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April 1, 2001
CHRIS PLONSKY: I'd like to welcome Duke University. We'll let Mike make some opening comments, then we'll open it up for questions.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, we -- quick turnaround. Trying to cram in a lot of stuff about Arizona before these meetings, so we're still in the process of going through the game plan and actually will until tomorrow night. I'm sure a lot of the questions you have for our players, they won't be completely ready to answer, just because it was so late last night and just getting some sleep. We just had one meeting before coming here after breakfast. I think we are in good shape. Chris, as evidenced by the fact he's here, he's doing better after that collision yesterday. I'd say he's been checked throughout the night, in spite of Jason not wanting that to happen, since they're roommates. He's getting tired of doctors and our trainer coming in and saying, "How are you, Chris?" But we're in shape. We expect a team Monday night that plays a lot like us, I think. I think we're very similar in the fact that we're pretty simple in what we do offensively. We let our players show their stuff. Defensively, we're pretty solid. They're a little bit older than we are, but we expect a great game against Arizona. So any questions?
Q. This question is for Shane Battier. Since you're one of the few senior starters who stay in college, can you discuss the obvious financial rewards of early entry into the NBA versus the less tangible rewards you're getting now, helping your team get this far and the whole school experience?
SHANE BATTIER: I think the tournament is the best thing about college basketball. On the cusp of a college championship, there's no better feeling aside from winning it. Those who forego this opportunity are missing out on a lot. I'm very fortunate to be in this position, where I am today.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: One thing about that, too, is when you analyze what you do for your life, you earn throughout your life; and, therefore, you should be prepared for your life. And if you just look at the start of the race, it being so financially lucrative, maybe the end of your race isn't as much, or the middle. And somebody who takes care of the whole race, I think, has had a chance to do it a lot better.
Q. Mike, could you talk about Shane and what you would expect his last act to be as a Duke basketball player, what you're looking for from him as he goes out? And what did you think of him back when you recruited him in 1934? (Laughter.)
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, he was older than me then. (Laughter.) And still is probably, mentally. As far as his career, he's had the best career, as good a career as any kid I've coached. I would expect him to be the same as he's been his entire career, consistent. He's going to give me and his teammates his best tomorrow night. And either way, he's going to go out a winner. When I recruited him, there were a couple things I didn't like about him. He always wore a headband. I didn't like that.
SHANE BATTIER: Before it was cool.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Since then, we've learned that it's not that. But he didn't shoot much. He was too unselfish, which we took two years for him to get over. But he always respected authority, and wanted to be a part of something bigger than him, whether it be his family, his school, or his team. I stress school because he was actively involved with most things that were happening in his high school. As a result, he's just done that at a higher level at Duke. After Duke, he'll do it at a higher level than Duke.
Q. Mike, if you suspected Chris had a concussion, why did you put him back in?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Because I got the go-ahead from my medical people. I would never have put him in if they didn't say it was okay. Did you think I just did that on my own? (Laughter.)
Q. With a concussion, sometimes --?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I mean, I would always ask for -- I'm sure you ask your editor is your column okay. They say "Yeah."
Q. No. (Laughter.)
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: You don't? See, we have a chain of command. I guess that's what's wrong. Now I understand how those things get in the newspaper without substantiation. Okay, I'm a chain-of-command guy. It's a learning experience. This is good. (Laughter.) Tell me more about your profession. Who else wants to testify? Come up right here. We absolve you.
Q. Chris, what do you remember about the play where you ran into Steve Blake, and were you woozy, did you black out a little bit?
CHRIS DUHON: Well, the only thing I remember was the ball in the air. I tried to go to get the steal; we collided. My head hit the floor. You know, I blacked out for a little bit, and that's the only thing I remember.
Q. This is for Jason and for Shane. Two years ago, Duke and Connecticut spent the entire season wanting to and then met in a great championship game. This preseason, either Duke or Arizona will want to. Do you feel this is fitting that these are the two teams that should be here?
JASON WILLIAMS: Well, you know, I think so. I think Arizona's gone through a lot of adversity, you know, throughout this whole season. They've definitely been on an emotional ride that's been really carrying them through. In the same sense, I think, you know, we've worked hard all season also. I'm just happy it's going to be a great game tomorrow night, and it should be one of the best national championships for a while.
SHANE BATTIER: There's no question about Arizona's talent. I think from top to bottom they're the most talented team in the country. It's fitting that I think the two best teams are meeting to play for the national championship. That's the way it should be. The true champions should have to beat the best teams.
Q. For Coach and Shane, you had to get past two Pac-10 teams to get here. Now you're playing another one. Have you seen any similarities in the conference?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, they're all good. I think it shows the strength of their conference. You know, we had two really tough games in Philadelphia against UCLA and Southern Cal. I can see why their teams become so good, because they play, you know playing against each other like that. But we don't look at Arizona as playing a Pac-10 team; we look at it as playing Arizona. But looking at it overall after playing them, it shows they're an outstanding conference. In spite of the time zone, they play great basketball there.
Q. Mike, here you are, another Final Four, another championship Monday. What makes each of these experiences unique and refreshing for you each time around?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: It's a different team each time, different kids. You know, four of the kids up here are -- they've not been into the Final Four before, and they haven't been in a national championship game. The fact that I've been here, or I'm sure Lute would say the same thing, you kind of live the season through the kids on your team, which that's what makes it exciting. I have great kids. So it's been a great year for me.
Q. Mike, there was a point there, I think it was 34-17, it was before it even got to 22 points, TV timeout, it had looked like absolute chaos, everyone screaming at each other. Can you describe what was going on?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: In our --? I don't think everybody was screaming at each other. I think one person was screaming at a lot of people. (Laughter.) I don't think we ever had a huddle. Can you guys recall any huddles where everybody was screaming? I don't think that -- unless it was just a team meeting. But, no, I think we were a little bit nervous. And Maryland really came out. I mean, Maryland's a great team. They know us. We missed some easy shots, too, which I think in a game of this magnitude it can throw you off. That and Maryland played so well, we were doing some uncharacteristic things.
Q. Shane, do you look at this as unfinished business from two years ago for yourself? If so, does that carry through to your teammates?
SHANE BATTIER: Well, it's such a different situation. You look back on '99, people were talking about us as one of the great teams of all time. The game pressure that was on us was unbelievable. This year, I don't feel that pressure, especially going against an Arizona team that is as good as they are. I don't think too many people gave them a chance two years ago. But this game is as even as you'll find in terms of national championship games. It's not unfinished for me. It's a different situation. I'm just really happy to be here.
Q. Coach, I'd like to ask you if you're a karma guy?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Karma guy? I'm a Polish guy. (Laughter.) Is karma a sausage or what?
Q. Your team is 5-0 in the Metrodome. This is the site of the last championship Duke won. Is this a little feeling of deja vu?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: It's deja vu and karma. I'm an inner-city Chicago guy. We don't do karma stuff. I'm happy to be here. I'm glad we've done well. It's like each play -- I'm going to ask Shane to explain this afterwards. He's one of these guys. Will you do this on the bus going back?
SHANE BATTIER: I'd be happy to.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Thank you. No, all kidding aside, I do know Karma. He played second base on my baseball team in Chicago. (Laughter.) No, it's just good. It's familiar territory. But each situation is new.
Q. Coach, you said on Friday the team that has the tougher semifinal game sometimes is at a disadvantage Monday night. Having been here before, if you guys are that team, what do you do to keep the energy up to match Arizona?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I think Arizona had a tough game, too. It was a different type of game, but Michigan State is certainly one of the top teams in the country. And it showed, the fact that they won by 19, showed how well Arizona played. But the preparation, everything they did for that game had to require a lot of effort. Our guys have been resilient throughout the whole season, but especially the last month. We won't be tired Monday. We'll be really excited. I hope we won't be nervous, but I think we'll be fine.
Q. This is for Shane, the karma guy. To what extent do you think Duke tradition helps you when you're in a spot like you were last night, that you're able to make good things happen because you expect good things to happen to you?
SHANE BATTIER: I think the tradition of our program has a lot to do with our overall excellence. Every time we step on the practice floor, the court for a game, the post-game interview session, we expect to be at a high level. In a situation like last night, we knew we weren't playing our best basketball down 20-plus points. So it was just a matter of relaxing, looking each other in the eye, and saying, "Hey, let's do the things we've done all year long and do because we're Duke, and we expect to do it at a high level." So I think it's very important to help us in every situation.
Q. Jason, what are the things Jason Gardner does well both offensively and defensively?
JASON WILLIAMS: I think he's as quick as a lightning bolt, first of all. He does a great job getting his team in sets. Not just him, but all their guards are very good off the dribble, and they're all very good shooters. So it's going to be a great game tomorrow, I think. Defensively we're going to do some things to try to slow those guys down, especially Jason, because when he gets in a flow, he's in a flow like he was the other night. I think eventually we have to really buckle down some of their top guys.
Q. Because you've had such success and a lot of national exposure, is it almost like you're a sitting target, everybody wants what Duke has? Do you find other teams have their A-game against Duke, they seem to play at a higher level?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I think overall we get people's best shots, and throughout the year, not just post-seasonwise. Sometimes it becomes more than just a game; it becomes a benchmark. But, you know, I like that. You know, I mean, that means we're doing a lot of good things, and we need to be able to handle that properly. I think you get better. I think that's one of the reasons we've made the Final Four as many times as we have, because we've played so many tough games like that throughout the season. And we're very well prepared once we get here to handle the situation, like we did last night. Again, that doesn't mean we're going to handle it all the time, but I think we've got a chance of handling it.
Q. Mike, can you talk about how far Carlos has come back to the point he played last night? Also, did his injury, in a sense, turn out to be a blessing for this team in getting more guys involved?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I think that you have something that you perceive to be bad happens to you or your team, you need to not spend much time thinking about why it is bad, but what you have left, how it can become good. And we did that right away as a group. And as a result, we got better. We didn't just get better because Carlos got hurt; you got better because everyone on your team said, "We're going to make the most out of this situation." The kid all the way down at the end has made the most of this situation, and that's Casey. In the middle. No one's asking him a question. He probably played as well as anybody on the court last night. Casey has had an amazing month, and I think it's a sign of what he's going to do, not only Monday, but in the future. Last night, he and Carlos combined, that was the best that we've had that position play the whole season. We had 40 minutes of great basketball from that position. You know, Casey's been terrific. Of all the people, I thought he would be nervous, and he's the one over the last month that has not been at all. If you just follow him, you'd see that he's just doing so many good things. And I have to give credit to Wojciechowski for what he's done with our big guys. He's really worked hard with them all year long. And we had a young group, and they've gotten better, and they've been able to really respond during this month. We've had a lot of championship games this month, starting with the league championship, the first game after Carlos got hurt, to the ACC Tournament championship to each regional -- we'd like to look at the Greensboro Tournament and the Philadelphia Tournament as championships. Those big guys have responded, and they're going to have to do that again tomorrow night against Woods and Wright.
Q. Mike, will you talk about your father as a coach, and all your life you've been around basketball. Question No. 2, why you picked Duke? I know you were nationally recruited by a lot of colleges.
MIKE DUNLEAVY: Well, first of all, to address the Duke question, I picked Duke because it was a great academic school with a tremendous basketball program, and I fell in love with Coach K as a coach. I just felt like it was the right place for me. As far as my dad, you know, we've been through a lot with basketball. You know, I've been following him around ever since I was three or four years old, going to practice with him, and I think I've picked up a few things along the way. It's really helped me out a lot.
Q. This is for either of the guards. When you guys were down 22, your coach said, "Let's just tear down the offense and play," did it liberate you guys? And is it becoming harder to choreograph the game with the speed the game has generated these days?
JASON WILLIAMS: I think our main problem, especially last night, was we weren't running the ball like we were supposed to. Coach was telling us to push them up the court. We just were kind of walking the ball up and calling a play. Maryland has great half-court defense. The biggest thing about the lead last night, we were going to take it in sets. We knew we weren't going to get it back in one shot. Buckle down, get a score, get a stop, get a score. As a matter of doing that, we kind of crept our way back into the game, and we started pushing the ball and started playing in transition, and we got a lot of easy buckets.
CHRIS DUHON: He answered that pretty well. (Laughter.)
Q. This is for Coach. Mike, you have been always very loyal to your seniors, and vice versa. Nate James is not up here today. He has accepted obviously a different role on this team, particularly on the defensive end. Can you talk about what he's done, how he's adjusted to the role, and your thoughts about a senior being able to do that?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, the only reason he's not here is because the NCAA says to bring the five starters. So if we had our pick of guys, I would have picked Nate. So we just try to follow the rules. Nate's had a great career. Nate was in the second half our most important player because he not only made big plays offensively, but his responsibility, primarily, was Dixon. Dixon only had three points in -- he had one three-point shot after getting 16 points in the first half. Nate's just been solid. Nate's been the guy for five years that just said, "What do you want me to do? I'll do it. I love being on this team, and I'll do whatever it takes." It's kind of refreshing. I mean, we need more guys like that. As a result, he's become as good as he can be right now. He's made a valuable contribution each year to our basketball team.
Q. Chris, how did you feel last night when the trainers were waking you up? How do you feel now?
CHRIS DUHON: Well, I was aggravated. I know Jason was. I mean, he had a great sleep, all of a sudden someone's tapping you on your leg. But I mean, my head still hurts. I'm not feeling any signs of dizziness or anything like that. So, you know, hopefully take some Tylenol and then be ready to go at it.
Q. Jason and Shane, if you could both answer this, you just talked about all the championships you've won this season. What is it about your coach's personality or approach to the game that keeps everything fresh for you, that keeps you at a high level for all these games?
JASON WILLIAMS: Well, I think every time you look at Coach, you see somebody with a lot of strength, you know. I look at Coach, and I see, like, kind of like what Nate James has, a warrior on the sideline. Every time you look into his eyes, you see that desire and that passion there that he's never going to quit. He's never going to let up. So it's a matter of him doing that, it provides you with a lot of strength and a lot of energy on the court, and we just bring that to the table.
SHANE BATTIER: People talk about championships, they talk about Duke. But we don't talk about championships as the main goal. We talk about playing at a high level and preparing at a high level, and whatever it is, performing that at a high level. As a result, our program has had amazing success, and that's the reason why we've had so many championships.
Q. Mike, there's been some discussion that Duke gets preferential treatment because you're Duke.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: From who?
Q. Discussion --?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: From who?
Q. -- Among us media guys I guess. (Laughter.) And coaches.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I guess we don't get it from you then.
Q. Do you think the elite programs get the benefit of the doubt?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: From who?
Q. Or is it just sour grapes?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: From who?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I think in any sport there's a tendency at times to blame something that shouldn't be blamed. I think, you know, what we do, if we lose, we look at ourselves first and figure out what decisions we may have made, our game plan or whatever, and then take responsibility. And if someone feels that way, then that's the way it is. But if you feel that way, you should write it. But we'll just play the game and let the game play out. If we win, they can blame whoever it is that caused them to lose. (Laughter.) That will be okay.
Q. This is for Casey, Chris, Mike. As three of the younger guys on the team, what have the seniors or older guys over the month told you to keep you prepared mentally and on the court?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Casey, this is your first one now. I built you up. (Laughter.) No "karma" or anything like that stuff. Just tell them like it is.
CASEY SANDERS: They talked a lot about their experiences as players in their Final Four. Basically, they just told us to go out there and play our game and just try to do the things that we've done all year.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Casey, good job. (Laughter.)
CHRIS DUHON: With me, it was more just to relax, to enjoy this moment, because me and Shane was joking about this a couple weeks ago. It was like it was my freshman year, I'm in the Final Four. He was like, "Yeah, we're going to be in the Final Four every year." For him, it didn't work out that way. So to enjoy this moment and knowing that there's no guarantee that you're going to get back here, and just go out there and play basketball.
MIKE DUNLEAVY: They summed it up pretty well. Just enjoy the moment. But take advantage of it and, you know, give it your all. Play as hard as you can and, you know, you won't look back on it.
CHRIS PLONSKY: We've got time for one more, then we'll break for the breakouts.
Q. I'd like to ask Casey, in the time that you've had to start, is there anybody you've played that would compare to what Loren Woods brings to the game?
CASEY SANDERS: I think he's very similar to Brendan Haywood in his ability to change and block shots. He's actually a very, very good defender. That's probably one of the biggest similarities I can compare him to.
CHRIS PLONSKY: Gentlemen, thank you. We'll get started with questions for Coach.
Q. Shane may not have been the most talented player in college basketball history, but his career might be one of the more celebrated, admired. Any particular feelings stir with you beyond even those of most exiting seniors going into his last game, the thought of him finally leaving?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: See, I tried not to get real emotional about what will be the last game now, but every game in the tournament could be the last game that I'd have an opportunity to coach Shane. I think people who are teachers could probably relate to the feeling better than anybody. When you have an exceptional student that makes your class fun to go to, it helps you. You prepare just a little bit more because you know that that kid is going to be in your class while the class is going on. That kid makes the whole class raise to a higher level. Shane has done that. He's made -- certainly he's won more than anybody I've coached. He hasn't won the national championship. But overall, he's won more than anybody I've coached. There's a reason for that. And the reason is he throws himself completely into it, and he gives you a consistently high level of performance and makes sure the people around him are doing the same. So he makes my job not just easier, but more exciting, more fulfilling. I'm going to really miss coaching that kid. I've enjoyed coaching him as much as I've coached any youngster.
Q. Mike, could you talk about what thoughts and emotions you're going through in the minutes right before the game starts. Last night it looked like you were going to run through a wall.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: That I would have run through a wall?
Q. You looked pretty intense.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I looked like I was a wall for a while, I thought. I've been coaching a long time. I've been in a lot of really big games, I've been really fortunate. And each game demands a high level of preparation and focus and sacrifice. I try to do that for every game I coach, whether it be our November 25th game against a lower Division I, or Arizona or Maryland in the semifinals. And you just develop the habit of preparation. And I know my family has probably had to put up with a lot of things, especially on game days, over 800 of them. But that's -- I think I'm consistent in that regard; and, therefore, my team sees the same guy. I mean, hopefully I don't say the same things over and over. But if they see that, then there's a dock, you know, that they can bring their boat to, you know what I mean?, and feel sure that when they put it there it's going to get serviced right. And that's what I would like each of my guys who have ever played for me to feel like, that this is the way it's going to be. This team has really, really brought out a lot from me because I really love this team. And I love my coaching staff, just the whole group. It's one of the best situations I've been in in my 26 years. So I think that's why we're playing for the national championship, because of all that. And I think that's why we'll play real well tomorrow night. And win or lose, I'll feel the same way. I won't need tomorrow to define how I feel about my year. But we'll go after it real hard tomorrow.
Q. You've had many stars in your program make that leap from one year to the next. You've talked about Jason Williams making that leap. Grant Hill comes to my mind as a guy that maybe made the biggest leap from one year to the next. Are you cognizant of that? Is there some reason for that? Is Grant Hill the guy in your mind?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: In college years?
Q. College years from one year to the next.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I think Jason's made as big a leap as you can make. Grant's was hidden a little bit because we had -- one, I didn't start him all the time, which was kind of probably nuts right now, if you start thinking about it. But Jason, from last year to this year, has made a pretty big leap. I think Duhon will make a similar leap next year. Duhon's 18 years old. I don't know if you -- I mean, when you cover this sport and a bunch of others, especially if you cover pro sports, you can really lose sight of the fact that some of these kids are 18 and 19. How would you react yesterday when you were 18 to playing in front of 46,000 people, you know? I can't -- at 18, I wouldn't -- there's no way I would do that. I respect that. The fact that he did that, I mean, he played really well yesterday. It gets me so excited about who he'll be at 19, 20, 21. Earlier in the press conference, someone asked about going early and things like that. You have to be incredibly naive to think that you can learn that without going through it. Incredibly naive. Because it's called maturity. Maturity occurs through experiences. And that experience yesterday, what he'll experience next year and hopefully the years after, will prepare him for, you know, a great life. That's what we hope to get across to our guys. If they go early, they should go early after they've learned those things. Not just our program, but everywhere. I just think people -- I think it's hurt the pros, too, by not having that.
Q. Mike, is it fitting that you guys and Arizona are playing for this? Both teams were one and two in the preseason pole. You guys have played as well as anybody this year. It doesn't always happen in this sport.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I don't know if it's fitting, but we've been two of the best teams. It doesn't -- you're right. One, a lot of times people predict things that are going to happen, and they don't even come close. This year, you know, those preseason magazines and whatever, turned out that this is the way it is. I mean, I'm pleased because we're one of the teams that they picked (laughing.) But you have to admire what Arizona has done. I think it shows the strong character of all the kids in their program. And it also shows the effective leadership of those people who don't think that leadership is important should take a look at who Arizona was without their leader and who Arizona is not having their leader on a consistent basis. And Lute is an amazing leader. That's why their team is where they're at right now.
Q. Mike, does Richard Jefferson, because of the combination of his size and athletic ability, present a potential matchup problem for you?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah. I mean, Jefferson will be the best athlete we've played all year. He's got courage. He's not afraid to mix it up, and he also wants to play defense. So he reminds me a little bit of how we used Grant, in that sometimes I had Grant guarding a point guard or a power forward. Sometimes I had Grant guarding the whole team, you know. I mean, but Jefferson can guard just about anybody. He's a very unique player, he's different than just about anybody else in college basketball because of that athletic ability and how he uses it.
Q. Could you tell in practice this week that Carlos was shaking the rust off? It looked like he made a big leap offensively from the weekend in Philly.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, we knew -- in fact, we had some things set up for him yesterday, some special things just to go to him which, I think, as a coach that's one thing you can do. You can tell a kid, "We're confident in you," but then we don't run anything for him. We told Carlos, "We see it. When you get in, we're going to these two things or three things right away." I think that helps. But Wojo and our other big guys have really worked hard this past week: Casey, Matt Christensen, Reggie Love. Even in our shoot-around here, our practice here, we had the open practice on Friday. We went out hard with the big guys just so he could get a little bit more explosion. I don't think he's 100 percent, but he's just a lot better than he -- he's a lot closer to where he was when he went out.
Q. Can you talk about how Loren Woods' game has changed since he was at Wake Forest and what kind of threat he'll impose?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I think he's more mature as a player. He handles situations. He was a young kid there; he's a fifth-year player now. Stronger both mentally and physically. He's really a good shooter. Their two best free-throw shooters are their two big men. They're an outstanding free-throw shooting team. That puts a lot of pressure on the other team defensively, because you hear about people saying, "Well, we can take a foul." There's a 60 percent free-throw shooter, here, these guys will hit their free throws. When you have a shot-blocking presence inside to go along with their athletic ability on the perimeter, equals really good team defense. He's their anchor in the back.
Q. Mike, 1999 after you had all the players leave, I think your message at the team banquet was "We're okay." How important do you think it was to put that message across?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I don't know if you ever know how okay it's going to be, but it will always be okay if you just define your own success and just do the best you can do. That's all we're trying to do. I thought that was a time where there was perceived adversity for our program. At those times, I think you have to just say, "We're going to be okay, and here's how we're going to be okay," or "We're going to figure out how we're going to be okay." We did that a month ago when Carlos got hurt. Yesterday, when we got behind, we, you know, not necessarily in those words, but we basically -- "We can win. Let's do it this way. Don't panic." Because if you panic, there's a chance that you're going to do something stupid. Overall, we've done pretty smart things, I think.
Q. Obviously, this is a great sporting event. You made a crack the other day about the BCS and how football does it. I was wondering, when basketball coaches do get together, are you amazed at the way football still does it?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, football actually does it in a way that protects their coaches better, because there's so many Bowls. So there are a lot of perceived winners at the end of a football season. There are not a lot of perceived winners at the end of a basketball season. And, you know, we have this new group studying, among this group headed by Chancellor Shaw, that first we looked at recruiting, then we'll meet again in the spring about other issues than basketball. I think we need to take a real close look at the life of a student athlete, bring it up to date in what we can do, whatever it is, increase what they get on their scholarship. Just look at the whole thing and get input from the student-athlete congress about it. We should also look at what happens at the end of a basketball season for our sport and maybe combine efforts with the two tournaments that are run. You know, people talk about the mid-majors and giving them a couple more spots in the tournament. I don't think that's as important as making sure that every champion from a conference plays in an end-of-season tournament. You have champions, regular season champions of a number of tournaments, of a number of conferences who lose in their tournament, and then that's it. That's wrong. That's not good for our sport. It's not right for those kids. So if we use the two tournaments and work together to make sure that it would -- we can handle those type of things, we can create a better March for our game, for the kids playing the game and the people coaching the game. That's what I would like to see ultimately happen.
Q. Did your absence during the '95 season alter the way you look at this kind of accomplishment? Not that you didn't appreciate it before, but has that changed in any way?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Oh, yeah. Definitely. I think as you grow older, whether you have some injury or not, you should -- hopefully you reflect back on experiences and -- but that year was a defining year for me because, one, probably two things. One, it made me understand how much I love coaching, because it was taken away from me. And then why I loved it, you know. And I've gotten much more back to doing it for that. The second thing is that I was going to enjoy every year as a single entity and not allow other people to define that year for me. And so I think when we went to all those Final Fours and we won two national championships, you get into the thing of, "You have to do that in order to be happy." And that's wrong. I mean, I'm going to be really happy if we win, but I'm going to be really sad if we lose for that night, but I won't be really sad. I guess that's what I'm saying. I'm going to put everything into each team, get away from it, and come back and give everything again to each team and not pay attention too much about what other --. I mean, if we're doing something stupid, in other words, I'm saying some crazy things or our team is acting in a way that's not reflective of our university, and people write about it, I'll take notice about that. I mean, I think that's good. But as far as saying whether you're a winner or a loser, I don't need to have anybody tell me whether I'm that. It's made for a much happier life for me. I mean, I love what I do, and I'm not nervous about it. Whether I don't win a national championship again or I win four more, I'll be the same. I'll be the same. That's my goal. So I'm going to do that one.
Q. If Arizona is able to put bigger defenders on Dunleavy and Battier, how do you counteract that?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Bigger defenders?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, Battier usually has a bigger defender on him, and that usually works out well for us because he'll take a bigger defender on the perimeter. I think that when you put someone more athletic on each one of those guys, they're not great athletes. They're good athletes. They have to be smarter about how they play. In other words, like if Jefferson is on either one of them, they better, you know, they better be smart about what they're doing, because Jefferson can make a mistake and still react because of his determination and his ability. Whoever he gets matched up on throughout the game, that will be a -- it will be key for us on how we react to Jefferson's defense. And Arenas. Arenas is great off the ball. He's a little bit like Dixon from Maryland. I mean, the thing that broke the game open yesterday was their defense. They must have scored 20 points right around there, I don't know the exact number, but off their defense. And a lot of that was Arenas and Jefferson.
Q. Do you ever think about what this team or how would this team be different if those three guys had stayed in school; and the second part of the question is with guys leaving early, how does it change your approach to recruiting from the way you used to do it?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: You probably won't believe this, but I never think about that, about the first part of your question. Because I'm very much a next-play person. So what happened, happened. Let's get on to the next thing, and let's make sure that the relationships we have with those kids are good, and, you know, that's it. As far as how you recruit in this day and age, that's up for analysis at any time. I mean, I don't know if there's a definitive way that you can handle this whole thing, because when a kid declares, there's about seven or eight months, six to eight months after most of the top seniors decide. So if you passed up on a couple of people, or they didn't come into your program because of someone in it and then that someone is not in it, then you can't go back and change it. That's why, you know, over the last two years we've been -- it's been unbelievable how we've done when we got hit like that. But that says a lot to, you know, how well these guys have played. I think the next thing that we're going to have to -- that we don't know, is how this developmental league is going to work with the NBA. Next couple years will be interesting how well these things go on. And what's frightening is no one is meeting about -- none of those entities have ever met. The players, the NBA, the NCAA, high school -- they've never all met to try to figure out how to handle it. And when people don't meet and try to figure out how it's handled, it probably means that one or more of those parties don't think it's a problem. That's the way I look at it. If there was a problem, if everyone perceived it as a problem, you'd probably meet on it. So there's probably -- we may be the only ones who think it's a problem.
Q. You touched briefly on Shane's respect for authority when he was in high school. You see that in kids pretty much. When you recruit, how important is the character issue to how you coach your team?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: It's huge. There are three things that we look for. You have to look at talent. They're not in order, one, two, three. They're all one. Talent, because you need a certain level of talent to succeed. Academics, just because in our school we need a certain student, and we don't want that student to struggle, you know, or, "Yeah, he made it." That's not what we're looking for. We want him to have a good college experience. Then character. Is he somebody who would fit in with us? If he didn't, that doesn't make him a bad kid or whatever, but we look at that very, very closely.
Q. This team relies on three-point shooting probably more than almost any other team you've had. How has your system changed over the years, and was that a conscious decision or more a function of the players that you had?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I'm surprised at how much we shot the three. But as the season evolved, I wasn't, because we hit a lot of them. It proved to be a strength. I think it's really kind of like we've allowed each team to evolve. You play tough nonconference opponents like we do each other, they test you. And all of a sudden, kids do some things in those situations that you either add or delete from your system. Then as the season goes along, we change depending on how we're evolving. And, you know, accentuating the three-point shot was easy for us because we, you know, we hit a lot of them. And I think that came about, too, because our inside was so developing, there wasn't really a consistent inside presence for us. Although by the end of the year, I think Carlos was becoming that.
Q. Are you going to have to limit Chris at all today when you guys work out? And do you get concerned with two concussions for him in two weeks and sort of the strange medical things that happened with the repetitive concussion situation?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, whatever -- I take the advice of our medical people. Like if they would say that he was not ready, there's no way that we would play him. I mean, we've never even, in my time, given a kid a numb-er, you know, for an injury, a shot like that. So, I mean, not that you would do it for that, but like for an ankle. I don't believe in that. I think we'll look at him, and then after the season, they go through end-of-season physicals. That's certainly something that I would want our medical people to look at, just because he has been hit in the head a couple of times.
Q. Mike, can you talk a little bit about how close you came, if you did come close, to going to the NBA? And when you maybe came to the realization that staying in Durham was the thing for you, that going after another Final Four, going after another championship was fine; that, you know, you didn't have that feeling of, "Been there, done that. I need something else; I need some other goal in my profession"?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I think the closest I came, there's some things privately that I've looked into over the years. But publicly, when Dave Gavitt took over the Celtics, it was about over a decade ago now, that was through, because of the respect I have for Dave, and of course, the Celtic tradition. But then, I don't know, it's not so much the pursuit of a Final Four or a national championship. I've really -- I really love being a part of a college community and being a member of the Duke team, the lifestyle, what it does for my family, the people I'm around. That doesn't mean -- I have great friends in the NBA, I'm sure they feel that way about what they do. It just hasn't been any kind of a dream of mine; whereas, teaching and coaching have always been a dream of mine. I still love that. And I make, you know, a great living, more than I ever thought I would do, doing what I'm doing. So I would never -- I wouldn't do something for money. I make enough money. I've never done anything for money, you know, like a career decision. So I just wouldn't do that. I love what I do.
Q. Given the demands put on coaching now and the impatience of people wanting them to win, are there a lot of places that would fire a coach now that had the record you had your first three years at Duke? In a way, is your career a testament to patience?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I think it is. I think there's no question that in this day and age, if I had started the way I did and the way I was going to start, I mean anybody would have started in that situation. Unless you had the commitment of everybody, the president, the athletic director, you're all on the same team, there's a good chance I would have been let go. I think a lot of people don't start, you know, with a coach as a team and then work with them. Like at my university, I not only -- I'm really good friends with my athletic director. He's my boss. I recognize that. We meet -- not meet like formal meetings -- we talk. And so if there's a problem or whatever, we talk about it. Then every couple months or so, every three months, I have a meeting with my school president, whether it was Terry Sanford, Keith Brody, or Nannerl O. Keohane. Because we're the most visible arm of our university, you know, nationally. We get so much exposure. She should let me know, "Do you like what we're doing? How can we help with other things happening in the school, fundraising events?" And, you know, "Let me know if we're doing something that you don't like." And then she'll ask, you know, "Can we help you?" And "Can I help you?" And, you know, you work as a team. And I think that's very unusual. I think that's the way it should be. We should be part of the faculty at the school, but also we should also be part of the development office. When you think of all the publicity that occurs as a result of this NCAA Tournament, the marketing of our school, the medical center and all that are all enhanced. Therefore, you should be a part of it. That's why my wife and I have been associated with our Duke Children's Hospital all the time. We understand that whatever we do tomorrow, what we're doing today in some way enhances the Duke Children's Hospital. So you need to work like that. Once you become a part of a community, and not just winning games or losing games, you know, there's more of a commitment. There's hardly any commitment now. It's really sad. I mean, what do we have? About 40 or 50 guys losing jobs? In the last five years or six years, there's probably 300. That's not right.
Q. Shane said that in '99 he thought that the team might have peaked in February; whereas, this year's team is peaking now. I'm wondering, is that maybe because of overcoming some adversity, whether it's Carlos or the Carolina game or, you know, what?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I think the two seasons are entirely different. That season we won big most games. Our conference wasn't as competitive, top to bottom. By the time we got into the NCAA Tournament, I think we got a little bit distracted. You know, just certainly with the decisions that were made right after the tournament, it's obvious that that didn't just happen. There were probably some distractions there. And there's probably a tendency to think we didn't need each other as much, not malicious or anything. Whereas, this team has been in so many close games, so many situations, they know they need each other. We're better prepared to be in this game. I don't think we're more talented than that team, but we're more prepared to be in this game than we were in 1999.
Q. Mike, early in your career when you had the couple losing seasons, did you feel a lot of external pressures? Did you go through any periods of self-doubt? How did that work?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I felt no external pressures. I never felt pressure at Duke, ever. Tom Butters, my AD for so many years, and my presidents have put me in a position where -- I wasn't hired to win the national championship. I was hired to coach a really good basketball team, bring in good kids, and do things according to the rules. Our school can live with that. Hopefully, they can still live with it if we go 18-16 next year. You know, I'll find out if they've changed their mind. But hopefully they haven't. Hopefully we won't go 18-16 next year.
Q. Coach, I was wondering --?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I haven't talked to Shane yet about karma.
Q. This morning Arizona talked about styles of East Coast, West Coast play. With all the recruiting that goes on, has that changed, or does that perception still exist?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I don't think with coaches -- wow, the two games we just played against two Pac-10 teams, UCLA and Southern Cal, were very physical. I wouldn't have called them finesse games at all. I think the Pac-10 is a great conference. I do think that each conference in football or basketball benefits or is -- does not benefit sometimes from the TV deals they get into. And our conference, since Chesley started , has really done a great job of promoting the conference in probably the least populated media market nationally. It's been one of the success stories, if you look back over our conference over the last few years, the jobs of our administrators, the '80s, the '90s, I think the Tom Butters, our AD, had a big part in what we're doing TV-wise.
Q. Mike, going back to the start of your career at Duke again, Arizona's similar that they rose to this level under Lute. He mentioned this morning a couple players that might not have been the best-known players in the world, that really turned the corner for him and brought in other players, Sean Elliott. What is the turning point for you? I know you've been asked this before. But there is a point where you really feel that it turns around? Go back to that, those first few years.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Our first big recruiting class, it always starts with players. You know, it's always players. I think coaching is made -- we make a little bit too much of the coaching. Usually it boils down to the players. When we got to the class with Dawkins, Alarie, Bilas, Henderson, then added Tommy Amaker the next year, we basically had a group of kids that could eventually play with anybody. You could see where they are at in their careers, all of them. Bilas' career is suspect. (Laughter.) But the other guys are all doing great, and it showed that we had great young men, and they attracted Billy King and Quin Snyder and Danny Ferry, and they attracted Hurley and Laettner and Hill. I think when kids are looking at a program, especially a good player, if he's secure, he wants to play with kids kind of like him. So in our recruiting efforts, I think our players have been the most important factor.
Q. The other day, Cedric Dempsey said the NCAA might look into identifying 12- and 13-year-old prospects. I know the motivation and goal would be different. But isn't there a danger of the NCAA telling a 13-year-old that he's special? Couldn't that be just as dangerous as some street agent doing that? And also, with guys leaving, wouldn't it be more important for the NCAA -- more kids stay in school than leave. Wouldn't it be more important for the NCAA to use resources and time to make the quality of life of the kids who want to be student-athletes stay, as opposed to trying to keep stars?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, the second part I'll answer first. I think it's -- one thing I mentioned earlier in the press conference that I'd love to see is to put what the kids playing the game right now that are here, put a microscope and say, "How can we make this better, what can we do?" Let's put it in the modern age. I don't know what you mean about identifying people.
Q. Kids that they are looking at, college basketball players are being identified.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I think as you go to AAU tournaments, someone in your area is going to say there's a hot shot, 13 years old. I think those kids are identified a lot earlier by street people than anybody. I would hope that he meant that we could identify kids at that age and the value of education, not just necessarily a value of recruiting them and having earlier access from coaches to kids. What happened in the early '90s, we wanted to limit the access of coaches to players. As a result of limiting it, we opened the doors for other people to have access. So what we're trying to do with new rules is create earlier access for the coaches so that the message of education can come through. So I'm all for that. I would think that's what Ced was talking about. That's what he talked about with our committee.
Q. With this particular team, you've granted them more freedom. You've always played the motion, and guys had decision-making powers and that sort of thing. But this team is different. Can you talk about the ways it's different and why you trust this team to make so many decisions on the floor, and sometimes unconventional ones?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: This team is like the team with Hurley. Hurley was a very instinctive player. I think you take the lead off of your guard, and I've learned more about Jason in coaching him, that he's better instinctive. And also, I've always allowed my really good players to have -- they don't have to be perfect. In other words, Jason can take some bad shots. If he takes 20 shots in the game, a few of them are going to be so-called bad shots. But he can hit bad shots. What I don't want to do is make him conservative. So that when the time comes for these other shots that he's thinking, you know, 'if I miss those shots' or -- I think he missed like a lot in a row yesterday, then all of a sudden he hit the three that put us ahead. Well, that makes me feel -- that was one of the great moments of our season in that Jason showed me that Jason has learned what people think is the toughest game or one of the toughest games, and he's not shooting well and he still had the courage not only to take it but to hit it. And this team has created that kind of personality also with Shane, because Shane hit a huge three. We're down by four, and he hit one as a trailer about six feet beyond the three-point line. And he hadn't been hitting that shot for a few games, but he has hit that shot a lot. For him to just take it at that moment -- and I know if he missed it, everyone would say it was a bad shot. But it was a good shot. I think you win with your best guys having the freedom to take those shots, so that's what we're trying to do.
Q. You come from a very close-knit family. Your wife is an important part of who you are as a coach. Can you imagine in any way the difficulty it would be to suddenly have to carry on without her? Can that give you any kind of appreciation on what Lute has had to go through in the last couple of months?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, unless you've been in a coaching family, I think we understand it better. I've talked to Lute about it, and not a lot, but I mean I really feel like I do have some empathy or have a chance to feel empathy for him. Because if you have a good relationship at home, the person who knows you the best is your mate. We don't, as coaches, share a lot with other people. You're not going to go to your team and say, "I feel insecure today." Or, "I'm not feeling well. Will somebody hug me?" But your wife, she knows that without you even saying it. And she knows when to talk to you and when to just leave you alone. But she never leaves you alone. No, I mean in a right sense, in the right sense. By leaving you alone, she hasn't left you alone. And that support system, besides the love of the person and all that, you know, I think it's difficult. It's pretty difficult. And she was a great lady, and we all knew her in the coaching fraternity well. So I'm sure this has been very difficult for him. I think it will be a different type of difficulty after this is over, no matter the outcome, because then we're not doing. Right now, all of us are doing. After tomorrow night, we stop doing for a while, you know. And so I'm glad he has great family to support him. And he's a great guy. Lute's a really good man, and he's a great coach. But he's -- it's a tough situation. A really tough situation.
CHRIS PLONSKY: Folks, we are out of time. Thank you, Coach.
End of FastScripts....