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March 24, 2018
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Duke student-athletes Wendell Carter, Marvin Bagley, Trevon Duval, Gary Trent and Grayson Allen. Questions.
Q. Tomorrow night you have a matchup with Kansas with the Final Four at stake. Can you just talk about Kansas and what you've seen on film in the short time you guys have prepared for them?
GARY TRENT: To answer your question, it's win or go home. They have a high-powered offense. Their guards can shoot the heck out of the ball. And they have a big man down low that's good. And they have a big man that can come off the bench and do work as well. So we have to come out, play hard, play together for 40 minutes, share the basketball and make the extra pass and we should be successful.
MARVIN BAGLEY III: To go off of that, they're a great shooting team. I think they're one of the top 3-point shooting teams in college right now. So they got two big men down low that can do a lot of things as well. So they're a very good team. We're both here for a reason and it will be a good one tomorrow night.
Q. Grayson, if you guys do win tomorrow, Coach K will go past John Wooden for most Final Fours in a coaching career. Grayson, since you've been around for a while, have you reflected much or have some thoughts maybe just on the guy that you're playing for, what he's meant to college basketball, not just now, but kind of in history?
GRAYSON ALLEN: Yeah. I mean, I have just because I've been through obviously a lot of big milestones for Coach -- 1K in Madison Square Garden and 1K at Duke. I understand how long he's been coaching for, how long he's been great for, that he is one of the greatest coaches of all time, that what we're doing is a very small part of his overall legacy.
And so, I mean, that adds to you really just trying to learn everything from him. And I know Coach, he won't mention that to us. He'll never say anything about something like that, just because at the end of the day, Coach just wants one win and he wants to get his first Elite Eight win with this team. And that's all he's focused on, and that's the mindset we're trying to take.
Q. Grayson, I imagine when you came to Duke you didn't think you'd be playing zone your senior year. Can you talk about that sort of transformation? And you've been slapping hands on the floor while playing zone, and how unusual you think it's been that this program has become a zone program for at least some?
GRAYSON ALLEN: Well, Coach adjusts. That's one of the things that makes him so great. And we found out that zone was the best defense for this team. And we found it out about halfway through the year. So we went with that. And Coach really fully committed to it and taught us zone and it became our number one and only defense that we really play.
But it's still the intensity and everything of Duke defense is still there. And it's obviously not the man defense that you've seen for 20-plus years. But the intensity is still there, and when we play really well, like we have been over the past couple of weeks, the talk and the activity and the floor slapping, like you said, it all can be there.
Q. How begrudgingly do you think he went to the zone?
GRAYSON ALLEN: It didn't seem like it was very grudgingly. I think he's obviously a man coach. So we worked on man a lot and tried to figure it out before we went zone. But once we tried out -- we tried out zone really early on in the year, and it was working just because of our length and athleticism. And once he kind of realized that this team is way better at playing zone, you just kind of -- he went with that.
Q. Grayson, as your career comes to an end one way or another here, what would getting back to a Final Four mean to you in terms of how you think of what your legacy will be at Duke?
GRAYSON ALLEN: Yeah, I mean it kind of would bring everything full circle, starting off with kind of being spoiled as a freshman and not really having to do much, just being a part of the team and being led to the Final Four and led to a national championship win. And now coming around to my senior year where I'm the captain of the team and trying to be a leader of younger guys.
I don't worry or think much about my Duke legacy. I just really want to win. And we've become -- this group has become so close that I know what the Final Four feeling is like. I know what that national championship feeling is like. So I really want to do that with this group and have these guys experience that too and experience that with them.
Q. You know you all came to the season with a lot of expectations, number one recruiting class. So can you talk about what this journey has meant like for you all, whoever wants to answer the question?
TREVON DUVAL: This journey has been amazing. We've been through a lot of ups and downs as a team, and even individually. But you know the hard work has paid off, and we're still working on trying to accomplish a goal of ours.
WENDELL CARTER JR.: I think he really hit the head on everything. We had a lot of expectations coming into the year. We had a lot of ups and downs, a lot of games -- not a lot of games, but games we lost that we thought we should have won. But, yeah, I think we're peaking at the right moment. And that's all from the hard work we've been going through throughout the year.
Q. Gary and Grayson, you guys took and made most of, some pretty crucial free throws down the stretch last night. Towards the end of the games, that's what fans mostly see is lots of free throws, the way it all shakes out. And so they tend to think a lot about is this a good free-throw shooting team. Do you think in any way free-throw shooting percentage is overrated? Obviously it's the first thing that coaches always talk about, but is there a sense in which we place too much stock in that?
GARY TRENT: I wouldn't really say overrated, because at the end of the game, the percentage is due to (indiscernible) how you perform, the shots you take, stuff like that. But for me, it's just being ready, being in the moment, like I said yesterday in the interviews. I shoot free throws after practice, before practice. So I have a high confidence in myself for when it comes to that.
GRAYSON ALLEN: I don't think it's overrated. Especially towards the end of a game, if you're up a few buckets, if you're not a good free-throw shooting team they can foul early and really extend the game and go after you and can hurt your team. Hitting big free throws down the stretch is what allows a team to keep leads and win games.
Obviously through the games you've got to capitalize on the free baskets. You know, the stats don't even come up with how many front ends of one-on-ones are missed, and that's two free points that you should have had and it only shows up as 0-for-1. I think free throws are very important to the game because it's free money, free points for your team that you should score.
Q. For the freshmen, you're facing a team that's gotten to this point before and has lost, and they have all the motivation they have from the last two Elite Eight losses. How do you guys match that intensity and that desperation that they're going to come out with when -- this is your first time here; you don't have that memory of disappointment and dejection that they've gone through?
MARVIN BAGLEY III: They've obviously been here before, like you said. This is the freshmen's first time here, but we understand that nothing is going to be easy for us. Nothing's is going to come easy for -- if we want to get to the Final Four. So we have to really lock in like we've been doing the past couple of games and just focus on our game plan and things we need to do to make sure we get a win.
And I think that with the preparation Coach has been giving us and all the film that we've been watching we'll be ready to go. I'm just excited to be a part of a special game like this, and I'm sure the rest of the guys up here are as well.
Q. Grayson, this is already the biggest game of the year for both teams, trip to Final Four on the line. But it being Duke/Kansas, does it add any juice to this game?
GRAYSON ALLEN: It's going to add juice to the game from y'all's end, I know that. There's going to be -- if it's possible, there's going to be an even bigger atmosphere around this game just because you know it's a battle between two big programs, two great coaches.
But for us and I'm sure for Kansas, too, we bring the same thing, same intensity, same focus to the game, doesn't matter who we're playing. Just because of what's at stake. It's a regional championship and a trip to the Final Four. And that's huge for your team when you're in a big program.
Q. Wendell and Marvin, as you know Kansas plays with four guards around Azubuike. And can you talk about going against Udoka Azubuike, and the fact that there's going to be a guard guarding one of you most of the game?
WENDELL CARTER JR.: They're a great defensive team, even though they do play with four guards and one big, they're going to make it difficult for us to score. We're going to play off one another not force the action. We're going to just find the best situation on the offensive end and score the ball.
MARVIN BAGLEY III: Yeah, to go off of that, you know, they are -- those guys that you just named -- they're very great players. And we just gotta figure out ways that we can still look for each other down low, like we've been doing all year. And I think once we get out there and once we start playing and getting up and down, it will just come to us naturally and we'll find each other.
And the rest of the team, they'll get to their spots and we'll all be able to be on the same mission and just trying to get easy buckets. I mean, it's just about just locking in moving the ball, shifting the defense and trying to get buckets.
Q. Marvin, he was talking about the urgency for Kansas. Well, in all likelihood this is your shot to make the Final Four. Do you think about that, the one opportunity, and does that add extra pressure to you?
MARVIN BAGLEY III: I think about that a lot. But I wouldn't say it's pressure. We're all in this thing together. So that's one thing I know going into every game is that I'm not the only one experiencing this. We've got a lot of other guys that are experiencing this as well. So that helps a lot. And I think that's bringing us closer as each game comes.
But we've just got to focus on this game. This is a great team that we're going up against. And if we take care of business, we'll be moving on. But as of right now we've got Kansas and that's all we're worried about.
Q. What challenges does the short prep time in between games present to you guys for tomorrow night?
TREVON DUVAL: It doesn't really -- we really don't have a challenge when it comes to short preparation with this team in particular, because we've watched Kansas. We've seen Kansas play against other teams throughout the year.
So I think we have a pretty good feel for how they play and their players. And we watch film -- we watched film today and we're going to watch some more film later on today and tomorrow. So I think we have really good preparation for the game.
GARY TRENT JR.: Piggyback on Trevon, our coaching staff does a terrific job of preparing us and getting us ready for any opponent in any situation that we're going to be in in any game. So I just believe in them and they show us the way and we just follow it.
Q. Grayson, do they remind you at all of some of the freshmen you played with when you guys won it all four years ago? Are you getting any flashbacks when you see what they're doing in this tournament?
GRAYSON ALLEN: They really go after it. They haven't been anxious or over-nervous. They've been very confident. They don't feel pressure on them, which is great and how it should be. They play very free.
They've matured a lot over the year and that was one of the special things about the three freshmen on the 2015 team is they were very mature, and especially come tournament time they didn't play like freshmen. And right now they're getting there and they have matured, and now they play with a lot of experience.
I'm not the only one talking out there. These guys are talking and they're bringing us in for huddles, too. And it really helps not only me but helps our team and helps us become one together with what they're doing.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Coach, an opening statement about tomorrow's match-up.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: We won a hard-fought game last night. And we're going to have another one tomorrow afternoon. Kansas, for me, is one of the premier programs in the history of our sport. And Bill has done a great job of not only continuing that championship tradition but maybe enhancing it.
And he's done a great job with this team as he has with all of his teams. And they're a tough team offensively to stop. With the four perimeter players that they have, they put a lot of pressure on you as soon as they get a defensive rebound, because four guys can bring the ball down the court.
And they've always played good defense. They're playing good defense again. And we'll have to play really well, I mean really well to beat them. But it's an honor to play against them. Certainly it's an honor to be in the Elite Eight game.
And we're healthy and hopefully we can get a little bit more rest today. We'll have our practice after this. But we won't be doing much contact or anything like that. We'll try to get fresh legs for tomorrow.
Q. Can you talk about the difference in this particular game? A lot of times you see the game and at least at the outset the teams seem tight, the prize is so big afterwards. You've been in a bunch of these, but what's the difference between this game and maybe others in the tournament?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think there's more of a difference if during the year you haven't made every game a big game and in the tournament if you have not made every game a big game. And so this is our next big game.
Like, we approached the tournament that each game is a championship game. And so this is the fourth championship game that we'll play, and not to let anything else enter into it. Like getting to the Final Four, there was pressure with that in the first game.
And we're in so many games during the year, but we approach each game the same. And so they're accustomed -- they get the habitual stuff of preparation is there. We're not going to change in our preparation for this game.
Q. That being said, have you noticed at times that teams seem tight, that maybe your team was tight or other teams?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I try not to look at other teams except the one we're playing against. And, so, human nature is a hell of a thing. And, so, what I've learned hopefully well is that you're always fighting human nature. That's always an opponent. And how you can minimize that opponent throughout the year when you get to these points then maybe you won't have a monster to beat at this point.
Q. It's accepted that it's a good part of the tournament when you have upsets and Cinderellas. How good is it for the tournament when you have two programs of this stature going against one another?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think it's great that Duke is involved. And, so, I think the tournament this year is incredibly interesting and so good for the sport because it shows -- it shows that people can beat one another, but in certain regions 1 and 2 end up the way the selection committee thought it might end up.
So I really think that the contrasts in each region are great for the sport at this time. And I'm just glad that our region wasn't the one that had the 9 and 11, I don't know all the numbers from the other regions. But it's great when you have two programs of this nature, of this status in the history of our game play for a Final Four berth. I think it's great for the sport.
Q. Was talking with Coach Capel the other day and it was not every player is cut out to play at Duke. I'm not talking at from a talent level, but from are you strong enough to handle the scrutiny, all that you have to go through, and even the word "hate" came up. Is that a part of your evaluation to try to look at a kid and ask yourself, is he strong enough to handle playing at Duke?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I don't know if we look at it that way. But one of the keys in recruiting somebody is character -- and talent, academics -- basketball talent, academics and character. Are you coachable? Have you been on teams? Do you have a -- if you have a good family structure. Have you had any adversity? And you look at all those things.
But it's an honor to play at Duke. Whatever the stuff about love and hate, that's, like, come on. You're going to be in the spotlight. Are you good? If you're in the spotlight for a long period of time, you are going to have extreme emotions observing you in that spotlight. Some of that emotion is going to be, wow, and some of it is, eh. And you probably won't have many in between.
It's a hell of a lot more interesting life to lead than mediocrity, you know. And so let's go for it, let's go for it. We're not the only ones who do that. But I think because we're a private school and we're not, you know, the status of the academics and all that lends itself to maybe a little bit more extreme devotion or the other emotion.
Q. When was there a moment of realization, if that existed, for you about Bagley's special talent, be it before he got to Durham or during his time?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: No, the first time I saw him, the first time I saw him, I don't know if we were in -- we were with the U.S. team. And he's in Arizona and Jerry Colangelo, that's where he's from, he showed me a video on his phone and he said, this kid is an eighth-grader. I said he is?
So I knew right then, this kid's going to be really good. And obviously never -- not knowing that we would eventually have him at Duke. But you could tell right away he comes from great parents, great grandparents. Joe Caldwell is his grandfather. And mom and dad are really outstanding athletes. And they're really good people. He's got all the -- he's got all the good qualities to become very special.
Q. They ranked tenth in 3-point shooting in the country. How important will it be to stay active in the zone in the perimeter for 40 minutes tomorrow night?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Not only in the zone but in transition. They get a lot of 3s because -- Bill's teams have always attacked in transition and not necessarily just to throw it into the post or drive. They'll take early 3s and good ones. So we have to be able to cut down the number of good looks they get in transition and in the half court.
Q. I'm curious the difference in how -- when you get to this point in the tournament -- how you prepare a group like this, that is so young and so filled with this big-time NBA talent versus the team from seven or eight years ago that won the title, where it was so experienced, and I don't think a player from that team got drafted that year. Do you prepare these teams differently, mentally?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: You always prepare them -- but you prepare them the same way for that team. In other words, I mentioned earlier how we prepare for a game now is really how we prepared for a game in November. They've just grown.
So the amount of information you give them now is retained easier now than then. But how we eat, how we practice, the importance of each game, so that when they get to these points they're not -- we're not doing something unusual.
With the team you referenced in 2010, we had three seniors and two juniors. And you prepare differently with them because you can give them more. But the actual preparation of the game is similar to what they did for each game prior to that and to get into the habit of preparation.
So it doesn't matter if you're in Pittsburgh or in Charlotte, Omaha or Boston or whatever. Things don't change. You try to stay as close to being the same as you can.
Q. Can you talk about KU's guards more in detail? And also, Udoka Azubuike and the fact that Bill's going just with one big man and the problems that might pose for both sides?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, his team is very similar to a number of teams we've had, where you have four outstanding perimeter guys and then one really good big guy. In Graham you have really one of the great leaders, not just players in the country. Look, he's one of the top five players in America and it's not just because he scores, but it's how he leads. When he's on the court everybody is better.
And I think Malik has benefited from playing with him and he's playing at the highest level. And Mykhailiuk, I saw him when he was a 16-year-old or whatever, he played for Ukraine. He played for Mike Fratello when we were in the championships. We knew how good he was going to become.
And Vick is that athlete that he benefits -- they benefit somewhat from that matchup, the 4 matchup, depending on who it is that Bill puts on the 4. And they play well together; they share the ball. And Azubuike has been such a man inside for them, and plays with tremendous energy and power. And for those perimeter guys to know that that big guy is back there, I think that helps him.
I've read their comments after the game yesterday and they were so reverent to Azubuike as to the strength it gives the perimeter. So that's what makes them an outstanding team. They complement one another very well. And they've always been very unselfish. His teams are always very unselfish.
Q. Coaches including Bill Self last year have referred to this as the hardest round and the most painful one at which to exit if you lose. And coaches in all sports have talked about suffering losing more than enjoying winning sometimes. I wonder if that was true of this round for you in the mere two times that you went out or if the massive 12 times that you didn't go out drown out that?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think, just to explain why I think coaches look at it like that, for us in the coaching profession, one of the bridges, the biggest bridge you can cross is the Final Four bridge. No matter how many games you've won, if you haven't gone there, it's an empty feeling.
And so when you do get there, there's somewhat of relief, happiness, but also a relief that you get there. So when you get to this point, it's a huge bridge. And, so, for me personally, we are able to cross it right away. And so my feeling was in '86, we got there right away. So I didn't go through the suffering.
And so I'm more in tune with the suffering or the happiness of my players. Like in '98 when we didn't get it, we lost to Kentucky and I can remember that locker room, Steve Wojciechowski was my captain, and it was the toughest locker room I've ever been in as a collegiate coach. And although I've been there before, it was their time. So I think if you've been there before you kind of relate to what the players are feeling at that time.
Q. How difficult of a decision was it to make the switch to zone? And was it something that you kind of gave pause to it at all?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: No, we gave a lot of thought to it. We give a lot of thought to everything. Doesn't mean that our thoughts are always right. But no, we were playing zone all year. And when we decided to go to it -- we still do some man-to-man; we haven't done it in a game recently, but you have to -- there's got to be one primary defense that you spend most of your time doing. And we made that decision that it would be zone and it fits our team better. It just fits our team better.
Q. You have two senior guards going at it tomorrow in Devonte' Graham and Grayson Allen. Can you speak to the legacies they will leave on their respective programs?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, they've been great for their programs. I'll let Bill talk about his player. Devonte', he's been one of the best players in America. Grayson -- I'm so proud of the leader he's developed into. It's so good that he came back for his senior year. And he's become just a much better player and a leader.
And the freshmen have benefited greatly from it. They're really a close group. And Grayson being able to handle this the way he has been terrific.
Q. This freshman class was number one. Next year you've got the number one, two, three player coming in. A few years ago another guy kind of ran recruiting. Now you seem to have run it. Why, why do you think you've been able to switch this?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I don't think anybody runs recruiting because there's so many good players. And just because somebody ranks somebody -- players are developing all the time. And a lot of times a player that was not a McDonald's All-American or in the top 20, 25 as a sophomore is better than 15 of the kids that were rated before him because he hasn't fully developed or he's gotten an opportunity.
You see it all the time. And so we just tried -- we have always just tried to recruit the best player who fits academically, talent and character-wise. And it just happens that, it's not like we changed to go one-and-done or whatever. The world changed. We didn't change. The world changed.
And we've been able to attract some really good players. But we're not the only program that does that. I mean no one has cornered the market on --
Q. You've competed with Kentucky for players --
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I'll tell you something that you won't believe, but since I tell the truth all the time, I hope you will believe it. When I recruit a kid, I don't even -- I never talk about another school. I never mention another school. In fact, going into home visits sometimes I say, who is recruiting him, because I want to make sure I don't do it because I just want to sell my -- I don't get into -- the only competition I'm in is tomorrow, is tomorrow.
And in recruiting, if we picked the right kid and we do our profile the right way, we should have a great chance of getting him because we have a great school, a great program and our guys get better. That doesn't mean we're the only ones. But it's the way it is. And they're okay being coached by an old man.
Q. I'm sure your individual feats aren't on your radar screen right now --
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: They are not, no.
Q. But it is significant when a coach can pass John Wooden in anything. What would crossing that bridge for the 13th time mean to you?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, just that I'm doing it with this group, and I'll look back at those -- I'm not a rearview mirror guy. And I haven't been with USA Basketball and with Duke and -- if you are and if you're doing it, you cannot let those things enter the room. Otherwise you're not going to be hungry.
Because when you start thinking about -- I'm not knocking you or -- when you start thinking about those -- you can rationalize. And rationalization is one of the things that stops people from continued excellence, because they live in the past. And then they stop adapting and they stop getting hungry and they stop having that opportunity to do what we're going to be able -- what we might be able to do.
I don't know. It's almost like just -- don't think about it at all. And I don't. Believe me, I do not at all. But I would love to win with these guys and be a part of their emotion if they're able to do it. That would be cool for a 71-year-old guy.
Q. You have, in Gary and Wendell, two guys whose dads played professionally. Obviously you recruited and coached plenty of kids who aren't in that position. But I'm wondering in recruiting and coaching is there anything that tends to distinguish players who are in that position with fathers who played professionally?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It can hurt 'em. It can hurt 'em because the father might want to continue to coach them while we're coaching them. And that hasn't been the case. They've allowed us to coach their sons.
But you know that at least they've grown up in an environment where their fathers have pursued excellence and attained it. And I think that's good as long -- it's like with any kid, we just want the parents to allow us to coach. Give me your son and give us your support and let's see what happens. But it does help. Especially in those two cases, because they've been so good with us.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
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