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March 22, 2006
Q. How would you define this team's collective personality and how is it dissimilar to teams you have had in the past?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I think it's a personality that's still developing. Because we have a lot of young guys who are emerging and have emerged quite a bit in the last month of the season. So it's been a little bit different team. I mean we have great kids who want to do what we ask them to do and they have played hard, they have come to play all the time, so they have a good personality as far as games go. And they get along well.
Just a matter of -- we have 6 seniors and 6 freshman, not all from scholarship players, so that dynamic I have never had before and I think they have done a good job in bringing both those age groups together.
Q. A lot was made few weeks ago is that J.J.'s emotional tank might have been empty. I think he showed the ACC tournament and then this past weekend that that's far from the case. Could you just talk about his emotional gas tank, if you will, and I think had you mentioned even that you had learned something from when Christian Laettner was going through a lot of publicity in '92?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Christian was right at the end of the season. He just had the shot against Kentucky. Next five days won every award that a college player can win. Then he was asked to play and wanted to play of course in the Final 4. So it was -- he never had a break from that Kentucky -- it was just constant and constant attention.
J.J.'s I think was -- we had clinched the regular season right around when he broke the record against Miami. That's when we clinched the tie and because we beat State, we were going to we were going to be the champions of the regular season. And so much attention was focused on those records then and that conspiracy of officials giving us calls, and those two aspects kind of -- it was tough to concentrate just on the team and for two weeks I thought we didn't play real well and I didn't think J.J. played real well. We just didn't do well. I don't know if it was so much emotion as much as there wasn't a need and there were a lot of distractions much more than emotion. And once we got past that, finished the regular season, one we're trying to celebrate now.
Shelden being one of the best shot blockers, trying to get together as far as who we're as a basketball team, we had about three weeks of something that no other team in the country had to deal with, and hopefully it's made us stronger. But he's ready to go. I think J.J. is ready to go.
Q. Your theory on how Shelden has been able to accomplish all that he has but yet it flies under the radar?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I just mentioned part of my theory, not that it's a theory I think it's obvious, there's only so much space in newspapers and there's only so much time on TV programs and radio programs, and when you are talking about something else and he's the poster child for having committed a foul or did he commit a foul, then you are not going to talk about his accomplishments.
That's sad. I have said that before and I still think it was sad. Thank goodness he's a great kid. That never fazed him. He just went about his business, and he's put together two great games in the NCAA tournament and is getting probably a lot of recognition he would have gotten the whole last month of his senior regular season.
Hopefully we'll get a chance to do more but we have to beat a really tough opponent tomorrow night and then would have to beat another tough opponent on Saturday to keep it going.
Q. Talk about the matchup between Shelden and Glen Davis tomorrow?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I don't like to talk about one-on-one matchups because that's not the way we play defense. We play defense team man-to-man, and because of how they come down the court, Shelden would be on Davis, but also Josh would be on him. A lot of times their second big is the first guy back especially on offense, he gets down the court fast and if that happens, then Shelden would be on him. In transition.
So neither one of those kids are kids that you are going to stop one-on-one. You are going to have to get help, and when Davis has the ball you have to give help. How we do that we'll see how we do that tomorrow or if we do it tomorrow.
Q. Talk about the physical demands on J.J. because of how he moves without the ball and maybe how he prepared differently this season to have all the energy he needed most season?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think he's just evolved each year as a better basketball player, and the last two years he's made a year-round commitment to being in exceptional shape. That means where you can handle the -- the things go on in basketball, if you just focus on J.J. and just watched him, you'd be shocked at the maze of things that he has to get through usually to get a shot. And so when you are doing that, there are times where you can get distracted or get down or get emotional about it which would take you away from the next play.
And so one key words for J.J. is maturity, is handling the next play, whether that be something where he thought he was bumped or he just missed, or he didn't do what he was supposed to do to get open. He has got to play every play fresh and got to play it with the same amount of energy. He has the energy. And he has the maturity. That's why he's been a great player this year. He's been an exceptional player throughout but he's a great player this year.
Q. With all the focus on star power, offensive players in the NCAA tournament sometimes defense is overlooked. Your philosophy on defense in the tournament, it is more important, is it different?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: For me defense is the foundation for a basketball program and I think over the years it's one of the main reasons that we have done well for regular season or in the post-season is because usually we have been a very good defensive team. This team is a little bit different defensively. We haven't been able to cause the turnovers in passing lanes and full court pressure that some of my other teams have. We have relied a lot on Shelden. Shelden has been a truly great defender. And helpside, on the ball, you name it, and but usually if you win this thing, the team that wins it plays good defense. Hopefully we're improving in that. We're going to have to play real well tomorrow night.
Q. Along those lines what catches your attention about LSU's defense how good have they been in their two NCAA tournament games so far?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: They are very good defensively. They can block shots first of all, so if you do break them down they have that last line of defense. Thomas has been terrific in that, but Davis he takes up space but it's not just his space because he has good feet so he can be a help defender also and their perimeter defense although it's young except for Mitchell, the senior guard, plays well together knowing that they have that last line of defense so to speak, in those big kids, if they make any mistakes, so I think they are a very good defensive team. I think they are really good team. They have the best record in the SEC so they are very good.
Q. Glen Davis said that there was an AAU event in Texas one time when you were recruiting Dwight Howard. He said he kind of introduced himself to you and you weren't really aware of who he was. I am sure this probably happens to you often. Talk about whether you have any memory of that. If you really knew who he was before he got to LSU.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: It will be hard not to know who he was. (Laughter). I don't know where that -- it's like a fairytale. One I won't be allowed to talk to him because it would be a violation. So it -- of course I knew who he was. How would he know that I was recruiting Dwight Howard? I mean, anyway, stories like that are nice stories, okay. He's a helluva player. I know who he was. I still know who he is. And I respect who he is. If I knew he wanted to go to Duke I would have looked at him closer.
Q. Yesterday we laid to rest a dear icon, Ray Meyer. Say a little bit what he meant to you personally and your career and what he meant to this game. He would have been here at this tournament?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Coach Meyer is the coach's coach. I am sorry that I was not able to be there because of this or else I would have gone and gone there. He was a real friend. The last time I saw him they had a little dedication for me outside my old high school they named a street. Feel sorry for the other people living on that street, but kids now are saying, What street do we live on? Krzyzewski.
But anyway, that's another part of that (laughter). But Coach Meyer was there in a wheelchair and he always had that big smile. He had a big hug. He loved the game and he loved the people. More so than I am not sure that anybody loved the people of Chicago any more from sports than Coach Meyer. He was the face of Chicago basketball and was a great example of what coaches should be and many, many of the people in business, politics, in medicine, are were former campers of his. He had them first grade camp up in Wisconsin where he would talk about doing stuff under the stars, you knew you have been around a bit to listen to him tell stories about him that were great.
He had a great life and we'll celebrate his life for ever.
Q. Do you go into a season with an idea as to how deep your rotation is going to be or does that evolve as you go along? Also the -- this year's rotation is about the same size as last year. Does that help these guys pace themselves and know what to expect?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I don't go into a season -- expectations sometimes when you have them, instead of being goals they become limits. I think it's -- even like I have an expectation to make the NCAA tournament. Maybe then that's all I want to do. So then you can never know about injuries or how kids are going to develop. So I don't put expectations -- I kind of run motion offense, see what guys are doing week-to-week and adjust accordingly.
I think we have a solid 7-man rotation right now. It's more experience than healthier than last year's. And we're fresher than we were last year at this time. Last year we were kind of right at the end and then we played a team that played great against us even if we weren't at the end they probably would have beaten us, Michigan State.
So we're better. Whether we advance after this, we will see. But we're better right now than we were last year at this time.
MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.
J.J. REDICK: We're really excited to be here. We feel very fortunate to be one of the final 16 teams in the country. And certainly going to be a challenge for us. LSU has had a great year, and they are a bigger team, with a really good perimeter player, so it's going to be a big-time game and we're very excited.
SHELDEN WILLIAMS: Kind of going along with what he said, it is a great feeling to be in the Sweet 16, us being a part of that one of the 16 teams just is a great opportunity for us and we played against LSU on Thursday and it's going to be a great game. Two good teams, going to be a battle for 40 minutes.
Q. Talk about the matchup with Glen Davis, just what your thoughts are after getting a chance watching him on film and on TV?
SHELDEN WILLIAMS: He's an incredible player. Somebody for that size that moves so well as he does, it's just amazing to watch. I know it going to be a very physical game and low post throughout the whole course of the game. I know we both are prepared for that and hopefully we'll play the game without any injuries going on and hopefully we come out on top.
Q. Did defense always come natural to you in high school? What has Coach taught you about playing defense, do you think it's one of the overlooked aspects of the team?
SHELDEN WILLIAMS: Defense was taught to me at early age by my father. That was something that he taught me before I did anything else was bag player that played both sides of the ball. When I first started out I was worried about scoring points and not playing defense and he changed that around for me and told me that anybody can concentrate on scoring but not everybody is concentrating on playing defense. That's something that he taught me at early age.
Ever since then I have been becoming better and better at whatever my defensive skills are out on the court. That's something that I took from my father and have grown up to Duke and Duke has taken a great defensive team and school. It's something that Coach K helping me out with, with defending on the perimeter and defending like different guys in the low post.
Q. Talk about what jumps out to you about LSU's defense, especially with Tyrus Thomas back in there, playing a little bit more than he did when he was injured?
J.J. REDICK: I think it jumps -- what jumps out about them defensively is that they are very long besides Mitchell, all their starters have really good length and especially with Thomas back there, he tries to block every shot, and that's an exciting play, it's a momentum play for them so we have got to be smart when we take the ball inside.
SHELDEN WILLIAMS: Like he said, they are very long and pretty much every position that they have and also every position that they have they are very athletic. So we know we're going against a team that's going to be able to compete with us on the physical side and also the athletic side too. We know we have to be wise about our choice out there on the court offensively and defensively.
Q. I wonder if I could ask you to both of you being college seniors, have you reflected on how much revenue college basketball players such as yourself generate for the university and if you think college athletes should be paid a stipend in addition to what they get just to cover the cost of a scholarship?
J.J. REDICK: We try not to think about that because we're amateur athletes. I think for the most part we kind of just accept our plight that we're not going to get paid.
And I really don't think that college athletes should be paid a stipend. You almost get into the thing where which should one player get more than another, should a guy at a big school whose jersey sells for Nike, should he get paid more at a low D-I school? Doesn't make sense. I think the easiest way is to just have a system that's in place right now.
SHELDEN WILLIAMS: My feel on that topic is it is a very complicated topic, I mean, like you said, we're amateur athletes and it should be kept that way. There's a lot of issues that's raised who should be paid a certain amount, should that star player get paid more than a walk-on player, it's a lot of different things that could concert this raise issue. I think this system, the way it is now, it's great for college basketball.
Q. You never scored 20 points in a Sweet 16 game and some people would say that it is because you get tired at this time of the year. Thoughts on that. Did you do anything differently going into this season?
J.J. REDICK: I can't remember what happened the first three years in the Sweet 16. Did we lose one of the games or something? I don't know. I can't remember -- past is the past, to be honest with you. I really have no concern about being tired. I think that's something that other people say to try to create maybe -- plant a seed in my mind or something. But I am not tired. What has happened in my previous three years doesn't really matter going into Thursday.
Q. Little bit of a strange question. Glen Davis just told us that he's -- jokingly told us he's not a Dukey guy. What does that mean to you?
J.J. REDICK: Well, I read one of his quotes from last week, where he's talking about being in an AAU tournament sitting next to Coach K and eating a bunch of cookies. I am not sure what he meant by that. I don't really know what a Dukey guy is. I don't think we even refer to ourselves as Dukeys, so I guess a Duke player if anything, is just a guy who plays hard every play and wants to win. There's certainly a lot of players across the country that fit that profile, but the coaching staff here is very selective with who they choose, who they want to recruit.
Q. J.J., a couple of articles written over the last couple of years about how disliked you are as a player on the road. Do you feel like that's gotten worse as the years have gone by, why do you think that that anger is directed at you specifically?
J.J. REDICK: I think there's been maybe a few more than a couple articles written about that topic.
I have always said that the biggest reason why people dislike me is because I play for Duke. And I understand that. There's a fine line with Duke; you either love us or hate us. And because over the past four years I have sort of become one of the faces of our program, there's been animosity directed my way. As the years have gone on, it's probably reached a pinnacle sometime last year as a junior, and I basically heard everything you can say about me or my family or my sexual orientation or my poetry or whatever, so it's now just kind of comical to me, and any time we go on the road I think all of us look forward to see what schools have, chants and posters, because it is funny. It's not anything that I really get angry about anymore.
Q. Any kind of comfort level here in Atlanta in this building given the regional two years ago and some ACC tournament success here?
J.J. REDICK: For us we weren't in the ACC tournament. That was a couple years before we got here, but walking into this building earlier today brought back really good memories of us playing here two years ago. For the seniors it will be a little bit of a comfort level, but I think Texas also played here that same Sweet 16 so they are going to have some comfort level.
West Virginia is an experienced group in NCAA tournaments. I don't think it really matters where they play. LSU is kind of just on a hot streak. They are playing as good as anybody in the country. I don't think anything -- any of that really matters.
Q. Which have your major personal achievements are you most proud?
SHELDEN WILLIAMS: I am not really sure. Something that I never really thought about. With me, being a defensive player, I guess, blocking shots would be a key thing, and also I guess now achieving the rebounding record, I guess that's probably the two most personal things that I can be very proud of myself with doing.
Q. What makes Coach so good and brings the best out of you players?
J.J. REDICK: Coach is great every day. He's always got his on-switch turned on. He's extremely competitive. He genuinely cares about winning and about his players, and what he's done at Duke and just building a family and a program, is just incredible. Just his day-to-day attitude of competitiveness and desire to win is one of the things right off the top of my head that makes him so great.
SHELDEN WILLIAMS: I think for him to be very energetic day in day out, every practice that we have he's bringing the best out of us, each practice, each day, each game, each play, each exchange, and that's something that a lot of people may take for granted.
But playing for Coach K, it's something that is just a very special feeling that he always cares no matter what the situation is, he's always there on our side even if he is getting on us that day, we know that he's doing it because he knows that we can do whatever that the job is and that's something that Coach K brings to the table day in and day out.
MODERATOR: Thank you.
End of FastScripts...