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March 28, 1999

William Avery

Shane Battier

Elton Brand

Chris Carrawell

Mike Krzyzewski

Trajan Langdon


THE MODERATOR: We'd like to congratulate Duke. It seems appropriate that we end this decade with this game on Monday night.

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, we came out of last night in good health. Certainly, it was a very physical game, and we're proud of our win last night. But we think our recovery has been good. Hopefully we can get all our game plan in before tomorrow night. So we feel honored to be playing against Connecticut, and it's, I think, one of the few times in the history of the tournament that I think it's just been us and Connecticut that have been ranked number one all year. And to have the two of us playing in the National Championship game is terrific. And we're looking forward to it. We have a lot of respect for what Jim and his team has done.

Q. Mike, over the span of your coaching career, the season has extended to a tremendous degree. You started playing games in the middle of November. How has that affected and how have you had to adapt to the ebb and flow of almost a pro-like season, and how this affects young men who, you know, 25 years ago wouldn't have been exposed to such a thing.

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: It is a longer season. I hope that in the future we can shorten it somewhat. I think it starts too early, maybe a couple weeks too early. But as a result, we really have to adjust practice time wise. And what we've tried to do throughout the year, too, is take some breaks. When we do have an exam break, although it's not like a great break for them, they're still working real hard, you don't schedule anything during that time. We try to give them five days off or four or five days off for Christmas and not go to a Christmas tournament. You know, we'd rather go to something on Thanksgiving, so we can break up the season just a little bit. Things like that. Once you're fortunate enough to keep on advancing, the adjustment of practice time and days off I think is critical. So it doesn't become old. You don't become stale at the end. And overall, I think we have done a pretty good job of that.

Q. Mike, how much of a challenge is it to take guys who are high school all-Americans and have them playing, accept the role of playing 17 minutes a game or sometimes less and keep a good team chemistry going?

I will repeat that. The challenge of coaching players that are very highly regarded and molding them team wise.

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: You got more than 17 minutes, didn't you? I think in your development, each kid takes on a different role. And some of them come in and, you know, they start and they play right away. Some of them aren't ready to do that. It's about learning. And I think you have two different paths you go on. One is the team path, which we have great kids so they see that path and they want to be a part of it. And then two, their individual path. And both of them should be compatible; they shouldn't be conflicting. And since we get some great kids who want to learn, we really have had -- I've never had a problem. With these guys. I mean last year Avery -- William never started a game. He never came into my office, coach, you know, what's the story, man. First of all, I'd kick him out. But, you know, never ever. It's all about learning. And now he's, I think, one of the better point guards in the country. All these kids have a lot to learn. They still have a lot to learn.

Q. Mike, can you talk about the challenges of guarding Khalid and also whether you might have parallel guarding the way you did?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: All of our perimeter players have to be ready to cover all of their perimeter players because of how quickly they take the ball from the defensive end to the offensive end. On Saturday night we played against the best rebounding team, offensive rebounding team in the country. Monday night we'll play against the offensive transition team in the country. As a result you won't always have your set matchups. You got to get back, and then who's there. So William will have be to ready to cover Hamilton at times. Chris Carrawell will have to cover El-Amin or Moore at times, same thing with Trajan. And I'm sure at times Shane will be on the perimeter because of some of the things they do in their offense to get those guys open, where we might have to switch.

Q. Mike, last night you were quick to admonish a little bit the question referring to Michigan State as a speed bump in the road. It sort of is an inference that everybody's expecting you guys to win. Could you talk about whether it is easier or difficult playing under the constant microscope of just expecting to just roll over people every game.

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: The reason I said that last night was not because of our thing, it was more because I think it's disrespectful to Michigan State. Michigan State ended up the season as the No. 2 team in the country. They're a Big Ten regular season and tournament champs. They've won 22 in a row. You know, all coaches in the country would like to be that speed bump. You know? I mean they're terrific. And, you know, we had three top teams in the country in this Final Four, and then the team that has had the biggest turnaround, one of the biggest turnarounds in the history of college basketball, what a great Final Four. To minimize it and say it's Duke and the other three, it does put us in a little bit more difficult situation, because motivationally, if I am one of those other teams, I want to beat Duke even more. And, you know, Connecticut, I think, in being No. 1 for so long, they deserve the credit for being if not the top team, one of the top two teams, two or three teams in the country. They've had a great year. For us it has not been that taxing, because we don't talk about it. We just talk about getting better and having fun playing. But if we talked about it, it would be incredibly taxing. That's why we don't.

Q. This is for any of the players. All year long you guys have been talking about the journey, enjoying the journey. The journey's over tomorrow night one way or the other, win or lose. What kind of anticipation is there for that considering the buildup for, you know, the whole season?

CHRIS CARRAWELL: Well, I think definitely, you know, this is the last time this team's gonna be together. No matter what happens, the last time this team will be together. And I'm looking forward to playing tomorrow night's game. It's gonna be a great matchup, two of the better teams in the country, and it's a great opportunity for us to play in this game tomorrow night.

TRAJAN LANGDON: This is the best team I've been on in my Duke career, and I've enjoyed this season immensely. Regardless of what happens tomorrow night, I think we've had an unbelievable year. Obviously we want to end it on a winning note, but we're just going to go out there tomorrow night, enjoy the moment and have fun and play as well as we can.

SHANE BATTIER: I think it's a rarity that you find in athletics today at any level, you find a whole team that's like a family and that really loves each other the way a family does and should. And although it's been seven or eight months since last September at this point, it seemed about a week. And to culminate the season with a National Championship game is just a tremendous thing for this family.

WILLIAM AVERY: Well, it's not just a basketball team. It's the most together team I've ever been on. I think regardless of what happens on Monday night, it's been a great year. You know, a special season for us. It's going to be sad to see it come to an end.

ELTON BRAND: With Trajan and Will, no matter what happens, it's been a wonderful season. We've bonded, coincided well, we'll hopefully play our best and just, you know, come out and do the things that we need to do to get a victory. Regardless, it will be a great season.

Q. This is for Coach and William. Jeff Calhoun has called Ricky Moore the best defensive player he's ever coached. Who can you compare him to, either a guy you've coached or a guy you've seen over the years and how do you plan on attacking offensively if he's up in William's face? This if for both Coach and William.

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Ricky Moore is an outstanding defensive player. We've had some -- in fact we have some on this team, some outstanding defenders. But I don't know if he's like any kid I've coached, because he -- maybe Billy King a little bit more than -- because he doesn't really only guard a point; he guards anybody on the perimeter. And I'm not sure that he'll necessarily be on William. Did Jim say that? (Laughter) Are you trying to confuse me for that? (Laughter) Thought I got some inside information. Are you from Connecticut? (Laughter) I would be surprised if he's just on William. But we know that he's -- we really respect who Ricky Moore is. He's his neighbor, right?

WILLIAM AVERY: Yeah. I'm not gonna go out there, you know, looking just to go and attack Ricky, get into a personal thing or anything. I'm just gonna go out there, run my team and do what I've been doing all year.

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: They grew up like ten houses from each other. So, you were friends, weren't you?



Q. This is for Coach and Trajan. Could you talk about the satisfaction of seeing Trajan come from five years ago to now and this being his team and the leader? Trajan, could you comment maybe on going from the lows to the high; what this season has meant to you?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: For me, it's been the biggest improvement of any kid I've ever seen. When he came to Duke, when he tried to make his drive with those snow shoes on, it was -- (laughter) It was unbelievable. I got him in the proper equipment, and so it was a total revamping that we had to do with him. I don't think there's been a kid in my program that I've enjoyed knowing and following his progress more than Tray since we've had him for five years, because he's out for 14 months with his knee injury, I've admired him, truly. I'm trying to remember -- I'm not sure if you all can remember when you're 18, 19, 20, he does things that I know I couldn't have done at that time, and I admire that. Especially how he's faced adversity. And how much of a team member he's been. He's truly been our leader. You know, he may not look it, but he's a lot older than these other guys, and except for Carrawell, there's a two-year difference, the other guys there's three. For him to be so close with this group I think shows not only a lot about Trajan, but it shows how much respect the other guys have for him.

TRAJAN LANGDON: About going 13 and 18, from when Coach talked about adversity, it's about as much adversity in terms of win-loss season that I've ever had. So from that year to this year, Coach actually commented about it a little bit ago when we were in the locker room. It's been a long time coming, it's been five years. It was tough to dream and be realistic that I could get back to this point from freshman year. And I've just followed Coach's lead. And, you know, just been determined and try to do everything to get back to this point, to have my career culminate with a chance to play a National Championship game, it just can't get any better than that.

Q. This is for Mike and Elton. There's a sense out there that these are two incredible teams and that there's one guy who can make a difference and that's Elton. Are you concerned, Mike, and are you concerned, Elton, of you trying to do too much, of you trying to take on too much of a role?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: No. I want him to take on as much of a role as possible. I hope that Connecticut will allow him to do that. I think no question that Jim Calhoun will have something in his game plan to try to take Elton out of the game, and how we adjust to that as a coaching staff and how Elton adjusts out on the court to the type of defense they're going to play on him.

ELTON BRAND: You know, I really don't think I'm going to come out and try to do so much. I feel what the game situation is, how they're playing me, just play hard and play my game. I'm sure they'll have a new niche in their defense. I'm sure we'll hopefully exploit it and just adjust.

Q. Yeah, you all rolled through the ACC this year and some people said, you know, the ACC has been down, has you all going to this game, is there a sense that winning makes a statement for the ACC as well? This is directed to anybody.

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Brian, why don't you answer that? (Laughter) It's for everybody. Sorry. You don't want to do it? I'll take it first then. Would you defer to me?

Q. I will defer.

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Thank you. I think at this time you can't ask a team to make a mission statement for anything else than what they've internalized the game for. We are ultimately proud of being a member of the ACC. We think it's as good a conference as there is. We're going to concentrate on Duke. And that's the only way you win. You can only fight for one cause at a time, and then hopefully if you win, then other people share in that. And I'm sure the guys feel the same way. Right, guys? (Laughter) .

Q. For William and for Shane, is there a feeling on this team that if you guys play as well as Duke is capable of playing that you guys can't be beat?

SHANE BATTIER: Well, I think in basketball there's so many external factors that go into deciding a game. You never know what injuries are going to occur, how the officials are going to react, and whether shots fall in or fall out. You know that we've been successful this year, we'll come out and play very tough defense and we've rebounded especially on the perimeter, that's been our game plan all year long. It's not going to change now. So it's not a matter of trying to play the perfect game; it's just a matter of playing Duke basketball.

WILLIAM AVERY: Well, you know, like I said, nothing's impossible. On any given night, any team can be beat. We're gonna go out there, try to play hard.

Q. Mike, can you give your impressions of Rich Hamilton and what you think makes him so good?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I think Hamilton expects to put points up on the board every night. He expects to win. You can't find him in one area of the court. Jim gives him great freedom of movement. They look for him in transition. They set things up for him. And then he can just make his own moves whenever he sees it. It's apparent that Jim gives him great freedom on their offense. And he's really as good a scorer as there is in college basketball I think. Because he can hit the three, can drive when he gets fouled, from the freethrow line, I think he's tough. I think he's really tough. There's no question he's as good an offensive player as we've played against all year.

Q. Mike, sometimes a lot of teams have come into the tournament as heavy favorites, as you all have this year, and in 1991 UNLV, 1993 Georgetown, clearly great, great teams that were not able to finish the journey. Is that in your mind, especially with you all being the one at the other end of UNLV at the end of 1991?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: We never talk about that. I think you talk about things that your team can relate to. You know, quite frankly, these kids don't know anything about 1985, you know. William, I mean, you were six years old? Yeah, I mean there's no way that he knows that. In '91, he was probably cheering against Duke. So you just relate to the moment. You have to even be careful, sometimes I'm getting older, who I talk about. I say this guy's like a certain player. And I'm sure, because they respect me, they'll listen. After the meeting they'll say who the hell was that. (Laughter) You know... I never saw that guy play. So you have to talk about more of what's happening right now. And that's where I rely on my staff to keep me current.

Q. Mike, having noted the dramatic and positive effect of one of your time-outs last night, I'm really interested in where you think -- what one or two areas of the game tomorrow do you think will be most decisive?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I think at any time if one team is able to get on a roll, you know, there's got to be something, whether it be a time-out or the toughness of that team offensively to come back with a score so that either the role is diffused with the time-out or out on the court. Because their team can spurt and so can we. And what you don't want tomorrow, I think, either team wants either squad to get that much ahead of the other. And so how that situation is handled by either team I think is an important aspect to the game.

Q. Chris, can you talk about, you matched up against Steve Francis and you're the guy that looks to get Hamilton at least the most. Can you talk about what you see in him and what you have to do against him?

CHRIS CARRAWELL: He's a great player, great offensive player. I'm going to charge him, hopefully he misses a lot of shots tomorrow night. That would really help a lot. (Laughter) I'm just gonna play hard, try to charge the ball. I'm going to get a lot of help from my teammates as well. It's not a personal matchup, me trying to shut down Richard Hamilton. It's going to be everybody on our team.

Q. Mike, your team has had a remarkable past, just grabbed teams and put them away. That's a constant struggle for most teams, get them down by a big margin and just coast. Obviously you have great talent, but what is it about the mentality of this team that allows you to do that?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Part of it is our versatility that allows us to keep line ups on the court that are compatible. For most of the season we've been able to wear some people down. I don't think that will happen tomorrow night because they're very versatile. But as far as what's happened during the year, that's been part of it. When you can come off the bench with Maggette and James on the perimeter and then Burgess inside, you don't lose that much. Certainly Corey gave us a huge lift yesterday in the first half with his nine points and his driving, and then Nate came up with a few tough defensive exchanges that helped us. So we don't take a dip when we go to the bench; we're able to stay pretty fresh throughout the whole game.

Q. Mike, in relation to your team's ability to free-lance on offense as much as it does, can you talk about the learning curve for a team this young to be able to accomplish that?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, this group has been such a pleasure to teach because they constantly want to learn. They want to get better. Giving them some freedom, they really come to practice every day working hard. We've not really had a bad practice this year. And I think that's where the youth of the team really helps. William Avery is a better player now than he was a month ago. Shane Battier is better than a month ago. Corey Maggette is a lot better than he was a month ago. That doesn't happen unless you give them some freedom. And then they're allowed to try to show that. We're even trying to change different aspects of Elton's game. Last week, he was in point guard drills. We allowed him to use one of those things last night. (Laughter) We've eliminated him from point guard drills. (Laughter) Especially when he has three fouls. And in a sadistic type of way, William was kind of happy about that because he wants Elton to give him the ball sooner, right?


Q. To any of the players, particularly Trajan, last night you guys had some problems shooting and a lot of that is Michigan State's defense. But last night you barely shot 50 percent from the freethrow line. Is that the shooting background? Was it nerves? And how do you correct that for tomorrow night?

TRAJAN LANGDON: Well, in terms of correcting it, we've shot freethrows all year. So we'll just go up to the line as confident as we have all year. We played a very tough Michigan State team. They were very physical. It was a very emotional game. And a lot of times when you step to the line, you just want to go up there and hit it. It's not really nervousness, you just really have to catch your breath and take your time. We've been going 100 miles an hour, you really need to slow down. It's a lot more difficult than a lot of people think it is, to step up to the freethrow line and knock freethrows down.

Q. Coach, can you maybe speak to your depth, you brought it up a little bit about Corey Maggette and the other members of your bench. When you have a freshman of his talent and caliber, how were you able to integrate him into this collection of players that you have now?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Easy. I mean these guys are -- I think everyone here would recognize that Corey's our best athlete. But Corey has a lot to learn. And being the only freshman, he's such a good kid. He's really like an amazing kid. They all love him. So they're not threatened by him. They like to play with him. And in Corey, Corey has been so good about not ever saying, I need to play more, you know, that type of thing, just how can I be used right now. So it's worked out well, because there's nobody who comes off the bench with a more talented player than we do in Maggette. There's no question about that.

Q. This question is for either Coach Krzyzewski or William you can address it as well. You made constant references to the youth of your team but a lot of people have remarked how you guys have handled this whole season, the run, the expectations. Can you talk a little bit about the maturity of the team even though in actual age they're younger than the other teams.

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: We're probably the youngest team in the Final Four if you take the ages of the top eight that played. They have played a lot of basketball in their careers. I definitely believe that one of the main reasons we've been such a good team is because of Trajan. He's been a great leader. Not a good leader, a great leader. And when your top player, the guy who's been through it, comes to practice and he works so hard and is so well-respected by the other guys, it just brings them all together and they're able to handle it. Trajan is a very unselfish guy. I mean, you know, he's been a First Team All League selection for three years, and to see him be so happy about Elton's success and Player of the Year Awards, you know how William has gotten great recognition, I mean these kids know that. You'll be in the locker room all the time and you can tell if somebody really, really is behind you. And having Trajan do that the entire year, it's made it easy, really.

We're going to allow the players to exit and go to the breakout areas. Mike will remain and Corey Maggette will be available in the locker room beginning at 2:40.

End of FastScripts....

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