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March 20, 2010
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, guys. We'll start out with some questions for the Duke players.
Q. For both the players, when you look at Cal, do you see the way they play at all similar to what you guys do, or could you talk about what you see when you watch them?
JON SCHEYER: A little bit. Clearly with Cal they have a bunch of great shooters, Randle, Christopher and Robertson. They're all just great shooters, so for us it's important to try to make them work for their shots, not give them any easy looks. That's hard to do when they have that many great shooters, but for us that's what the key is.
NOLAN SMITH: Yeah, definitely going off of what Jon said, they can really shoot the ball, and we're going to have to stop their three-point shooters and trust our big guys that they have help behind us, and we're just going to have to put a great defensive game together.
Q. For either player, is Virginia Tech the closest thing you've seen to what Cal does and the way they do it, or is there really nobody?
NOLAN SMITH: I feel like Virginia Tech will definitely shoot the ball, but Cal would be probably the best shooting team we've played all year with the three guys they have shooting the ball. There's really no comparison. This is going to be the first time we've played a team that can shoot the ball like Cal.
JON SCHEYER: I think the one similarity between the two, Randle is a really great player. Just like Chaney, he gives other players the opportunity to score, and himself. So that's the one thing with him, he creates opportunities for others, as well.
Q. Jon, they pretty much went with six guys. They had to leave a guy home, a starter. Last night they went with six guys. It would appear that you guys have an edge in depth. Do you think wearing them down will be an important part of what you can do tomorrow?
JON SCHEYER: Yeah, that's something -- that's our game plan a lot. We feel we're in great shape, and with all the bodies we have, we try to play a real physical game and just get into their legs a little bit. But especially when they have such great players and not many guys off the bench, it's important to try to make those guys work as hard as possible to even catch the ball, let alone shoot the ball.
NOLAN SMITH: Yeah, going off of that, we do have a lot of bodies that we can play, and pressuring them defensively, they only play with six guys, so pressuring them, getting after all their guys, making them play a full court game, trying to get them tired.
Q. Jon, I wanted to ask, from your experience in this tournament, it's like when you go from the first to the second round, competition amps up. You've endured that with one win, a really tough win over Texas last year and a tough loss the year before. Can you talk about that and how the competition level seems to amp up?
JON SCHEYER: Yeah, I was just thinking about the games since I've been in college, and that's why I'm smiling. Each game has been tough. You know, with Cal, they won the PAC-10, so for us, it's just going to be obviously a really tough game, and we just want to be prepared. We know it's not going to be easy.
Q. Jon, you're a Chicago area player. Did you play against Jerome Randle much in high school and in AAU, and what are your memories of him?
JON SCHEYER: Yeah, our high school teams never played but we played each other in AAU. He was a great player in high school. I think he's developed his game a lot since then. He's always been a great competitor, just a winner, since I played against him in high school. I remember our teams having some big battles. But he just has a huge heart, and the guy plays really hard. I haven't played him yet in college, but I definitely remember playing against him in high school.
Q. Jon, following that, how is he different? How has his game changed since last you saw him?
JON SCHEYER: Well, I think as a shooter he's become really deadly outside, three-point shooter. In high school he could always attack, he just had that natural ability to -- he was always really fast, could create off the dribble. But from what I've seen in college, he can really shoot the ball, and he could in high school, too, but it seems like he's a lot better shooter since high school.
Q. I just wanted to ask Jon, I know you'll only overlap for a semester, but have you been in contact with Jamal since you've been here or at any time? Do you know him very well, or is there any interchange there?
JON SCHEYER: Yeah, Jamal is a great guy. We've kept in touch a couple times but we haven't really talked in a while. But he was a great guy at Duke, and I know some of the guys who have kept in touch with him a little bit. He's a great guy.
Q. Nolan, can you talk about what Zoubek gives you guys, how he changes what it takes to defend you guys?
NOLAN SMITH: Zoubek, he gives us inside presence. He can really score the ball inside. You know, if we hit him, he's a great passer, and he just helps our offense flow a lot easier because he's really turned his game up a lot. He's a huge help to us.
Q. Jon and Nolan, what is the most important thing about defending a three-point shot? What's the most important basic fundamental, because you guys are fourth in the country last time I checked on that, and that's what their strength might be. To be a good defending three-point team, where does that start?
JON SCHEYER: Well, one, for a team like this, they have several shooters. But when you're playing against a team who has one or more shooters, you want to do your work before they catch the ball, especially with this team. If you're trying to find them after they get the ball ready, the ball has left their hands and it's in the basket. You need to really try to make them work before they catch the ball and not lose them off screens or in transition.
NOLAN SMITH: Yeah, definitely, basically what Jon said, hand down, man down. If your hands are down they can shoot in your face and they're going to score. When they catch the ball you've got to get up in them and make the shooter put the ball on the ground so they have to work for their shot.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, thanks a lot.
Coach, let's get an opening statement about the game tomorrow and then we'll take questions.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I'm ready for questions. I don't have a....
Q. Coach, Cal, they had to leave a starter home. They played six guys last night, and the sixth guy only played 13 minutes and a couple of kids played two or three minutes. It looks like you've got an edge in depth here. Do you go into a game making that kind of assumption?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Have you watched our team play? Yeah, we play about seven. I mean, I don't think a team has an edge either way in that regard. Louisville had an edge. They play 11. That worked, didn't it? They have veteran players.
When you have guys who have played a number of games and minutes that those guys have played, they know how to play. I think we're both veteran teams, and I think one thing that could hurt either one of us is foul trouble because we can't afford to lose one of our perimeter guys, and I'm sure Mike would feel the same way about his team.
Q. Coach, I was wondering if you could talk about facing Jamal Boykin, from your perspective how you've seen him progress, and if so, what kind of terms he left Duke on.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Good. Jamal is a great young man, and when he did leave, he was real sick. He was battling mono. He probably would have been out the whole year anyway. I think all that had a -- there are a lot of things that were a factor there. Maybe an opportunistic time if you're going to make a change to make it, and he went to another great academic school and probably had the kind of career that I thought he would have, where he's just a really good player, and he'll be the best player at the end. He was one of those kids that was going to be a five-year player and in his case a five-year player who knows how to play, would keep getting better, and would be at his best at the end. And pretty much that's the scouting report on Jamal.
But he's a great young man. I know he's done a terrific job there. Very artistic, just on and off the court, the total package. That's why we recruited him.
Q. Talk a little bit about what it's like to have a program that goes into every season pretty much with a sort of target on its back, and you know that, and how it plays in maybe motivating your players, if at all.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, it's something for the last -- since '86, we've had in our program, and I think it's a learned experience because you don't have the same players all the time.
Like with this year's team, since we have some veteran players, it's helped the younger players understand it more, and therefore we've done better. But when we only had freshmen and sophomores a couple years ago, they don't understand that sometimes the team they saw on tape that they were playing turned out to be a different team. People just played their best, and they were capacity crowds when our games were going on. That was the day that everyone wore the same shirt, and if we lost, that was the day they stormed the court.
But I think that's a sign of respect, and it just hopefully makes you better. I think overall it's made us better over the years.
Q. How structurally different is this Mike Montgomery team from any of the others you've seen, and does that make any difference at this point in your preparation?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, it's really well-coached. Mike is one of the best coaches of all time, not just at Stanford, but when he started at Montana, and then when he went into the pros. You get that experience of being in the pros, and you learn, like the stuff that I've had the opportunity to learn just being with professional players on an international level. As good a coach as he was, I think he's better. And you can see, especially with these kids who -- they can really shoot the ball. They can score the ball. He gives them a little bit like a pro style, where they can follow their instincts.
Mike can, so-called, tee it up with anybody, and he's a good friend. He's a really good friend. He's done a lot for our coaches association and for basketball behind the scenes.
Q. Well, that's a pretty good segue. I was going to ask you just about your NBA experience with the Olympic team. Nolan Smith the other day said that you moved with the times --
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Who said that?
Q. Nolan Smith. I wonder what your comment was on that.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I wonder what times Nolan knows, being 21.
No, I think you have to stay current. I think in order to stay in coaching for a long time, you have to reinvent yourself a little bit a few times along the way because cultures change. I don't think your values have to change, but how you teach those values and how you stay current, I think it's important.
So for me, I've tried to do that. Having all my assistants as former players helps, and my experience with the national team as its coach has helped tremendously in that regard.
Q. This isn't very current, but will you think a little bit about Bobby Early tonight, '93, and have you heard from him this week?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: You know what, I talked to him before the ACC tournament, and I talk to Bobby maybe once a month. Yeah, the last time we played Cal, they had this guy at guard who was trying to make a name for himself. Jason and I have become really good friends obviously because he was our starting guard and one of our captains on the Olympic team.
But yeah, that was the end of a run where we were going for our third national championship, and Jason and Lamond Murray, they were really good. We had a heck of a game, and they beat us. It's a lot of games, a lot of NCAA games to remember.
Q. Have you talked to Johnny in the last 24 hours and maybe get a scouting report on those guys?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I haven't called Johnny. I think that it's better not to do that. We'll just get our -- how we've been doing it the whole year is probably the best way of doing it.
Q. This is the first time in ages that all four teams that are going to play here tomorrow are senior oriented, and the headlines in college basketball are going to the freshmen all the time, and yet the senior teams seem to be the ones moving on. Do you see that as any sort of an indication of maybe not as many guys will leave, or what?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: What I do see it as an indication is that those teams can beat the younger teams, and that's why there's more parity in college basketball is because if you have a young team that's really good, the next year you'd better have another young team that's really good or you're going to have a bad team because all of them are gone. And then the guy that you beat, the team that you beat, returns all their guys, and they keep getting better and better.
You know, that's the way it used to be, but you used to have the lottery pick stay for the four years. So that's why there's so many good teams. Just before coming on someone told me that St. Mary's beat Villanova. You know, they have a -- I've watched them twice during the year, and they have an old-school team.
There are a lot of ways of playing the game, but the best way to play the game is for five guys to play as one. Those guys who have had the opportunity to spend a few years together end up doing that.
With our team, our five starters, they play pretty well together as one, especially on the defensive end, because they've had a chance to grow together. Cal has that. They have -- yeah. Cal is as good an offensive team as we'll face all year. Those three kids are very, very good players, and they know how to play with one another. And then Jamal, who's the fourth scorer, and he can be the leading scorer.
I wonder if this has happened in our conference, where in Cal they have four players who at one time or another in the PAC-10 were named player of the week. Not rookie of the week, player of the week in their conference. They've four guys who have done that. That's pretty unusual and shows what kind of talent they have in that starting five.
Q. You've talked about your impressions of the Cal guys individually, Randle, Christopher and Robertson?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, Randle is a blur in the full court. Transition-wise, we've played against guys who really push it up, but at the end they usually are not as good of scorers. If you touch him, if you foul him, it's automatic points. He produces points in transition probably as well as anybody in the country and has deep range. But his transition is outstanding.
Christopher, he's about the quickest shooter we've faced and doesn't need space. He can just -- he knocks it down.
And Robertson seems to be the clutch guy, and if he's at the four, it really takes advantage of that match-up, where a second big has to guard him, and then he can really create space for himself with that player. I mean, they just shoot the ball really well, and they don't need a lot of shots to score a lot of points.
Q. Can you talk about Zoubek and what he's given you guys, especially it seems like recently --
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, he's done it all year long, really. Brian has had an outstanding year, and the main thing he gives us, he's really smart, and he blends well, he talks well, he knows everything that we're doing offensively and defensively. And to have that inside voice saying those things has been important.
When he's got an opportunity to start, he seemed to pick it up even more. But he's been our best offensive rebounder all year and is a really good passer and screener. You know, he's just been an easy guy for the perimeter guys to play with. They love playing with Brian.
Q. If you haven't faced a team like this, this year, can you remember the last time you faced one with three guys whose shooting range is as deep as theirs?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: You know, I was trying to think of that this morning. I can't remember playing against a team like that. You know, most of the time there's two and a guy is inside, or there's a driver. But all three of these guys stretch you, and they shoot NBA threes.
So it'll be a real challenge to our defense. I really can't think of one. There's no one in our league like that. Maryland is probably the best -- was probably the best offensive team in our league, but they have two in Vasquez and Hayes, but Hayes isn't as big as these guys.
The more I'm talking about it, now I'm getting even more concerned. But they're really good. I mean, it's not just coaching talk; they wouldn't have won their league and scored all the points they have in college if they -- they've done it. Isn't Randle the all-time leading scorer, I think?
Q. How does your team compare in three-point defense to teams you've had in the past?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Good. You know, usually we've been a good defensive team. I think our percentage defending the three is one of the best in the country --
Q. Fourth right now.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Is that right? I don't know, but I think it's good. Probably because we haven't extended our defense as much, so we're more of a half-court defensive team. We don't deny as much as we have in the past, and we have a little bit more length, so sometimes that can affect a shooter.
But we'll have to come out a little bit further to defend these guys.
Q. Kyle Singler does a lot of things well for your team. What do you enjoy most or what's most valuable to the team?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It's just -- Kyle is our best warrior. He's on every second, practice, game. Yeah, he's a beautiful player to coach. No maintenance, and then he's really good. Sometimes you say that about a walk-on, that they don't cause you any problems and they're working hard all the time. Kyle is, I think, a terrific player, and he's getting better. He's gotten better this year, and he's still going to get better. And in the last month he's gotten better. He was the MVP of our conference tournament, and I think in making the transition of playing mostly on the perimeter now, he's -- he understands who he is much better in the last month than he did during the entire year where he's a scorer, not a shooter. But he can shoot. In other words, he's a player and not just a shooter.
And he's been as good a defender as we've had on our team. He and Lance are our two best defenders.
Q. Have you seen Nolan's growth as an on-ball defender and what are the unique challenges tomorrow against Randle?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Nolan is our on-ball defender and overall he's done a good job. You need help with Randle. Even though you say you're going to match up a guy with somebody, they really go from defense to offense quickly. They can leak out a guy, and so it may not be Nolan on Randle. You have to get somebody on Randle. But when you have a chance to set your defense, overall Nolan has done a very good job. He has good length. The width that he has hopefully we can try to keep him in front of him.
I think the thing that can knock you back against Cal is -- and I think it did against Louisville, is you don't expect guys to shoot shots from the distance that Cal's guys shoot them from, and then when they hit them, you know, you're not supposed to do that, and they do it. It can knock you back. We've tried to show our kids not just that they're shooters but where they shoot from, so it doesn't surprise them when they knock -- they're going to knock some shots down.
Q. I was wondering, you've talked about changing to a motion offense --
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Not changing completely.
Q. But adding more motion offense. Nolan says you've changed -- something about change with you. Can you talk about --
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: We change all the time.
Q. Right. Why is that? And do you change things you do away from the court, as well?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Not my wife. I have the same one for 40 years, unless when I go back to the hotel I'm in trouble. (Laughter) so I'm pretty consistent there in my personal life.
No, I change a lot in basketball because it keeps you fresh. Also, our guys, they're college kids. They keep growing. If you put them in a box, they're going to take the shape of the box. If you open up the box and there's no cover, they might become better than what was in the box. And so you keep adding things as you see them grow. Or you might add something that might help them grow.
We've tried to do that all the time, not just this year. And especially with those three perimeter guys and Kyle specifically. We've added a number of things in the last five, six weeks to try to get him playing even better.
And they get excited. They don't get bored. It's a long season. These kids start working out in September. If you're doing the same things over and over again, it gets boring. Sometimes just to put in a new out of bounds play or to say we're going to run this set for you. For me? Yeah, for you, we're going to do it for you. And whether you run it or not, the practice, that kid is better. It just helps him out. Sometimes it works, too.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you.
End of FastScripts