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November 25, 2005

Mike Krzyzewski


COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, it's an honor to win the first NCAA NIT. (Laughter) I thought it was just a terrific game. That's probably as athletic a team as we're going to face all year. They played hard and knocked us back early. I thought Paulus's floor game was a huge factor in us staying in the game initially, and then at a different junctures, he just kind of made plays that either got us back or gave us a two-possession lead. And I thought McRoberts did a good job on Williams, and those two kids, for freshmen, to play like they did tonight, was significant. Shelden, of course, we tried to get him the ball most every time in the second half. He deserved the MVP and getting 30 points, eight rebounds was great. And let's talk about Paulus, too. He had seven rebounds, six defensive boards. When Roberts goes out, we become fairly small, so getting those rebounds is good. I love Carney. I think Carney is one of the best players I've seen for awhile. He's an incredible athlete, an amazing defender. It was tough for J.J. to score. We haven't learned with the lineup we had tonight to play off of J.J. yet. Because we took Sean off the ball offensively. We had him on the ball defensively. We kind of did that kind of stuff. I told Sean, just keep shooting, and he hit the biggest shot of the night. And he can hit that shot, and that's something that with DeMarcus out, he's going to have to do. We have confidence in him, hitting a big shot like that and a big free throw, the best way to get confidence is to do something in pressure situations. We have a lot of respect for Memphis. Tough to score against them. I thought in the second half we changed our defense to play our regular halfcourt man, we were trying to take away penetration in the first half, and they hit six 3s. I think that's as many 3s as we give up in that many games usually. We went back to playing our regular pressure defense in the hard court and I thought it put the kids in a more natural position and they responded. So we are very happy, especially with DeMarcus getting hurt, for these kids to step up like this.

Q. Memphis obviously gained a lot from this tour. So that's what I was going to ask you. What do you gain from this tournament?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: We're a young team, too. When you start two freshman, and Martynas, we're eventually going to have four or five freshmen playing, as we bring them along. You only get better. What I told a couple of the Memphis kids, I said this is a great game for both of us. I know we won and we're happy, of course. I think we both get better from games like this. That's why these tournaments are great in the early season. Not preseason; this is the season. When are we going to stop saying "preseason"? (Laughter) I thought it was great. It was a great game for the Garden. I said it out on the court, for me having the honor of accepting the Carlesimo Trophy is especially good for me. Coach Carlesimo, and his family, are like my family. There has been no greater guy in college basketball history than Coach Carlesimo. I'm glad Lucy was here and some of the kids, they have so many darned kids, some of them had to be here. But that was an honor for me to have that happen.

Q. When both teams have relied on freshmen, is it at all surprising to you any more that freshmen are able to come in and make an impact the way they do?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: One of the reasons is that they are playing against freshmen a lot of times. That's why you see like -- to me, maybe the most significant story of the whole NIT is Drexel, where you don't have freshman, but you have a really good coach, an unbelievable system, and kids who have played together who are playing together and that's the parity that you have in college basketball right now. I mean Drexel could have won this tournament. I mean, they are really -- I'm glad we won it, but they came out 0-2 and they probably played the best basketball of the four teams for 80 minutes. Those things don't surprise me in basketball. A lot of good players out there. Some of the ones who are talented are 18 and 19, they might have a little bit more talent than some of the other guys, but those guys who are 22 and juniors are seniors are pretty darned good.

Q. After the game was over, what did you say to Carney?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: For me, I've coached a long time. I really respect talent and kids who are really good. I told him, I said, "Son, you're a great player." I said, "Don't screw it up, whatever you're doing, keep it going." Because this kid has got a chance to be big-time, he's a big-time player. I really admire him. I'd love to coach him; not that he can transfer or anything -- I wasn't trying to do something like that. (Laughter) but even if we would have lost, I would have said the same thing to him. You've got to respect -- one thing about this game, you've got to respect the game and respect your opponents, and when kids do something really good, you should acknowledge it, because a lot of times they don't get that acknowledgment.

Q. Is this the best you've seen Williams play offensively?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: This year, yeah. Shelden is a really good offensive player. You know, for him to get to the line -- he showed a lot of poise tonight, because he's playing against big guys. Dorsey and Cooper, I mean, those are big guys.

Q. What's the approach as far as Shelden and J.J. to be the focal point of the teams that are coming up? How do you approach that, how do you make sure that they don't get frustrated as the season goes?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: No, they won't get frustrated. We have to learn to play off of them. Together they still scored 45 points. If they do that every night, we'll be good. We just have to figure out other people score with them. DeMarcus, that's where we will miss DeMarcus, because he was capable of driving, rebounding, shooting. DeMarcus could have given you a 20-point game, if you're playing off because Sean is not of that mindset yet and the other kids are young, we have did develop that mindset. When DeMarcus comes back, we have a chance to be better. It's a long season, it's November, late November. We're not about playing for No. 1 or anything like that. We're just trying to develop as a basketball team.

Q. Can you talk about Sean, people developing into roles, but your other two seniors and what have they done, what do they need to do more of in this adjustment phase?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Sean, his defense on the ball was outstanding in the second half as it was in the Drexel game. You know, Washington had a hard time getting in the paint on the second half, and so did Mason from Drexel in the second half, and that's Sean on the ball defense. But he's a good shooter, and driver. We have to kind of keep working with him so that he develops a little bit more of a toughness there. With Lee, Lee hasn't played like Lee will play.

Q. John said you won by making all of the hustle plays in the end, is that the way you see it?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, we chased down a few balls, that, come on, his kids made a lot of hustle plays throughout. Even throw Lee missed the free throws, getting the ball was a big play, it put the ball in the other end of the court. If nothing else, we iced it, you know, being an old Blackhawk fan. And then Shelden came up with a loose ball on the rebound, and I was hoping that Sean would kick it out to that kid that we call J.J., and they would foul him, but it did put us in a position to shoot some pressure free throws, at least he hit the one.

Q. Coach said he would have been fine to going to overtime and felt the longer the game goes the better it was for him. Did you have a sense on that one way or the other?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I thought our conditioning was really good. I'd rather end it in regulation the way it was and not go there. I think you would have found that both teams would have responded well in overtime. I think they are in good condition -- I think we are in really good condition. My staff has done a great job with these guys and getting them in condition.

Q. Josh got blocked twice early in the game and then he came back with a couple of dunks. Were you looking for something like that, like the get-mad, get-back?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Josh has gotten more assertive. I think he and Greg have kind of deferred a little bit with our seniors. Sometimes when an emergency situation occurs, kids step up. And I thought the good part of DeMarcus not being here tonight was that we had a chance to see if someone would start stepping up, because they needed to. The bad thing is that I have to bring them back on Wednesday when we play Indiana, but that's not going to happen. I give Josh a lot of credit, because some kids if they got their shot blocked like that would stop going to the hole. Memphis made two great plays on them. Those are big-time plays, because Josh was up there.

Q. Do you see any similarities between this team and the team that won in 2000?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: On our team? No. We were a lot better in 2000. We had more balance. You had five or six NBA players on that team. You had Duhon and Williams and Dunleavy -- I'm going to start crying -- Battier. (Laughter). Thank you.

End of FastScripts...

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