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April 5, 2010
Duke Â– 61
Butler - 59
THE MODERATOR: Coach Krzyzewski, if you could give us a couple opening remarks, please.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I've been fortunate enough to be in eight national championship games, and this was a classic. This was the toughest and the best one.
My congratulations and empathy are with the Butler team, who played winning basketball. And, yeah, to me it was a game that we won, but they didn't lose. We were able to win, I think, because of our defense and rebounding in the second half. We were being out rebounded by seven in the first half.
And then in the second half, we just played better defense and rebounded better. We brought our defense back a little bit more to bring our guys closer to the bucket to try to stop penetration after about five minutes in the second half, and also made our rebounders closer. I thought that was key.
All these guys made big plays. I thought Zoubs on his out of bounds defense, then he adjusts, altered the shot, then got the rebound, was so fitting for Zoubek, for Brian to do that, because he really elevated our team over these last six weeks, seven weeks, to where we would have a chance to play and win a national championship.
It's still hard for me. It hasn't sunk in that we're national champs. I love these guys. You all ask them as many questions as you want because they'll answer them a lot better than I will.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Brian, could you talk about the defense, rebounding today, also your contributions to it. A satisfying end to what has had to been an up-and-down career.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: He hasn't had an up-and-down career. He's had a great career, where he's had a foot broken twice. So he's had an injury-marred career. It hasn't been up-and-down. First of all, he can't go up-and-down. He can't jump.
BRIAN ZOUBEK: Thanks coach (laughter).
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: So it couldn't be up-and-down. You're never going to play for me again, so...
BRIAN ZOUBEK: That means I can say something (laughter)?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: No. I still get back at you.
BRIAN ZOUBEK: I know that (smiling).
To answer your question, there were two plays before I got that defensive rebound at the end where I could have got an offensive rebound and a defensive rebound, and I think Howard got both of them. Those could have been two plays that I saw that could have really affected the game. I knew that me getting the rebound would be a huge play.
I think we out-rebounded them by about two total, so we really stepped it up in the second half.
Q. Kyle, you shot really well this weekend coming off a bad shooting performance down at Houston. Both domes. What was the big difference here the past couple nights?
KYLE SINGLER: Uhm, nothing really. Just that, you know, the ball went in in these last two games. It really wasn't about me shooting the ball. You know, it's about the team. And we needed everyone, you know, in these last two games to get where we are right now. So it was just, you know, a great thing.
Q. Brian, did you miss that second one on purpose?
BRIAN ZOUBEK: Yep (smiling). I think it was -- if we got a long rebound, I bodied up Hayward, and by the time Hayward put the ball on the ground, it was 1.2, 1.8 seconds left. They got off a bad shot, not a good one. It almost went in. Should have gone in, though.
Q. I take it that was planned? You were not free-lancing on that one?
BRIAN ZOUBEK: No, I was not free-lancing on that one.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: He was doing everything he was supposed to do, especially rebound.
Q. Brian, what does it mean to you to hear your coach say that you were the guy who elevated the team to get to this position?
BRIAN ZOUBEK: It means a lot to me. I mean, I did elevate my game, and it was probably noticeable because compared to how I played before. I mean, all the guys on this team had to elevate their game to another level to win this thing. Somebody new stepped up every single night. I mean, that's how great this team is, that we can have somebody win it for us that's new every single night.
Q. The seniors, talk about ending your journey here after starting what you said earlier this week was not a great season, only 22 wins. Can you just talk about ending it in this place, this time.
JON SCHEYER: Uhm, well, for us, I don't think many people can say they went out winning a national championship. It means a lot to us, especially I don't think any of us could have predicted the four years we had here. To finish it like this means a lot, especially going through it with these guys every day.
LANCE THOMAS: Uhm, it means the world to us, especially our senior class. To come in and get knocked out of this tournament in our first game, and to have to, you know, live with that for the rest of our lives, you know, for the extra years after our freshman, sophomore, and junior year, just not getting as much success as we want, to leave champions, have our last game, leaving a national championship. It's tough to put words to.
We maxed out our season. We maxed out all our practices. We played in every game that the season had to offer us.
To seal the deal at the end, I'm really lost for words on it.
Q. Can you talk about ending the journey after the way it started on this stage.
BRIAN ZOUBEK: Yeah, it's been an absolute progression. You can see the difference every single year. To end it like this, as Lance said, it's undescribable. I don't think our seniors could have predicted this, anywhere near this kind of success through our career, just based on how our freshman year went. I mean, it just proves that if you keep with it, you keep your head down, keep working at it, I mean, good things will come if you put in the work.
Q. Kyle, you got just crushed on a screen on the last play, went down to the floor. Did you even see the last shot? When you saw it come off the rim, what were your thoughts?
KYLE SINGLER: Yeah, when I got screened, uhm, I kind of twisted the right way to see the ball. So I saw the ball bounce off the backboard and hit the rim. You know, it looked good. You know, the ball -- it was just one of those things where you're wishing, hoping that it won't go in.
When I saw it bounce off the rim, uhm, and, you know, the team came together, it was just a special moment.
Q. Jon, this is such a random game sometimes. A shot here, the way a ball bounces. As that ball was in the air, you know you have to accept the outcome whatever that shot did. Can you put into words what you think the feeling might be in the other room for the way that shot ended up?
JON SCHEYER: Well, you know, by playing that game, their team was so tough. And I think, uhm, you know, I can only imagine how they're feeling, especially to end the game like that.
I mean, those guys, it was the toughest game we played all year. You know, I can't imagine what those guys are feeling like. They gave everything they had, just like we did. It's hard that one of these teams had to feel that way.
So, you know, I'm sure it's tough in that locker room.
Q. Brian, you spoke a lot the other day about having to spend so much time on crutches. I'm wondering if you anticipated a chance like tonight for real?
BRIAN ZOUBEK: I mean, it's really hard to imagine being in this position when you spend two summers on crutches. I mean, people around me just kept telling me, Keep going at it, just keep fighting. It's hard to believe 'em sometimes, that good things are actually going to happen.
I mean, it's an unbelievable feeling that you can see the product of the hard work I put in and the hard work this team put in. I mean, it's just a good story.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much. We'll continue with questions for Coach Krzyzewski.
Q. Mike, given everything that that group has been through over the last four years, not only the last four years, but this season, the way they've had to earn everything, is it fitting that this final game was what Jon called the toughest game of the year?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, he was right, first of all, that it was the toughest. I thought the question before about understanding what was in the Butler locker room, I think these kids probably would understand that as well as any team because they've had, not in a national championship game, but they've had tough losses.
I think they had such good character, our guys. I still can't believe we won. The game was so good that anybody could have won. And, you know, I don't think we were lucky to win, because we earned it. But there is some -- yeah. I think we won because of these guys. As good as the Butler story is and was and will be, their story's pretty good, too.
Q. What went through your head this morning on the day of the championship game to read the report about the New Jersey Nets?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I didn't read anything or watch anything. I was just told that. Then I refuted it.
Q. Then now to pass Bobby Knight, tie Coach Rupp for second all time...
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: You know what, tonight is not about that. That's like 10 years from now or whatever. Tonight is all about these guys. That's what I've tried to do all season long, and especially in a tournament, because then you're asked more, like, you know, this could be Duke's fourth national championship and all that.
We just shied away from talking about that at all or try to think about it, and try to immerse ourselves in what these guys were doing. It's much better. Like for me to think about being with them now is much better than thinking about the fourth national championship. Believe me, these guys are really -- I love these guys. And you can see why. They've been great.
It's hard. You know, I've said throughout the year they were good, then they were really good, then they were really good with great character. Before coming to the press conference, I told our team that. I said, it's 'cause we always wanted to keep them chasing something. But I told them before we came here and before we said a prayer that, I said, You are a great team. You are a great team.
Q. You had to put Brian back in with 9:46 to go and four fouls. He went the whole way. Then the decision to have him miss that second free throw.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, first of all, our guys, the upperclassmen, have played with foul trouble throughout the year. So you put them in that situations during the year, so it's not the first time, instead of protecting them. Then we called a few timeouts so that we wouldn't get tired, they wouldn't commit a tired foul.
On the last thing, they didn't have any timeouts left. And if he missed, I thought it would take a miracle shot, you know. Well, it almost did. But we were set up to guard it. And Pat made a good point. Really, they're not gonna call it at that time. But Kyle got killed at halfcourt, you know. So they wouldn't have got it without that, 'cause Kyle was on Hayward, which is pretty good for a press guy to see that stuff.
But they would have to take a halfcourt shot. And we were set up to guard that. And, you know, what the hell, it worked. You know, there are many things that you do during a ballgame. Whatever the consequences are, you take it.
I mean, you know, we called timeouts at different times that, you know, you wouldn't normally call timeouts because of being tired. We left guys in. I mean, this was a game where things were not, like, by the book necessarily. You know, you had to do things instinctive because guys were fighting so hard, so...
I'm just glad Zoubek was a part of that. I just think that's such a great story. Zoubek, I've tried to downplay it throughout because I didn't want him to get satisfied, but Zoubek's story is unbelievable. I mean, from that Maryland game on February 13th to now, you know, he just elevated our team to give us a chance to win this thing.
That was a good call. I'm proud of you for doing that. I didn't think you had that in you (smiling).
Q. You touched on this a little bit the other day, about how this run will change Butler. I guess you spoke with Brad Stevens about that. Can you expand on that a little bit. Also, Brad is going to start getting offers from all over the place now. What advice, if any, would you give him on how to handle all of this?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I think especially in this age in college basketball, you know, you can be in the tournament and you can be really good, and you don't have to be like in football in a BCS conference.
And I think you should always -- he has the opportunity now, and will, to always coach at a place where he believes in their values and believes in the school. I think he already believes that with Butler, especially with all the stuff that they did this week to promote Butler. I mean, he did. He went away from his team to promote the school, and it didn't have a negative impact on his team. I would tell him to stay put because he's got -- they also should pay him more.
And, by the way, we don't have athletic dorms at Duke, all right? I'm just telling you. I know you would want to know that (smiling).
The school, it's changed the school. Butler will no longer be what it has been, which has been pretty darn good. And everything that's good about Butler, which are so many things, will now have a chance to be seen in many areas, not just basketball, that people would not have seen Butler in before.
So what can that do for a school that's really good? I just think it's scary good, scary good.
Q. Coach, you've won four of these. You've seen a lot more. When you consider the scenario, the two schools involved, how tough each of them had to play, where will this game fit in NCAA championship history? Will it be one of those games that resonates?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think it will become an historic game. It's the best one that I've been involved in of the eight. More players played at a high level in this game. I mean, their bench I think scored 15 points in the first half. Juke's hit two threes, okay? I mean, those were huge shots. Especially when we got up by four, 33-29, he hit that one at the top of the key. When we were on the stand getting the trophy, Jim Nantz told me, that's as good a game as he's broadcast in the championship.
Just as a competitor, you feel like it was a great basketball game.
Q. You've done a lot to help change USA basketball. Looking at this game, the historic significance, how could this game maybe benefit college basketball as a whole? Does it give hope to coaches that maybe didn't have it at smaller schools?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It will become an historic game, a benchmark game, not just the way it was played, but who played in it and what comes about. It's already come about, you know, with all Northern Iowa. So many good teams. Unless the NBA and the players union change some stuff, it will keep going. Because that's changed the game. I mean, if they were high school kids coming out right away and you have to be two years, that would change it a little bit, too.
But if it stays the way it is, I mean, I think they -- somebody's gonna pick the top 10 for next year tomorrow, just because it's the way sport is, where you gonna put Butler? Yeah, right up there, 1 or 2. Pretty good. Pretty good. They were a top-10 team all year this year. They'll be a favorite next year.
I want to thank those two kids especially, Mack and Hayward, for winning the gold medal for the under-19 team. I think that made them better players, being on a championship-level team with Jamie Dixon as a coach.
Thank you all for everything. I appreciate it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.
End of FastScripts