March 24, 2005
ROB CAROLLA: We're joined now by Duke student athletes J.J. Redick and Daniel Ewing.
Q. How do you guys feel about all the talk about you not being so deep off the bench and how that will effect you guys?
J.J. REDICK: We have been hearing that we're not deep all season. We're 27 and 5 in the Sweet 16. I don't think our depth is an issue with us.
Q. What do you remember about the first time you played against Michigan State, particular towards the end of the game I think you were able to hold them off?
DANIEL EWING: It was a good game. They came in ready to play against us earlier in the season. Towards the end of the game, it got real close. We were able to come up with some defensive stops.
Q. Daniel, Can you talk about your transition to the point? Just how difficult it has been or how easy it's been? Can you talk about Daniel has been able to do this season?
DANIEL EWING: My transition to the point I think has been a smooth transition for the most part. It was kind of difficult when Sean Dockery went out for a couple games. I have been able to put some points on the board when we need it.
Q. Any memories you have of the Erwin Center when you were at Willowridge?
DANIEL EWING: A lot of good memories here. I am 4 and 0 in the Erwin Center while playing for Willowridge High School. We owe it to this Duke team this rest of this week.
Q. This is your fourth year being in the NCAA tournament. At this time of year, does Coach turn up the intensity a little bit? Is there something special that takes over Duke at this time of year?
DANIEL EWING: I think the big thing is they have been in a lot of situations where they have won a lot of games. The Sweet 16s, the Final Fours, they have been there a lot of times. They prepare us for any kind of situation that may come up.
Q. J.J, can you talk about Daniel's play at the point and any situations that stand out in your mind where he has come through?
J.J. REDICK: Daniel has been great for us all year. He has been the ultimate teammate. Anything the coaching staff has asked him, he has done. Prior to the game what I remember the most is his senior night he hit a double-double and had ten assists. For him to do that was pretty special.
Q. Daniel, dating back to high school, you've never really been the focal point in terms of the teams you've played on, playing with TJ, and now playing here at Duke. How hard of an adjustment has it been not being that focal point?
DANIEL EWING: I think going back to high school, that prepared me for my situation at Duke, playing with a lot of great players. Like you said, me and TJ shared the spotlight in high school. I had to be behind a great guy. This year it is Sheldon. That situation really helped me a lot to be able to do it and play with good players.
Q. Relate your best Mike Krzyzewski story of dealing with him, something specific that you will always remember in practice or off the court?
J.J. REDICK: That is a tough question. What are you looking for something? Real specific or something in general about Coach?
Q. Something that you will always remember.
J.J. REDICK: One thing from my freshman year when we won the ACC tournament with a real young team, we had six freshman and Daniel was a sophomore and towards the end of the game I got taken out. I remember coming off the court and giving Coach this big hug. The smile on his face is probably something I will never forget.
Q. Guys, when you were three and four, what turned it around to finish nine and one in the current stretch? What turned your season after that pick-up part of year?
J.J. REDICK: Well, we play in the ACC, you are going to lose some games playing in the ACC, especially road games. It is extremely difficult to win on the road. We didn't set out the season to be perfect, to be 27 and 0 in the regular season. We had to make adjustments in those games. The turning point was the Wake game at home after we lost to Virginia Tech. We had to play Wake a couple of days later. We started three walk-ons, and they set the tone, a physical fighting tone. That carried on throughout that game and carried on throughout the rest of the season.
Q. You know, so much is said about teams measuring themselves against the Duke program. The respect that you have for Michigan State and Coach Izzo, can you touch on that a little bit?
J.J. REDICK: We have tons of respect for Coach Izzo and the programs he built at Michigan State. They were national champions a few years ago. The thing we respect the most out of them , their kids are playing really hard. That is a sign of respect for their coach.
Q. J.J, you seem to you talk about their whole mindset on the road and on the league.
J.J. REDICK: I do get heckled a lot. I get everybody's best shot. Part of that is because I play for Duke and we get everybody's best shot. It is a role that I have embraced. It is a role that I have played on the court since I was 13 years old. Kind of being the guy that nobody wants to play against. I have fun with it. I have fun with the other teams' fans when we play on the road. It does get brutal sometimes, but I have learned to deal with it.
Q. J.J, when you look at all the attributes on your team that, the talent of the players and their skills, could you talk a bit about the group's mental toughness and where they rank in terms of what makes you a good team and where that came from? Did you start with it or did it evolve?
J.J. REDICK: First of all, with regards to mental toughness, I think mental toughness and our heart is the two best at attributes as the team more so than our talent or any other at attributes. I understand we have gotten that mental toughness and that heart throughout the year. It has developed through the different situations we have been in whether playing a close game on the road or playing a close game on the road and losing. We have learned from that. This is a team that had a lot of blowouts.
Q. J.J, do you feel like you are in a slump when you have games like the last two?
J.J. REDICK: I never feel like I have slump. I go into every game with confidence and feeling good about how I am going to play, and feeling good about our team's chances of winning.
Q. This is for J.J, did you watch any games other than your own last week? If so, did you count the number of times that American Express commercial with Coach K ran?
J.J. REDICK: I watched it a little bit. Not much. Especially during the day. I don't watch a lot of games. The only game I caught a lot of was the Wake - West Virginia game. On the way down the Charlotte, it was the first day of the tournament, we watched a little bit of the games. On the way down we saw eight Coach K commercials. I think they are great. The American Express ad is awesome.
Q. J.J, what are your plans for next season? Are you back at Duke or moving on?
J.J. REDICK: I will definitely be back next season, no question.
Q. When you hear teams say they have got to get physical with you guys, what do you think about that?
J.J. REDICK: For me, I think about every game we play in. That is not a changing thing. Since my freshman year everybody has been physical with me. Really, I mean everybody has been physical this year with Daniel and Sheldon as well. That is not something new.
ROB CAROLLA: Thank you for joining us. We're joined by head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I am ready for questions.
Q. Mike, from where you sit, is this team getting here a remarkable achievement, maybe an unforeseen achievement that it is being portrayed as?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I have always allowed other people to portray or tell whatever story they see. You know, I really think that this group has played hard every game and has never made any excuses and has won most of their games. It has been a real rewarding year for me. I have loved working with these kids and seeing them grow. We've had a lot of guys -- just to take Lee Melchionni. I never anticipated him being such a huge part in the number of wins that we have had and making the big plays that he has, not just big shots. For him to step up like that is great. With the foundation being we have three outstanding players in Redick and Ewing and Sheldon Williams. But they are not -- no one is good all the time. So someone has to be there. These kids have done that.
Q. Coach, one of the big challenges that is Coach Izzo has had is trying to manage the expectations he created. Can you recall when expectations first spiked for you at Duke and how you have dealt with that over the years?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: When I got the job. I mean, you know, if you are coaching at major school like that in a big time conference, you have high expectations put on you all the time. You know, when you have different levels of successes, you know, and you stay, you know, then people think that that is what happens all the time. If you allow that to be your motivating factor, then I think that is a mistake. I think you just go about your business the way you normally go about it and not worry about anybody else's expectation but just your own. To me that has been a healthy way to run our program. That is the way I tried to run our program. I am sure Tom has done that with him. He didn't make his expectation; somebody put those on him.
Q. I don't know if you can comment specifically on Andrew Bogut, but can you talk a little bit about what the accomplished international players do better than maybe the American college kids do?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I haven't seen Andrew play as much to comment on him. I think the European players have been allowed to play with older players more because of the club system. This is a nurturing system. This is not like high school ball. They belong to clubs and they are men. They are playing with men or practicing with men. There are no limitations placed on them as to when they can practice with their coaches or with these men. We have a lot of rules and regulations. We don't have that type of system here in the United States. So I think an international player comes to you with a better chance of being really coachable. And really part of a team already and not from a star system that is put out there through an AAU system.
Q. Coach, Coach Izzo talked about your program being a measuring stick and how he holds you in high esteem. Can you talk about your thoughts on the way he runs his program?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Tom and I are good friends. I respect him to the highest level. I think Michigan State handle things the right way. They have built a great basketball program over the years. They have great continuity. With Jud being there as long as he was it started off, and then Pete Newell. There have been some great coaches at Michigan State. Tom served his apprenticeship and was a part of the success of Jud. Then him taking over, I thought that was -- when Tom took over, I told him, I said, this is the way it should be. And then what he has done is he has taken it really high. You know, I think they went three Final Fours in a row and those things are hard to do. Again, his program every year is one of the teams that is being mentioned as the possible national contender. That's what you want. You want to be in that hunt at the highest level. And that is what Tom has done.
Q. Can you talk about how much Sheldon has improved? Where do you think you would be without that improvement?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: We wouldn't be here. The main thing that Sheldon has done. He has a maturity on the court that comes only through the experience you get from playing in these big games and being asked to play well. Sheldon is as good a defensive player as there is in the country. We have a different kind of defense than we have had in the past. Our man-to-man doesn't force as many turnovers. It doesn't extend as much on the court. But in half court it has been pretty good. In the games we have won, especially, we have been able to limit our opponents to low field goal percentage. Our guys on the perimeter do a good job because they know Sheldon can block shots, and Shav can too. What Sheldon has done is be able to block shots without putting himself in a position to foul. When he blocks a shot he usually stay in his play. He doesn't jump into somebody or swat. He got straight up and down. As a result he has done a good job of not fouling on those. The other thing is not doing tired fouls because he has to play a lot of minutes, and maybe holding onto a post player, he has become smarter about that. Post play is the most difficult in basketball. And obviously the most physical. The easiest way to get fouls. He has learned a lot. He has become a really outstanding player.
Q. How difficult do you see this regional from a coaching standpoint just having the quality of coaches here?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I haven't looked at the other regionals. I'm not sure I can tell you who is playing in every other game. You have four outstanding basketball programs here. Not coaches, but programs. Duke has had a big basketball tradition before and will have after me. Kentucky, Michigan State, Utah also. To bring unbelievable basketball programs here and the kids from all those programs are playing well, it is a great region. This is like -- I felt like the Sweet 16 is you have four Final Fours going on right now. And you are going to have a champion of this Final Four. That is why maybe the ultimate Final Four is so great. You have four champions playing in the ultimate Final Four, and this Final Four is really good.
Q. A lot has been made of your team's depth. How many guys on your team are you comfortable with playing a lot minutes in this point of the season?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Whoever goes out on the court I am comfortable with. I don't limit the number of guys. There is situational guys like Patrick Johnson. Didn't play much in the previous two or three games, but against Mississippi State he had some minutes. He was valuable. Patrick Davidson could do that for us. It is more situational depth than just saying I am going to play nine or ten guys. I am not going to do that. I probably play seven, maybe eight. If the situation arises, then I am not opposed to putting those other kids in. They have done it at different times during the year. I am going to play J.J., Daniel and Sheldon as much as they can play. Not worry about them being tired or anything like that unless they get in foul trouble.
Q. I Wanted to ask you about Daniel and the changing role that he has had in his career. Also in that same vein, he has never been the focus. At Duke he has not been the focus. How does he handle that?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: The main thing he has been is an outstanding player. You know, if you are in a film that wins an Academy Award, you get a lot of exposure. He has been in films that have won Academy Awards in high school and college much. Daniel has gotten recognition. He deserves it. I think the word is, Daniel is versatile. And being flexible to do a number of different things, who he guards, he is the best on ball defender that we have had for the last -- for his whole career. Maybe not his freshman year. Even last year with Duhon, Daniel was a better on ball defender. Then we asked him to play off the ball. He has been a point guard. He has been a wing. What he has been is he has been invaluable to us. And then ultimately he has been a winner. He is the winningest player in college basketball right now. He has one 111, 12, something like that. He did the same thing in high school. If you have Daniel on your team, you win more. That is the good recognition. That is the thing that a lot of coaches would like to have. A lot of guys like Daniel will win more.
Q. Talk a little bit about having Duke, Carolina, and NC State all in the Sweet 16. And when you were in Durham, if you got a feel for the excitement and atmosphere?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It is not one school there. It is just ACC basketball and college basketball. What a lot of you -- I am not sure if anybody knew that this happened yesterday. I don't know if this has ever happened what happened yesterday. When we were leaving to come here, there were three charter jets all waiting at Raleigh-Durham airport with the three teams all going at the same time. It was like either we were evacuating or we were all deploying. I hope we are all deploying to our areas of competition. But all of a sudden, I am looking and I said, I am sure this hasn't happened. That is great for our region and I am happy for our league.
Q. You spoke of the difficulty of the region. I was wondering, nine Sweet 16s in a row for you. I think Carolina had a streak of 13 in a row at one point. How difficult is it now to get a team to this level, to the regional with the rise in the mid majors and the way college basketball has become more competitive?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I don't know how much more difficult or whatever. It is always difficult to win in this tournament. It is everybody's dream to be in the tournament. You are usually not going to play against somebody who is afraid or, geez, I don't want to play in the NCAA tournament, it is mid-January or mid-February or whatever it is. This is what I have dreamed to do. I think the talent base is more widespread right now, because of all the kids that have gone early over the years. It is a tougher tournament right now. And anybody can win it. Any one of these 16 teams can win the national championship. I am not sure that you would say that in too many other years. That is the way the tournament has evolved.
Q. Can you beat Michigan State if offensively they play the same way they did the first two games?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: If we play as hard defensively in rebounds. The game -- you know, in every sport, the game isn't always beautiful. You got to do something good, though, usually to win a game. Out of three things, offense, rebounding and defense, you do two of them, you might have a chance. That is what happened for us in the first two ball games. We rebounded well and we played good defense. To me, those are the two things we have done most of the year. That is why we have won. We haven't won because of our offense. Do I hope to play better offense? Yes. Can we win without it? Yes. But it won't be very easy.
Q. Coach, you mention that had you're good friends with Coach Izzo. Could you elaborate on that how often do you talk? How aware have you been that he molded his program after yours?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: He has been around a lot of good coaches. I am sure Tom has given me more respect than I needed to get. I got to know Tom when he was an assistant. I saw how hard he worked for Jud, and knowing Jud, how hard it is to work for Jud. You have to laugh at his bad jokes all the time. Tom didn't laugh at his jokes, so I respected that. Tom is very involved in the game, the U.S. basketball movement, and he has given time to that. The coaches association, you know. In the last two years, he and I and a few other coaches have served on a somewhat private committee, an ad hoc committee with President Brand from the NCAA. We have gotten to know each other as guys who were in a great profession and loved the game. I know that side of him. You don't always get to know the other guy that way -- during the year, I mean. I've hard time -- I don't talk to many people. If I was going to call anybody in the Big-10, I would call Tom. And he wouldn't want me to talk to Tom. So, it is not like you are constantly on the phone like you guys are on the phone. We're not on the phone very much. We are very lonely guys.
ROB CAROLLA: Thank you, Coach. Good luck this weekend.
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