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April 2, 2010
THE MODERATOR: We'll begin with the Duke student-athletes.
Q. Jon, Joe Mazzulla has gotten healthy in the last few months. Can you talk about how much more difficult they are to defend now that they have his ability to drive and shoot?
JON SCHEYER: He's been a big factor, especially of late. For us, it's just another guy, another weapon they have. You respect him. He's a really good player. Really in that Kentucky game, from watching that game, he had a huge impact.
He's definitely a big part of their team and we need to be ready to guard him.
Q. Jon, do you have to sort of look at the possibility that Truck may play tomorrow?
JON SCHEYER: Yeah, well, whatever he does, we're just going to prepare like he's going a play and just be ready. You don't want to be surprised by anything.
But we'll be ready either way.
Q. Lance, I heard you quoted the other day saying, I've never been that hated before, talking about playing for Duke. For all you guys, shouldn't y'all be loved a lot more? Why people perceive you the way they do, why they don't love y'all more.
LANCE THOMAS: I think the guys in the past have put that upon us with the success our program has had in earlier years. People expect us to always be at this stage.
Earlier in our career, speaking for my classmates right here, we didn't live up to that type of name. So when we go places, we always have the target on our back. Even our freshman year, I still think we had a good year, but every game was hectic. Throughout the duration of our four years here, it's still like that. I think we've been able to overcome it because we've been through it together.
Q. Lance, the guys from the New York area who play for West Virginia, how many of them do you know or did you play against?
LANCE THOMAS: I play against Da'Sean Butler, AAU and in high school. He was at Bloomfield Tech. I was at St. Benedicts. I played against Wellington Smith AAU. I played against Devin Ebanks AAU.
Q. Last time you played this team two years ago in Washington, they said a lot of things about how they didn't really respect Duke, that Duke probably was the seventh best team in the Big East, Joe Mazzulla slapped the floor. Do you remember that? Does that still stick in the craw a little bit?
JON SCHEYER: I definitely remember the game. You do remember parts of what people say.
But for us, we know we were a different team, first of all, and they were a different team. They had a lot of different guys. For us, we're really not using that as a payback-type thing, using that too much.
For us, of course we want to beat a team that knocked us out, you know, two years ago. Who wouldn't? That's our approach.
Q. But as a basketball player, as a man, do you remember that kind of stuff? Does it bother you?
JON SCHEYER: No, it doesn't bother me. You know, people are going to say what they say. For the most part, I think our team not paying too much attention to the things they said afterwards.
Q. Brian and Lance, both you come from New Jersey, and played against Wellington and Da'Sean. Can you recollect on the games a little bit?
BRIAN ZOUBEK: Yeah, well, I mean, I played him my sophomore and junior year in the state championship game. I didn't have my best game, but my team won both teams. So, I mean, that's the most important thing to me.
Q. Do you look forward to playing him again?
BRIAN ZOUBEK: Yeah, he's a good player. I haven't played him in a while. I'm looking forward to the matchup. It's going to be tough. But I'm going to be ready, so...
LANCE THOMAS: I remember playing against both of them in high school. Like I said earlier, Da'Sean was at Bloomfield Tech, we played them twice. Played against Blair. They're both really competitive guys.
It's going to be a hectic atmosphere when we play tomorrow. They're as competitive guys as I've seen or played against, especially in my career here. So I'm looking forward to it.
Q. Jon, social networking has come into play and I follow your Twitter account. You have over 5300 followers. Can you talk about how Twitter allows you to interact with the fans in a way that may not have been possible years ago?
JON SCHEYER: Most of the time people are yelling at me that I never tweet. I do every once in a while. But I really try to follow Nolan's lead. He's the man guy who is always on Twitter. He has a lot of followers.
It's just a fun way to interact with some people.
Q. Going back to the game two years ago. One of the perceived weaknesses was the rebounding. West Virginia players were talking about how coach said that's where you can beat Duke. This year it's a strength. Do you measure how far you have come individually and as a team by the difference in the rebounding in that game and the way it's perceived now?
LANCE THOMAS: I look at it like this: we're a completely different team. We've grown, especially since that loss to them two years ago. Once you get an experience where you don't feel like you performed as good as you can in a certain aspect of the game. I mean, I took it personal. We got killed on the boards.
Ever since then, I've always tried to become a better rebounder. We always play against teams who supposedly have more athletic big guys than we do. At the end of the game, we usually out-rebound them. I think rebounding is a mindset. I feel like some of it's physical. If you don't have that mindset to go get that ball, you're not going to get it. I feel that's the main thing we have. We have a mindset we can go get the ball and everything else will take care of itself.
BRIAN ZOUBEK: This year the difference is, it's a complete opposite. Rebounding was the reason why we lost games that year. And rebounding is the reason why we win games this year. I mean, rebounding this year has been great. It's kept us in a lot of games. That, combined with our defense, is going to give us an opportunity to be in the game at the end of the game.
Q. Jon, from your senior season to playing under Coach K now at Duke, what is the best piece of advice you've gotten from your coaches and does it apply to the game tomorrow?
JON SCHEYER: I've gotten a lot of great advice from both coaches. Actually both of them told me, Follow your instincts. That can apply on the court as well. For me, that's always been something, they both trusted me and have belief in me, just told me to go for it.
Q. Brian, what will you look to do if West Virginia actually sticks with its 1-3-1 zone that's different than against Baylor?
BRIAN ZOUBEK: I think we're going to have to try to attack it a lot more. I'm not going to try to give away our game plan or anything like that. But, I mean, we obviously have to be a lot more aggressive than we were at Baylor. We got stood up. We kind of just stood around passing it on the perimeter. We're going to have to try to get it inside as much as possible and really crash the boards. Because when they come over on the weak side, on the help side, it leaves the weak side open for offensive boards.
Q. As we're getting closer to game day, you know what Nolan Smith has been carrying around with his father's situation, when you look in his eyes, what do you see? What is the confidence level of Nolan?
LANCE THOMAS: I see a very high level of focus. Nolan is very focused right now. This is probably the most focused I've seen him since he's been here. He has the look of a winner right now. I can't always say he's had that look in his career here.
He knows what's on the line right now. If he continues to play the way he's playing, not only is he putting up big numbers offensively, he's actually winning his matchup against really good guards, the guard from California and the guard from Baylor. He's won both of those matchups, and he's done it in a very good manner. Keeping that level of focus and not being satisfied by outplaying those two guys, I mean, that's a big step for Nolan. I'm anxious to see how he's going to respond this last game we have.
Q. Jon, you finally made it to the Final Four. When you weren't making it, was there any extra sense of stress because of the coach you were playing for was kind of a legend?
JON SCHEYER: At times I felt -- earlier in our career, we felt like we had to live up to past players, you know, things teams have done before us. I think finally when we stopped worrying about that, that's when we started to really hit our stride, just start playing.
Of course, each year we didn't make the Final Four, we wanted to do it that much more. It was a little more frustrating that we didn't. I think we put all that aside and said, and just said, Don't worry about what we've done in the past, let's just go play.
Q. In watching tape of West Virginia, is there a team that you've either played conference-wise, non-conference, that plays with the defensive efficiency they've had, with the mindset when it comes to rebounding that you have played? If so, which team would that be?
LANCE THOMAS: I would say defensively maybe Purdue, the way that they just tried to jam us every time we caught the ball on the perimeter. I mean, they took that game really personal. They gave us their best shot. We expect that from every team. Watching West Virginia on tape, they have a really athletic starting five. They have guys that are all above about 6'7" and up, especially in their front court.
It's going to be a good matchup for us because we have to get accustomed to playing those guys on the perimeter, especially Bryant, guarding either one, Smith, whoever he is going to guard. Teams might look at that as a mismatch, but I feel like we know how to make it work to our strength.
JON SCHEYER: I think the other team is Florida. They're long. Their whole team in general is pretty long. Florida State was a great defensive team in general. Their length, I think, was something that we got used to. But that's a team it kind of reminds me of, too.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, fellas.
We'll take questions for Coach Krzyzewski.
Q. A couple days ago on the conference call, you said you knew there was criticism out there, but the only stuff you really listen to came from people you respected and knew. In that context, the question is: To you, what is pressure?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think pressure is when you're asked to do something you're not capable of doing. No, I mean, so you should try to train and be in a position where you're capable of doing what people ask of you. And if you're continually feeling pressure, you should probably try to do something that you can do.
I don't know if that made sense, but...
Q. Do you feel pressure then?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think everyone feels such pressure, but not the pressure from outside, the pressure from within, to do as well as you think you can do. I've had to respond to that type of motivation than anything external.
Q. What challenges does West Virginia's zone present and how do you attack that?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, their length and athleticism. They have Ebanks up on the top. He has a seven-foot wingspan. Then Jones and Butler on the wings, 6'6", 6'8", they take away vision. Instead of looking at them, you better focus on who you're supposed to pass to.
So it's a defense that fits well for their personnel. You know, we've worked on it. You know, we feel comfortable attacking it in practice, but we can't simulate that length. So you won't know that.
Length and speed are two things that you can't simulate, you know, when you're practicing. They have great length on that zone.
Q. Your profession keeps changing where guys now have to market the program and coach and graduate and all those other things. Obviously you've done it on a consistent basis. Tom has done it on a consistent basis. You guys know it from the inside. When you look at Tom's program, what do you see? Why is he able to do what he does?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, one, he's talented. You know, he surrounds himself with good people. He has the continuity of being at one place for a long time, whether he was the assistant under Jud or being the head coach.
So he's just developed program that has really benefited Michigan State. He's really a straightforward, upstanding guy. He's been a great ambassador for the school. If you're at a program for a long time, if you're at a school for a long time, you become much more than just a basketball coach at the school; you become an ambassador for the school.
Like in my situation, I've been for years, in addition to being the head coach, in my contract, I'm special assistant to our president. What does that mean? Well, it covers a whole bunch of areas.
So when you've been there a long time, you're the institutional memory in some cases for how people handle things throughout the school.
Q. A lot has been made of you've been here before with more talented teams. What is your take on that? Do you subscribe to that, take offense, or do you like it because you're here with a seemingly less talented team? Or is that true?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, yeah, not necessarily less of a team. But, I mean, this team doesn't have the talent of Battier, Dunleavy, Williams, all those guys. I don't think that's wrong.
I don't take offense to any of that. One, I like when people say, You've been here before. That means we have been here before. We've been fortunate enough to come here as a program.
So in bringing this team, I just want to concentrate on this team. This is a really good basketball team with great character. They're in their moment. I just want to be in their moment with them. It really doesn't make any difference what we've done in the past.
So I really don't think about it, don't talk to the team about it at all. I just talk about what we're doing and how we hopefully can be successful against West Virginia.
Q. How has Nolan Smith influenced your team, both on the floor as a play-maker and using his father's loss as sort of an inspiration for him in this tournament?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think Nolan can talk more about the influence of doing things in memory of his father. We have a great relationship. We've talked about that since I've known him, since I've recruited him.
But Nolan is a different player than what the other guys are in that he can break you down. I said this yesterday. He's kind of our unsung hero because everyone sees his scoring, especially in a lot of late-game situations. But he's the guy who covers the ball. So he is our defense on the ball primarily, and then an 18-point-a-game scorer. That's a pretty good guy to have.
He's done a very good job on the ball without it affecting in a negative way his scoring. And he has to be in great shape to do that. It makes Jon a better player, because then Jon doesn't have to be on the ball. That's kind of a nice thing that's developed with those guys on the perimeter.
Q. Welcome back to Indianapolis.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Thank you.
Q. It's hard to believe that it's been 19 year since, '91, but what are some of the fond memories you have? In any small way, is that kind of where it began that year?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It was our first national championship, although it was our fifth Final Four. Any time you win a championship for the first time, the ACC tournament for the first time, you remember those moments. That was our first national championship.
At that time I thought that Indianapolis was as good a city, whether we won or lost, to have the Final Four. You see it today. You'll see it throughout the weekend. People can just walk around downtown and walk to the arena. You're around the Final Four all the time.
And Indianapolis is such a great sports city. To have the Pacers, the Colts, NFL, NBA, then a great minor league franchise, that's terrific. It's just a great city. I love Indianapolis.
Q. You just stated earlier the talent in the field is not as good as it used to be. Yet the public's fascination and interest in the Final Four remains high. Why do you think that is?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I think the NCAA has to win, whether they do it because they know they're doing it or it just happens, in college you are still always playing - it's an old expression - for the name on the front of the jersey. So it is going to be Ohio State against Michigan. It's going to be Kentucky against Indiana, and Duke against North Carolina. You go down. Texas against Oklahoma. There's not one player and there's not one coach who's bigger than the college game. It just doesn't happen.
So the people are fascinated because people around the country can all identify with that. You know, they can't always identify with Kobe or LeBron. They want to watch them because they're great. And the NBA has that market. But college basketball has its own market, and it should always be promoted in that way, you know, the team, the tradition.
I love that. And the value systems that are there. I think it's what makes the tournament. Although when we say they're less talented, it doesn't mean they're not talented. There are great players in this Final Four. There are a lot of guys in this Final Four that will play in the NBA and be outstanding players. Each of these teams is not looked at as one player; it's looked at as a group, which I think is the epitome of college basketball.
Q. It seems once again Duke is being cast as the hated team in the Final Four. There was a photo illustration of you with the horns and the target. Did you see that illustration? What do you make of being cast as kind of the Devils of the Final Four?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I did see that. First thing, I thought, you know, That can't be. How could a newspaper do that? I thought somebody doodled. Actually, I thought I looked better.
But it was kind of juvenile. Not kind of, it was just juvenile. You know, my seven grandkids didn't enjoy looking at it. That's not Papi.
You know, it is what it is. It's very juvenile. We have great kids who go to school, they graduate. If we're going to be despised or hated by anybody because we go to school and we want to win, you know what, that's your problem. And you have a problem, because we're going to go to school and we're going to try to win. If you don't like it, keep drawing pictures, you know, just keep drawing pictures. Try to do them a little bit better than that, though.
Q. I think there's five New Jersey guys in this game, five New York. What does that say about the talent based in that area? Specifically, you have Lance from St. Benedicts. What type of kid are you getting?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I do think it's a great area of the country for basketball, and especially youth basketball. One of the things is that kids in that area can play year-round. There's so many organized programs, there's so much competition. Even a kid who just finished his high school season, right away, there's things going on Port Chester, Newark, Trenton. They get a chance to play it all year long. We have to figure out on a collegiate level how kids can work on their game all year long.
When this Final Four is done, every underclassman who is on one of these four teams will not be allowed to work with a coach until September. There's something wrong with that. And who do you work with because you want to try to get better? It's like telling one of my daughters, Okay, you play the piano until April, your teacher can't teach you till September. But someone else is trying to play it better than you in another country or whatever.
Again, as we move along in the NCAA, how we look at access will be very important for the perpetuation of our sport, I think. That area does it just because they've done it all the time.
Q. You talked about, earlier, the relationship you have with Coach Huggins. Can you talk about that a little bit, facing him against since 2008.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, we're great friends. My wife and his wife are really good friends. When we used to go on Nike trips together, especially his wife and my wife, they would hang out a lot. I think they would golf. Anyway, they got along greatly well.
Michael Jordan did a great thing a number of years ago when he started his Fantasy Camp in Las Vegas. Bob and I were two of the coaches that helped him with it over the years. It brought a lot of us over the years where we could get to know one another better. It was a good thing that Michael did. It helped basketball.
We've been really good friends. I mean, I've really liked Bob a lot. I think he's one of the really good teachers ever in our sport. I know we'll have a great game with him. We're going to shake hands afterwards. Whoever wins, wins. We'll still be really good friends.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Thank you.
End of FastScripts