March 17, 2023
Orlando, Florida, USA
Duke Blue Devils
Q. When you go up against a team like Tennessee, what do you need to do differently defensively-wise to try and -- whether it comes to out-rebounding them, staying strong in the paint and not fouling?
MARK MITCHELL: Yeah, they're a really tough physical team. We know they live to live in the paint, kind of similar to us. Just try and keep them out of the paint and just rebounding. I think those are two things we're just trying to focus on. We know they love to crash the glass and pack the paint. Just continue to play together, but on the defensive end just keep them off the offensive glass and protect our paint. We know they have some big guys down there, but I think if we play our defense, we'll be good.
Q. Ryan, what stands out to you about Tennessee's post players and your perspective on watching them play last night?
RYAN YOUNG: Yeah, I think the biggest thing is their size and their aggressiveness that stands out individually about them. But as a group they're pretty deep. They've gone to a few different lineups throughout the course of the year, and it seems like throughout the course of a game will stick with whatever guys are going at the moment. I think their versatility stands out a little bit as a group. They can go to some similar lineups similar to the way that they can, but they'll go to different bigs and different times. So I think we've got to be ready for anything, but be able to match their physicality and their size inside.
Q. Tyrese, I know a big storyline everyone has been following and talking about for a while now has been the chemistry between you and Jeremy, and you creating more space for him by being able to take the ball down the court. Was that some kind of shift or something Coach Scheyer tried to implement during the season or you worked on in practice? It seemed like that wasn't the case in the beginning of the season but at the end it really stood out.
TYRESE PROCTOR: Yeah, we made the shift about the start of the year, sort of midway through, just to get Jeremy better looks. I feel like he moves really well without the ball. And he's such a big emphasis when he has the ball in his hands, I feel like a lot of other teams try and target him when they're guarding him, and he just gets easier and more free looks off the ball.
Q. Tyrese, does it feel like more pressure? Do you feel a sense of more responsibility when that's the case, knowing you have to bring the ball up to give Jeremy more looks.
TYRESE PROCTOR: I don't necessarily feel pressure. I don't think there's any pressure at all. I just think it's better for our team and allows us to get the ball moving and flowing more. I have full confidence in it, and so does Jeremy.
Q. Ryan, you're one of many newcomers on this team. From your perspective having played longer than most of your teammates, what did you see in the way they came together, and what was the -- was there an event or game or even a play when you realized that things had gone to the next level and this team could be really good?
RYAN YOUNG: Yeah, I think if I were to think back at the whole year, I think we really took a change as a group internally after the loss at Miami. It was a pretty embarrassing loss for us on a number of different levels in terms of just the effort that we came out with.
And we met as a group, and we talked a lot, and I think from that point on, it obviously led to a long winning streak for us.
But I was really impressed by the guys in our locker room, especially the younger guys, the level of trust with each other and to the staff, as well. I think that was kind of a make-or-break point for us in the season, especially where we were in the rankings after that loss. Could have gone a number of different ways. I was super proud of the way that we came together, obviously, and became more connected as a group.
Like I said, I think it was backing on that trust in each other and the staff.
Q. When you guys finished the game yesterday, I was actually in the garage getting ready for a report, but I looked down and I thought I saw you guys greeting parents or family outside the tunnel. Did that happen at all? Were your family here? What did they say to you after the game, being your first NCAA Tournament games?
TYRESE PROCTOR: My family wasn't here. They're back in Australia.
MARK MITCHELL: My family was not in the tunnel after the game.
Q. Everybody talks about Kentucky with that schedule and that size. You've gone around the country and played a lot of teams. Who are some of the most physical teams you've played this season that you can look back on some stuff heading into this game?
RYAN YOUNG: I can take it first, I guess. As a big, we played Purdue earlier in the year. Zach Edey is a pretty unique type of player. You have to be physical and throw different looks at him. But then across the board in the ACC, I think we've gotten some good looks at very physical teams. Virginia is one that takes a lot of pride in the way that they play defense and how physical they are in the interior. So I think we've gotten a good different set of looks. I don't know if you have a different viewpoint from the forward position, Mark.
MARK MITCHELL: No, I think Ryan hit on it. I think Purdue and Virginia with Edey and Hurst and those guys, Virginia with Gardner and Vander Plas, those are probably the two most physical teams we've played thus far. I think it prepared us to play a team like Tennessee. I think seen a little bit of everything this year.
Q. Ryan, I don't think I've asked you this all season, but in transferring from Northwestern to Duke, you played for a former Duke player and coach in Chris Collins. Did you find a similarity in the way things were done, even terminology or anything that you said, yeah, we did that at Northwestern and it's the same thing here?
RYAN YOUNG: Yeah, there was definitely some similarities. I think obviously just because Chris Collins, a former coach just came from Duke and they both were under Coach K for so long. So there was definitely some similar terminology and similarities in which the program was run.
But there was also a different type of energy with Coach Scheyer, as well, so they have their unique styles. But there's definitely been times where I could see how they've gotten this from the same place.
Q. Tyrese, what stands out to you about Santiago Vescovi and the new role Jahmai Mashack has taken on the second half of the season?
TYRESE PROCTOR: Yeah, I actually lived with Santi for a little bit back in the academy so I'm pretty familiar with his game. He's obviously gotten a lot better. But just the role that he's taken as a player coming in and having an impact on Tennessee straight away stood out to me. And he's a real physical guard and a good all-around player. I think just limiting him. And obviously Zeigler went out and they got guys that can come and step. So just limiting their perimeter is a big thing, keeping them out of the paint.
Q. How much of an emphasis have you put on turning them over in the backcourt?
TYRESE PROCTOR: Yeah, I think just sticking to what we do best. We're obviously a really good defensive team and we just stick to what we do best. And I don't think we have to change anything necessarily, just make sure we lock in on the keys and our scout that Coach Scheyer has emphasized and one of them is keeping out of the paint, so just emphasize that and rebounding.
Q. You've had some time to think about this matchup. What are your thoughts on Tennessee?
JON SCHEYER: Well, one, they're a great team. They've had -- they've played a really tough schedule this year. They've been battle tested. They're experienced. They have great size. They play incredibly well together. They're one of the best assist teams in the country. They're one of the best rebounding teams, and they're one of the best defending teams.
For us, we feel it's a great challenge. This game, the run of 32 is never an easy game. It's obviously not going to be that way tomorrow. But a lot of respect for them and their group, and obviously they're really well-coached.
Rick Barnes has been somebody that I've known actually since the recruiting process. I took a visit there when I was -- my sister went to Texas, so I took one visit there, and he's a great coach. I have a lot of respect for him. His teams are known for being incredibly tough and together.
You know, it's going to be a great challenge for us, but we're really excited to have this opportunity.
Q. What do you remember about that recruiting visit with yourself and Rick Barnes?
JON SCHEYER: Well, it was a really good visit. My sister, she wanted me to go there, but she didn't because that was her thing, that she didn't want me to screw that up, the little brother coming her way. But I just remember being so impressed. They had some really great teams then.
At the time if I knew Kevin Durant was going there, I think I would have looked a little bit harder at it, but I didn't know that at the time. The campus is beautiful, and obviously it's a great place down there.
Q. How do you get your team to give that next level of energy, especially boosting what was already an unbelievable defensive performance in a tougher matchup against Tennessee?
JON SCHEYER: Well, you need to continue to rise to the occasion, and we've done that towards the end of the regular season in ACC play. You need to do that when you go into the ACC Tournament. We need to do that yesterday, which we did, and we understand now the next step that needs to be taken.
It doesn't take any convincing to share with our guys how good Tennessee is. They've seen them play. They know their name, the ranking they've had the whole year.
I think our guys understand what's at stake, but also how good we have to be tomorrow. We have to be ready to play and ready to compete.
Q. I was talking to Josiah-Jordan James last night in the locker room and he was telling me about y'all's relationship during the recruiting process and how great it was. What do you remember about recruiting Josiah and four years later how have you seen him transform as a player?
JON SCHEYER: Right. Well, one, Josiah is a great kid. Well, he's not a kid anymore. I loved getting to know him. I thought he had a natural feel for the game when I watched him play in high school. Great family. He went to a great high school, was really well-coached. He's had a great career there.
He's somebody who knows how to play the game. Whatever the game requires, he can do. He can score, he can pass, he can rebound. He's a really good defender. He's got great size.
I have a lot of respect for him as a player and what he's done there during his time and who he is now. Obviously tomorrow, I hope he's not doing all those things. That's the goal. But he's a great person and great player.
Q. The other day you said you hadn't heard from Paolo yet. I know the Magic had a game last night. Curious if they returned your phone call or if you've heard from them.
JON SCHEYER: No, I still haven't actually. I saw them posting about us, though, so we're great. I know they had a tough one the other night, but it's all love. I can tell you that much. I think it is, at least.
Q. I know it's all about surviving and advancing, but how much can momentum kind of help the attitude and help the mentality of a team. When you guys have won so many games in a row and you guys have the ACC title behind your backs, how much can that help especially a younger team like yours?
JON SCHEYER: Well, the momentum is great because you've won, but I also -- I think you have to be careful to think that it translates. You have to go make it happen. You can't assume it will.
For us, I'm really proud of the fact that we haven't assumed anything just because of the winning streak we've had or the basketball that we've played this last stretch.
We have to continue to go make it happen, play with an edge, play with a hunger, and that's what's made us really special, the fact that we do that every day.
Tomorrow we're going to have to do that.
Q. I know you've been around the game obviously a while now. When any team loses its point guard so late in the season, sort of right before the postseason starts, how many different challenges does that sort of give the average team with a guy like Zeigler there and then all of a sudden not there?
JON SCHEYER: Yeah, well, Zeigler of course is a great player. I hate that that happened to him because he's -- he did so much for their team, running the show and defending and all that. Anytime an injury happens, though, a team can have other strengths that they may not have had before. And you look at the size they put on the floor now, they're as big as any team we've played against, especially in the perimeter. They're really switchable. They can really attack the boards from basically every position.
Of course they're still figuring out their team fully, but man, they're really good.
But again, I'm not diminishing at all what happened with Zeigler because he's a great player and you hate to see that happen.
But Tennessee is bigger, and they can really guard, and they had a lot of depth before and they still have a lot of depth where they can come in and hurt you from many different positions.
Q. I was looking over the notes ahead of this press conference, and it says that the only meeting between Duke men's basketball and Tennessee in the postseason came in 1971. Are you surprised that Tennessee and Duke have never met in the NCAA Tournament before tomorrow?
JON SCHEYER: Yeah, I saw that same thing. I was surprised by that, too. Yes, to answer your question. I thought we would have played more recently than that. That's how it goes, I guess.
Q. Following up on the Zeigler loss and the adjustment, what are your impressions watching Mashack run the point for them?
JON SCHEYER: Mashack is a big time athlete, can really impact the game on both ends. He's a great defender, really gets downhill on offense. He brings great energy. He just brings another dynamic to their team. And it's different, but he's really good. I mentioned before the versatility they have on defense. Mashack can guard multiple positions. He's got active hands, and he's just -- it's a different dimension. I've been really impressed with him just watching him, and he's a heck of a defender. I can tell you that much.
Q. What are the challenges that come with defending Santiago Vescovi?
JON SCHEYER: Vescovi has got a great belief in himself, you can tell. Anytime he shoots he thinks it's going in, his teammates think it's going in, probably because most of the time he makes it. We've had a couple guys in our league who move really well without the ball. He's probably just as good at continuing to move.
They do a great job screening for him off the ball. They set as many off the ball screens as any team in the country, and he's the main guy they screen for. He has a knack for getting open, hitting clutch shots, and of course he can put on the floor, too. He can hurt you in other ways besides shooting. He's just a tough, really good college player.
He's one of those guys where you can't just guard him for 10 seconds and then you relax. You have to be really disciplined with him to make life as difficult as possible, understanding he's probably still going to score. But you need to limit him as much as you possibly can.
Q. Yesterday in the second half you pulled Kyle to the side before going to the huddle, and I asked Kyle about that. He said you just told him be the Kyle Filipowski I know. Is that something you have to remind your players where this is their first experience in the tournament?
JON SCHEYER: You need to remind them from time to time. And our guys, they want it so badly. I think you can see that with the way we're playing defense and rebounding and passing and playing together. But sometimes you need a wake-up call. Sometimes you need a reminder of how good you are. So for our team, I think it's been that balance.
As of late, I think we understand how good we can be. But Kyle just wanted it so bad yesterday. I just wanted him to calm down and play his game, which he did some really good things. He wasn't like he normally is, but knowing him, he's going to bounce back and be ready to go, his normal self tomorrow.
Q. Yesterday you were playing a team that offensively is pretty much a five out and perimeter shooting oriented. Tennessee is not like that. How do you quickly make that adjustment and how challenging is it for your defense to refocus styles like that?
JON SCHEYER: Yeah, it's really polar opposites when you think about it. I mean, Tennessee, they're as good as anybody that I've seen getting in the paint, playing inside out. And like you mentioned, Oral Roberts is very different with that, the way they space you and shoot it.
We've done it before, fortunately. In the ACC Tournament, playing Pittsburgh and then playing Miami and then playing Virginia, three very different styles. And the one thing about our defense, the way that it's built, I think it lends itself to versatility, being able to defend different teams.
Now, no matter what, you can play great defense and the shot goes up against Tennessee, they're going to the boards. You still need to rebound with them and make them a half-court team and be strong with the ball. But I think for our guys to transition quickly, the ACC Tournament was great preparation to be able to do that, and you actually have another day. We would have been playing by now if this was the ACC Tournament.
So I think that extra day of preparation really helps.
Q. How do you describe Tyrese's development as a defender?
JON SCHEYER: Tyrese has grown not just as a defender but just as a player overall this whole year. He's made as big of a stride to me as any freshman that we've had. He's been incredible. The thing about his defense is he's so competitive. He just has great focus on whatever the job is that he should be doing at that time. He's got great balance when he's guarding the ball. He has really good size, so he's able to use that to his advantage, and doing it without fouling. That's the key thing. He had the two fouls in the first half yesterday, but I mean fouling a shooter, fouling somebody going to the basket.
But I really credit his competitiveness most importantly. Without that, you can only be so good of a defender.
Q. When Dariq was working his way through those various injuries, how did you see him mature and what did that sort of tell you about his character to be able to accept the role that he is now thriving in?
JON SCHEYER: Dariq is just -- he's got something inside of him, man. He just is -- I felt for him in the beginning of the year with some of those breaks that he had, the foot injury. But then he finally was -- he was figuring it out, and then his leg injury at Virginia Tech happens. So to be able to overcome that, I credit his family first and foremost, his mom, the fact that he went to Mount Vernon for five years. You get very battle tested being there.
He went through incredible adversity playing against -- practicing against the best players in the country as an eighth grader, as a freshman. He wasn't even playing. To go through that, I think it toughens you, it hardens you.
So for him, he's been able to adapt -- doing the same thing here, but he's been a huge key guy for us. I mean, the job that he does -- he's basically a sixth starter. We have six starters on our team. So for Dariq being able to come -- he started for us. He's come off the bench. But really when he plays, one, he's going to play, but two, the impact that he makes is incredible because you have to guard him.
He's starting to do more things without the ball, rebounding, defending, all of that, and just proud of his perseverance for sticking with it.
Q. Did you ever have to have a conversation -- he comes back from that second injury. You guys are already starting to kick things into gear. Did you have to have a conversation with him about his role and how that may have been different from expectations, and how did he handle that?
JON SCHEYER: We of course have had conversations. I don't know specifically at that time -- I can't remember exactly what was said or what we talked about. But throughout, we have very open conversations. And Dariq, I just give him credit for battling. That's the biggest thing, just continuing to show what he can do.
Whether you come off the bench, whether you start, ultimately it's about what you do on the court with your minutes. He's done a great job of controlling that. He's done a great job of the work that he's put in. He's been consistent. He's been focused, driven, and that's the thing I love the most.
But the communication has been there, and I just love his attitude. I'm going to use yesterday's game. He had it going in the first half. He didn't get as many shots as he probably should have in the second half. We missed him a couple times, and he was so happy we won.
I think that example of Dariq yesterday being happy is a good example of where our team is. Just we're all about winning, and we know at the end of the day that's going to carry the day for all of us.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports