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March 8, 2017
New York, New York
Duke - 79, Clemson - 72
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and open up with a brief opening statement from Coach, and then we'll go to questions.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It was typical game for our conference. They're good. We're good. They're in kind of a desperate situation, trying to make the tournament. Brad's done a heck of a job with his team. They've lost more close games than anybody in our league, one-possession games. So to have them up playing well like that for the whole season is terrific job on his part.
I thought we played good defense today. We fouled too much in the first half, but the second half, we held them under 40 percent for the game. And I'm proud of our guys. I think their defense did it, and then when you play this second game and it's your first game, you haven't shot in here, and you only get a 20-minute warmup or 23 minutes and 22 seconds or whatever it is, but it's tough to get acclimated. I don't know if that's part of it or whatever, but we didn't shoot well in the first half.
The second half, Luke, Jayson hit big buckets. Frank has played great for us. He gives us a strong presence out there, and he came up with 20 points. So we had three 20-point scorers, which was big.
So we beat a real good team, and now we've got to turn it around and play another really good team.
Q. Luke, you had a tough shooting night, but then toward the end of the game, you hit two big shots for your team. Talk about your psyche going into that and what it took to make those buckets.
LUKE KENNARD: For me, I think, the biggest thing I can take away from this is how much confidence my coaches, my teammates, they have in me. They continue to tell me to be aggressive. And I struggled tonight. You know, we struggled tonight shooting the ball, but we stayed aggressive. We stayed connected on the offensive end.
For me, like I said, just the confidence that they built in me to take my shots, to hunt shots, and to be aggressive, you know, I just kept looking to do that.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, he had a bad half. He was 8 for 11. If that's bad, be bad all the time, man (laughter). That's what I think. I think that's a heck of a performance when a player, it isn't going, and then it goes. That shows like you're a different player, you're a special player when you're able to do that.
Q. I think it was Grayson's fewest minutes since his freshman year. Is that related to a nagging injury or fouls or --
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: A little bit -- well, the fouls hurt. He has not -- I think the injury is a huge part of it because he has not been able to really go after it in practice, and he's lost his timing, his rhythm.
Even today, what did he take? He took four shots, but the two threes he took were right on target, but they were a little bit short. We got to get him going, and these guys will help him because they're good teammates.
It wasn't a good afternoon for him individually. Collectively, obviously, it's a great afternoon for us. When you don't practice at the speed and with the reps that you normally do, it affects your performance. And it has with him.
Q. Any view on the technical from you?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: The one they didn't call or the one they called?
Q. The one they called.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Okay. Well, whatever they called, they called. They saw it. Kids get technicals. Sometimes they don't get technicals either. They can slap the board, backboard, and not get a technical.
Q. Mike, Matt Jones just said, he said he had a hard time pinning down --
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Did you already talk to Matt Jones?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: That's pretty good. You're a quick son of a buck.
Q. I'm faster than I look.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: You're a hell of a lot faster than you look.
Q. He said he had a hard time pinning down what this team's identity is, and he says it's different every night. Do you agree with that, and can that be a positive or a negative?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Crazy as it may sound, I think we're still evolving because of all the injuries and interruptions that we've had. But we're getting better.
Today we found a new thing with Jayson, how to use him. So how Frank has played -- he's had a terrific year, but the last four or five games he's been great.
The last 13 games -- we were 3-4 13 games ago. We've won 10 out of 13 and had a chance in the other three. I don't know who we are completely, but I have good kids. I have really good kids, and they play hard, and they share the ball. Maybe we'll develop a little bit more of an identity here. We've got another chance, let's put it that way.
Q. Coach, great production out of the starting five, but with them playing so many minutes, is fatigue an issue with the quick turnaround in this part of the season with those guys?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yes, it is, and it's a good observation. We've told our guys, just play one game. Play one game, then play another game. Then if we're fortunate enough to play another game, then we'll try to figure it out, but not the pace.
They didn't do -- they couldn't today. That's just the way it is. We have to play again tomorrow at 2:00 or 2:15 or 2:22, whatever it is, and so we'll play. At least in the NCAA Tournament, you get a day in between. So playing like this might help us get better.
Q. Mike, a little bit of an offbeat broader question --
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Is it a Northwestern question?
Q. No, it is not a Northwestern question. But I've been asking other coaches this and haven't gotten a chance to run into you. You've coached for a long time. Do you ever think back like if you could give your younger self coaching advice, what you've learned, what you may have done differently in the beginning?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Get to Duke earlier. That would be the very first thing. No, I wouldn't -- I'd say be who you are. I think I was really lucky at 28 to take over a 7-44 program at Army, my alma mater, and to have to do everything, and my wife had to do everything, and our whole family got involved. We ended up 73-59, and we learned how to win by looking at every -- counting pennies. Then we needed to do that to build Duke.
So I wouldn't change it. I think we've maintained that family and looking for pennies. I think we've maintained the hunger because it was ingrained for eight years in our life.
Q. 5 of 6 possessions you scored on early in the second half to take charge of the game for an extended period. The freshmen, Frank and Jayson, played sensationally, but it all started with two jumpers by the guy who went 1 for 9 in the first half. How did you see the offense coming together to take charge there?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I always see the offense coming together if Luke shoots the ball. We have four really good scorers. He and Jayson can really score the ball, but Frank can score, and so can Grayson. If we ever get all four of them going, that's the -- that's who I would like to be.
Because Amile can score when he's one-on-one, and Matt can knock down an open shot. So we always allow them to shoot. That's the one thing. No one's saying don't shoot, Luke. Like shoot, Luke. Shoot, Frank. See basket, shoot ball. It's that simple.
I don't know if Luke wants to say anything about it. I don't want to put you on the spot.
LUKE KENNARD: No, not at all. What he said. That's it. He gives us a lot of freedom to shoot the ball, and he always just tells us to hunt our shots. That's what we do as a group, and it's really, really good.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: What we're learning a little bit more is that not to take a lower percentage shot if they really converge and for our guys to yell for the ball because he and Jayson can really pass, even while they're in a move. While they're in their own move, they can still pass. I'd like to see us do that a little bit better.
Q. Mike, how possible is it at this time of year with games coming so close together to manufacture the time for Grayson to get healthy and for this team to kind of carve out its identity? How do you kind of do that?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: We're just trying to win and doing it that way. Look, Antonio got in the game for a couple of minutes, things like that, really we have to get seven or eight guys there. I'd like to see more from either Harry, Marques or Antonio. And if we can get Grayson to be Grayson, that's how we're going to get better because it puts a lot of pressure on another team having so many guys out there that can score.
Q. This question is for Frank. You had a huge night. For the last week, you've been showing how great of a freshman you can be for this team. Talk about the 20 points and perfect from the three. How big of this game is for you and your confidence going into this tournament.
FRANK JACKSON: You know, it's huge. I think we can really roll off this win and keep going. For me, I always try to stay aggressive. I like to score the ball. It's what I do best. I'm lucky to have a coach who allows me to be myself and players that I'm surrounded by that give me all the confidence in the world. So I just try to attack early and stay aggressive, and all that carries throughout the game.
Q. Coach, you've coached in a lot of ACC Tournaments. This is the first one in New York City. Another coach suggested earlier today there's no value in having the tournament in Greensboro. I wanted to see your opinion on the value of having it in New York, and is there no value in having it in a place like Greensboro?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, obviously, there's been great value having it in Greensboro because this is the tournament that everyone copied, and if we didn't have the support of an entire city to support us and keep adding to their beautiful coliseum, this tournament and this league would not be where it's at.
So if the powers to be want it to eventually go back -- stay in Greensboro or visit or whatever, so be it. I think they deserve that. We still look at it, and I think coming to New York is a huge thing just because we've added -- we have 15 teams. So a number of those teams played their tournament in New York. So their fan base was accustomed to that. So the ACC schools and then the Big East schools that went, their fan bases were accustomed to two different things.
So to try to find out what the new thing will be, that's what these guys are supposed to do. But having it here is great.
Q. Frank, you mentioned Coach letting you stay aggressive. Last four games, double digit points. What has it been in the last four that has maybe sort of had your game blossom? Or what sort of turned it around? It has also coincided with Grayson being a little banged up. Is that a coincidence?
FRANK JACKSON: Like I said, I just look to stay aggressive. For me, I try to attack earlier in the game so I get going a little bit earlier. I just try to keep attacking and look for the open shot and look for my teammates as well.
Q. Jayson Tatum scored in a variety of ways today, which was a lot of fun to watch, very impressive. Can you just describe his offensive arsenal, and have you had any other players in the past as diverse as him offensively?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yes, that's why we've won five National Championships. Well, I'm not going to compare them, but I just said diverse players, whether it be Grant Hill, Justise Winslow, John Scheyer, Nolan Smith, J.J. Redick.
Look, we wouldn't have all the -- I've been in a lot of big time games because I've had a lot of big time players. I've been in 21 Final Four games. I've been in 18 of these championship games and 14 Elite Eight games. That's a lot of big games. You don't get there without these guys. But you have to have these guys, give them the freedom to be themselves.
Jayson is still learning how to do that. Like today he learned a new thing today, and we got two buckets. And if Amile was ready for the pass, we would have had another one on an early post.
These guys will find out that Jayson is actually as good a passer as we have on the team, and that would add to it. But he just can't punish himself when he misses a jump shot. I still think he's too hard on himself when he misses. That's not us, but he wants to be perfect. You can't be, but he was darn good again today.
Q. Luke, two-part question. Luke, you played 39 minutes, and as Coach alluded, there is a short turnaround. What impact do you think that's going to have on you? Secondly, how do you see the matchup with Louisville under those conditions?
LUKE KENNARD: This is a process. I mean, to play back-to-back days, it can be tough. It can be tough. But for us as a group, we take it very seriously. We try to take care of our bodies as best as we can, and for us, we just have to move on to the next one.
This is a big win for us, but we have to move on to the next one, and the next one is Louisville. We played them earlier in the season. They got a great group. They're really talented. They have some size and some really, really good players. So we have to stay locked in, and we have to stay together, and we have to stay tough and just be ready to move on and stay focused.
Q. Frank, Grayson said the two of you had some pretty intense pickup battles during the summer. I was curious what you remembered of those and what your motivation was going into those.
FRANK JACKSON: I'd definitely say we got into a little bit in the summertime. We're both really competitive. For me, I learned so much from G. He's been here for a couple years now, and he's played in big time games. He's won a National Championship.
So in the summertime, to pick his brain, to work out with him, to kind of follow him around and see how -- you know, how he wins, it's been great for me. He's a good example to me, and I'm lucky to have him and all my guys on the team this year.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports