March 29, 1999
ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I'd like to congratulate Connecticut on their win. They're an outstanding basketball team, and they played their hearts out. Jim and his staff did a great job in preparation for us, and their perimeter especially is such a veteran perimeter. They know each other; they play off each other so well. They really understand the game extremely well. I thought Moore in the first half was the difference. I thought that Hamilton throughout, but especially for big shots, made some big shots. Hamilton is so good. I'm really proud of my team. I really love these guys. I have a hard time being sad. I'm sorry. I don't coach for winning; I coach for relationships. I got the best. I mean we've won a lot because of that, and I'm just glad it's in their locker room. These kids have been an amazing group of kids and have had a sensational year. And I thank them for taking us along, because they've been an incredible group. Questions?
Q. Trajan, was there any point in the first half where yourself or anybody else realized these guys aren't different than anybody, quicker than anybody you played, maybe you couldn't do everything you were used to doing offensively.
TRAJAN LANGDON: They're very good at the perimeter. They're obviously great with transition, they show quickness there. Ricky Moore is a great defender on the perimeter, and so he made it difficult for us. But, you know, it was more than one defense. They just played a great game all around.
Q. Trajan, the last possession, the one where you're down one and trying to create a shot, is that what you want to do?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Let me answer that. Absolutely. Positively. Absolutely. I want Trajan Langdon to take that shot. Win or lose with Trajan Langdon, I will walk down any road with Trajan Langdon, and I'm proud of Trajan Langdon. It's a set we've run a number of times. And most of the time it's successful. Tonight it wasn't. I'm fine with that. The ball was in our best players' hands with an opportunity to win the game. And it's the way it should be. They played good defense and it was -- that's it. So I mean that's, you know... But that possession was right. They were right on defense also because it matched up our best shooter in a position where he could get fouled or create a shot, get a shot.
Q. Trajan, can you maybe expand on that, your thoughts when you had the ball and the clock was running down and then you saw Moore on you, what were your thoughts at that point?
TRAJAN LANGDON: Moore was on me the whole game. It was no different than the whole game. To me, I just wanted to make a move. I've been in that situation a ton of times. I wasn't thinking about the clock. I made a move. I might have travelled, I might not have. That's the call. That's the way the game goes. But that's not the game, there's millions of plays in that game that determine the outcome. So I'm not going to hang my head on that play. He played good defense and, you know, you know the way it turned out.
Q. Coach and Trajan, do you feel that in any experience in being those type situations at the end of the game, it was a factor tonight?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I don't think so. We made so many big plays to almost win the game. Our kids made huge shots. We made a tremendous defensive -- we had a tremendous defensive exchange just prior to that. So, I don't think so. I think it, you know, they're good and we're good. They did the thing better than we did right at the end and they won. And it was that type of game.
Q. Coach and also for the players, in this type of tournament, is the pressure as the game gets tight on the favorite team extremely almost unbearable, and, B, are you happy to be at such a high caliber team.
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I don't think our kids showed they were under pressure. They were beating us and we came back. And I thought in the last eight minutes we played our best basketball. So I don't think this team has felt any pressure. The pressure to try to guard Connecticut, that's a different kind of pressure. I mean they're really good. That type of pressure is there. Our kids, our kids could play to win all year long, and we've won a large amount of games and championships and we came up a little bit short tonight. We didn't come up short tonight because of pressure.
Q. Elton and then Coach Krzyzewski, could you please address how effectively Connecticut defends Elton, especially in the first half.
ELTON BRAND: First half, they made it really tough to give open looks. They were dropping down. That's me going on. I get those guys the utmost credit. They were just, you know, fighting the possession every time I touched it. You know, they were getting back to Trajan and William to relocate it. So they did a good job.
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: We made some adjustments. He got touches more in the second half, and, you know, it's obvious that they wanted to take that away. It really should have opened up a little bit more for us. I don't know if we made as many good reads initially on that, and, you know, we had enough -- there were enough points out there to win.
Q. Coach, this might be doubly tough for you given the number of games you've been involved in and the outcome of this one, but just from a basketball standpoint, how does this rank? I mean as a basketball fan, if you can get there right now --
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I'm a basketball coach. I coached a great basketball team. I'm not sure I understand your question.
Q. How great a game was it?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Oh, it was a great game. Now I understand your question. (Laughter) It was a terrific game. And I've been fortunate to be in a bunch of terrific games. We've won some and there's some that we've lost. I've been in great games this year with this team, so I'm proud of being involved in this game. You know, anybody expects me to be down about this game, they're -- they don't understand me. I'm not gonna be down about this game because it would take away from my experience with this group.
Q. Coach, if there were one or two reasons that you guys did come up short tonight in your mind what would they be? Maybe hitting the boards a little bit or shot selection?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I don't think shot selection so much because they played good defense. But certainly we've rebounded better than we did tonight, and I think they kept constant game pressure on us. It's a different form of pressure. You know, we're -- you're a possession down and they come down and score. We didn't get a stop. And then now we have to score to keep it a one possession game or we get it down to one point or tied and they make a big play. That's the -- you have to give them an immense amount of credit for making big plays throughout that second half, especially in the last eight minutes. Because we came back and made big plays. It was a possession for possession type of game.
Q. Trajan, for all of the things that your team has done this year, how much does this hurt?
TRAJAN LANGDON: Well, obviously I think we've had an unbelievable year. By far it's the best team that I've been on. I've loved playing with the guys. It's disappointing obviously because you want to win. We got to this point, you want to pull it out. But, you know, it's not going to put a damper on what kind of year we had. We had an unbelievable year and I'm not going to allow one game, you know, to make it a disappointing year. So it's been a great year.
Q. Can either Mike or Trajan talk about the last possession? (Inaudible)
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I think in that type of situation, after they hit the free throws?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: We have a play where we give it in quickly and we should advance to court with the ball. I think there were 5.2 seconds. That's plenty. 5 seconds is plenty. If it was, like, under 3, probably we would have tried to do that at half court.
Q. Can Trajan explain what happened? (Inaudible) ?
TRAJAN LANGDON: First of all, I just wanted to get the ball in bounds. You know, I ended up getting it. Obviously it was going towards the baseline when I got it. They did a good job following me towards the side line. There were three people there, I got tripped a little bit. But I tried to get a shot off and it was stripped. So --
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: It was clean.
TRAJAN LANGDON: It was stripped.
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Everything about the game was clean. I mean, you know, they played good D on that last exchange.
Q. Coach, the possession for that, when Langdon went up against Moore --
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: It wasn't set up. We have a play and a read. There are other things that could come up. It's just that that is what it ended up being.
Q. My question is was there ever thought of calling a time-out?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: No. I mean we have the whole momentum of the game. We just did a positive thing in stopping them, and we've been -- we've practiced those situations. And to me, we have the advantage then. And if we call a time-out, we give them a chance to collect themselves. I just think it's the way to go. We would do that the same way, the same thing. And we have done it in the past, not so much this year because we haven't been in that situation, but that's the way we play. I think it's aggressive, and it's winning, you know we're going for the win. Thank you very much.
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