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March 30, 2001

Mike Krzyzewski


CHRIS PLONSKY: I'd like to welcome Mike Krzyzewski to the Final Four again. First question, please.

Q. Could you talk about the development of Jason Williams this year and what that's meant to the team?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, he's improved tremendous ly. I think all of that started last spring. He stayed for first-semester summer school and worked and worked out vigorously on his own. Then he tried out for the Junior Team, made the Junior Team, played in South America for the US Team under Jim Boeheim, then spent time working with that US Select Team. So during the summer he put a lot of time in his game. And as a result, his game has flourished. I mean, he's become one of the best players in the United States. It's all on Jason, though. He made a great commitment.

Q. Coach Olson has answered a thousand questions about Bobbi. Juan Dixon's answered millions of questions on his parents. Do you think after a certain point it becomes invasive, or is it a fact of life?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: What question are you asking me? Are you asking a question about my life?

Q. No.

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Then it's not invasive. When there's a week in between games, you have a lot of questions. Especially in Lute's case, there's an amazing human-interest element there that I think everybody who has a heart should be able to relate to. So, you know, I would worry more after this is all over.

Q. Jason has said a few times that he trusts you and your decisions and that when he's ready to be an NBA player, you will tell him. That seems like an awesome responsibility for yourself. What do you think about that, and how do you know when a guy is ready? I know with Elton you thought he was probably ready; with Avery, you thought he wasn't.

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, to me, first of all, this is the Final Four. We're going through the best in college basketball. I would like to focus primarily on why he's a great college player. And if he's a great college player, then at any time a kid is a great college player, he could make it in the pros. If your goal is to make something instead of being really good at it, hundreds of kids would go over the next decade. But if you want to be really good at it, that means you learn. You learn about yourself, you mature, you learn about the game, you learn about people. If you want to be a professional in anything, it requires time and development, and where you get that development and spend the time are decisions that shape your professional career. People do it in law, medicine. You don't skip steps. I think in Jason's case, Jason and his parents realized that he's still a kid. There's nothing wrong with being a young man and going to college and keep learning. There's no reason why he couldn't improve more even next year and the year after. I mean, we're certainly going to coach him in that way.

Q. Coach, the first three coaches have talked about --?


Q. You are. They talked about the balance of the three teams and how really open this is. For someone who's been to nine Final Fours, when you look back, have you ever been to one where anyone really could win and it's not just a cliche?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Usually there's like one game is better than the other, and then the winner of the harder game has the disadvantage for the next. You know, that's why a lot of people have talked about re-seeding the Final Four, because sometimes the two best teams play in the semifinals. That's not the case in this Final Four. I think all four teams are big-time teams. It's probably as good a Final Four as there's been for a while in that respect. Hopefully the games will reflect that; I think they will. I think teams are playing their best right now, all four of them. Our team's healthy. Boozer keeps getting better. This week in between has really helped him and us get adjusted to him.

Q. Can you talk about how special it is for a guy like Nate James, considering everything he's been through, that he has a chance to win a national championship his senior year?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, Nate's what college basketball used to be like. Everybody who's a fourth- or fifth-year guy and has paid their dues and probably sat a little bit on the bench, played a subordinate role then became a starter and all of a sudden, you know, he had a great career, they didn't skip any steps. And Nate's been solid for us. I think his play tomorrow is very important because we have a young group. We start three sophomores and a freshman and then Shane, who raises our overall age in a number of different ways and maturity level. But Nate coming off the bench for us tomorrow and how he plays, I think, will be a big factor in this ball game.

Q. I know at the beginning of the season you thought Maryland was one of the four or five best teams. I'm wondering after you beat them at that game in College Park and what they went through afterwards, did you think it was reasonable they could get to this point?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Absolutely. Because I don't think adversity is losing a game. I mean, you know, in football it is a little bit more because of how they do whatever those rankings are, I forget what you call them. BSA or whatever. Anyway, I'm glad we don't have anything in our sport that has "BS" in it. (Laughter.) Yes, I did think they would because we eventually know that we're going to have a tournament. How a coach uses wins and losses during the year, it was obvious that Maryland was going to be a tournament team and a high seed. How they react accordingly to that has a big variance. Sometimes it's a blessing to have adversity during the year because kids listen better. Kids don't listen as well when you keep winning. You know, all of a sudden you lose a game or someone gets hurt, stuff like that, and in your own families, people listen more when there's a little bit of a problem. It's obvious that Gary's used that to, in the right way, to get his team to this point.

Q. Coach, how has the rest of the team reacted to Shane and all the attention he's gotten?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I don't think they even know. We don't even talk about it. You mean the awards and all that?

Q. Yes.

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, we don't even talk about it. Shane doesn't talk about it. You know, it's kind of irrelevant. Not for Shane's life or whatever, but as far as our preparation for the game, it is irrelevant.

Q. Keeping with Shane, have you ever sensed it was a burden for him to be Shane Battier, sort of the poster boy? Did you ever have to sit him down and explain what was going to happen to him?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: It's a good burden to have. But I think if you looked in -- since college basketball has exploded in the last two decades, kids who were on magazine covers or the so-called projected Player-of-the-Year, then followed them during their senior year, I'm not sure anybody's done it any better in handling that than Shane. I think there were probably a couple points where we had to sit down and just say, "Have fun with it," and we talk mostly about time management because I think that's where it stops becoming fun, when it's not organized fun with Jon Jackson from our Sports Information Department and Elliot Bloom, who work with our team, they've done a really good job of making sure that everything is fit in according to Shane's schedule so he can still be a college player and a college kid. I think Shane's learned a valuable lesson in time management, and to be a team with people around him and not just a team with the guys on the team and the coaching staff, but his support staff. Like all of you, if you were in our Sports Information Department you would, I think, really enjoy working with him because he'll listen to you, he'll be on time and that type of thing. As a result, I think it's been a great year for him.

Q. Have the keys to winning this game versus the first three games against Maryland changed all because of the way any of the players are playing at this time? Or do your two teams play each other differently with Boozer versus without Boozer?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I think teams always change. You know, I mean I know ours does. Watching them on tape, it's obvious that Baxter in the last week is better than Baxter the week before, you know, two points against George Mason and in foul trouble. So you're preparing for the Baxter we know, and he's a terrific player. Both teams are very difficult to defend. I wouldn't be shocked if this wasn't a high-scoring game. And really because they have good depth and good scores and we have really good scorers and we're developing depth. But I think we know each other pretty well. It's going to be difficult to stop one another. Probably one of those guys who hasn't gotten the acclaim could step forward, a Nate James, Mike Dunleavy, Chris Duhon for us. And for them, like a Holden has done real well against us, Danny Miller, you know, there are other really good players in this game besides the so-called stars.

Q. Are you concerned this could be a one-in-a-million time that the other team may be hungrier than Duke?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: No. I mean, I think that we're really hungry. I mean, I'm not saying that we're going to be hungrier than them, but we won't lose because of lack of hunger. Our team's really excited. They've worked so hard this week, and they really want to win. If we don't win, we'll be terribly disappointed, and that's the way it should be. But our team will be very hungry and very motivated. We want to play great basketball against Maryland. Hopefully, we'll do that. If we don't, it won't be because we didn't prepare to do that.

Q. I'd like to ask you besides the results, is there one thing in your mind that stands out about the three games you've played with Maryland?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Just the eventual camaraderie that developed and the respect when we walked off the court together in Atlanta. I was asked earlier today if there was, by playing one another so often, is there animosity. And I said, "Boy, that's not even a word I would even -- I would think of 'respect.'" I think we've grown to respect one another at the highest level.

Q. After playing Maryland three times, have you and your other coaches found something that may not be your typical key statistic but may make a difference tomorrow night?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I hope so. (Laughter.) I'll talk about it if it works after the game. I mean certainly for every game you feel like you find something that can help your team, and we've had a week to prepare. We should have found something. Now whether it works or not I mean it's not going to be anything tricky. We won't be in a triangle-and-two or a box-and-one. We're going to start the same guys and our heads won't be shaved, you know. At least mine won't. I know what I look like with hair or -- I don't know -- I look a hell of a lot worse probably without. But there's some things that you learn about each team, and you deal with current information, what that team is doing right now, not what they did in January or February. You know, what are they doing now? And that's one of the keys for preparation in any sport.

Q. This being a late game again tomorrow, will the experience that you had in the UCLA game, the way you all shot and actually they did, too, in the first half of that game because of the lack of time to warm up in between, will that help you any?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I think for this game they give you more time to warm up in between. It's really one of the changes I'd love for the tournament is the regional games, the opening round games, if you play the late game on the East Coast, if you're in that time zone where it is actually ten o'clock, that they should give you at least a half hour of preparation. And they do here. And if it's that important here, it should be that important to get here. It should be consistent. Because I think it did have an adverse effect in that game on both teams.

Q. Apart from the fact that you recruit good jump shooters, why are Duke Blue Devils such good consistently good jump shooters?

COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I think we work, if you watch our workout today, we work at it. My staff, I got three guys in Chris Collins, Johnny Dawkins and Steve Wojciechowski that do great jobs with drills. We teach them how to take shots in game speed. You know, shooting, practicing shooting is -- you can practice shooting, you should practice game shooting. There's a big difference. And that's what we try to do on a day-to-day basis and we'll do it this afternoon in actually about 15, 20 minutes, after they stretch out.

End of FastScripts....

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