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March 23, 2013

Ryan Kelly

Mike Krzyzewski

Mason Plumlee


Q.  Did you guys kind of feel like you're back where you belong and on track to where you want to go to after everything you guys went through last year?  Is this kind of more the norm for Duke now?
MASON PLUMLEE:  Yeah, we planned on playing in this game, and I thought we had a good win.  Albany played very well, but survive and advance, and that's what we did in the first round.
RYAN KELLY:  Yeah, we're excited for where we're at.  We're taking it one game at a time.  Tomorrow is all that matters.  We have to win.

Q.  What do you guys know about Doug McDermott and how difficult is he to defend and to guard up against?
RYAN KELLY:  Well, I mean, clearly he's one of the best scorers in the country if not the best, does it inside and out, can shoot the ball, good post moves, and he's constantly in motion.  They set a lot of screens for him to get his shots and get in the positions he likes.  So we're just going to have to battle him.  It's going to be five players on the court that are going to have to defend him, and we'll be ready.

Q.  Ryan, can you describe Doug McDermott as a roommate?  You guys roomed together at the Amar'e camp?
RYAN KELLY:  Yeah, good guy.  None of that matters when we get on the court.  We'll be friends when we're off the court.

Q.  Obviously understanding what you went through last year, losing to Lehigh, but is there any part of you that wishes you were in a situation where you could experience what a 15 over a 2 feels like for those kids at such a small school where the margin of error is so narrow?
MASON PLUMLEE:  Well, I think we experience that later in the tournament.  Like if you're trying to draw parallels to us, that would be winning in a Final Four or winning in a national championship.  It's not like because we're at Duke we aren't allowed to experience that feeling.  It just comes with higher stakes.
RYAN KELLY:  I can't say it much better than that.  I mean, I'm pretty happy with where I'm at.

Q.  When you see top seeded teams get knocked off like that, does that‑‑ when you're in a tournament situation like this, does that get you to focus really hard on your next game knowing that there's always that possibility that that could happen to you?
MASON PLUMLEE:  Absolutely.  It doesn't take watching another team lose to give us that sense of‑‑ that can really happen in this tournament, and obviously we know that.  You have to come each game‑‑ each game is a big game.  You can't really have a bad game in this tournament and advance.

Q.  You both have been through the tournament your entire careers.  Have you seen the level of competition and a leveling of the playing field change?  Have you seen the lower seeds and the unknown programs get closer to programs like yours from the time you came into school until now?
RYAN KELLY:  I mean, I think everybody has kind of seen that happen, with players leaving early, there aren't as many senior players, especially at the high major programs.  And there are a lot of great coaches out there right now at all levels.  When you get into this tournament, the level of desperation for every team is so high that anything can happen.  I think that's happened for years in the tournament.  That's what's made the tournament so special.
MASON PLUMLEE:  Yeah, I'd agree.  I'd say there has been a leveling of that.  I can only speak for the teams that we've played in the tournament.  You know, my freshman year we played California, Baylor, Purdue.  But I think when the NCAA gets these 68, 64 teams, they're all good, they all had to win to get here, and whenever you have guys‑‑ a team that's used to winning, they're going to have a chance no matter who they play because they believe they're winners.  You don't have teams that just roll over and die in the tournament.  They're going to fight until the end, and when you have teams like that, anything can happen.

Q.  The word you used, desperation, for both of you guys, did you guys feel desperation, either this year going into the tournament, going into each game, over the course of your careers, even in the position you guys are in?
RYAN KELLY:  We definitely do.  This is our senior year.  If we lose, we're done playing basketball for Duke.  We don't want to accept that.  We can't afford to lose.
MASON PLUMLEE:  I think Ryan said it very well.

Q.  Mason, are you or some of the other veterans the kind of guys that would use‑‑ I don't know, championship ring, whatever, show it to the younger guys, say this is what you're playing for, this is what you get?
MASON PLUMLEE:  Coach is actually, if you look, he's wearing his ring right now.  Mine is back home somewhere.  I haven't pulled it out since we won it.
But I think everybody has a‑‑ being at Duke, you walk through our Hall of Fame, just walk on our court and see the banners, like you know what's at stake and what there is to be gained by winning this tournament.  I think the young guys have a pretty good understanding of what it means.

Q.  This isn't necessarily about tomorrow, but it's about 21 years ago.  Across the parking lot, the building over there is where‑‑ it's not there anymore.  When you think back on that play and all it meant to the program and it's such an iconic play, one of the greatest plays, what did that mean to the program, what did it mean to you guys, and also, how much time do you spend like on end‑game situations in a typical week of practice, like buzzer beating situations that you might be faced with?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  Well, we don't spend that much time on them.  We actually did spend some time on that play, and it didn't work.  In late February when we lost one of our games that year, we lost two, I think, that year, and we lost to Wake Forest at Wake.  We weren't ready to play, and then grant threw the ball, and instead of hitting the top of the key, it curved and almost hit the scorer's table.  I mean, it was that bad.
But he certainly threw it right that afternoon.
You know, we've been lucky to be in great moments.  I think the tournament is a tournament of moments, and I believe as we‑‑ it's kind of like the Masters in golf, where you remember what happened on the 16th hole in 1964.  I don't know golf that much, so don't quote me on it, and I think moments should always be celebrated in the current tournament that you're playing, because the current tournament you're playing brings forward all the past tournaments.
And that's why I would hope CBS and Turner continue to look for ways of making that as good as possible and not just analyzing a game based on its performance but its relevance in that moment.  And the fact, how hard and how desperate these teams are, which then create moments.
You know, moments are created when you feel in sport you're in a life or death situation.  They have to mean something.  And so all these games mean something.  They're not just ordinary games.  And so if someone can come and do something great in that moment, everybody in a sports world identifies with it and they remember it.
So Christian's shot will be remembered forever.
We've been fortunate that we've had a few of those, and probably because we've had some really good players who can produce in those moments.

Q.  In that same spirit, yesterday obviously there was a big moment here with Florida Gulf Coast, and they're not in your region or anything like that, but how important is that to elevating the tournament, and also, does it say anything because it's happened now three times in two years about the changing nature of college basketball?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  Well, we played against Florida Gulf Coast early in the year, and Andy and his team‑‑ we had like one run during the game that broke it open.  But they're very talented.  He's an outstanding coach.
You know, it's tough on John to lose a game like that, but in our coaching profession, we're not surprised that those things happen, and especially today.  The 14, 15, even 16 seeds now are better.  The 15 seeds are definitely better because they used to be 13 and 14s.  You know, but I mean, in the last few years, when you go to 68, it's different.  It's different.  You know, and if a team has an opportunity to play a game, like the play‑in game and then play, they have a better chance of winning than a team that didn't play.
Gulf Coast didn't have to do that.  But the tournament has changed in the last few years.  You're going to see a 16 beat a 1.  There's no question about that.  If you get a group of kids that have won 26 games, have won 13 in a row, just won their conference, they're winners.  They haven't been accustomed to losing on the court.
And why not for 40 minutes against anybody, especially if you're playing teams that just don't have the dominance that‑‑ like it would be tough for my '92 team to lose to a 16 seed, but my 2013 team could lose to a 16 seed, easy, even if we were a No.1 seed, which we were close to being a No.1 seed.  There's a big difference between the top and the bottom.  They've drawn closer, and then the tournament has changed.

Q.  After the game against FGCU, you said they're a good team and they're a team to be reckoned with.  Were you surprised at all yesterday that they not only won but kind of dominated the game?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  You know, I didn't watch the game, so it's tough for me to comment on it.

Q.  It's been a bit of a winding road for Rasheed Sulaimon.  What have you seen from him as the season has progressed?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  Are you a Beetles fan?

Q.  A little bit.  And a lot of folks are looking at him as kind of an X factor for you guys in the tournament, as well.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  Well, he's a freshman.  Thank goodness he‑‑ I mean, the winds of positive play have been a lot more than any not‑so‑good play.  I mean, he's had a great year.  He's had a great year.  I thought he played really well yesterday and defended really well, and then it was a game where he wasn't going to get as many shots because Seth and Mason were getting so many.
But he has an important assignment tomorrow.  He has Gibbs.  And Gibbs is their best playmaker.  Even though he's their 3 man or whatever they call Gibbs, he's their leading assist guy, and I think he's a fifth year senior because he's a transfer.  So Rasheed is going to cover an old, older, really smart, savvy basketball player tomorrow, and how he defends him will have a big bearing on the game.
So as far as‑‑ a lot of people think of X factors being offense, and I think tomorrow his biggest thing is how he plays defense on Gibbs.

Q.  Just to follow up on that, Andy, Florida Gulf Coast question, in terms of recruiting, Florida Gulf Coast isn't bringing in McDonald's All‑Americans and Bob Hurley kids and Oak Hill kids.  None of those kids have a lot of major offers.  What does it say about Andy's ability to recruit and develop talent, and also, when you're at a school like that, to bring in players that can beat a Georgetown without getting all these elite kids, what does that say about the talent that's out there?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  Well, I just think the other thing, it would be different if these guys were 24, 25 years old.  You're dealing with 18 to 23 year old kids, who even the really good ones have not yet fully developed into being the outstanding players they will be.  Kids mature in different ways.  You might have a kid who's really good at 19 and compare him to another guy, and that guy is not ready.  But at 21, he's his equal.
And so I just think you keep trying to find kids who are hungry.  He has good athletes.  When we played them, it looked like they had great chemistry, and they believed in him.  So if they're coachable, good athletes, and identify with the common goal, you've got a chance.
These things are not surprising to coaches.  You know, I mean, Albany played great against us, and you go 9 for 15 from three, that puts a lot of pressure on you.  I don't know what Florida Gulf Coast did yesterday, but they probably had to break their press well and they probably had to show a lot of poise and courage, and for their day in the sun, obviously they did that.

Q.  There's been a lot of talk this season about what's wrong with the game, a lot of low scoring games.  Does a good tournament alleviate that concern and those questions do you think?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  Well, I think the whole season has been a really good year.  I don't know who's been making those comments, probably somebody that doesn't know the game very well, and hopefully that's not you because you know it fairly well.  I think this has been the most exciting regular season we've had for a long time, and I think it's been promoted that way and then it's been played that way.
I think ESPN especially has done an amazing job of creating the journey to the turn I, the different weeks, having‑‑ even though it gets old‑‑ I'm not saying Lunardi is getting old, but you see it every day.  But it creates interest.  It creates talk.  And I think last been more talk about the regular season, and with the number of teams that have been No.1 and the teams playing really well and then getting knocked off, it's been a terrific regular season.
I think it's just flowed right into the tournament, and the tournament has kind of been how the regular season has been.  This has been a terrific year for college basketball.

Q.  Tomorrow from a match‑up standpoint, are their big men equipped to give you problems tomorrow because of the two dynamics they present, the power and then the finesse?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  Well, if you add the third one, they had three big guys, and they're all three different players.  And when two of them are in, their two starters, they create a little bit different dynamic.  And when they come off the bench and McDermott and Wragge are in, boy, it's a whole different dynamic.  I mean, you have a 4‑5 who only shoots threes.
McDermott is such a beautiful player.  He's really one of the best offensive players I've seen in the last decade in college basketball, because he's a counter puncher.  They run stuff for him, and if it's not there, he sees if it's not there, and he goes right to his counter punch.  He has another read.
And many of his shots are made before he gets the ball.  You know, so that's a beautiful part of basketball, through offensive movement.  If you just put one of those highlighters on him and watched him the entire time, he's so difficult to defend because you don't know exactly what he's going to do, and he's making his shot before he gets the ball.
Now, he can make it after he gets the ball, too, but so many of it as he gets it and he does something with it.  Just a tremendous basketball player, and his dad and his staff have done a great job of giving him that freedom and the movements that they have.  They're the most efficient offensive team in the country, and after studying them last night and again this morning, they're very difficult to defend.

Q.  When you see or hear a result like Florida Gulf Coast last night, even in your position, do you allow‑‑ is there even a small part of your mind that says, I wonder what that would ever feel like to be‑‑
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  No, I know how it feels like.

Q.  Well, to be the 15 that beats the 2.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  No, I coached at Army, I won big names, the ECAC Tournament, remember?  No, absolutely.  I mean, I know exactly how they feel.  I think it's helped me, and now that I've had really outstanding teams for a long time, to always relate back.  I mean, I was poor, too, so everyone thinks of us being rich.  We were 38‑47 my first three years.  I inherited an Army program that was 7‑44.
I mean, I relate to those things.  It's a tremendous, tremendous feeling for those kids and the staff to have that type of an accomplishment, no question about it.

Q.  In playing Florida Gulf Coast tomorrow‑‑
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  No, I'm not playing them.

Q.  No, but San Diego State will be, and they are assuming the role‑‑
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  You guys are asking so much about them.  We're playing Creighton, and they're damned good, and I'm worried like crazy about them, guarding McDermott and Echenique and Gibbs and all these kids.  Again, I'm happy to be a publicist for Andy and Florida Gulf Coast program, but I don't want it to show‑‑ like just‑‑ as this is being‑‑ as you're reporting this, remember, you ask the questions, because somebody is going to write, well, he didn't give any respect to Creighton.
Believe me, I've done this a long time.  That's the very first thing that's going to happen.  Somebody is going to say, well, he didn't even talk about McDermott.  He must think McDermott stinks, and he goes for 50 against us tomorrow, and I'm shaking hands with him, we get beat, and they say, show us some respect next time, and I say, I did, I did, I promise you I did that.
All right.  In a headline, note that.

Q.  San Diego State is going to be assuming the role of villain I think across the country because everyone is rooting for Cinderella‑‑
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  I like Steve Fisher, too, so just‑‑

Q.  Again noted.  Two things in the headline.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  I like both of them.  I'm rooting for both of you.

Q.  What advice would you give a team‑‑ Duke is accustomed to having‑‑

Q.  A lot of people root against them‑‑
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  Oh, yeah.  Do you realize I think that's a misconception that's out there with the press.  If you would look at like Facebook and stuff like that, you would see in counties across the country, before this tournament people were asked who do you like and whatever, and we have more counties than anybody.

Q.  I think it's probably one of those things like the Yankees where‑‑
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  It's how it's written about.  I don't know how the Yankees are.  I don't coach the Yankees.  We're not the Yankees.  Curry doesn't come back every year.  We still don't have Redick.  Laettner left a long time ago.  If he was Mariano Rivera we'd still have Laettner.  It's not the same.  We have a different Duke team every time.
Did I make you forget your question?

Q.  No.  Any advice to pass on to a team that suddenly has probably 99 percent of the country rooting against them?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  No, I think that's a‑‑ Mason said a really good thing to our team this week, and that is it's the five guys against the five guys on the court, whether we have a crowd with us or against us or whatever, you do that.
And sometimes when you have everybody rooting for you, it puts pressure on you, you know, and so there are a lot of story lines in the tournament and how you handle success, how you handle the team that you didn't expect to play and all those things and how the psychological aspects of how you do that really determine how far you go in the tournament.

Q.  Is it fair to‑‑ one of the things that John Thompson III said yesterday was such things as mid major and things, because of the talent landscape, because of AAU basketball and things like that, that there's kind of a level playing field between your guys, Florida Gulf Coast and other mid major programs across the country?  Do you find that to be the case in terms of recruiting and all that?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  Well, I think when we say mid major or BCS, it's just a matter of figuring out what football conference those teams are in.  You know, in basketball, we as basketball coaches, don't look at any conference as a mid major because we have 300 and about 50 schools that are all Division I.  In football you have your power conferences and you have about 110, 108 teams.  But those things carry over from sport to sport.
But basketball coaches, we look at who the team is, who they have, not what conference they come from.  And I think basketball coaches have done that for a long time.  Again, not knocking you or the reporters, but when you go from sport to sport, we live our sport 365 days out of the year; you live our sport for a certain period of time, then you live something else.  So how we look at things and how it is reported isn't always the way that it is.  And so you get caught up in that.
But we don't‑‑ I'm sure when John was preparing for Florida Gulf Coast, he wasn't saying, well, this‑‑ they're from a bad conference and we should win or whatever.  They were saying, this kid is good, this kid could start for us, this kid can play.  We're playing Albany, we're playing against a fifth year really good shooter in Iati and an outstanding, maybe the Player of the Year in their conference in Black.  Those kids are really good.
So I think basketball people respect basketball people.  I know we do.

Q.  Are you wearing your 2010 title ring, championship ring?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  This is my West Point ring, and this is one from one of our national championships.  I wear my West Point ring with the Duke stone all the time and my wedding ring.  I never take them off because my West Point ring and Duke to me is the best ring ever because those are the two institutions I've represented and they're two of the greats in the world, and then the wedding ring, we've been together almost 44 years.  So commitment‑‑ I mean, they just tell good things to me on a day‑to‑day basis.  If I don't wear another ring or whatever, it doesn't mean anything.  But these are the ones that mean something.

Q.  I was wondering if coaches or players use the rings or other mementos as motivation to guys.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  No, we're just trying to figure out how to defend Florida Gulf Coast‑‑ I mean, Creighton.  (Laughter).
I don't even know who starts for Florida Gulf Coast anymore.  It's Echenique, Gibbs, Chatman, those kids.  And by the way, that kid McDermott is not bad.  Watch him tomorrow.  If you get to watch him on YouTube or whatever, he really knows how to play.  He can really play, and the guy who coaches him seems to have a really close relationship with him.  It's like his father.  I mean, I wish I could develop that‑‑ they look like father and son.  I wish I could have that type of relationship with my guys.  I admire what they do.

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