coaching at Army. I think that's what my players deserve. They deserve you to be hungry and prepared. The fact that we've been able to experience a lot helps me to do a better job with my team. But if I don't have that hunger to win and also to prepare, then I'm not going to use my experience the right way. Tom and I were talking about it 'cause each of us have a kid that's really kind of special right now, Trice and Cook. To be able to have the moments with them, at this time in my career to have those moments, it means as much or more of the championship, a regional championship. Although it's because of that moment you have a regional championship. I'm so thankful that Quinn has been there for me this year, to have a senior that I've been able to grow with, it's helped the team a lot.

Q. This is the 40th anniversary of John Wooden's last game. Both of you understand how hard of work it takes to get here. From a coach's perspective, how amazing does that remain that he was able to do it again and again and again?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It's an honor to answer that question first. You're really talking about one of a kind. I think almost all records will be broken. His will never be broken. Especially in that time period. Everyone talks about Alcindor and Walton, but I think they accounted for five of his championships. He won double that. He was able to adapt and coach great talent and get them to play as one for a long time. No one has done that to that level. Coach Wooden left a tremendous legacy and really something that's not going to be topped.

COACH IZZO: I think you're a modern-day Wooden, because you have 12. Isn't that what he had, 12 Final Fours? To win it that many times that he won it is incredible. I look at it, I just remember meeting him for the first time and he said to me, Welcome to the fraternity of 40. At the time there were 40 guys that had won a national championship. I felt really good, 6'8" walking around, that I was one of 40. Bill Walton tapped me on the shoulder and said, Remember, John's won 10 of them. I was about that big. It kind of humbles you. That's what you admire about people that have success in this tournament, you know how hard it is. It's not just about being good enough, you've got to be lucky. We have gotten here because teams lost. One year it was Kansas who was ranked. I think this year, we've all earned our way without major surprises or many major surprises. That's pretty good. I don't know if anybody will catch him.

Q. It seems like both the media and the culture at-large, the issue of sexual assault on campuses is a really prominent issue. The NCAA has talked about it. President Obama mentioned it. Have you discussed it with your teams, and if you did, do you find yourself doing it more than you did 10 years ago?
COACH IZZO: We do, on a regular basis. It's funny, when something happens on your team, one of you guys will say, Don't they ever talk about that? I bet you there's never a practice that ends that you're not saying something academically or socially to your team. Because of the Twitter world, there's a lot more out there, so you're always trying to teach and coach your guys. It just doesn't mean on the court. In fact, I think a lot of times we do more off the court than on the court. So the answer would be, yes, we do.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: We have programs at Duke where you bring in people from the outside and also from the inside, where you not just talk to basketball players, but you talk to all the student-athletes, not just about that, but about other things. But certainly about that specific thing.

Q. Coach Izzo, Travis Trice talked about the camaraderie this team has. What role do you think that has played on getting your team to this point?
COACH IZZO: I think it's essential. I just think you have to have a close-knit, together team. We've gotten here maybe once where I didn't feel we were maybe as close. Magic told me something once when I first got to a Final Four, he said, Usually those kind of teams have something special, and it's not just talent, it's a camaraderie, a togetherness, having each other's back. It's hard for kids to adjust to all the pressures that you have when you go to a Final Four, and you better be close-knit, tight-knit. I know the family atmosphere, I know what they do, what we do. I don't know as much what John does there, but I think it's important.

Q. You distinguished gentlemen have 19 Final Fours between the two of you. Have you learned to enjoy the ride more than you used to? Do you remember the first time you met each other, maybe not even coaching?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, it's always been enjoyable. Are you kidding me? This would never, ever get old. I don't remember the first time because Jud Heathcote didn't like his assistants to be seen. He just liked them working all the time. I'm not sure he even knew the names of all the assistants, still might not know the names (smiling). Tom and I are great, great friends. I love that. I love our relationship. But this stuff will never get old.

COACH IZZO: Well, I feel the same way. Even our wives got to be friends because I think they can appreciate what you go through. Even though we don't get to see each other all the time, I think the greatest thing I have for him is respect: respect the way it's been done, respect with the incredible sustaining of consistency. You got to learn from somebody. Some people think I care too much about, you know, what he does, and that's why we can't beat them. But I think you learn from somebody all the time. You appreciate the things that someone's brought to the table. We were on the NABC board. My first year was about your last, I think.


COACH IZZO: For me, it was what was in person doesn't really matter, what I watched, what I saw before I knew him. I had a lot of good friends, we've recruited against each other. We probably lost more than we won. I always know we lost it for the right reason. It's been mutual. I'm proud the two teams are here that have that many Final Fours because I think both would agree we've done it the way that most of you would want us to do it.


Q. I wanted to ask you about Justise Winslow. What are the one or two things he's made a gain in this year? What are the difficulties of matching up with a guy that can play on the perimeter, wrestle with a bigger guy, rebound, score?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: First of all, he's a terrific competitor and kid, exceptional athlete, who is becoming an exceptional basketball player. During the middle of the year, he was injured, shoulder and fractured rib, for about two and a half weeks was averaging about three points a game. But he learned to play not at 100%, where he went on the court and was not fighting an injury, but was still competing. We take for granted that all these kids know all those things, and they don't. Sometimes that's the first time you're injured and how you handle it. But he's become an outstanding player. Certainly in this tournament he's been one of the key guys for us.

COACH IZZO: I think when you look at a guy that's improved just about all his stats, free-throw shooting, he's improved enormously, rebounding he's improved by almost three a game in this tournament. Three-point shooting has improved. I think he's putting the ball on the floor better than he did early. He hurt us a little bit then. We were matching up a little differently. Our team, too, was a little different. It is going to be great. He's got good players at positions. But, you know, I don't think sometimes we get enough credit for the Valentine, Trices and Dawsons. Those three players are good players that could play on a lot of teams, too. I've enjoyed watching Winslow grow because for some reason I've seen his growth more, maybe because I haven't seen him much in high school. His tournament run right now has been very, very good.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coaches. We'll see you tomorrow.
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