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March 25, 2009
Q. You guys are both juniors, not having played in a Sweet 16 before. How disappointing was it the last two years to lose in the first round?
GERALD HENDERSON: It's always disappointing when you have a pretty good season, especially last year, having a good season, having a good team and then not taking it as far as you'd want to go. But that's something we're really not thinking about as much now. We're more focused on what we're doing this year.
JON SCHEYER: Yeah, like Gerald said, it's not something we're thinking about. Obviously it was disappointing those two years. It's not like that's what we wanted to do.
Just coming out and winning those first two games was a great way to start a tournament.
Q. You guys are going to face a team at Villanova that plays the same defensive style you do. You tend to surprise a lot of teams with your defensive pressure. How do you think you'll match up against a team that plays a lot like you?
JON SCHEYER: They have a lot of guys that can pressure the ball, they really can get a lot of steals because of their athleticism. And the way they play, they're really aggressive. But for both teams, we're used to that in practice and games. It's something both teams have faced.
At the beginning of the game it won't be a surprise. And I think it's a matter of just coming out really hard. Obviously we know they're going to come out hard. But it's something on defense, you need to make sure you take care of the ball.
GERALD HENDERSON: Yeah, just like Jon, we see that every day, we see that every day. We're going to do the things that we do and play the way that we play and just see what happens.
Q. Are you prepared for the scope and the depth of the venom that you get elsewhere, even maybe where you think it would be neutral places?
GERALD HENDERSON: We're used to people rooting against us. In the ACC it's pretty brutal. But even back in Greensboro we had a really strong following there, but it was mostly fellow Carolina fans. We're close to home. We're pretty used to that.
JON SCHEYER: Yeah, we're really used to it. I think we're as prepared as any team in the country to face whatever the crowd may be, whether it's pro Duke.
A lot of times we've been used to, the last couple of years if we're the second game, usually we'll have our fans rooting for us, but the two teams that follow or play before us probably root against us, and then other teams. It's sometimes like we have three teams cheering against us.
We're used to it, and it's something that doesn't really phase us anymore.
Q. Jon, can you talk about your transition from shooting guard to point. To the outsider it seems like that's a dramatic change in responsibility.
JON SCHEYER: For me, it wasn't too big of a change. I think there were some subtle changes, obviously bringing up the ball. I think having Nolan now, he can bring up the ball, also. So it's not like I'm bringing up the ball for 40 minutes.
For me when I first switched, it was really easy for me, when I have Gerald and Kyle, guys who can take the pressure off me. A lot of times I can just hit one of those guys and just become in the offense, like I would anyway. So it's been a pretty natural change for me, and I think it's benefitted myself and the team.
Q. Coach Krzyzewski has said in recruiting, his biggest competition is the hometown. For yourself, I don't know what kind of pressure was there on you, especially since your coach was the coach's brother?
JON SCHEYER: There was a lot of pressure for me. It's something I hadn't really thought about in a while. But at the time it wasn't like people have said, I always had my mind set on going to Duke. I always really liked Duke, but for me once Coach started recruiting me, it was a lot -- I felt like it was a lot of pressure.
And obviously my coach being the brother, that was something where there's a really unique situation. But luckily my high school coach was a great guy, he was really understanding and just wanted to do what was best for me. And so in the end I was going to Duke.
Q. Gerald, back home a lot has been made this week about your recruitment by Villanova and Jay and you ultimately going to Duke. Can you walk me through how you came to that decision and ultimately what led you to Duke.
GERALD HENDERSON: In the end Duke just ended up being the right situation for me. Villanova is a great place. I grew up around there. I have cousins and my sister is a Villanova alum. I have a lot of friends that go there, even on the team now. Coach Wright is great in recruiting and has always been good to my family. And Duke just ended up being the right place.
Coach Krzyzewski and his vision for me as a player was something that was really intriguing to me. And Duke overall as a program and as a school really just locked it for me.
Q. Gerald, does it mean anything extra to you to be playing under those banners, and what does your dad tell you about playing for the Celtics?
GERALD HENDERSON: They took the banners down. They took them down. It's pretty nice to be playing in Boston, where my dad had his best years as a pro. It's pretty cool to be playing in the same place as him.
I'm sure he'll have fun coming back here and hopefully watching me having some of the same success that he had.
Q. Jon, if I'm not mistaken, Boston College is the last time that, prior to this lineup switch for you guys, can you talk about coming full circle, coming back to Boston and trying to get back to the Final Four?
JON SCHEYER: It is really ironic that our last -- kind of when we switched lineup and everything, that was our last game, playing at Boston College. And it really wasn't a good game for us.
At the same time it was really a good time for us because that's when we started to become the team that we have been and we are now. We've talked about where it started and coming from Boston. And then we're back at Boston, having a chance to go to the Final Four. For us it's really ironic, but also we feel like it's a good thing and hopefully we do better this time in Boston than we did last time.
Q. That loss to BC was the last in the stretch where I think you guys lost four of six. What did you learn from that stretch?
GERALD HENDERSON: We're a different team than we were at that time. We've gone through a lot, especially in that stretch of the season where we had some pretty embarrassing losses. It's a good team, but just as us in the program not how we want to perform.
From them, we played some pretty good basketball to get us to this point, we're just looking forward to continuing that.
JON SCHEYER: And as disappointing as those losses were and frustrating, at the same time it's in a way almost a good thing that it happened because I don't think we would be the team we are now. I feel like we're a lot tougher team from that. And I'm not sure we would be that same team if we didn't have those tough losses during that stretch.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: First of all, we're healthy. We're excited to be here. You saw Gerald and Jon. We have great kids. They've really done a good job for us these last couple of weeks. We're playing our best basketball of the season. We're excited to get going.
Q. Your team this year, you talked about how much you loved them and how much you appreciate what they've done for you. Your National Championship teams in the past, they came in, they were expected to do a lot. This team is maybe overlooked a little bit because of North Carolina. What you say about your team, is it because you feel like maybe they've overachieved, especially the last month and a half, where they thought they could go and where you knew they could go?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Each of our National Championship teams wasn't expected, the first one wasn't expected. And not every team that we've had in the past who have gone to a Final Four was expected to do that.
I don't think this team has overachieved. I think it is achieving what it can do. I think part of it is that we're healthy right now. I think that we've positioned our players where the strengths of certain players helped the strengths of other players. I think that's what happens during a year when you face very difficult competition.
I think our schedule has been ranked the tops in the country and we finished No. 1 in RPI. And playing that type of schedule exposes strengths and weaknesses. And then you have to adjust as a coaching staff and as a team to try to position your players the right way.
The move we made a few weeks ago was a good one because it blended the strengths of our team better. And then Nolan got healthy, and so we became a little bit deeper.
We're fresh. We're excited. I think we're going to be really ready to play.
Q. You were able to go up and pull Gerald Henderson out of the grips of Villanova.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I don't know if he was in the grip. It sounds like a wrestling match.
Q. Can you kind of tell me how or when you first came to know about him and how you ultimately plucked him out of Philadelphia?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Because we're a national school, our school plucks good people in different parts of the country. It's what a national school does. Harvard does it in this area, Stanford. You're talking about -- Duke is one of the great schools.
When I saw Gerald play, even before his junior year, I knew he would be -- he had a chance to be a great player. I'm not sure he knew it as much. I think he will tell you that sometimes the vision we have for it is maybe not the vision at that time he had for himself.
I think if it wasn't for the broken bone in his wrist in mid-February of last year, you would have seen even more of that at the end of last year. But he was out for four months. He had surgery right after the season last year, didn't play for four months. I thought he started playing really well here right after Christmas. And it took, I think, that long for him to get back and accustomed to it.
He and I have a great relationship. I know he loved Villanova. His sister is a graduate and it's a great school, too. But sometimes it's a great relationship you might have, while you still also have a great school. I guess that's how the pluck occurred, the anatomy of a pluck (laughter.)
Q. There are going to be three St. Benedict players on the court, two fairly extensively. When you get a kid from that program, tell me what you're getting?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, you're getting a very well coached kid, but also a kid who's been at a school. Father Ed, who runs that place, and started it, has done an amazing job in making boys, young men. So you're going to get a good kid who's been really well coached and has played with other really good players. That's an adjustment they don't have to go through when they get to college. They already know what it means to play and share.
Danny's good. The kid is probably a little more advanced in a few areas than you would from some other just traditional high school programs. I wouldn't call St. Benedict your traditional high school program, it's an elite high school program.
Q. Coach, a lot has been said this week about how the two teams mirror each other style-wise. How do you see that happening?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, I think we're similar in a lot of respects. I think the very first thing is we don't have players who are positioned. We have basketball players, whether it be -- you're not going to call Cunningham a center, but you call him a really good player. Reynolds, he can play with the ball or off the ball. And Anderson -- we're very similar in that regard.
And I think Jay has done a good job in allowing his kids to use their abilities and trust them and I think we do, too. And they play hard. We play hard. They have good kids. We do.
They have really good experience. They're probably a little bit deeper offensively than we are, because when they have Fisher and Stokes off the bench, it raises their offensive abilities. They can really put out an outstanding offensive team when those two kids are on the court with Cunningham, Anderson and Reynolds. And they can score from every position.
Q. These are two programs that recruit the same areas, have two long storied histories, and yet you've played a surprisingly little number of times. This will be the first NCAA meeting in 30 years. Does that add a little extra to tomorrow night?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Not for me. I think we probably recruit more nationally than they do. No, I'm not trying to put a squelch to stories or anything like that, but it -- not being mean or anything, I don't think that at all. I think Villanova is one of the great schools in the history of college basketball. It's one of the outstanding programs. So I have a lot of respect for Villanova, not just because of Jay, but because of what they've done over time. They're just a really good basketball school.
Q. Could you give me a real quick primer on your philosophy on time outs?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: What is a primer?
Q. Can you explain --
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I have two P's now, a pluck and a primer. I'm learning so much (laughter.)
Q. I don't want to tell you what other P's are coming up next.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Can I pluck a primer for you?
Q. Your philosophy of time outs, do you like to save them at all costs, do you like to use them if you have to? One thing you usually take with about a minute left. Tell me what you do with that?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I don't have a set philosophy. I'm not a big rule guy. I think you have them and then you instinctively use them when you feel that team needs it in that situation. You just hope you have enough of them to carry you through.
I coach a game by feel. I don't go in -- you have a game plan and that, but I try to get immersed in the game and to follow my instincts. And that means to call a timeout even if it's a possession even before you think you would get a TV timeout, not to worry about the so-called rules or what somebody would say, like they should have saved that, because they were going to get one. By that time you may have lost the game. Timeouts should be used very judiciously, and that's how I look at them.
Q. Jon really kind of downplayed just how his role changed or -- when he made that -- when you made that move. It sure seems from the outside that that has been a significant change.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, it's really something -- at the start of Jon's sophomore year, Greg was hurt, Greg got hurt the second day of practice. And we weren't sure that Greg was going to be able to play that year. He broke a bone in his foot. And so he really was doing that for a month then, but we weren't playing games. Then we started playing and Greg came back. And off and on Jon's done that. In bringing the ball up, he doesn't guard the ball. So I don't call him a point guard, he just brings the ball up.
Jon has got good instincts and has protected the ball well and has put the ball in good positions. He's a kid that could be a coach in that he tries to see globally, not locally. Since we've done that he's done an incredible job, really, not just in how he's handled the ball, but his scoring is probably up seven, eight points. He just gets better looks as a result of being in that position.
I think, too, that the ball is friendlier to him. In other words, since he has it, once he gives it up and he gets it back in a shooting position, it's not the first time in four possessions that he's touched the ball, which certain guys need that. Certain guys need to know that they will touch the ball. And then when scoring occurs they're a little bit more familiar with it.
I think that's helped him, too. I just think that's happened. It's not like we analyzed that and that was our goal. But I think that's what's happened.
Q. After 36 games what would you probably say are the two or three biggest strengths of your team overall? If you could follow-up and pinpoint maybe a couple keys that will be critical for you guys if you're going to advance to a regional final in this particular match-up?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, the first key is that we really have a good team. Our guys get along. They believe in one another. They believe in us and we believe in them. There's a trust element. They're fresh and they have fun playing. They're not a selfish team. They share the ball.
I think we've worked hard at every game and we believe we can play good defense. We don't always do it, but we try to do it all the time. And if you do that day in and day out you're going to have a better chance of winning.
For tomorrow we just have to be ourselves and don't let what they're doing change our personality or don't let the stage that you're on change who you are. And then see if we're good enough. Do the things that you can do with what you control. We control attitude, effort, selfish, unselfish, those type of things. And then see where that places you.
Q. When you talk about Duke as a national school, obviously you're talking about more than just athletics. But just from a basketball perspective, that's your next P word, perspective, just from a basketball perspective, if there is a Duke mystique, where do you see it pay off for you guys? Is it in the recruiting living room, does it ever carry over to the basketball court? And at a level against Villanova, you obviously don't think it has that much affect in this setting?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I don't think of our program with the word mystique. But I do think we're a brand that has produced good things. And no one has produced a winning championship every year. But really for the most part like we'll play hard. We try to do it the right way. We show up. I like that. That's how I was brought up in the inner city of Chicago, and that's the program that I've tried to establish at Duke.
Having a school with that much excellence while you're doing that has put us in a great position because then the combination of all that Duke has, with who they might be able to attract, and then the fact -- you know, when you're there a long time, too, there's some -- for some people, they like that, the fact that you're going to get the same room, the same view. You keep coming back to that hotel. I like that we're one of the programs that has been able to do that.
I don't think that helps us at all tomorrow night. But it doesn't hurt us, either. When we play somebody, nobody is mystified. You've got to beat them. Villanova is a team that they don't lose, you have to beat them. And I would hope that we're the same type of team.
Q. Just going back a few questions ago, you spoke about the lineup switch with Scheyer moving to the point. I believe the last game was in Boston against Boston College. Speaking with Jon a moment ago, he said that was a real turning point for the team and the team is different from that standpoint now. Can you talk about coming full circle coming back to Boston?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: The only reason that was different is that's the last time we really played poorly. But Boston College had a lot to do with that. But to me there's no significance -- actually, we didn't play in Boston. And -- I don't think there's any significance.
I think as a coach you have to do what you think is needed to help our team. And when we got beat by Boston College, it wasn't just that game, it was the six games that we had just played. And we won two of them. And one of them we had to come back from being 16 or 18 points down to win in overtime. So basically we're 1 and 5. We were actually 2 and 4, but 1 and 15 in my mind in those six games.
So, okay, how long are you going to keep doing what you're doing? And maybe we can go 1 and 5 again for the next few games. So we needed to do something different. And thank goodness that Elliot had been practicing so hard that he was able to pressure the ball and thank goodness we had a guy like Jon who could lead the team. And then all of a sudden -- then those decisions work out a lot better.
If we don't have anybody who can do that then -- my English teacher in high school, a guy named Ed Decala [ph], I wasn't very good in English, that's why I appreciate these words that you're giving me, coming from the inner city of Chicago. Pretty good in math, probably better than the pluckers and perspectives -- but at the bottom of my papers all the time there would be red marks. And he would always -- he's really kind of a tough guy. And he would say sink or swim. And then he would put, gulp, gulp, gulp (laughter.) I still remember Mr. Decala. Hopefully we're not gulping as much. Thank you.
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