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March 18, 2009
GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA
AMY YAKOLA: We're joined by Duke student-athletes: Gerald Henderson as well as Jon Scheyer. Questions, please.
Q. First couple of years for you guys in your class in the NCAA Tournament. Obviously, it's disappointed you. How does winning the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament boost your confidence? And how is this team different in its approach to the tournament?
JON SCHEYER: Well, I think the big thing for us is, you know, same thing happened first couple of years in the ACC tournament we didn't do so well. And that had no effect on how we handled our approach this year for the tournament for the ACC. And obviously winning it, we didn't think of making up for the last two years not doing well in that tournament.
It's really similar in this tournament. I think the last two years Gerald and I have our experiences and we've learned from them. But we're not carrying anything over into this year. So we're confident and we're prepared. Obviously, winning the championship helps us be that much more confident. But either way, we feel good coming in.
GERALD HENDERSON: I think just like Jon, you know, we're not carrying anything from our last two years of this tournament. This year is all about this year. And we have a lot of momentum going into the tournament with our ACC championship win.
Q. What have you seen and what have coaches told you about Binghamton's personnel and the way they're playing? What do you think is most important that you guys have to do about the way they play?
GERALD HENDERSON: Well, they have really good guard play. You know, kind of just like our team. So one of the biggest things is shutting down their guards and really defending them well.
JON SCHEYER: Yeah, well like Gerald said, they have really good guards. Pretty much they start four guards, and the big thing is to try to keep them out of the paint. They're really good drivers. You give a team like that momentum and anything can happen. So obviously, the beginning of the game is important to keep them out of the paint.
Q. Since you guys have changed the lineup, it just seems like you've had a lot better spacing on the floor. Looks like the movement is a lot better. What was the background on that? How did that come about?
JON SCHEYER: You know, I'm not sure. I think I remember a time when we made the lineups, which I think we kind of had an idea what we needed to do. It was at a time when we weren't really playing well. The main thing for us was we didn't have many assists and we had a lot of turnovers. So I think the main thing when we made the lineup moves, we really wanted to take care of the ball.
I think our assists went up because we did take better shots, and we did have better spacing. One of the things we've been doing, and I think we've had possessions where we could be successful. Not bringing it up the court, obviously. We want it in Gerald's hands, kyle's hands. My hand's, too. But getting the ball in one of their hands and going off of them is something successful and then keeping spacing.
GERALD HENDERSON: Just like Jon said, I think with him on the ball it's more me, Elliot and Kyle making drives that pass to him. That's probably the better look. He's probably the better three-point shooter on the perimeter. So I this I that's been a big thing for us.
Q. Aside from winning the ACC championship, what is your mindset right now as opposed to this time a year ago. You guys weren't playing as well. Was there a major difference or is it kind of starting fresh when you get to the NCAA Tournament and everything is behind you no matter what happens?
GERALD HENDERSON: Well, everything is behind us. But I think coming into this year, having the ACC championship, it gives us momentum and gives us a lot of confidence. We haven't been in this same kind of situation in years past.
Q. One thing we know, even though we've won the ACC championship, we're not the only team that's won a championship playing in this tournament, obviously.
So for us, it was an exciting thing, but I think we've moved on from it a little bit. We didn't just want to come into this, this year, and just win the ACC tournament and be done. We wanted to do a lot in March, too. Does it feel like a home game for you guys? There's been a lot of talk about the fact that you guys and Carolina are both here, and if you run into those guys what do you expect to happen?
JON SCHEYER: I don't know if a brawl would happen or anything. I think it would be all right (smiling). I think it's the type of thing where it's going to be a good crowd, obviously. I don't know if Carolina fans will be there or Duke fans. Whatever it is, I know people will be there. It just makes the games exciting, and having a crowd like that would be fun.
GERALD HENDERSON: I'm sure we'll have a lot of support. I'm sure there will be a lot of Carolina fans there, too. With the other team, Carolina being here also, I don't think there would be anything with that. My best friend's on their team. So I'll be hoping he does well.
Q. Following up on that last question, obviously you guys weren't here, but have you heard anything about what it was like five years ago when Duke and Carolina were in Charlotte together? It got hostile on that Saturday toward you guys. Are you anticipating -- what are you anticipating the atmosphere to be like in here?
GERALD HENDERSON: I haven't heard about that, actually. Whatever it is, it is. We've been in places where teams have been against us, so it's not something we're worried about. We're just really worried about winning the games.
JON SCHEYER: I haven't heard anything either. I think like Gerald said, we've been used to being booed before. If we're going to be booed, you know, people have cheered for us before. No matter what it is, I feel like we've been through everything. So we'll be prepared no matter what it is.
Q. I think it would be fair to say before the switch was made that you were kind of struggling a little bit. You had a couple of three point, six point games. Ever since then you're averaging 20 points a game. Only turned the ball over ten times in those games. Why have you been so effective?
JON SCHEYER: Well, I think like you said, I did go through a rough stretch there in the middle of the season. I think right around the time the switch was happening, I was starting to find my rhythm a little bit, too. So with the combination of moving over and starting to find my rhythm a little bit, it was kind of just a good, new thing for me. Since then I've been real comfortable with where I'm at and just trying to take good shots and just take what's there. It's been good.
Q. If you look at the spot of the other seven teams, almost all of them, have some sort of big concern that they have to worry about coming into these games. Is there anything that you guys are worried about?
GERALD HENDERSON: No. I mean, we usually stay positive and try to go to our strengths. I wouldn't say there's anything that we worry about or stress about coming into games. I think we're in a good state of mind.
AMY YAKOLA: Thank you both.
AMY YAKOLA: We're now joined by Duke Head Coach, Mike Krzyzewski. Opening comments from Coach Krzyzewski.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Just to give you a health check here. We're in good shape. Nolan was such a good surprise at the ACC tournament, played 25 minutes a game. He's fine. You know, it's gone really well. No injuries, and we're excited. We're not tired. We're excited and ready to go.
Q. Given the fact that last year at this time you were worried about DeMarcus being sick, and Kyle being gassed and all that kind of stuff, how different and how much more positive is it to come into a tournament this way where you're talking about how you're getting people back and you're healthy instead of the way it's been the last couple of years?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, it's exactly the opposite. I mean, Gee's wrist, he had a broken bone in his wrist. And this is the way you'd like to do it. I hope we can play better, and hope we can win. We certainly are in a much better position to do that. I think we've made adjustments in how we have moved along during the season, and how we practiced right now to make sure that our guys are fresh from playing three straight days in the ACC tournament.
I mean, that's -- those were three very difficult games. And we were fortunate to win them. Then you get back at 9:00 o'clock on Sunday, and you're here right now. And you've got to move to to another thing. But I think overall, our guys are fresh.
Q. There have been a lot of years where you've had guys who have had a lot of NCAA success on the team. They know what it takes. They've been successful. Then a few years, very few where you didn't, and this is one of them where you don't have a lot of guys on the team. Is it any harder or can they take the experience from you?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: What we've tried to do is just say, look, live in the present, not in the past or the future. These kids have nothing to make up for. You spend your whole life making up for something. I don't know if you ever take advantage of what is actually going on.
I've told them forget -- we've learned from every experience over the last couple of years. Let's just concentrate on right now. We use the same approach in the ACC tournament. We've tried to be that way the entire year. Let's play right now. This game, and then if we're fortunate enough to advance, let's play the next game. Don't think in the past, and don't think in the future. Just try to be completely absorbed in the present. I think that's the way to do it.
Q. Talked last week about the importance of getting the Duke culture back in the program, an example of how the older guys have helped all year long with this recent change. How long did your program go without having the culture where you would like it? And is the impact of that what we've seen in the last nine games?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It's not like a culture just left. You know, we have a staple in our program have been the assistant coaches who were former players and I've been there for a long time. And our managers. But it's much better when a young player comes in and has somebody on the court with him who understands. Understands us as a coaching staff, me, in particular. Understands the situation of what it's like to play at Clemson, and then come back and play in Miami. You know, to play North Carolina and what happens the game before or after that.
You know, that's the culture that we missed. Because we didn't have anyone that went through it. So I think it makes the older player better, not just the younger player. Because he's sharing knowledge. It's just like in a game situation on the court. You can't call timeouts all the time. There's not time in between plays like in other sports. To have that leadership or that experience on the court at that time is invaluable. And I think that's why we won the ACC tournament is because of that. Our guys did a good job of communicating while things were going on, not just at timeouts.
Q. Obviously Greg Paulus has had a different role this year than years past. Can you talk about what you've seen from him this year in terms of not only on the court but what he's been able to do off the court?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: No, Greg's very valid. He may win a game here for us. He may be put in a situation where he has to perform. But he's had, I think, a really good career at Duke. What he is, he's a team guy. Greg was hurt for about four to five straight months from the end of last season to about the second week of practice, when we started practice. That put him behind. So it's been a year of him catching up.
But he's made valuable contributions. And he does it every day, because he has a great attitude. And we have confidence in him. It's just the group we have playing is playing well. When somebody isn't playing as much, it doesn't mean that somebody is bad. It usually means that something is going well, or somebody's playing a little bit better. That's what's happened.
Q. Can you talk about what you've learned over the years about what kind of things you can do as a coach to make the team better during the tournament? The effect a coach can have?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I think you don't want to change too much. Keep them fresh. Make sure that they see you positive and you excited. I think that's especially important for me at this stage of my career. It's not like another NCAA Tournament. It means a lot to show excitement, and to make sure that you allow your players to play. Try to put them in a position where they want -- they're not afraid to show what they have. So you don't try to over coach.
Q. Jon basically said relative to the ACC championship, it was great, they enjoyed it. But now they've moved on. My question to you is what did winning the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament do in terms of preparation, confidence, that type thing as you move into the NCAA?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think the very first thing, it gave us three tough games with a different -- a new lineup. We had played six games with that lineup. And actually not the complete lineup, because Nolan was out with a concussion. So it gave us an opportunity to play and bring back Nolan off the bench.
So many game situations, and you get confidence by being successful not just in winning, but by doing well in these game situations. Hitting a free throw, running a play like against Boston College where Gee gets the ball, and having to defend another play. Those are invaluable for us.
In winning, whatever you win gives you more confidence. I mean, you can talk about winning, but when you do it, it makes a big difference. Then to be a champion of a league like ours, hopefully it would even add to their confidence.
Then we have to put that behind us just like we don't want to talk about that. Just like we don't want to talk about what we did in the last two years. Though I'd be happy to talk about what we did in '91 and -- no. You know, you don't want to talk about any of that stuff. You want to talk about what's happening right now. I think that's where our players are at.
Q. Bob Knight has been saying for a few days now, including today, that he thinks your guys are playing the sport of basketball better than any team in the country. But having said that, he said he's not sure you are the best team. Do you see a difference in that?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, first of all, Coach and I are great friends. He never said that about me when I played for him. I think we're playing well. I mean, you can play really well and not be better than somebody else. But by playing as well as your group can play, you have a chance of beating somebody else.
A lot of times people are just saying -- people end up talking about us about what we don't have a lot all the time. I know we don't have a lot of things. But we do have some things. It's our responsibility to do what we have to the best of our ability, and not pay attention to what we don't have. And not let that get in the way. I don't know if it was Coach Wooden who said don't let what you don't do well get in the way of what you do well. And basically that's how I try to coach every year. Maybe that's what he's talking about.
Q. Are we making too big a deal of this whole Duke-Carolina, same arena thing?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I don't know what deal you're making, so.
Q. Well, everybody's talking --
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: No, I don't know. Really at this time I go, and I'm in a tunnel or a cave. I know, I was just at a meeting with Roy. Like I'm glad we're in Greensboro. We've played in the same arenas against each other. How could playing in the same arena not against each other be bad?
Q. You remember how the atmosphere was in Charlotte five years ago. It was almost a home game for you guys?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: We won't win or lose because of atmosphere. We'll win or lose because of how we play. So I just think it's an honor for us to be here. I mean, we've earned this. Obviously, Carolina's earned it. You know, for me, I love Greensboro. You know, for a guy from inner city of Chicago, and going to on West Point. I love North Carolina, the state, all right. (Smiling) I respect North Carolina the team.
And the city, that really, to me over the years that kind of captures the whole spirit of the ACC is Greensboro. Maybe it's because the ACC tournament is here.
I told some of the coaches who are obviously not from our area, and the administrators, I said you'll be knocked over with how well you're treated here, and how much people appreciate basketball.
So to have two of the storied programs from our conference playing under the same roof, I think is a great thing. I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to playing two days like that. That means we've got to win the first one.
Q. Can you just kind of talk about Binghamton and what you've seen from them looking at them? And kind of what you have to do to stop them?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, I see a very confident team. A team that has three perimeter guys that really can match-up with a lot of perimeters. Rivera, he can flat out score the ball. He's not going to be afraid. They have good egos. They play a style that allows them to use their talents. Mayben, I didn't realize how good of a shooter he was. Mid 40% from threes. And he can get his shot. And Alvin, I think, is just he seems to be coming on in these last few games.
There was a little bit differential in scoring before the last few games, last four or five games, where Rivera would have, you know, twice as much. Now they have three guys who are producing pretty high double-figures.
And Fuller is an outstanding athlete, too. Just does a lot of the dirty work. They have a very well conceived offense. They're not going to be in awe of us. You know, they're going to play really hard. We respect them. We've prepared very hard for them. We've prepared for them just like we did for any team in the ACC tournament. That's the respect that we have for them.
Q. Kyle Singler obviously thrived playing the 40-40-40 in Atlanta. Why do you think he did so well under those circumstances? And b, assuming he can stay out of foul trouble, is he continuing that in the tournament or was that a three-day thing?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Kyle will play every second that he can play. I mean, he's in shape to do it. He doesn't need - unless he asks me to come out for a breather. Really good players want to play. I've been fortunate enough to coach a lot of them. They never want to come out of a game. Whether it be Reddick, whether it be Battier, Jason Williams, Dawkins, Hill, all these guys. They want to play. And Kyle's a really good player.
Also, when you you get to these timeouts are much more -- they're really long. You can write all -- if you're really good, you can write your story at the timeout. I'm not knocking your stories, but they're pretty long. They're pretty long. So kids should get a good rest during that time. So he'll play all the time. We have a better chance of winning if he's on the court, so, we're going to keep him on the court.
Q. Lot of newcomers to this stage on that Binghamton team. I was just wondering if I could get you to reflect back to your first time taking a team into this tournament as a head coach. What hurdles did you face? What were you most struck with?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think your, first of all, it's reality. Something that you've dreamed about. Like every coach and player wants to play in the NCAA Tournament. So that's the first thing is just to, like, I'm actually here.
Then, to make sure that you're not just thinking about that, but that you're thinking about who you're playing and what you have to do.
But I've always felt -- I try to capture that same feeling each year that I'm in it. That, you know, I'm lucky we're here. You know, we're in the NCAA Tournament. Because I think the guys who play for me have to -- they deserve that. Where when you're there the first time, you'd have to work at it. You're just doing it.
Q. You guys have won 9 out of the last 10 games. You're the ACC champions, one of the toughest leagues in the country. I know you don't listen to the so-called experts. But not a lot of people are talking about you guys. You don't see Duke moving in many people's brackets. What do you think about that?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I don't think about it at all, because some people have asked how do you prepare and whatever. I don't fill out a bracket. I'm not a -- I am a fan, but I'm not a fan of basketball now. I'm the coach of my team. When you're coaching your team, you should have just great focus on what you are doing.
Really it doesn't matter at all what anyone predicts, it's what you do. Somebody said that we're not in President Obama's Final Four. As much as I respect what he's done, really, the economy is something that he should focus on, probably, more than the brackets. So why would I care about that?
I love the guy, and I think he's going to be great. But I love the fact that so many people are filling them out, because the game is growing so much. But until I quit coaching or retire from coaching, I'm never going to fill one out.
Q. You mentioned Reddick a minute ago, Tyler's probably going to break his scoring record tomorrow. What are your thoughts on that?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, all records will be broken at some time, and they're usually going to be broken by somebody who has done an amazing job. And Tyler has been one of the great players in the history of our conference. The fact that in this day and age for him to be here for four years is, I think, really a big compliment to their program and their university that he has stayed, and he's conducted himself in such a great way on and off the court.
You know, who knows. Who knows who will break that. It will probably stay for a while because guys are not staying the whole time. And he's been incredibly healthy. You can tell his commitment to staying in good health, because he plays a very physical game, and for him to put in all those games and the consistency of excellence that he's shown is admirable. I admire what he's done.
End of FastScripts