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March 17, 2011
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
Q. Let's assume that Kyrie is back on the floor. Can you talk about how that changes the team and changes the dynamic and why isn't it more annoying to you guys to have a guy not play all year then come back?
KYLE SINGLER: I mean, it's not annoying, first of all, but it's just like you said, assuming that he comes back and plays, there's nothing negative to it. I think it's all positive. He's good enough player to affect the game in different ways and, you know, if he wasn't even on the floor that he's able to do.
Q. How about his offense?
NOLAN SMITH: Offensively he adds more depth, another guard to the lineup. Allows us to pressure defensively. He's obviously a very, very good player. He's going to give us a little bit more fire power that we need to play good.
Q. Nolan, I don't know if you've read or heard about Jalen Rose's comments about minority players recruited by Duke, he called them Uncle Toms. Do you have any reaction to that?
NOLAN SMITH: Not at all. I enjoyed watching the Fab Five movie that they did. I don't have any comment on that.
Q. Either one of you guys, in past years Duke and Carolina have been to the same Regional. There's been quite a bit of animosity. It wasn't so much last time and this time actually Coach K even said he welcomed it. What has changed and why is it not a big deal that Carolina and Duke are both here at the same time?
KYLE SINGLER: I'm not sure.
NOLAN SMITH: We're just embracing it. You have two rival schools right down the road and two great programs with two great coaches, and whenever you can bring us both so close together, you know, it's great for basketball, and I think the fan base down here in Charlotte for both us of us is going to be tremendous and it's going to be an exciting atmosphere with Carolina and Duke in one building.
Q. Both you guys. First of all, have you guys already practiced once today?
KYLE SINGLER: No, we haven't.
Q. You've had one practice since we talked to you guys Tuesday, right?
KYLE SINGLER: Yes.
Q. How did Kyrie look in that practice? I know you were asked a few minutes ago about it. How did he look specifically in that practice as opposed to the day before? Was there a noticeable difference?
KYLE SINGLER: Not really. He's kind of limited in what he did. He still practices. He looked fine. He's not in great shape, but, you know, what he was doing out there on the floor to me didn't look like he missed or he's not in basketball. His skills are still there. That's good to see.
NOLAN SMITH: Yeah, definitely. Kyrie is definitely, he's ready to play. He's coming back. He hasn't played in a long, long time, but he's the type player you give him the ball, he's going to get out there and he'll help us if he gets on the court. He's that good a player.
Q. If you could put your finger on one or two things that you guys need from the team to make a deep run in March again, what would those be?
NOLAN SMITH: I think those things are going to be defense and rebounding from everybody. If we do those things, we can make a deep run. We have a team that can obviously score the ball with lot of fire power offensively, but if everybody just plays defense and we go out there and rebound the ball the way we know we can, we'll be very dangerous.
KYLE SINGLER: I think the main thing for me and for the team kind of goes off what Nolan just said, we've got to fight. I think that's just a word that we got to carry throughout this tournament, I think. The teams that fight harder and smarter end up winning. We have to be able to do those things.
Q. When you guys came out on Sunday, it was probably -- and I've seen you all season, it was the most intensity you had shown on the defensive end and as a result, you really shut down Carolina, particularly Kendall Marshall, Harrison Barnes. Is that same intensity going to carry over this week?
KYLE SINGLER: Yeah. That game was a great momentum game for us. It shows, you know, that we can play that way, and I don't see any reason why we wouldn't want the play that way because it was exciting and fun, and that's the team that we can be.
NOLAN SMITH: Going off that, that was a championship game and we brought it. And going forward every single game we play in this tournament, we're taking it one game at a time playing as if it's a championship game. Starting tomorrow, myself and Kyle are definitely going to come out and set the tone defensively, and getting after the other team's point guard, and just playing defense. The Carolina game was definitely a good marker for us to show us, show our team how we can play defensively and get after teams.
Q. Nolan, Sunday when they interviewed the three player of the year candidates on CBS, you were the only one who knew the opponent's nickname that you were playing. What else do you know about Hampton and what concerns you most about them?
NOLAN SMITH: Hampton a very good team. They're going to come out and play hard and play with a lot of energy and it's going to be a very good game. They have two big wing players in Pellum and Morgan and they're a team, they can obviously score the ball, so we have to stop those two guys and just get after them. They're a team that is a championship team. They won their conference, which is why they're in the tournament, and they know how to win.
We're going to have to come out and play.
Q. Back to Kyrie, how important was it to you guys and to the team that he was such a cheerleader throughout the season, he was always up, giving you guys fisters and skin and stuff when you come off the bench. How much easier does it make it to embrace him now that he's coming back?
NOLAN SMITH: To have a great teammate come back and finally be playing with you again, it's a huge lifter. It excites us because he's been there for us all year long, being a great teammate, and you get somebody doing that all year long, you definitely want them back on the team when he's healthy.
If he was the opposite of that, you would kind of be, why is he coming whack? That's not the case at all. He's been such a great teammate, you know, so we're excited that he's healthy and gets a chance to play this year.
Q. Certainly expectations are always high every year at Duke. The talk with Kyrie earlier in the year was could you do back to back. It seems that it diminished, as good your season was without him. Now that he's back, how do you feel about hearing the criticism about maybe you shouldn't be number one? As he alluded to and you alluded to, bringing him back with him being around certainly is easier probably than if he was doing rehab off somewhere away. Obviously, like I said, expectations are always high for you guys anyway. Does it surprise you that people are like not expecting y'all to be a number one seed when y'all are the defending champions?
NOLAN SMITH: We dealt with that last year and look what happened. So we're embracing it. Teams, people don't think we're going to win. That's fine. We just want to take it one game at a time and play as hard as we can. We have a team that's ready to compete every game, one game at a time. We're going to go out and do that.
Q. Guys, what kind of reception do you expect in Charlotte, do you think? You mentioned the fans, but I'm talking specifically fan-wise, do you think it's going to be half and half, and do you think Duke fans will root for UNC and vice versa, or do you think if it's close for awhile that Hampton will gain a lot of fans from the Tar Heels in the crowd?
KYLE SINGLER: Personally, I don't necessarily care. We're focused on Hampton and whether there's a lot of UNC fans there or not, we've been in hostile environments before so we've been in Chapel Hill, and they're all North Carolina fans. We're used to it. We're not worried about it.
THE MODERATOR: Any other questions?
Q. Not to ask every question about a guy who's toe isn't even here, but in the locker room when your guys are relaxing, do you give him a hard time about it, it's just a toe, get out here? What is the conversation like with him?
NOLAN SMITH: The conversations are pretty normal. When somebody like that goes down, we try not to talk about the toe because if it was myself or Kyle got a injury, I wouldn't want to talk about it. We talk about other things, talk about the game, talk about basketball, you know, just try and keep his spirits high. He's young and, you know, at first you get hurt and miss your whole freshman year, you're going to be upset. We definitely avoided talking about the toe as much as possible and just focusing on the team that was playing.
Q. This is for Kyle. Kyle, your game seems to have changed over the last seven or eight games. You've not shot the 3-ball particularly well, which has caused you to seemingly attack the basket more. What's kind of your mindset as you go into this relative to that?
KYLE SINGLER: Well, I guess my mindset is just be the player that, you know, that I am. I'm not worried about my shooting percentage or not. I'm still going to keep on shooting the ball and I'm going to try and attack the basket, get fouled. I'm just going to try to be the player that I am.
THE MODERATOR: Take two more questions.
Q. Nolan you had a toe issue, not last weekend, but you've had a toe issue for a while. Does yours look worse or better than Kyrie's? Do you have any running jokes about the toes?
NOLAN SMITH: My toe still looks worse. I think everybody show that with the show that ESPN was doing. My toe is not that pretty. My toe is a little healthier than his. So I'm happy about that.
THE MODERATOR: One last question. Anyone else? Okay. Thanks guys.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: We're excited, obviously, to be here, you know, to start the Tournament and be in Charlotte, have the opportunity to play a really good team in Hampton. I think we've had a good week of practice. We're fresh, we're healthy, you know. Kyrie will play tomorrow, and you'll see him if -- depending on how many more interviews you have to be in here for, you're probably a little bit tired of that anyway, but he'll play limited minutes and come off the bench, and I don't know what limited minutes mean. It's one of those I don't have a set number of minutes. We want to play the way we've been playing and integrate him into what we're doing.
But he's practiced. We didn't practice on Monday, but he practiced on Tuesday and Wednesday. So that's been, you know, no problem. Other than that, we're ready to go. Be happy to answer any questions you might have.
Q. What is your reaction to Jalen Rose's comments regarding your recruiting and also coming on the timing of it?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I don't have any comment on that. That has nothing to do with what we're doing here. So I have no comment on that.
Q. Do you defend him?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I have no comment on it. We're here to beat Hampton, and I'll let my players, my former players, and the people in our program comment on all those things. To me, you got to be in this moment, not in somebody else's moment.
Q. Just advantages and disadvantages to reintroducing someone like Kyrie this late in the season after him not playing for as long as he has?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I can only think of advantages. I mean, first of all, he's a great kid and a terrific talent, and he's been so supportive of his teammates throughout. So, I mean, our guys welcome him back. He welcomed everybody who came to the bench after they did something throughout the year with a smile and enthusiasm, and the fact that he's back with us, he's been welcomed back with a smile and enthusiasm by everybody in our program.
You know, if we can continue to play, he'll only get better and we'll get more acclimated to it, but, you know, it's a no-brainer. If he can't play, you got to try to figure something out where he can play. He's that good of a talent and that good of a kid. So I don't see any disadvantage in that.
Q. You made the switch with Miles for Ryan before the ACC Tournament. Obviously, you guys played your best basketball post Kyrie during that stretch. Are you going to stick with the same lineup, same approach?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah. We'll start the same lineup and hopefully our bench continues to play like it has been, you know, because we got great contributions. I thought Andre Dawkins, Ryan coming off the bench was -- I thought Ryan played his best basketball of the year in those three games in Greensboro. We have developing players, you know, even though it's the NCAA Tournament, it's the end of the year, we have a lot of guys who are getting better and will get better and we have to keep working on that and so keep the same scenario in that regard.
Q. Mike, the first couple of times that you and Carolina were in the same regional site together, there was, I don't know, animosity or maybe not such great feelings. That seems to have changed. What is different now just having done it before and --
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I don't pay any attention to that. When I walk out on to a court, I don't pay any attention to a crowd. The fact that they're here, we don't play them, so it has no basis of anything we're doing. Just like any other comments that you want me to make on anything else, I can -- I'm completely focused on what we do.
Q. You seemed to welcome it, your comments --
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I'm fine with -- we won't win or lose by who is in the stands. We win and lose by what we do on the court. If you get distracted by anything -- anything else, bracketology, documentaries, who is playing where or whatever, I think that's -- it's not professional, first of all, for me to do that, you know. I need to be the guy who makes sure that we keep our eyes on the road and this is the drive we're taking and, you know, we did that well last year and we're going the try and do it well this year.
Q. Getting back to Sunday's game and I asked the players about it, you always play good defense, but it seemed like Sunday you kicked it up a notch, and Nolan said that he had been mentioned before the game that, you know, that he had to set the pace on that. Was it something that was said because, you know, a great defensive team seemed to get even greater?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: We got better because we put better pressure on the ball. I don't think we -- I think we've put okay pressure on the ball all year long, but in Greensboro we put great pressure on the ball and it started with Nolan. That's why I said after the tournament that the single biggest reason we won was his defense. And with Kyrie coming back and we still have Tyler, you know, that means we don't have to wear somebody out with one guy only pressuring the ball. And so we just got better, and I think -- I think the fact that Nolan had a really good defensive game against Delaney carried him over to the championship game. Remember, if you get in a championship game, no matter how much you try to motivate a team, the level of the game and the importance of the game has a way of making a really good player better. And so it's not -- I think just the fact that we're playing for an ACC Championship made him better, you know. He did it even better which, you know, you're lucky to have players like that.
Q. Coach, I know you always pride the teams you have on defense and there are certain constants, but specifically with this team to make another deep run, what are one or two things you can point to that this team would really need to do well to have a great March?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: You need to stay healthy. That's the very first thing. Fresh, both mentally, emotionally stay fresh. It's got to be exciting for you, and then you have to continue to have the attitude of trying to improve, not stay the same.
I think if you have those things, then you have just a better chance to win and, you know, that's what we're trying -- that's what we tried to do this week in preparation for this game and hopefully a game on Sunday. The other thing is not to look past to what you're doing or look to your left -- your left, my right, the left and right about other things. You know, it's so easy to get distracted during this time of the year because there's so many people use this time of the year to tell their story, to do their thing, to use the platform of the NCAA Tournament to promote something other than what you want to promote, and you can't fall prey to that type of thing. You have to stay focused and do the thing you're doing, and so eliminating distractions is huge.
Q. I touched on this just now. The Hampton coach said he was going to show the game where Hampton beat Iowa State, Miracle and Rudy, and try to motivate them. What's -- what does the number one seed do? What's your version of that?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: We play every game the same, you know. We prepare, we prepare for Hampton just like we prepared for North Carolina or Virginia Tech or Maryland and, you know, I would expect a team to be motivated. A lot of times we don't -- the team we see on tape is not the team we play against. I've had 25 years of that. We usually get people's best shots. And so I would expect that, and we're able to give somebody else our best shot if we're consistent at giving a best shot. If we only give a best shot once in a while, what while are we in? Are we in that one or this one?
And so to get consistently excellent, you have to -- we've been consistently excellent over the years. You got to approach it that way, and that's how we're approaching it. We're approaching it as this is a championship game for us. It's pretty high, you know, pretty high. It shows a great deal of respect for them as we should. We should show a great deal of respect for any opponent we have the privilege to compete against.
Q. Just a thought or two about Hampton and what you've seen from them so far?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: They're obviously well-coached and they're a veteran team. Those two kids on the wing -- Morgan can really shoot the ball. He shoots a little bit like Michael Redd. He has had similar results. He's had 30 plus 30-point games a number of. Pellum is a kid who can be a really good player in our league, and those two youngsters really account for 60 percent of their offense. But they're deep. They play good defense and they seem to have a pride of playing together and for their school.
You know, they will play a very proud team tomorrow afternoon.
Q. Quick question about Seth. With him on this stage, do you have to -- you or your coaching staff have to make a conscious effort, you don't need to be your brother, you don't need to be your dad, you just need to be Seth Curry?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: No.
Q. What do you make of how he'll handle this stage?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: He'll be fine, you know. Seth is a really good player. It's not like, you know, a youngster going back home, like for the first time, you know. He's played in big games and he's been -- I think he's been -- he's been the kid that's improved the most for us throughout the year. He's a solid, good player right now, and, you know, he had to completely change the role he was in after Kyrie's injury and, you know, he's done that.
He's had one bad game in the last couple of months, and that was at Virginia Tech and he responded pretty well to that after that.
Q. You said that you're going to incorporate Kyrie into what you guys have been doing, which is a different approach, different style than before the injury. How much of a challenge is that for him to adapt to the different sets and so forth?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I don't think he'll look at anything as being a challenge. I think he'll look at all of this as being an opportunity. It's not just bringing his talent. He should have an enthusiastic approach, an excitement to being able to play again, you know. We never thought that this could happen, you know, and the fact that it is happening, we need to take advantage of it and go from -- just go from there. He's a really smart player. The game -- the game comes easier to great players than other players, and this kid will be a great player. He won't be a great player tomorrow, but he's got a great talent and he's got great character. He's a very special guy.
Q. Coach, what kind of feelings did you personally feel when you found out last night that he was going to go today?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, it's been a buildup, you know, so it's not like -- we wanted to make sure of everything. I just thought -- my feeling was the next step, you know, because the next step, if I was -- if I wasn't sure that he could play, then I wouldn't play him and I wouldn't tell his family that he could play. And so it was more the next step, you know.
Earlier in the week when, you know -- based on actually some of the workouts he had in Greensboro, we were able to first acclimate him to a crowd, you know, and shooting before the game and stuff like that. It's been a process. So it's not anything that's sudden. Anywhere along the process we felt uncomfortable in doing it, then we wouldn't have made the decision collectively that's been made.
Q. In terms of that process, was there a point in his recovery where you sort of went from thinking we never thought this would happen to all right, well, maybe there is a chance of this? Was there anything in there where your mindset kind of changed then?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: One thing I've tried to do is not think about it very much. Again, it's the right or the left, let's stay on the road. But this weekend in Greensboro, our training staff with Jose Fonseca and Nick Potter, and then Kyrie they just felt like he's really moved along well and after every one of the workouts, you take a fluoroscope of the foot and the toe and make sure, you know, everything is on target. But after Greensboro, you know, Kyrie said, I feel very good, I feel good enough to try to do something in practice and so did our medical people and then we had like -- we didn't have a practice on Monday. We just had a meeting and the kids lifted, but some of the kids then played like a pickup, a simulated pickup game and some of the coaches and managers. So he played in that. And he didn't have to play defense because the people he was guarding. I know that will not set well with my staff, but -- and he felt good about that and then okay, let's take the next step in going to a practice, and he's had two really good practices. He didn't practice the whole time, but most of the time, and so it's ready to go.
They've really done a great job in his rehabilitation, lot of water work so his -- the mechanics of running and being in the stands and all that have been stimulated for not just the last week but for over a month in what you're doing in water. It's really been kind of remarkable to me that, you know, this has happened, and hopefully it will have the positive impact on our team that we think it will.
THE MODERATOR: Take two more questions.
Q. Mike, will he be back primarily at the one or will he be playing some off-ball stuff?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: We're not going to play him inside. So he'll have the ball, and we don't have one or two or three, you know, whoever has a chance to bring it up. When he and Nolan play together, you know, it didn't matter who brought the ball up. But defensively he would be on the ball, defensively he would be on the ball.
THE MODERATOR: Last question. Anybody?
Q. I was wondering if could you talk about how you try to use Duke basketball to further the University of Michigan, whether it's the trip to China you're taking, I know you try to promote the medical staff that you got over there at the school. Can you tell me how important it is to have an integrated thing with the basketball team to you?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I don't think it's anything so much that we do as much as the school does. I think, you know, the university -- a university should always recognize that athletics is a strong part of the overall mission of the university and how do you incorporate not just basketball but intercollegiate athletics into that mission, whether it be a teaching mission, you know, and getting lessons across with different, you know, different departments, whether it be doing something with the medical school or, you know, the children's hospital. In other words, it's a resource. But it also is an extension of the university in that -- I come from a school, the United States Military Academy, where we believe that every cadet was an athlete and whether it be on the intramural level, club level, or varsity level. And because being a part of athletics gives you an opportunity to test -- to put theory into practice. On a campus you have a lot of theory, which is great, but when you incorporate it at the same time that they're learning theory with action, learning trust, team work, reliability, failure, success, star, you're a star, you're a role player, you're part of a team, when you're smart enough as the university to incorporate all that together, then I think it helps you become a greater university, and I think Duke has done that, and I've been happy to be on the Duke team, you know, to be a part of that team, and I think our university -- I'm glad I'm there for 31 years because they've done that for 31 years with me and it's been a good team to be on. Let's put it that way.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Thank you.
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