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March 20, 2011
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
Duke Â– 73
Michigan - 71
THE MODERATOR: We're about to start with Duke with Nolan Smith and Ryan Kelly.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: It was a game, the type of game we anticipated. You know, in the last couple of months of this season, Michigan has really played like a Top Ten team in the country. You know, they've only lost to Ohio State twice, and then they lost on a bank shot from 30 feet by one point against Wisconsin, and they've just been playing winning basketball.
And playing in the Big Ten and playing that type of schedule, you know, we knew that they would be ready to play us. When I say "unconventional," I don't mean to take away, rather to add to John's -- John's status that I think he has as a coach. But -- it's an unconventional team that is coached brilliantly because you hardly ever play a team that has four shooters -- I mean 3-point shooters and sometimes five 3-point shooters out on the court at the same time.
And then defensively, you know, with the zone, the 1-3-1, it's a tough defense and especially when you don't see one and you don't have time, as much time to prepare because you're preparing so much defensively for them, and when one of the kids out on top has had three practices, you know.
But their kids played great. You know, you talk about -- our kids played great. It was a game that wasn't lost, it was won, and I didn't think we made mistakes down the stretch, you know, couple times we didn't play well defensively in transition, but it's not like we turned the ball over or threw it away or stuff like that.
They just played great, and then we were able to make a couple plays, one offensively and one defensively to win. And I'm proud of our guys. I thought our bench was fantastic. You know, Ryan -- I'll share something with you. Early in the game because of how we're matching up and I didn't know if we could play two big guys, and I turned to Wojo and I said, "How am I getting Ryan in this game?"
Then at the end of the game I'm saying how did we take him out of the game, you know? Not that he shouldn't have been playing, but you're trying to figure that out, and all of a sudden 23 minutes and 11 points later, and Smotrycz not scoring like he did in the first half of the second half is the result of Ryan Kelly.
Kyrie was fantastic coming off the bench, Andre Dawkins. Our bench really helped us tremendously. And then Nolan played like the Player of the Year especially in that stretch to give us a double digit margin, which obviously they knocked that.
But we won a big time game today and we told our kids it would be like playing Butler in the National Championship, going into this game. You know, very similar, tough minded, really, really good basketball team. So I'm proud of our effort and obviously ecstatic that we're moving on. Is that the longest intro that we've ever -- I know. I'm sorry.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Nolan, Coach was talking about the unconventional style that Michigan plays. In a tournament where you're playing a lot of teams that you're not familiar with it. How much does it help having played a team that forced you to make a lot of adjustments moving on?
NOLAN SMITH: I mean, it's going to be huge for us. They definitely made us adjust, but our coaching staff does a great job in preparation before any game, and, you know, having the greatest coaching staff in the world on our side, you know, our team does a great job listening and trying to adjust as fast as possible. So, you know, whatever we face going forward, we'll be ready.
Q. Nolan, you've had about four, five games this year where you've gotten that look in your eye like someone has ticked you off. You had that stretch there. Was there some part there where you were able to flip the switch? Kind of what triggered that, because you took your game to another level.
NOLAN SMITH: I think the switch that I flipped today was I don't want to take this Duke jersey off. It's as simple as that. Michigan was playing us very tough.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Keep it on. All right.
NOLAN SMITH: Michigan was playing us tough and, you know, I enjoy playing for Duke. Every game could be my last and I enjoy playing with my team teammates and trying to do whatever it takes not to lose.
Q. This is for Nolan. There was a time out early in the second half when your coach got a little excited. Could you address what that timeout was like and then how y'all's reaction was to it?
NOLAN SMITH: Are you referring to the timeout where Coach was trying to show his bounce again? I mean, Coach keeps trying to show us how athletic he is. He showed us a lot in the last couple of weeks. Just getting us going, you know. I mean, he's motivating us and we're responding, and that's all it is.
Q. I wanted to ask both of you guys, Ryan, have you played center, one big with four guards before? And Nolan, can you talk about four guards playing together and the depth of talent that you have to be able to pull that off? I know it was a reaction to Michigan's --
RYAN KELLY: I think we've done it a little bit in practice, and I've been put in that position, and the coaching staff prepared me to play any position I needed to. And, you know, defensively we needed me to play the five and I stepped up to that challenge and was willing to take it and I think my teammates around me did a good job to help me look better. But, you know, I'll play whatever position coach asks me to.
NOLAN SMITH: I mean, we have two bigs in Mason and Ryan that are very versatile. They can guard guards and they can, you know, handle the ball and make plays. So doing that in practice or we have to adjust in the middle of the game. We trust to go to a four guard lineup and have one of these guys out there defending like they did today and do a great job at it.
Q. Both you guys, did this -- Coach mentioned preparing you guys like the Butler game, the National Championship game. Did this feel more like a Regional Final or a Regional game than it did maybe a first weekend game, just how competitive it was?
RYAN KELLY: Yeah, we knew going into the game they were going to play really hard. Once you get into the tournament time, people don't want to lose. And, you know, we didn't want to lose and they didn't want to lose, and both teams played that way the entire game and they laid it on the line. We laid it on the line. And like Coach said, nobody lost this game. Fortunately, we came out with a win, but everybody played their hardest.
NOLAN SMITH: Michigan did a great job today. They made it like a Championship game and in reality it is, it's one and done. And they brought it to us and we responded and just two teams fighting hard and, you know, one team had to win.
Q. Nolan, what's going through your head at the end of the game when you're on the foul line with your team needing those two shots?
NOLAN SMITH: Just step up and make the free throws. You know, I made the first first and the first first is always the hardest one. Missed the second one, but I think at the time, one was good enough to seal the game, but just step up for my team and it -- and be the leader that I am.
Q. Nolan or Ryan, what's going through your head when that last shot is going through the air and he has such a clean look at it like that?
RYAN KELLY: Well, you know, he had been playing very well and Morris had been, and he got a pretty good clean look at it. I tried to step up and make him -- little bit of a distraction in front of him. And, you know, at that point in the game, you just -- you're ready for anything.
The way they had been playing towards the end of the game so hard and we've been playing with an edge as well, and, you know, whatever happened -- I guess I was thinking well, at least we're not going to lose right here. We can still win in overtime. You know, fortunately it rimmed off, fortunately for us. We made the stop that counted there at the end. Whether or not he got a clean look at it, we made the stop that matter.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I think, too, on that shot, a clean look would have been if we let him go to the basket. He played a great game. That kid is one of the best guards in the country. He reminds me of Andre Miller, you know, and how he plays, because he can run the point from out on top and he can run the point from inside. But his baskets were on extended dribbles. And just to make sure that our transition defense didn't give up the layup, it wasn't the shot that he has been hitting. But again, he played a great game. That kid, he's very, very good. I mean, he's very good.
THE MODERATOR: Four more questions.
Q. Nolan, could you talk about defending your backyard, so to speak, and also the challenges you'll have in the West Region looking ahead?
NOLAN SMITH: To win in North Carolina it's always fun to play in our home state, always have a great turnout of fans here. And, you know, to come away with two wins is exciting. Now going West, I hope we have a lot of fans out there on the West Coast. I don't know. We always have great fan support wherever we go. We're excited to get out there.
Q. This question is for Ryan. You know, when you came in at the beginning and shot the 3-point shot very well and you were brought in and had to guard people considerably smaller than you are, did that work to an advantage for you?
RYAN KELLY: You know, I think it did. Because of my size, I could do -- and my length, I could get in the way of shots and do different things that a smaller guy couldn't do. And, you know, I took it as a challenge to go into the way the way Smotrycz had been scoring the basketball in the first half.
Towards the end of the second half, I really wanted to stop that and I just took that as a challenge, personal challenge, and I think I did a pretty decent job. We played really good team defense. There's the bottom line. Lot of switching happening, especially when we had those four guards and one big, we had to do a lot of S switching which was a little bit different than we had been playing, but that was just on account of the team we were playing and the number of players they could put on the floor to shoot the ball.
THE MODERATOR: Last question.
Q. Nolan, how much this week, since Kyrie has been back, have you guys worked that unit in the delay game that you had on the court today, and how much did that kind of maybe change the dynamic of how you ran it?
NOLAN SMITH: We hadn't had that much time at all. He's only factored two, three times leading into this weekend. Now we head back to practice and hopefully get a little bit more time.
THE MODERATOR: Okay, guys. Thanks. Congratulations. Good luck to you. Questions for Coach.
Q. Coach, the timeout you called about three minutes into the second half, what issues were you trying to address?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Just, you know, I just thought we needed more energy. I didn't like the way we started out the half. Just more energy. It was an energy time out: Not X and O time out.
Q. I wanted to ask you about the four guard set-up again. The fact that you have four guards of that quality now that Kyrie is back and you almost put in Tyler would have been a fifth, can you talk about the depth you have in the backcourt now and what you're getting from these guys?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, you know, we have confidence in all of them. Obviously minutes are going to be -- you can't have equal minutes, but -- for Michigan thank goodness we had them because we did a good job -- they did a really good job against us, but they would have done a better job against us if we were -- if we're real big. They can slice you up.
I think a lot has to be said about Kyrie, that he's had two and a half practices and he's played in these two games and, you know, we weren't in the delay at the end, by the way. They were just in their 1-3-1 zone. So you're trying to figure out -- you couldn't -- tough run against that. We've hardly ever see that.
But we would have attacked it early if we got a good shot but for him to be future. For him to be put in that position and make that floater with as soft as it can be, you know, that's a heck of a thing for that kid. I mean, he's nine for ten from the foul line, you know. We wouldn't be going forward if he didn't play today, you know, and that doesn't take away from Ryan or anyone else, but you take one of those kids out of the equation and, you know, Michigan is going forward because they played winning basketball.
Q. Coach, kind of the same question I asked the players, just talk a little bit about the challenges you have now that you're heading out to the West Regional.
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, we're going to play -- our region is very difficult as evident by today's game, and, you know, we'll either play Arizona or Texas. I think they start pretty soon, and either one will be a formidable opponent. You have Arizona who finished in first place in the Pac 10, you know, and you have Texas who a month ago a lot of people said was the number one team in the country.
It's a very strong field, and so we're going to have to play a great game on Thursday. I guess it's Thursday night, right? Thursday night in order to advance. I'm proud of our guys getting to the Sweet 16, moving forward and having an opportunity to play a big game like that.
Q. Coach, can you talk a little bit more about your thinking in trying to attack the 1-3-1 zone, what were you coaching your kids to do and what --
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, we wanted shooters out there and we had some open looks and then just -- if they missed the three 3s that they got in row in first half, we would have been off to a big lead but they didn't. That's good I don't think missing a shot is doing something bad. Like we had some good looks and we missed.
Also, you're taking them against a defense that you don't see very often. And then Kyrie penetrated, which you can along that side gap, and he made a great shot, that was a big time shot, after they hit a big 3. When they cut it -- you hit a 3 when you're down by four in this type of game, the game pressure on your team is immense. There's no -- I don't know if there's any word for it. You can't practice it. But it's immense in this Tournament when that happens.
For our kids to respond like that, that says a lot for our group because again, we didn't fold, we responded, and they didn't fold. They kept that pressure on us. It's a big win for us. It was a really big win for us.
Q. Mike, John said that he thought one of the greater challenges in playing against Duke is y'all's nack for drawing fouls and how there's going to be a cumulative effective on the people on the bench. Kyrie getting to the line ten times in a game, can you talk a little bit how much that changes a game?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, they're not a fast penetrating team. They're a 3-point shooting team and Morris is a back-down guy. So Kyrie is a heck of a penetrator. That's why he's going to be -- if he plays the whole year, he might be the best player in college basketball. The kid is that good, Rick. He's that good. So he has a knack for doing that you know, God given, and we try not to hold back what God gave him, you know. We try to put him in positions where he can use his talents. And even against the zone, he got that one charge that could have been -- was close to being an and one. I'm just pleased that he has the confidence in his conditioning. He certainly has the confidence in his foot.
It's more ever a confidence in his conditioning to be instinctive like that. I think a real big reason why we won today is that he got 20 minutes in Hampton. Remember, he played well in the -- we kept him in the ballgame there at the end and he hit a couple 3s. You got to get back on stage. I don't care how much you practice, you got to get back on stage and then do your dancing and singing or whatever you're doing, you know, in front of people, you know, and that was critical for us, the Hampton game.
Q. Last Sunday and early in the week you talked about how the team improved a lot in the ACC Tournament and the importance to continue to improve throughout the Tournament. How much better did you guys get this weekend?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: We're in a period of adjusting to Kyrie coming back, so we got better as the week went along. We played really hard and well against Hampton. I know we're better than they are, but we were sharp against them and we played a really good team today and were able to win, you know, and I thought played well against them.
Now we have quick turnaround because we're going to have to fly across country and play Thursday night. We'll still have a couple practices before then to adjust a little bit more.
Q. Coach, couple of things. First of all, what does 900 wins mean to you? And then can you talk about traveling out to the West Coast for a Regional. It's been awhile since you've done that, how you treat that in the short turnaround because of rest and stuff?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: The 900 it means we're advancing. That's the main thing. It's been a good thing in total number of wins to be in the NCAA Tournament and all that because then that's not the story. So that's the best thing. You know, that's the best thing.
When I just took a moment after the game with my wife, Mickie, and my Athletic Director, Kevin White, and Mike Cragg, our Associate Athletic Director, they just said take a moment and how do you feel?
I said, "I feel like it's amazing that a coach and his point guard can be the first two coaches in the history of our game to win 900 and that it says something about the guy who has 902 and it also says something about the United States Military Academy." Whatever it does say, I don't know that's up to you to figure out, but it says something because that just doesn't happen. It just doesn't happen.
Guys -- there will be a lot of guys who will win 900 games eventually but to be the first two and it be the coach and his player to do it, is such a unique -- something very unique and that's the type of relationship and friendship I've had with Coach Knight. I'm glad I can share a moment, that moment with him. I've shared very really good ones with him.
As far as going forward, we're going the try to figure that out, consistent, you know, just what would be good, do we leave Tuesday after practice? I think we're going to have to do something like that where you maybe get two workouts in here but get there in time Tuesday night so you have a night of adjusting to time. A time adjustment will be a key thing.
It's unusual to play in the middle of the afternoon. Usually we're playing at 10:10 -- 3:00 is kind of an unusual time. How do you feed them? When do you get them up, stuff like that. We kind of try to figure that out. We'll try to do it for this. We're happy to be going. Let me put it that way.
THE MODERATOR: One last question.
Q. Mike, in terms of basketball preparation for the coming days now, you just kind of winged it this weekend in a sense?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Little bit.
Q. You still have to chase your team a little bit now in the coming days. Do you have any idea what you're going to do?
COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: We now know that Kyrie with play and he can play extended minutes, which we didn't know coming in. We knew he could play. We didn't know how rusty he would be. Played pretty well and he kept getting better, hit the big shot, and we know that he wants to be there with pressure. That's a big thing going forward.
Now, how do we integrate that with what we already have? Whoever we play will be big, so our big guys were out of the game a little bit today. We have to get them back where hey, we're not going past this next game without you guys. But we know more. We know more. And it's a little bit unusual in the NCAA Tournament to be going -- it's a good problem to have when you're trying to figure out how to integrate Kyrie Irving into what you're doing. Hopefully, we'll have a couple more, few more chances to do that. All right. Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports