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April 4, 2010
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with Duke with questions.
Q. Coach, Coach Stevens was asked about what it means to face a lot of these prominent coaches. He said, They write books and I get to read them. Can you talk about what it's like from the other side, to face an opposing coach very young?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I've already put a preorder in for his book, so...
He's like 90-10, whatever. We should be watching what he's doing, which we do.
I try to do that, watching college basketball, international basketball. You watch what other successful coaches are doing, not just because they're old, middle-aged or young, but because they're really good. And he's really good.
I've actually watched their program closely for the last couple of years.
Q. Coach K, you have a staff that has three guys who have played in the championship game. What is the value of that?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, first of all, just the value of being a former player helps me because I'm a lot older than these guys, so they can relate what it was to play at Duke, play for me, go to school at Duke, and then go through the experiences that they've gone through.
To go through, I'm sure they've talked to these guys at different times about the tournament, the Final Four, and the opportunity to play for a championship.
It's a good thing. I don't know if they would call them big brothers. I don't know if Brian and Lance would call Wojo their Big Brother, but it does help, it helps me tremendously. Very tough Big Brother.
Q. Similarities between your team and Butler. I don't think they've let anybody score 60 points on them yet in this tournament. Player like Gordon with Kyle, similar in size, skill set, can you talk about the similarities between the two teams.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, I think we're very similar. I think both teams play really well together. It starts on the defensive end. They play as one. The guys who should take a few more shots for them take them, just like us. They just play as one. They play very hard. They're very smart.
I think it's a team, too, they have great hands. It's never one-on-one against them. You have to beat their entire team when you're playing offense against them. We hope most of the time that's the way it is when they're playing against us.
Q. Brian, could you talk about how important it is for you guys to make the most out of your size advantage in this game. And also smaller opponents throughout the season have tried to spread you out, get you away from the basket. I'm guessing they'll probably do the same thing. How will you persevere through that?
BRIAN ZOUBEK: I think we definitely have to take advantage of our size on both sides of the court, really bother them when they get into the lane on defense. Taking charge, blocking shots, defensive rebounding. Then really hitting the offensive glass, trying to establish a little bit more of a post scoring this game.
They've done a great job against bigger guys, so I know they're going to be tough.
What was the second part?
Q. Teams have tried to spread you out. How have you adjusted?
BRIAN ZOUBEK: I don't think any team did that more than West Virginia with Smith and Flowers. They did a really good job of it. I think while we struggled a little bit, we really adjusted well. So I think we should be fine against Butler.
Q. Coach, looking at Butler, smaller school, academically rigorous, private, trying to carve a little spot for itself. I don't know if this is the case, but when you got to Duke three decades ago, were there any similarities between what you were looking at then and what they're looking at now?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Probably a little bit bigger school. We have about 6500 undergrads. What, they have -- I don't know what their graduate enrollment is. We actually have more graduate students than undergrads, which wasn't the case when I got there. We're probably about 6,000.
I thought at that time Duke was one of the respected schools in the south. Over the last three decades, we've become one of the most respected schools in the world. The influx of talent in a whole bunch of areas, and I think some of it has to do with the visibility of our program, combined to produce a really good impact.
I was just talking to Brad. We were doing an interview together. I said, You'll be shocked at how much your school will change as a result of what you and your kids have done. It will be absolutely amazing, you know, to measure where they are - and they're a really good school - the visibility, for everything, everything. And because they have such great kids, they're such good ambassadors for the school.
Q. Jon and Kyle, what are your thoughts on the David versus Goliath theme?
JON SCHEYER: For us, it's not how we look at it at all. They've been a top-10 team the whole year. We know how great of a team they are, especially watching on tape.
Looking at it like that, I don't think that's the right way to look at it. Those guys have beat a lot of great teams, big-time programs. You know, for us, that's not how we view it.
KYLE SINGLER: Yeah, it's the same thing for me, yeah.
Q. Jon and Kyle, other teams like Butler can maybe play the underdog role. Do you sometimes embrace the fact that a lot of people want you guys to lose just 'cause you're Duke? Is that a rallying point ever for you at all?
KYLE SINGLER: Well, throughout the whole season, you know, people do, you know, root against us. But, you know, I think for us, we just worry about what's happening with our team. We don't worry too much about things we can't control, things people say.
So for us, we're just a tight group that just rally together.
JON SCHEYER: I think it brings us closer together. I think throughout the year we've been in situations, even Houston, I think it was mostly a pro Baylor crowd. For us we've been in many situations similar to that. It just makes us closer. That's all we worry about, just the task at hand. I think we do a good job of that.
Q. Kyle, you and Gordon Hayward are a bit similar, 6'8" guys, can rebound, pass. Do you see similarities?
KYLE SINGLER: Yeah. I mean, he's a very good player. He does a lot of things well. He's the type of kid that if you leave open, he's going to knock down shots. I do see similarities in our games.
So, you know, I mean, I have to, you know, be aware when I'm guarding him.
Q. Brian, can you just talk about your recruitment a little bit? What other schools were you involved in? Why did you pick Duke? I know you had a couple serious injuries during your college career. How difficult was that to overcome?
BRIAN ZOUBEK: For me it came down to Duke and Stanford in the end. A combination of things made it a pretty easy decision to choose Duke, being closer to home, having Coach K, the guys that I met. It just felt right.
I mean, with the injuries, I knew that my initial decision to come here was the right thing. I just decided to stick it out. It worked out.
Q. Coach, you've had a lot of great teams that were great teams going into the season. I know you thought this was a very good team going into the season. But how much better has it gotten every day?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I don't know if a team is great at the start of a season, any team. You might have exceptional talent.
For these guys, we have really good talent and they've gotten better throughout the year. I think we've gotten better this week because we had five days of practice and preparation for this weekend. It helped us immensely against West Virginia.
But they like to work. They like to get better. As they get better individually, it makes what we do collectively look a lot better. So a lot of it has to do with just a tremendous work ethic of these guys.
Q. Lance and Kyle, best ballpark estimate of how old you were when you first became aware of the Butler basketball program and what your initial impressions were when you heard that name 'Butler'?
LANCE THOMAS: Oh, man, I would probably say I actually started hearing about them I guess my sophomore year. They actually paved their way to be where they're at right now. You talk about a team that plays as hard as anybody, and doesn't care about what the front of their jersey says for the opposing team. Especially this year, I got a chance to watch them play a couple of their tournament games. I mean, the fact that we're playing 'em, I mean, we're going to have to be ready for them. This isn't going to be an easy game by any means.
So, yeah, they've emerged as a really good program. It's going to be a competitive game we play them.
KYLE SINGLER: I'm not sure when I, you know, became familiar with Butler. But, you know, for me, you just have to respect a program that has done what they've done. You know, I think for us, 'respect' is a good word to represent who Butler is.
Q. Coach, can you talk about Bob Knight's influence in your life when you were a student and how much has his influence permeated the way you've gone about shaping yourself and your profession?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Coach and I, I was lucky to be recruited by him out of Chicago. I didn't always appreciate the lessons I was learning from him while he was teaching them. But I think I became a lot tougher. I certainly understood the game a lot better. I learned about loyalty, passion, and preparation at the highest level. And we formed a great relationship 'cause I was his point guard for three years.
You know, we're best friends. You know, he's been my coach, my mentor, and now he's one of my best friends. So he's had a profound influence on me throughout my professional and personal life.
Q. Mike, we've seen Butler do a pretty good defensive number on a number of teams now. Is this just another in a long line of very good defensive teams we've seen in the tournament? Is there anything they do that might be unique that presents a particular challenge?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, if we look closely, we've seen different types of defenses. In West Virginia, they had combination of length in their man to go along with their 1-3-1 zone. In Butler, they don't extend their defense. More top-of-the-key pickup.
It's very difficult to penetrate against them. I think of all the teams that I've seen in the tournament, they have the most active hands. They don't get out in passing lanes and force turnovers. But if you try to penetrate, there's more than one person trying to stop you. And that's where they come up with steals.
I'm not sure if the stat is correct, but my staff says it's correct, so I believe them. But apparently they've scored five times as many points off of turnovers as anybody in the tournament. Last night, you know, 40% of their offense was off turnovers. And it's done because of good hands and good help.
It's outstanding defense. You know, it's outstanding defense.
Q. Nolan and Jon, we live in an age of all kinds of social networking. Wonder if any of the long-term, well-known Duke players of the past have been in touch with you guys or any of your teammates, giving you any tips, telling you about their backgrounds, besides your assistant coaches? And also what besides Coach K and Cameron are the constants and the essence of Duke basketball we might not see from the outside?
JON SCHEYER: For me, I think I don't talk to a ton of former players. One guy I've talked to is, you know, J.J. has talked to me a little bit just about being a senior, your last year, about how you want to go out. He's been great with that.
In terms of Duke, I think just the players, I think the players that have gone through the program, how they come back, whether it be in the summer or throughout the year, there's so many great players, the relationships you get to form with those guys. You know, that's something special that I don't know if every program has. So that's one thing I've been fortunate to be a part of going to Duke.
NOLAN SMITH: Like Jon said, we definitely have a great relationship with guys that have been in our program. They come back in the summertime. Jay Will, I talk to him all the time. He's somebody who is like a big brother to me, says what I need to do to be ready for these big situations, who has been in big situations, won a big championship. They always keep us ready. As a team, we use that to keep our focus going forward.
Q. Jon, last year during the Final Four, I was wondering what you were sort of thinking? Did you see any way that there would be such a flip-flop in our little neighborhood back home so quickly?
JON SCHEYER: Uhm, well, for me last year, you know, I didn't watch a whole lot of the Final Four. It was tough for me to watch. Just really every year we've gone out, it's been hard to watch the tournament.
I couldn't have told you exactly how it would be this year. But, you know, for us, this is where we expected to be this year. This is the position we wanted to be in. We're going to make the most of it.
Q. Jon and Nolan, could you speak to your matchups with Veasley and Nored, what you see from them in terms of their perimeter defense.
JON SCHEYER: Yeah, they're a great defensive team. Coach touched on it before, but they have really active hands. It's hard to penetrate against them. You need to be strong with the ball. They play great defense.
You're not just going up against one guy; they do a great job of helping. I know Willie from high school. We played against each other. He's always been a great, great defender, great winner. You know, I've known him since high school and he's been a great player ever since then.
NOLAN SMITH: Yeah, their team plays great team defense. They have great hands. For us, we have to be strong with the ball, take care of it, make sure we get a shot every possession. We don't want to turn the ball over and create points for them off our turnovers. If we be strong and be aggressive, we'll be okay.
Q. Coach and Brian, Brad said that Matt Howard may or may not play tomorrow. He's not practicing today. What kind of challenges does that present in preparing, not knowing if a guy who is real important to them, their big guy, is going to play or not?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, actually in the tournament, he's been in a lot of foul trouble. We've seen their backup, Jukes, and also Hayward actually goes to the center spot. They have like five really good ball handlers out there. We've already seen the things that they would do. They must have done it pretty well, because they're still here.
We expect him to play, though. I talked to Brad. I think it's more precautionary. We would expect to see him play.
BRIAN ZOUBEK: Yeah, I think, I mean, for West Virginia, we had to prepare like Bryant could have played. You don't want to be surprised by a player not playing. You just got to prepare for any circumstance. I mean, he's a big part of their team. Expect him to play. We're going to prepare like that.
Q. Mike and Jon, what kind of asset is Chris Collins on your staff? What do you see for his potential coaching future? Jon, if you could describe your relationship with him going back to the recruiting process to now, maybe some advice he's given you.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, well, Chris is a great coach. He's one of my two associate head coaches. He's been with me for a decade. He just loves the game. He loves the guys on the team. He just can relate to them so well.
He also did a fabulous job with our Olympic team. He and Wojo were our coaches in scouting preparation on court with the players. They ran all the drills with the players. Chris will be a fantastic head coach. Really he could be a pro coach if he wanted to because he and Wojo have had such good experience with the Olympic team.
JON SCHEYER: You know, Coach Collins has been a great influence on me ever since, you know, he started recruiting me my sophomore year of high school.
I think for me it's been great coming to Duke and having someone who has gone through what I've gone through, coming from the same area, going to the same high school, really just doing what he did. So for me, he's been great since I got to school, just telling me -- the one thing he's always told me is just to play with an edge. He's given me a lot of advice throughout the years. Just having someone come from the same place has been a huge thing for me throughout my career.
Q. Coach Huggins said last night with all the film he watched last night of your team, it was the best that he's seen it play. Of all the other obviously championship teams you've had, was there another team that had so noticeably improved from day one of practice or from the very first game until the championship game? I was wondering if you were aware that the last time you reached the championship game without a consensus first time All-American was back in 1990?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I wasn't aware of that. Usually I've been lucky to have a lot of really good players. I have them right now, even if they're not first team All-American.
I think our first national championship team, as far as improvement, was a lot like this one in that we were not picked -- we were picked in the top 10 or 50, I don't know exactly where, but we steadily improved. We had a tough schedule. I remember in December being in Oklahoma and breaking their home winning streak. That was a huge win for us with that group, with Bobby, Billy McCaffrey, Laettner, those kids, Grant. They just got better. The ACC was so good, they probably made it better. Probably similar to that team as far as improvement.
Q. A lot is made going into these Final Fours about the venue, the sight lines, because they're so big. You shot as well as you have in a while. As shooters, can you talk about any adjustment or if it's just totally overblown?
JON SCHEYER: We felt really comfortable. We had a chance to practice one day -- well, we had two practices. Just getting that opportunity to go on the court, we felt really confident. Really I think it's overblown. We felt really good. I can only speak for myself. I felt really good. From the way these guys shot it, they felt good, too.
KYLE SINGLER: From what Jon said, I think for a shooter or scorer, your comfort level or confidence has to be there. It really doesn't matter really where you play, as long as you have those two qualities, I think you'll be fine.
NOLAN SMITH: I have to agree with them. You know, give me a ball and a basket. It's all the same, whether you're shooting outside or inside.
Q. Do you like playing outside?
NOLAN SMITH: I like playing outside (smiling).
Q. Jon and Kyle, coach mentioned last week how he likes to see these things through your eyes, your experiences. Have you had a chance to reverse it and maybe see what he's gone through? He's been here a lot. Maybe have you talked as a group about getting the coaches back here because, for Duke standards, it had been awhile?
KYLE SINGLER: I think a great quality that coach has, it doesn't really matter. You know, he's been here before. He's won a national championship. He still has that fire, you know, to prepare just the same, and still have that edge. And I think for us to see that in him, you know, makes us, you know, raise our level of focus and our preparation.
So I think, you know, seeing it through his eyes, too, just watching him, I think it helps us a lot.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you. We'll continue with questions for Coach Krzyzewski.
Q. 20 years ago this month in Denver, most of the questions that you were being asked, the kids, was about Duke being the underdog. I think somebody mentioned 'Choirboy.' UNLV was fielding questions about the opposite. How has it happened that 20 years later, you're fielding opposite questions about being the favorites, being the team that people may or may not like?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, you know, it feels good to be the team that's done it before, you know, the program that has done it before. You'd rather be that than trying to do it the first time.
You know, I don't really look at it like -- I don't play because somebody might not like you. I know a lot of people who like us. So I just think it's really easy to talk about not liking us because we're a private school. We're not a state. We don't have a state press.
You know, people wouldn't take the shots at us that they do if we were a state school because the people of that state wouldn't like it and there would be a filter there. And there's no filter for us, a Notre Dame.
So if we're gonna be really good, we're gonna get that because there's nobody to hold anybody accountable before you even start talking. It's just true. That's just the way it is, and I'm okay with it. I think it helps us keep our edge.
Q. Kyle was talking about seeing it through your eyes. Over the process of going to 11 Final Fours, do you find it easier or harder to prepare? Is it more or less fun than it was? Do you have to do things differently in order to keep yourself motivated?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Not to keep myself motivated. I do some things differently. I think I do them better right now than I've ever done 'em in my life because of the experience that I've had. Where my passion has not waned, but my experience has grown. So I think that's a good combination.
It's all about doing the thing you're doing right now. I mean, if we were in another walk of life, if I was in law and was able to win a number of cases in the past, I would want to win the next one. If I was a doctor, performed some really good operations, I would want to perform another one. Otherwise I should stop being a lawyer or a doctor.
So I don't think it's unusual, except you should become a little bit better in what you're doing. And if the passion to do it or to prepare to do it starts lessening, then you should consider not doing it.
Q. Is it true about the satisfaction as well?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Oh, I get great satisfaction, but I get it a different way. I really try to get it through -- you know, I love my guys. To see how happy they are, you know, to watch them and listen to them as they're answering your questions, you know, I'm very proud of them. That's a good place to be at this time in my life, you know, where you can hang -- an old guy hanging with some 22-year-old guys who are pretty good guys. So we're doing some good things.
Q. Brad Stevens is the second youngest coach to ever get to this point. What do you see in him, both in terms of his professional competence and his personal humility?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think he's terrific. You know, it's neat to see. I hope he becomes one of the leaders in our coaching profession because he's going to be amazingly successful, and has been.
I think your description of him is right on. He's very smart. He's composed. You know, what a great representative for his school. He has shown amazing humility, which I hope he takes all those attributes as he attains the success he's going to attain and he keeps them and be an example for other coaches.
He'll be somebody that a lot of people will try to emulate. That's a good thing.
Q. Coach, much has been made of Nolan being in the city where his father won a national title 30 years ago. Could you speak to the type of young man he is, how you might not have to say anything to him about being too jacked up, too motivated, too inspired, stepping outside of himself because of that extra feeling that his father brings?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I think Nolan plays with that all the time. You know, that's why he has a tattoo on his arm. I believe in a little bit over a year, he's become very, very comfortable with the situation now. Like he can handle it as a result of some of the features that have been done nationally. There was one even I think yesterday on CBS, I didn't see it, but I heard that it was really good, because then he doesn't have to tell that story. The story is told. It's an amazing story.
I can remember, ESPN did one I think, not this February, but the February before, and I can remember calling his mom afterwards. I said, Are you okay?
She was crying. She said, I'm good.
I said, I thought it was beautiful.
She said, So did I. She says, How is Nolan?
I said, He's great. I thought it was like a cleansing for him to have it told where he doesn't have to say it.
He's really a happy kid. He's a really good kid. His mom's one of the best ever. Monica has done a great job in raising him to where he still has a love for his father, his memory, wants to emulate his father, but it's not a burden like, Oh, I don't have him anymore. He honors him on a day-to-day basis.
Therefore, honoring him in this Final Four is not something new. He's done it day to day. I think it comes from his family, just such a good family.
Q. It's a poorly kept secret that Bob Hurley, Sr. will be part of this class in the Hall of Fame. What do you think that speaks to what he's been able to do in Jersey City and other grass-roots coaches that aspire to that?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Bob deserves to be. I've been a big proponent of him being in the Naismith Hall of Fame. I think Morgan Wooten is the only other high school coach, and they're both great, one, in their record, but in what they've done for their communities.
Bob is one of the most unique stories in all of high school basketball because, you know, he's not a teacher at the school. He has a passion to help young men get the opportunities that they would never have gotten unless he and basketball entered into their lives. So his thing is he should be in the Hall of Fame not for the number of wins, but for the number of lives he's changed. He literally has changed the lives in a very positive way.
He's a great friend and most deserving.
Q. When you were a 33-year-old coach, were you even thinking about one day coaching a national championship? And how different was Mike Krzyzewski at 33 than the Mike Krzyzewski we see before us now?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: A lot different. I was trying to figure out how to coach Gene Banks and Kenny Denard coming from West Point, which believe me is very different.
It's always a dream. It should be a dream of every coach and every player to be in the Final Four. But it was a dream that we're very far away from being a reality. When I look at Brad, I say, How far ahead is he from where I was? You know, he's a much better coach. He's done a great job. He's already established himself.
I was in the midst of trying to find out who the heck I was at this level. And, thank goodness, Duke stuck with me through my growing days. Butler hasn't had to stick with him. They should hope he sticks with them. You know, just the opposite.
But, no, I do remember when I was 33. Do you?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Barely. I have pictures. I don't think they have tapes then, but we have pictures (smiling).
Q. I know most of your attention or focus is on these players, the achievement they would achieve if they win tomorrow night. Will you allow yourself at all to take in your own personal milestone courtside?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: No, I won't do that. I won't do that. That's not why we should be playing. We should be playing only for these guys. That's my total focus, and has been my focus pretty much my whole career, but especially the last couple years. It's taken on a whole 'nother level to just do it for this year with these guys and make the most of it, and whatever happens, happens.
Q. If you do win, that would be four for you, which would be one more than Coach Knight, pull you even with Coach Rupp. What would that mean to you?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It means I'm with some pretty good guys.
I really try not to look at a career. I think I will when it's over. Overall, I've been lucky to be at a school that's put me in a position where we could win a lot of games and get a lot of great kids, and overall my health has been good, except for one year. And my family's been great. My school has been great, too.
If Coach Knight never left Indiana, Coach Knight would have over a thousand wins and probably a couple more NCAA championships. And so you always have to put it in perspective. You know, some of the coaches of the past, as far as number of games won and things like that, their seasons were shorter, the tournament was different.
You know, you just feel lucky that you're one of that gang. Let's put it that way.
Q. Coach, Jon, Kyle and Nolan have been great all season long. Your team seems to have taken a step towards this level when Brian Zoubek became whether it was a starter or more of a major consistent contributor. Am I making that up or...
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: We've taken a step up, there's no question. I think we've always been in the top 10. We played well all year long.
But not only that, but Lance has played great all year long. He's been a terrific leader. He's been our leader really on a day-to-day basis. But Brian's played outstanding basketball these last six weeks now.
I mean, as well as he had been playing, he's given a toughness. Even last night, some of his rebounds, they weren't just a rebound, there was a toughness there that's really helped us.
Brian's played great. I'm so proud of him. You know, like yesterday when he kicked it out that one time, I think 70,000 people were shocked that he kicked it out, except us. And then we got a three on it. It's very good.
Q. Mike, a Los Angeles question for you.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Are those different?
Q. When the Lakers wanted you to be their coach back in 2004, was there part of you tempted by the opportunity?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Oh, yeah.
Q. And why haven't you succumb to making that next jump? What keeps you at Duke?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I was more than tempted. I seriously considered it. One, because it was the Lakers. Mitch is great. It would have been an opportunity to work with Kobe. He and I are very close.
I guess because I did not accept it, it really speaks to, you know, how much I love Duke and college basketball, but especially Duke. When we were talking a little bit earlier, a few minutes ago, about commitment, Duke has been committed to me when I wasn't with Knight and Rupp and those guys. They were committed to me when we were 38-47. Just from where I'm from, whatever, that will never leave my heart, that type of commitment.
So I'll be at Duke even after I stop coaching. You know, that's where I'm gonna be.
Q. You said looking at each year one at the same time, particularly the last couple years. What about the last couple years is it that made you look at it that way?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, because college basketball changed. The one-and-done, how much more parity there was. If you're in this, you have to keep reinventing yourself a little bit, even to stay up with the kids. It's different cultures.
I think the Olympics helped me a lot, getting away from Duke and learning. While I was doing it, doing Duke, saying, I have a group now, there isn't Jayson Williams here, they're not Laettner or Grant Hill. This will be cool. We just get, like you're younger days, get in and get to know them even more, be more in the moment with them.
I just felt that that was the way to do it. And that's why I've really kind of deflected throughout the year when people have said, since 2004, you've won three, you've been to 10 or 11 Final Fours, I've never wanted to talk about it, because it's not about them. I don't want to be like us because who cares. I want to be like them. They shouldn't want to be like Mike; Mike should want to be like them, I guess is what I'm saying. That's a lot better.
I've really enjoyed that. I've really enjoyed that. It's just a better way for me to coach right now at this time in my career.
Q. In relation to just what you were talking about, the last decade of college basketball has been the most volatile ever, I guess.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Right. Up to now. Up to now.
Q. Did you ever wonder whether it was going to be possible for one of the top programs to have a totally senior/junior dominated squad and keep it together as you've done with these guys?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, not with guys who would be one-and-done. You know, it's impossible. Or they think that they're one-and-done.
However, I'm saying that, and we tried to recruit some. This hasn't been planned. I don't know any coach that can actually plan anymore year to year. You recruit, you try to get the very best kids you can, and then at the end of that year you see where you're at. Who's left, who's graduated, who's transferred. Because there's more instant gratification now. People just want that, they want it more.
I mean, Apple just introduced something yesterday. Talk about instant gratification. People are in line wanting something new. It's in every aspect of our society. So it's not just college basketball.
It's pretty impressive that I knew that. My wife got one yesterday (smiling). That's why I know it. She was playing with it.
Q. Some bigger schools with bigger budgets will certainly take notice of Brad Stevens. You've had assistants move up the coaches' ladder. What is your advice to a young guy as bigger opportunities present themselves?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, always work for good people and hire good people and recruit good people. Any of my assistants, before I'd tell them to accept a job, Is the AD a good person and is the president a good person? What's their motivation in hiring you?
And then if they do take the job, and those people leave, that it's incumbent on the coach to develop the relationship with those two positions at his university, the athletics director and the president. It's not up to those two people to develop it with the coach. We work for those people.
I've told every one of my assistants or people who have asked me for advice in coaching, and have given them that. You know, try to work for somebody who's good. But you don't have control, because people change in their careers. If you're there for a long time, if you're there for longer than those people, then get to know the other people very well. It's up to you to do that.
We've done that at Duke. I've worked with and for good people my entire 30 years at Duke.
Q. Can you talk about the whole David versus Goliath --
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Will I talk about it?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I won't (smiling).
Q. Whether it's fair or not?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: What I think the great story is, tomorrow night is two private institutions playing for the national title. I don't know how much that's been done. I think that's a pretty cool thing, to have two private institutions playing for the national title. It's a pretty cool thing.
Q. In what ways, if any, do you think a Butler national championship might change the way big-time college basketball operates?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, it would make us sad, at least if it happens tomorrow. If it happens next year and we're not playing them, then I'd be more for it.
I don't think we need it because we already see it in the tournament, a huge exclamation point on parity. There are just good programs. Parity at a high level.
I don't agree with the people who say there aren't as many good teams. Whether there's expansion are not, there are a more good teams. I think a lot of people who are saying that don't coach. They don't have to play against these teams.
You go to the Mountain West, you go to the Missouri Valley, you go to the Colonial Conference, the Horizon League, there are really good teams in those leagues that can compete in the ACC, the Big Ten, the Big East, and be contenders.
Butler wins, it says, look, if you haven't listened, here is my final argument to it.
What I would like to do is close that case today so I don't have to make that final argument.
Q. Along this David versus Goliath theme, are you a college football fan at all?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, I am.
Q. Can you speak to the fact that this sort of setup, this sort of championship environment, could never happen in football.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: No, it can't. It can't because the top hundred football programs have their own thing, and then there's AA. It's a completely different animal. And they don't have a system that would allow a smaller school to get into their spotlight with the BCS. They know what the heck they're doing as far as monopoly.
That's why I think our tournament has captured America, is because everybody can get in it. Everybody can identify. Everyone's got a chance. And they got a chance right now, whether there's expansion or not, through their conference tournaments. And then once they're in it, look what's happened. Well, not last year. But it's happened in this decade, later in the decade. Boy, this year it's really happened.
I just think it's very good. Whether we expand a little bit or not, whatever, we need to look at those things. It is changing. It is changing. Maybe to provide more opportunity for more good teams.
I really don't agree with people who say there are not that many good teams. They're not the great teams, the great talented teams of the past. It's just not going to happen anymore. Carolina had that. That was an exception last year, to have that many good guys. They were great kids and they stuck together. But that usually is not going to happen.
So I think it's really good for college basketball. Tougher to win, though. Tougher to win consistently.
Q. Brad Stevens was saying one of the things that excited him when you were named head coach of the U.S. Olympic team was how you were going to form a team together. They're grown men, different set of egos, used to playing a particular way. Did you have to change your approach there or were you able to basically take the same team-building stuff that you used?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: No, you have to change, and you should change. They're all men. They're professionals. They're great guys. What we tried to do, and will try to do again with our national team this summer for the World Championships, is we'll adapt to one another.
These guys pretty much have to adapt to what we're doing, just like they have to do in a classroom. They're learning. We're the ones who are supposed to be the teachers.
When you coach the national team, you have Kobe, Jason Kidd, LeBron, all these guys. You should learn from them and they should learn from you a little bit. You should adapt to a certain system that everyone has ownership of. In college basketball, you're always trying to get your players to buy into what you're doing. With the national team, we're trying to buy into what everyone's doing and come up with a plan where everybody will have a little bit in it, where it's not just one guy.
Q. When your girls were younger, the Final Four wrapped around Easter. Today being Easter, do you do anything special? You used to have Easter egg hunts.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: There's one going on. It's done, probably, in my suite right now. Not for my daughters, but my grandkids.
Q. Are you too encompassed with preparation and trying to win the game tomorrow to make it any special today? How do you balance that?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, it's tough to do it because we're with you guys this afternoon, and practice, and tape, and whatever. But today, my sixth grandchild, Rem, he's an animal, he's under a year old, and my middle daughter Wendy, that's her second son, she brought him down to the meal, and he's really a big kid, like he's nine months old and wears 18-month clothing and all that. He's just an animal. He's always laughing and crawling.
She brings him down in a bunny outfit, this really soft bunny outfit. I told my daughters, I said, Remember the rule.
We remember, Dad.
The rule is, with any of my grandsons, you can do that till they're one, but then you can't put all those costumes on them like elk's horns, elephant noses and things like that. They can't do that after they're one.
But that was a neat thing. Our guys had a good time seeing Rem in his bunny outfit.
Q. You have had remarkable health throughout your career, except for that one year. I'm wondering, if that year, did you ever wonder if you would be able to come back? What has that year then done to years like this, then, where you have success?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: When I was going through all that, no, I was even thinking of not coaching. So that's another time where Duke was really committed to me and helped me.
But you know, we were 13-18 that year, then 18-13 the next year. So it was kind of like we had to rebuild our brand and program. But it was a time to look at it, evaluate what was good and what wasn't good, what we wanted to take forward, what we didn't.
So we put some changes in at that time. It's been better. You know, it's been better. We haven't gone to as many Final Fours or whatever, but we've attained a level where, you know, we can compete for those things on a year-to-year basis.
Q. Do you mind being more specific? Like what did you tweak?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Mostly in my approach to how I ran the program. I became much less of a micromanager, and really allowed my people to be better. I don't think I allowed them to be as good as they could be. My players -- but I'm just talking about the people supporting our program, assistants, staff. So we just went about it a different way.
Q. A couple days ago Urban Meyer said he sought you out to talk about your health issues and his. As much as you can, what did you tell him?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Actually, my athletic director Kevin White is really good friends with Urban Meyer. He had suggested when that occurred, he said, Why don't you give him a call. So I gave him a call.
I think the main thing we talked is that he wasn't the only guy who, you know, that kind of stuff can happen to. I think it happens to a lot of people, whether you're in sport or business, and you haven't done anything wrong by feeling that way.
The main thing I told him was not to make decisions while you're feeling that way; to feel better and then make decisions, whatever that means. Getting away, counseling, whatever it means.
He actually came up to Duke about a month later. He was doing a physical there. I got a chance to talk to him for a little bit. You know, I didn't call him to tell him about press relations about a month ago, but showed me he may have had his vigor back. Showed me, he's back quicker than I thought he would ever be back.
Q. Apparently he did make one of those decisions when he was feeling that way for about 24 hours.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, I called him after that. I said, You shouldn't do that. And the good thing about it, he has a great athletic director, people around him. They wouldn't allow him to make that decision. In other words, they're not going to accept that at that time because they shouldn't.
If we only followed only what we think and not what the people around us help us think, we're usually going to make a lot of mistakes. But if you follow the people around you that you trust and love, you know, when it goes against sometimes what you think at that moment, you're more apt to be successful.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Thank you.
End of FastScripts