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March 28, 2001

Mike Krzyzewski

Gary Williams


JIM MARCHIONY: You can listen to the press Conferences throughout this weekend by dialing the same number you just dialed. Friday's team press Conferences will be from 2:00 to 4:00 PM Eastern time. Both the Saturday and the Monday post-game press Conferences will be available by telephone, and the Sunday off-day team press conferences are from noon to 3:00 PM and you can all call and listen to those press conferences by dialing the same number that you dialed today. That having been said, I would like to welcome Gary Williams and Mike Krzyzewski. Congratulations and appreciate you being here. Looking forward to seeing you here in Minneapolis. And with that I'll turn that back over to Premiere Conferencing to moderate the question and answer portion of this call.

Q. Can you talk about what Steve Blake means to your team? Doesn't get a lot of attention from the media, but he's obviously one of the keys to your success this year. Talk a little bit also about what you think the particular strengths of his game are?

COACH GARY WILLIAMS: Well, he gives us consistency at the point guard position, which is really important for the way we try to play. We run a point guard offense, and he's able to get the ball to the right people and does a great job with that. The other thing is he can step up and make some shots sometimes. Sometime he doesn't shoot much, so he gets open once in awhile. When he does, he is a good nose shooter to knock it down for us on a pretty consistent basis. When he gives us is a solid player in that position, and that's what we want him to do this year. He's only a sophomore, and I think his offensive role will continue to expand as he gets older in the program.

Q. Could you tell me how important it was in the program when Williams stayed in '89 when he had a chance to leave, and did that mold the future of the program where it didn't have to take that big dip?

COACH GARY WILLIAMS: Well, when the sanctions came in, it was the week of the ACC Tournament of my first year, that was spring of 1990; that was the end of his sophomore year. He could have transferred right away and played right away, because of the sanctions. He was not going to be able to go to the NCAA or play on any type of television for the next two years. So he had a tough decision to make, because he could have gone to just about anywhere to stay. He chose to stay. He was a local guy. He helped us, because he kept us where we could at least play with the good teams that we had to play against, and kept the crowd there, so we didn't lose the crowd. And then, you know four years later after we got better, we didn't have to make that great leap in terms of getting our crowd back, and I think that was very important for us.

Q. Have you had a chance to speak with him yet?

COACH GARY WILLIAMS: No. I haven't. I've spoken with a lot of our players. I have not spoken with Walt yet, but hopefully we'll do that this weekend sometime.

Q. I was just going to ask, breaking through and making it to the Final Four, with the way your recruiting has gone, you'll be moving into a new arena in a couple of years. Do you feel like your program is reaching the position where it can be a yearly contender to reach the Final Four, to contend for National Championships?

COACH GARY WILLIAMS: Well, it's not automatic because you get there once, because I think we have all seen programs that have gotten there before that don't get back there. So that's what you build towards. We have pretty good examples in our league with Duke and Carolina, what they have done in terms of that. So, we have a long way to go before we have any kinds of track record like that. You know, we're glad to be there this year, and we hope that we can use this as a foundation toward making that in the future. But like I said, it's great to be there for the first time, and hopefully, we can benefit from this.

Q. What are your impression of the job Tom Izzo has done at Michigan State, and what makes it so difficult and rare to do what he has done, and what you did in terms of going to Final Fours in consecutive years?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I think Tom is a better person than he is a coach. He's very well grounded. Success or failure is not going to go to his head in a negative way. He's just a hard-working guy from a great background, and as a result of that, he's had consistency of effort. He just does the same job over and over again. So, if there's any guy who is going to do something like that, it will be a guy like Tom Izzo, and especially in this day and age. And you've got to be able to win big games. All of these games, every game in the NCAA Tournament is big. You know, over the last three years, he's lost one, which is remarkable. I'm happy for him, because he's one of the really good guys in coaching.

Q. How well do you know him?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I know him well. He was an assistant for a long time. You know, you never liked talking to Judd, so I always talked to him. Just kidding. But he was always -- he was a great assistant for Judd and a great representative for him. It was neat to see that he got the job when Judd stepped down.

Q. Mike, I'm wondering that your use of the 3-point shot this year, was it something that you foresaw in the off-season or just how did it develop?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: No. It just -- I don't think I would ever have thought we'd shoot about 30 a game, especially if you saw me play. Actually, if Gary and I played in the backcourt, you would see none. But, no, it just evolves. I think for each coach, you have an idea of what your team will look like, but then as they start working together, we saw that guys could shoot the ball, and I think Shane has really stepped up this whole year in shooting the ball. I think because we are developing inside, we don't know where Carlos would be at and any backup; that he relied a little bit more on the perimeter game.

Q. I read the article about taking exams during tournament time. What's your take on that? Is there sort of a weird paradox in that student/athletes have become athlete/students any time the NCAA Tournament roles around that it takes precedent?

COACH GARY WILLIAMS: I just think it is a fact of life. I really don't think people that studied what happens to a basketball player through an entire season. Any two-semester sport like -- and there's none like basketball. There's so many interruptions for these kids. You know, you're always playing some type of big game during, some time of an exam or mid-term period, and these kids require a lot of attention. Each school needs to provide that for them. And also, when we take a look at how we might be able to help these kids in the future, maybe we should focus a little bit more on their day-to-day life. It's like with the -- you know, a youngster could make about $2,000 if he got a job if he wasn't under scholarship. Well, none of these kids are going to get a job. So how do you make up for that? Just things like that. It would be kind of nice for us to do a study on how we can help the quality of life for the kids playing the game. I really don't think we've put that under a microscope enough.

Q. Could you comment on the job Gary has done after that night when your team came back and shocked Maryland the way it did? What is your impression of his job since then?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: You know, Gary is one of the special coaches. Gary and I have been in the game about the same number of years. He's a terrific coach. If you've been in the game a long time, you know that you are the guy that can never get down. I think just what he's done in keeping Maryland afloat during adversity during those years when they had the sanctions, and that lend itself to times where there may be an injury, a tough loss or whatever, and recovering. You know, he's done a remarkable job there. He's been great for our league. And I think Maryland, being at the level that it's at, is great for our league, because it has had a rich tradition, and Gary now has placed it at the highest level. I mean, you can't get -- the only way you can get better is to win the National Championship. But being this -- in the Final Four with your program is the best.

Q. I'm writing about Jason Williams and I have a Williams-related question. If you could talk about Jason Williams, from your perspective, and then for Coach K., If you could talk about what do you think he can still learn if he were -- you know, assuming he stays in college or whatever, what do you think he could still learn next year?

COACH GARY WILLIAMS: To me, the thing that impresses me most about Jason Williams is he's got incredible ability. In other words, it looks like he can get a pretty good look to score any time he wants, and he's everything you want at a point guard in terms of strength, ball handling and shooting from the perimeter. But given that, that he's such a good none-on-one player, I think he is a great distributor of the basketball. For a young player like Jason to be able to do that is remarkable, because he does not ever lose sight of the fact that his job is to help Duke win basketball games. And if that's passing, then he's going to pass the basketball, even though he's such a tremendous offensive force.

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, as far as what he needs to learn, you know, I think one of the main areas he's learning is about defense: On the ball, off the ball, how to keep attentive when he is off the ball. I think offensively, because he can score so well, when he does penetrate -- and his teammates to have learn this, too; that I think they end up watching him sometimes. And when he drives, and assuming he's going to shoot, and a lot of times, he pulls up and tries to make a pass and they are not ready for him. And how that communication develops, I don't think that's an area that he will get to even this year, but hopefully he will even in the near future.

Q. You've been to the Final Four several times from various teams. Can you talk about, I guess, is there one factor with those teams that stands out, that made each one of those teams special enough to reach the Final Four? And secondly, could you just speak about Chris Duhon's play this year?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I think that you have to have good players to get to the Final Four. That's the most consistent factor, and we have had a lot of good players. And then in so many times during the tournament, one of those players has to make a big play to get you past the game, whether it be in the first round or in the regional Final or Sweet 16, to push you ahead. I've had those guys do it, whether it be Johnny Dawkins (ph) or Laetner (ph) or Hill, Langdon. I mean, I've had kids -- Brand, who have done that, and I think that's -- you know, I've been fortunate to have guys step up. As far as Chris, you know, Chris is 18 years old. I mean, he's playing -- he's young and he's been -- he's the Rookie of the Year in our conference, and his defense is ahead of his offense. But he's come up with some big, big plays on the offensive end, especially, in our last game against Southern Cal. He hit some huge shots for us, and he's going to be a great player for us.

Q. I'd like to ask both of the coaches a question, kind of from different perspectives. What does it mean to you to win at the Final Four in terms of recruiting the way the university viewed you, the way maybe the public or the media viewed you? And Gary, what way do you think it would do for you to win at the Final Four?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Like for me, I never think of those things. I think an administrator could have answered that question, like what it means. I know it is very important for the school, but what I would think is more important is how your program represents you on a day-to-day basis throughout the year, not just the Final Four. I think it's a difficult question for, I think, a coach to answer. Gary will probably have a great answer.

COACH GARY WILLIAMS: I feel, you know, this is our first time, obviously. So I think it's great for the school and all that, but for me as a coach, I'm kind of with Michael on that. We work hard. You know, you play three and a half months in a regular season, and you play -- you win as many games as you can in a tough league, just to get to the NCAA Tournament. That's always -- and always will be a big thing for me, just to make the tournament. I think every player, to have the experience of playing in the NCAA Tournament is a tremendous thing, whether you lose the first game or go to the Final Four and win a National Championship or whatever. But, you know, I just think that sometimes there's too much emphasis on one game or two games, rather than the job that your program does representing the university all during the year in the off-season. How they do academically, all those things should be measured as part of your coaches coach's response bit responsibility.

Q. (Inaudible)?

COACH GARY WILLIAMS: Well, Byron was important to us early in the year when we were not playing particularly well, and he's got an outgoing personality, and I think he, you know, got us moving a little bit better. We've had some trouble over in a tournament there and lost to Wisconsin coming back from that, and he seemed to put a little spark to us. He's happy to be playing, because he had to transfer and he had to sit out the year. That's hard for any player, just to practice every day and sit out without the games. He's done a good job both on and off the court for us. He gives us a guard. Our other guards are pretty small in terms of weight and things like that. But Byron is 6'5, 200 pounds and he can play that security guard spot or the third guard spot. So he really help us and he is a versatile player.

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: He's a tough matchup for us, because he is a very active player, and he can play with -- he has a good ego, where he can play with other, I mean, really good players. You have two of the better players -- I think of one of best players in the country in Juan Dixon. And Baxter, he's a first team All-Conference Player here and Mouton is an outstanding player. So, I think he has been able to -- he has the ego to play with those guys, and as a result, sometimes he comes up with, you know, the double-double, or things like that. You can't play off of him. You have to play him, and he really goes to the boards well.

Q. Could you both talk about the balance of this Final Four field and how any of the four teams can win it? And also, could you also address the fact that these two teams, Duke and Maryland, have to get it on again for the fourth time in one season?

COACH GARY WILLIAMS: Well, the balance, you know, you watch teams during the year. I've seen Michigan State play a couple of times, and not with the idea we were going to play it the same way with Arizona. I really like Michigan State, because of their depth and the way they can play defense and can be physical and not worry about foul problems, things like that. And of course, Arizona, they had four players nominated for the Wooden Award (ph) and they were picked by a lot of people to be the No. 1 team in the country preseason and had to go through such a tough season, with Lute's wife and things like that. To be where they are now, they have shown a tremendous amount of character, to go along with their obvious ability. So I think that will certainly be a great team, and they are two great teams. With Duke, we've played three great games. There's no doubt about it. But I know that we have to be at the top of our game to be able to do that, because Duke is an outstanding team. They are at the time of the year where they are used to playing well. They have been probably the last 12 years or so, the best team this time of year in terms of putting it out there and playing to the top of their game. So, we realize that we have to do that, and I just hope that we can so that it can be another great game.

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: As far as the Final Four, I think there's incredible balance, because all four teams have played, you know, rigorous schedules. I believe that all four teams are at the top of their games. Not only do we have four really good teams, but I think we have four teams who are playing their best basketball right now. That doesn't usually happen in a Final Four. So, I think Saturday, the two games will be -- will be unbelievable. As far as our game with Maryland, I think we've made each other better. That's what's happened in our league this year. Our league has been great. We've been forced -- every team has been forced to play every night. That has not always been the case the last few years, but this year, definitely it was. You know, pretty much the game, Maryland and Duke have been good games. I really believe we are the two best teams in the Conference, and North Carolina right there with us.

Q. Could you just talk about what it means for you to finally get to the Final Four? And also, talk about what you did to keep the team together after that tough -- blowing the lead against Duke?

COACH GARY WILLIAMS: Well, Mike said it best before. We are in the Final Four because we have good players. You know, believe me, as a coach, I think if you are realistic, you recognize that you are going to go as far as your players. And it's not just the talent. It's the type of guys that are willing to play together, to get to you that level. In other words, you could have talent, but if they won't play together, you are not going to go very far. We were fortunate that we fit really well this year as a team.

Q. When you had that difficult loss at home against Duke, and your fans were turning on you, that kind of thing, what did you do to keep the team together there and to get the even keel back?

COACH GARY WILLIAMS: Well, I have good seniors. LaRon Cephas and Terance Morris do a tremendous job with the other players. What we did to is just talk about how it was just us, how we had to stay together if we were not going to get help anywhere else. We could still make this work if we could just hang together, because I knew we had good players and we could rebound, and it might take a while, because that was a tough loss. But at the same time, we did stay together and that's the only reason we were able to get back to playing good basketball again.

Q. You joked a little while ago that if you got past the Sweet 16 and got to the Final Four, you would be much smarter as a coach. Obviously, you are talking about perception, but do you think there is anything that you've learned over the years that has helped you this time, or was it just happenstance that this team got by when some of the others didn't?

COACH GARY WILLIAMS: No, I think -- I was wrong, because when I went to practice on Monday, I could tell that the players didn't believe that. So, you know, I was wrong about getting smarter. Seriously, it's funny how it works. I mean, having gotten here for the first time, I'm not sure I did anything different or whatever, but we have a good team, and I think once again, that's the most important thing. This is a good basketball team that was playing well. I've had other good teams that was not, that, were not playing as well as this team was going into March or whatever. So, we're healthy. And that's a big thing. And we're fortunate to be healthy this time of year. So, there's other things. You know, sometimes you play a team that's playing so well, that even if you play a good game, you are not going to win all the time, and it's just a one-game deal. It's not just best-out-of-seven. So, things have to be right for you. We hit it right this year to get to the Final Four, and we had a good team.

Q. You both alluded to this earlier about the strength of the Conference. What does it mean to guarantee the ACC a spot in the Final Four, and what would if mean to each coach to carry the Conference banner into the Final?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, it would be great. That's why we're playing. I mean, I think to be able to play in the National Championship game is an amazing honor. It really is not shocking to me that we got two teams in the Final Four this year. When the week started, we knew we were an experienced league, and I thought there were about five teams that returned with most of its players. It would not have shocked me if Virginia, Wake (Forest), North Carolina would have kept advancing, because that's the caliber of conference that we have this year.

COACH GARY WILLIAMS: I feel the same way. This is my 12th year in the League, and I know how balanced the League was. We lost to Florida State late in the year and people got upset that Florida State had become a pretty good basketball team by that point, because they had played against really good teams all year and, all of the sudden they are a very good basketball team, a young team that's going to be good next year. I think that was typical in our league. When you only have nine teams in the League, you play everybody twice, unlike some leagues now. It's hard going -- against 16 -- (Inaudible) because of the caliber, but on the other hand, if you can survive, I think those games have really helped us develop as a team. We were not this good in December, and to play in January, February, early March in our league have certainly helped us get to this point.

Q. Does the fourth time around, familiarity breeds, what, contempt? Comfort? What exactly do you think?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I think for us, it breeds for more respect. I have not felt any better about a game than what I walked off the court in Atlanta, after the Maryland game. And it was not just because we won. I thought that that game was of the highest caliber. I thought it was the best game we had been in all year, and going into the -- you know, the Final Four and playing Maryland, we know that that's what we have to prepare to do. We have to be able to play a game of that caliber to have a chance to win because we know Maryland will play that game.

COACH GARY WILLIAMS: What I like is when we play Duke, both teams respect each other. There's no trash-talking. There's nothing going on. Obviously, the players know each other by now, but, you know, you just go play. You know teams are going to play basketball. There's not going to be any side shows or anything like that. The other thing is, you know, Mike and Duke has been, for our league, has been a tremendous thing, because the respect Duke has nationally, certainly helps the Atlantic Coast Conference, and you know, what we stand for as a basketball league. And I think that's important, to have a team like that that kind of -- is something that people recognize throughout the country. You also have the team there that you try to get your team to emulate. You try to get to that point, you know, with your program, and I know that's been a motivational thing for me, you know, here at Maryland.

Q. If you could follow-up on that theme of familiarity, what are there, if there are any, disadvantages to both teams and the players knowing each other so well?

COACH GARY WILLIAMS: Well, I don't see any disadvantages, really. I mean, I feel like, I feel our players look forward to playing against a team they respect, and know that it is going to be pure basketball out there. I think that's the best thing about this game. Plus it's a chance, you know, for people to see, really, what an ACC game is like, even though this is for a different reason to be playing. It's still two teams from our conference playing against each other.

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I think the game, the way the two teams -- how good the two teams are, and the fact that we have played such good games will produce a game that's worthy of that setting. I don't see any -- I see all of the makings of a spectacular game.

JIM MARCHIONY: Thanks very much. Mike, Gary thank you for your time. Congratulations again. Travel safely and we look forward to seeing you here in Minneapolis.

End of FastScripts....

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