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March 27, 2010
THE MODERATOR: We have Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski, and student-athletes Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith, Lance Thomas, and Brian Zoubek. Coach, your opening comments.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Quick turnaround for us. We had a great game last night against one of the most difficult opponents we've had all year in Purdue. And we'll move on now to play a Baylor team that has as much length, maybe the longest team that we've played. Certainly as athletic as any team that we've played.
We have a lot of respect for that guard duo in Carter and Dunn. They're experienced. They're capable of putting up, the two of them, 50 points in a ballgame. I think Dunn will be as good a scorer as we've faced all year. And watching tape of them, Udoh, I knew he was really good, but I didn't know he could score the way he did, he does. I knew rebounding and shot blocking, but he's really ball-friendly and an outstanding player.
So we understand that it's going to be a tough opponent for us. So we're anxious to answer your questions and then get out on the practice floor and actually prepare for them.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. You hit a three-pointer early in the second half. How much did you need that shot? How much did that kind of help you springboard through the rest of the second half that you had yesterday?
JON SCHEYER: It was fine. We just needed to get rolling as a team. I thought in the first half we weren't in a great flow offensively, so Nolan hit me with that pass. We just needed to get something started. Offensively we weren't in a great rhythm, so that's the biggest thing for our team.
Q. Lance and Jon, with the short turnaround and the preparation time, how do you prepare and what have you been able to do just this morning looking at Baylor?
LANCE THOMAS: I think the biggest thing for us is to refocus. This is by no means going to be an easy game, 1 through 5. Like Coach said in his opening statement, this is one of the most athletic teams we're going to play against. So we're going to have to play to our strengths.
Rebounding is going to be a big key to the game. We can't jump with them. We're going to have to put bodies on them and let them know it's going to be a game for 40 minutes.
Today we were able to look at some tape. I mean, seeing it on tape, they have a really good team. But we have a really good team also.
Today is going to be a very big preparation for us. I think we'll be ready for them.
JON SCHEYER: I think it's just important for us to really move past from yesterday and get a chance to get our bodies better today and to get to know them better. We've seen them a couple times throughout the year, but you don't know them like you would know conference opponents. That's something we've learned a lot already.
But today in practice get a good and better feel. Throughout the day, just really focus on the game. This is a great opportunity for us. So we're going the next 24 hours or whatever it is, we're going to put everything forward that we can to get ready.
Q. You, Jon, and Kyle have become this terrific trio out there. I was wondering if you could tell me how you guys complement one another.
NOLAN SMITH: We complement one another because we really play together. We have a great relationship on and off the court. You know, we just know where each other likes the ball. We know how to play off one another. Just our chemistry has been tremendous all year, playing together and, you know, we have great guys inside with Lance and Zoubek and our young Plumlee brothers. We just have a great core and, you know, the three of us really have fun playing.
Q. What do you see when you look at Baylor's guards? What kind of things jump out at you?
JON SCHEYER: Both of them are really great three-point shooters. They can create off the dribble. So with guys like that, it's not like they're one-dimensional where they just do one thing. So it's important when we're guarding those guys just to make them work for everything. You're not going to shut guys out like that, they're great players.
So just try to make them work for everything you can and try to make them put the ball on the floor and have a hand in their face and try not to foul them.
But they're great players, so you can't take away everything.
Q. What is the key to attacking their zone and to make sure that you don't get too reliant on the perimeter shots that you're probably going to get from that?
JON SCHEYER: I would say we need to be patient. You know, we can't just pass the ball around the perimeter and make one pass and shoot it right away. We need to go inside and out. You know, you get better looks when you go inside and then out. We can have some great looks inside with our bigs.
So I think the main key against the zone is to be patient.
KYLE SINGLER: Just going off what Jon said, I think the main thing is to be poised. Just take what they give us. You know, we'll try to penetrate their zone as best as we can, and I mean, we'll take outside shots and then, you know, we'll crash the boards.
Q. Do you remember playing against Tweety in that high school tournament, the Les Schwab Invitational? What were your impressions of him in that game?
KYLE SINGLER: Yeah. That was a long time ago, but he was a great scorer. He was a shooter that could score from pretty much anywhere on the court. So he's just a player that you have to be aware of.
Q. What kind of problems -- I know he scored like 41 points against you guys in that game.
KYLE SINGLER: Yeah.
Q. Do you remember that?
KYLE SINGLER: Yeah (laughing).
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: How are you related to Tweety (smiling)? Godfather or what?
Q. Actually I'm not, no. (Laughing). But I don't know. What did you think of him in that particular game? I mean, how impressed were you?
KYLE SINGLER: I was very impressed with the type of player. I mean, for me you don't see that every day, the type of player that can score the ball like that, so I was very impressed.
Q. I know you were just asked about their zone, but Baylor's been very effective guarding the perimeter and also preventing the ball inside. What do you see from them in terms of their quickness to the perimeter and getting to the guys once they've had the ball that's made them effective? How do you combat that?
JON SCHEYER: I think their length has a lot to do with it too. They're a real tall team. When you have that much length on the floor they can cover a lot of ground. And they play really good zone.
I just think it's important for us to really work at it today and see what's there. I don't know all the answers. I think we need to figure it out today. But I think their length has a lot to do with it, and the way they play their zone, they do a really good job.
Q. Is one of the challenges the fact that you're going, after going up against a Purdue, really tough man-to-man defense, that now you're going to be playing a different kind of defensive style, even though they're still going to get after it, the fact that you're going from a man-to-man team to playing a zone team? Is that a big challenge?
NOLAN SMITH: It is a challenge. Like Coach said, it's a quick turnaround, and now we have to adjust. We're going to use our team on the court to get to the next play. Really start learning and getting ready to attack the zone.
KYLE SINGLER: Just what Nolan said. I think it can be more of an adjustment than a challenge. It's just a different, you know, way of their pressure. So we're probably going to be taking different shots, different ways of attacking their defense. So it's just adjusting on how you're going to attack their defense.
Q. With LaceDarius Dunn, do you guys want him taking jump shots? Is there any other way that you try to contain him?
NOLAN SMITH: No. A player like that, he shoots a lot of threes, but he also can go to the rack. So a player of his caliber can score in so many ways.
Our focus is just going to be to check him. Just stay with him, defend him, try to run him off the three, knowing that we have help inside. Just play great team defense on him.
Q. Udoh is one of the leading shot clockers in the country. Is there a certain way you can attack a guy like that who has an inclination to block a lot of shots?
BRIAN ZOUBEK: I think there's two different ways you can attack it. Shot fakes first when you get the ball inside. Tend to go for a lot of shot blocks, as you said. Then hitting the offensive boards, because he'll come over and try to block shots on our guards when they drive. Then the lane will be wide open for offensive rebounding and he won't be blocking out when he tries to block shots. So those are two things we can do.
Q. Just ask you about your big guys are there, Lance and Brian and also Miles and Mason. They've been playing well all year, but the way they're setting screens and rebounding now, do you feel would you have even made it this far without the way they've been playing the last three games in the tournament?
JON SCHEYER: Well, obviously not. You know, the chemistry that we have with those guys on the court is huge for our team. And really, especially they've carried us, you know, especially on the boards; Brian having 14 boards the last game and Lance having nine the game before.
You know, the chemistry that we have, and setting screens and being able to go inside and out. That is something that we've developed especially late in the year. And it's really, I think, took our team to another level.
Q. On Thursday you said you didn't mind playing the role of the bad guy. It kind of gets you going. Tomorrow in here it's probably going to be pretty decidedly a Baylor crowd. What do you expect from the atmosphere and being the bad guy, how much is that going to charge you guys up?
LANCE THOMAS: Well, the atmosphere is going to be hectic. They're a home state team. We've won in hostile environments, and it's not going to change our game plan not one bit. With our guys, we have a confident group. And we're not going to allow sways of momentum to actually throw us away from our game plan.
We have no problem being those guys coming in and trying to take something away from, I guess, what's supposed to actually happen. They have everything behind them, but us sticking together is going to be key in this game. Not one person is going to be able to do it by themselves. So us sticking together and just playing like there's no tomorrow in a hostile environment. I mean, we have nothing to lose, we're going to go for it.
Q. How much has the tag team with the Plumlees that you guys have now, has that helped you and Lance inside? Has it really kept you fresh to have these 14- and 15-rebound games?
BRIAN ZOUBEK: Yeah, it's been great being able to rotate with those guys and knowing that there's not going to be a drop-off when they come in. I think they provide something a little bit different as well, a little more athleticism and blocking some shots. So they give the other team a little more look, a different look. Rotating in with them, we can just play till exhaustion, go get a break, then come back in, so you're a lot more fresh when you come in and a lot more aggressive on the boards and on defense.
Q. Did your eye swell last night, and are you considering getting one of those fancy eye patches so you can sell shirts and stuff?
KYLE SINGLER: Well, I got hit like three days ago, I think. So if it hasn't swelled yet, I don't think it's going to swell, so I should be fine.
Q. I wanted to ask you, what is the difference starting versus coming off the bench? Does it even matter to you? I know you have a little more senior, junior leadership starting with three seniors and two juniors. Does that make a difference to you?
BRIAN ZOUBEK: I think it gives you a little bit more confidence individually. Also you get into the flow of the game a little bit more. You know that even if you don't start off really well, you're still going to get back in the game right away in the second half and you've got another shot.
Also, getting to spend more time with this five, the group on the floor, it just gives you a lot more team chemistry, a lot more confidence in each other.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Krzyzewski.
Q. Several times here in the last few weeks you've said that this team really knows who it is and that's one of its strengths.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah.
Q. What is it about this group that has made it so receptive to coaching? When you tell it to do something, these guys do it. And how does that rate? Have you had a lot of groups like that or is this unique?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: No, we've had a lot of groups. I think it starts with trust from the time they were freshmen. What was told to them and what they told us was the truth. We've been together for a long time, and we not only like one another, but we respect one another and we trust one another.
So you can say things in a moment that you might not say to other people in the manner in which you would say it, whether it be in anger, in joy, whatever. You can express your emotions right away with them. We have those type of relationships. We have a great relationship. The staff, the players, the managers, everybody.
But we've had that on a lot of our teams. We've had it on our teams the last few years. It's just that we're a little bit better this year and a little bit older.
I think in order to be a consistent winner, it has to start with trust.
Q. You've obviously been a part of an enormous number of these tournaments and we've seen a lot of upsets this year. Are we at a point where a team like Butler could actually win this thing?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Oh, yeah. A lot of it has to do with match-ups. The basketball gods don't give you seven games and best out of seven. You know, I hate to say this about you all in the audience, but every once in a while you have a bad day. I know you see us when we have our bad days and write about them. That's cool. But everybody has bad days.
In our tournament, one kid can have a bad day, and it can affect if he's the key kid on your team or key in your defense, another team that's maybe a little less talented, and that's where the talent differential is, it's not here anymore, it's here. There are still some teams more talented than others. But all you need is one thing to go wrong and you're out.
One of my best friends, Jim Boeheim, you know, his team -- I'm not sure every kid on that team played to the best -- not because they didn't want to, but Butler played better. So Butler's got a chance to win.
I think different teams have a chance to win right now unless you get that super team that has guys sticking together who are pro caliber, pro caliber for a while. It will be like this from now on, which I don't think is bad. It's pretty darn interesting (laughing). But it's tougher to maintain high level.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about the defensive philosophy that you teach that never waivers? And then what you might have tinkered with to fit the personnel of this team?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, we always change our defense to fit the personnel that we have. I think that just, you know, is what you should do. But it starts with playing man-to-man defense, and team man-to-man where you have zone principles.
I like man-to-man because you can pinpoint responsibility, and you can defend -- you can defend all types of offense. You can adjust accordingly. I don't know if you can do that completely in zone.
I don't like open looks. I hate open looks. Obviously when someone hits a three, you hate that. I hate an open look. I can't stand if a team does that, because that means a team can beat you. You're just lucky if somebody misses an open look.
For me, teaching man-to-man defense gives our staff more of an opportunity to eliminate open looks. Then for this team in particular, we're not a team that can extend as much, but we're a team that can rebound, so we don't give up many second shots. We don't force as many turnovers, but we don't give up as many second shots, and we block a few more shots or alter shots because of length.
A key thing for our team is what Lance and Brian do when they're in. They're really good talkers, not to the other team. But when you can have an inside voice talking on defense, it really galvanizes you. It galvanized this team. It brings you together.
In the past, Laettner did that, Brand, Boozer, Battier. Some of our best defensive teams were as a result of guys being able to talk well inside. And both those kids really do a good job of that.
Q. With the zone defense they run, is there anything you guys are going to be keying on in order to try to gain an advantage on it?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, you have to be careful that when you think you have an open shot, you may not have it because of their length and athleticism. So I think being ready to shoot is huge. Then you have -- it may look like you have a larger window than you actually do when you get the ball. You've got to be ready to shoot the ball when you get it.
I think it's a defense that forces you to really rely on a team attacking it. Not like a man-to-man. Like last night some of the things we did were as a result of Nolan and Jon attacking on their own, which we do after one ball screen or whatever. You can't do that against the zone. It's got to be more of a coordinated effort. So we're anxious to go through a few things that we want to try against it when we go out on the court in a few minutes.
Q. How do you prepare your upperclassmen? You know they want to get to the Final Four so badly. Part of the preparation for tomorrow is not allowing the moment to overwhelm them. How do you handle that with them?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think you're so absorbed. One is having a game that we got out of here at midnight. We're a little bit tired right now, but we'll be fine for game time. We told them right after the game that they needed to be very selfish during these next 36, 40 hours in how they take care of themselves, who they talk to. Not using energy for other things, whether it be their buddies. I told Nolan not to play my game during this time period and wait till Monday or on the trip back if we win (smiling).
Just to try to focus on this moment. Not focus on the Final Four, but focus on this. Which is what, you know, they've kind of done that all year. They've been able to go on to the next thing, and I think our conference exacts that from you in the schedule that we play. We play a hell of a schedule. And our conference is a great conference, so you better be ready to play right away.
So this is more like that Thursday-Saturday turnaround sometimes you get in the ACC. So we've had an opportunity to do that a couple times.
Q. Making it this far is brand-new territory for the Baylor program. Your presence and all that you've been able to accomplish and just Duke on the jersey against their players, how might that help you? Do you see that as an edge against your guys?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It really is the first time for our players, too. And that's -- our players -- I try to do this all the time. Sometimes it's difficult because the outside doesn't want to do this. I want to be in their moment. I don't want them to be in my past moments.
Our guys have never been to an Elite Eight, you know. So I don't know what advantage we have. I think we're both two teams that are trying to accomplish something that these groups have not accomplished before. Forget about the past. In college it's always about the present and what this group is trying to do.
So I think it's the same. I really believe that. And, again, for me, that's what I try to do, and it's easy for me because I love my guys. I'd rather be living this moment than thinking about some other moment that we had. It's a lot better, believe me.
Q. When Scott Drew took over the Baylor program one of the examples he's always used is what you've been able to do at Duke, the smaller school, academically-inclined schools. Talk about the challenge of what that is, and what you've seen with what Scott Drew's been able to do since he took on over with what happened.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think it's fairly apparent what he's been able to do to bring his program to this stage. With the Big 12 this year to finish third, the conference is a great conference.
I think when anyone takes over any program you have to figure out, What is your niche? Where do you fit in in the grand scheme of things? Not try to be like somebody that is not in your niche, but to fully develop your own identity. Like a lot of things, people try to be something that doesn't fit their talents or their resources that are available to them.
And I think he's done a really good job of figuring that out at Baylor, and they're very good. I mean, they're really good. I mean, they could win the whole thing. They're that talented. So he comes from good blood lines. His dad's one of the best guys ever, so he knows his basketball.
Q. When you were in Chicago for that Iowa State game, you said one of the things that you appreciated about the Scheyers was the fact that their family put Jon at Duke and said go ahead and coach him and do what you want with him and didn't try to micromanage him and that type of thing. How rare are kids like that today and families like that today? It sounds like you have quite a few of them. How much more gratifying does it make what you've been able to do this year?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: We really, for the most part, that's what we have. It's more old-fashioned where the parents and the teacher are on the same side, and that they want their youngster to fully develop and they understand there has to be a team, that the youngster's going to go through some failures and some growing pains.
I don't understand why that's not done more. Because, I mean, this is what I do and my staff does. You send your young boy -- your boy is given to us. We know what to do. And we'll treat him like one of our own, but you have to trust us. And that's where we get back to the trust element.
Not having other agendas involved is huge. It's much more difficult during this decade or during this century than it was -- because I think the way basketball is followed is more like -- not to mean disrespect -- but tennis parents where it is an individual. And basketball can't be followed that way.
I always tell every parent and every kid, you're going to run your own race. Don't judge yourself by another person. Judge yourself by what you're doing and then we'll tell you.
I always use the example, which is a great example, I've said Battier and Brand came in in the same year. And Battier was actually rated ahead of Brand. Brand fit in and his body type fit in really well when he was the National Player of the Year and the number one pick as a freshman -- as a sophomore, I should say, and he left. Battier was a starter but wasn't going to be a pick at that time. He just didn't run Brand's race. He ran his. Two years later he was the number six pick.
Now, again, that's at a high level. But still, Battier may have been messed over if he was trying to keep up with Elton. Well, you're not going to. Just develop the way you're supposed to develop.
It usually works out well when people do that. It just works out. You're going to fulfill whatever potential you have, and that's what we try to do.
Q. What is the pressure like coaching the Olympic games compared to coaching in an NCAA Tournament?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I'd say the Olympics is much greater. It's your country. Although a lot of people say Duke has won, so you're -- you've got to win a certain level to do it. When you think about it, you don't always have the best team in the country or the most talent. But for the U.S., we are going to have the most talent. But just the talent differential and the game has come closer. And the game is different internationally.
But there is much more pressure. Though we have the resources to do it. Again, getting back to one of the first questions -- developing trust with those guys was huge. Like you're in Denver. We have a great relationship with Carmelo and Chauncey. I mean, those guys are good friends. And as much as they're part of the Nuggets, they would tell you that they're part of the US Team, too. They take pride in that. But there is more pressure at the world platform, so to speak.
Q. How do you or have you maintained your passion and is it the same as '86, the first Final Four? I'm guessing you're not driven by coming here and spending an hour answering our questions.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I'm not what?
Q. Not driven to be here for an hour.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I didn't come here, but I'm becoming more and more driven with the quality of the questions (smiling), which have been good. I'm not seen, that's not a backhanded remark. Now I forgot. Oh, yes.
I am every bit as passionate about my team today as I was in '86. There is no question. You can ask anybody. There is no question about it. I love what I do. I love my guys and they deserve that, just like my '86 team did.
Whenever it is that I stop coaching, it will be because I can't go at that level. It won't be because I can't coach. It will be because I couldn't give my team that. But right now I can do that and willingly do that. I guess there will be some time where you won't have that, which will be sad. But I'm going to go for it as long as I have it.
Q. Can you talk about the asset it has been to have three big scorers like that and just kind of the versatility that gives you?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, we knew right away that was going to be a strength of our team. Even though they were not all accustomed to the roles they had to play, they all three of them had the abilities to do the role. And so from really preseason workouts till now, we have constantly had that as our vision for our team. The other guys on the team have not been jealous of that. They've tried to develop those roles for them with screening, passing, not taking bad shots.
We thought that in order for us to have a chance to be really good, those three kids had to be really good scorers. And they've been that for us. Even though at times they haven't been the percentage score shooter, they've usually been the clutch shooters. If three of them are scoring, then we become much more difficult to beat.
Like in the second half yesterday, all three of them really were very, very good. I mean, Nolan, I thought Nolan had the biggest segment. I think he had seven straight points that kind of gave the game separation, gave us separation from Purdue. And they were not easy shots. They were big-time shots.
Q. How long did it take Kyle to become completely comfortable playing on the perimeter? Has he lifted his game even higher since the beginning of the ACC Tournament?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I don't know since the ACC Tournament, but since like the start of February. I don't think Kyle's completely there as a perimeter player. I think he's still -- he's really good. Don't get me wrong, he's playing great basketball. But Kyle's got a chance to become very, very good. He's got to be bigger sometimes when he's dribbling the ball. He's got to remember he's 6'8". And sometimes he's 6'2", you know, when he's handling the ball.
There's more variety in what he can do right now than there was in January and December and November.
Q. Last night what was it like for you sitting out there on your little stool? Did you ever get comfortable?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I didn't like it. I never got comfortable. I hated it. I felt like I was back in Catholic school and I did something wrong (smiling). Except there are no marbles to kneel on or anything.
You know, the main reason I didn't like it is I'm not a coach that gets up a lot. So I've really listened to my staff a lot while the game's going on. They talk a lot and they should. Especially the guy who has that scout, like last night Chris Collins had Purdue. It's a different line of communication.
So even though they're yelling some things to me, and I don't know what percentage of the stuff I use, but sometimes I use ten straight things that they say. They're in there, they're doing -- and sometimes I might not use ten. But I have that going on. All of a sudden you're out there alone. I felt like beam me up, Scottie or something. I don't like it.
I was going to change it at halftime because I told my staff, I said, See, it's not working. And Wojo said, Coach, we can't see the other side of the court from where we're sitting. You have to stay up there. I said all right, I'll stay up there, but I don't like it. I said, you guys get closer. Sit on that, you know. And maybe I'm just so dependent on them.
I have such a great staff. I mean, I listen. They're really good. They have a good feel for the game. So I like to hear what they're saying during the game instead of having to huddle before you talk to the team. So you noticed I was not. It's just, it's bad.
Q. You said you were surprised at how good of an offensive player Udoh was. What exactly about his game surprised you?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, yeah, I knew Udoh from -- Tommy coached him. He recruited him at Michigan. Actually when he was transferring we tried to get involved with him because he's a good student, great kid. At Michigan, and I don't watch a lot of basketball over the country, but a little bit. I knew that he was a double figure scorer and rebounder and blocking shots. I knew he was really good. But I figured he scored off of offensive rebounds and stuff inside.
Then now that you study him, I mean, he can hit 15, 17 feet. He's pretty automatic. And with the ball, he can spin. It's not just one move. He can make a multiple move. He's very good. He's one of the better players in the country, I think. I can see why he's rated so high with the NBA.
Q. In your years of recruiting players, every coach has challenges in some way of getting players to come to their university. But both at Duke and West Point, is there one thing you've always looked for in a player?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, character. I mean, first they have to be talented and they have to be good academically, but they have to be good kids.
In other words, good kids means that they will listen. They already have some respect for authority. They want to be part of a unit. Yeah, I always look for that.
It's a long season, and if you want to build a program, if you're there -- like for me I've been there a lifetime, 30 years. These are people you're going to live with for the rest of your life, the type of people you recruit. That's why my staff is filled with former players, because they're good guys. They've always wanted to be a part of something bigger than themselves, so we try to look for that in recruiting.
Q. Scott Drew doesn't exactly have a sterling reputation among coaches in the Big 12. What do you know about his reputation?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I don't know any. I'm not a Big 12 coach, so, do you want me to give the numbers to all the Big 12 coaches and you can ask that question?
Q. I have those numbers.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Okay.
Q. But I just wondered what you knew about him. Do you know anything at all?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I just know that they have a really good team, and that's what we're trying to beat tomorrow. So, yeah. Are you writing a gossip column now? Has the New York Times gone to that? Are there not other stories, other leads (smiling). All right.
End of FastScripts