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March 30, 2013
THE MODERATOR:¬† We will go to Coach Krzyzewski for an opening statement and then we'll take questions for anyone who's up here.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† We're trying to adjust to a kick turnaround.¬† We left here about 1:00 in the morning, and we're back.¬† So I'm glad we're back.¬† We would have been up all night, no matter what.¬† It's better to be up all night this way.
One good thing about last night, besides winning and playing well, is we didn't get anybody injured, and we're trying to get to know Louisville in a very piecemeal fashion.¬† So we've watched a little bit of Louisville up to now, and we're going to do more this afternoon and more tonight and more tomorrow.
When it's turned around this quickly, you have to kind of do it in stages, because they're a great team.¬† I think they're the best team and playing the best right now.
So our guys have done a good job, and we're going to have to play a great game in order to beat them.
Q.¬† Coach K, you guys played in November, and I know teams change over the months, but what is the benefit of having played Louisville this year?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† I think the fact just that you were at the same party together.¬† This is a bigger party, so you know how big they are.¬† Even though Dieng was not with them, you have great respect for them.¬† Their guards lived in our paint and they've lived in a lot of people's paints over the years.
They're better and we're better.¬† They were interrupted early, and they haven't been interrupted since then with injury.¬† We've been interrupted since then.
But the fact that we played, the fact that we won I don't think is significant.¬† The fact that we have some familiarity with them helps.
Q.¬† Mason, what does Dieng bring and what kind of things do you need to do to combat him?
MASON PLUMLEE:¬† Well, I think he does the best job in their team of protecting the rim.¬† Obviously blocking shots, but also altering shots.¬† And then offensively he gets buckets around the rim, and then he has a nice little face‑up jump shot.
So I think he gives them a different dimension, but he's not one of those guys that are 260, 270, where they can just move you on the block.
Q.¬† Coach, same question.¬† Where is Dieng on the list of priorities? ¬†How will he change this game?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† Well, he's one of the best players in the country.¬† I think it helps their defense to have a great rim protector, because they hit you with different types of defenses, and you can be even more aggressive knowing that your basket is protected.¬† I think any team in the country would love to have him.
But then offensively, he's improved.¬† He's a legitimate threat to get‑‑ he's the second leading scorer and can hit free throws, can make buckets inside and can hit from 15 feet.
His game has really expanded.¬† He's a terrific player.
Q.¬† Quinn, in the Bahamas, you kind of carried the team down the stretch.¬† You won the MVP award.¬† Is there any carryover, anything you take from that leading into the rematch, how well you played against them the first time?
QUINN COOK:¬† I'm coming to the game with confidence, just playing against two great guys in Russ Smith and Peyton Siva.¬† Our guys know we have to be at the best of our game.
In the Bahamas, it was a battle.¬† All 40 minutes.¬† Guys stepped up at the end of the game, and I was fortunate enough to hit a shot down the stretch and hit some free throws.¬† But my teammates carried us the whole game.
So we know it's going to be a battle all 40 minutes, so we just want to fight all 40.
Q.¬† For Quinn and Rasheed, what makes their guards so good at getting to the paint?¬† What can you maybe try to do a little differently to prevent that quite as much?
RASHEED SULAIMON:¬† Their guards are tenacious on defense to start off, and their defense leads to easy buckets on the offensive side.¬† And both of those guys, Peyton Siva and Russ Smith, are great at getting into the lane and creating opportunities for themselves and for the rest of their team.
And when you have two guards like that, that can create so much havoc, puts a lot of pressure on your defense, and they really are the bulk of their team, and they're two important pieces that we have to contain.
QUINN COOK:¬† Just like Rasheed said, it starts on defense.¬† Those two guys pressure the ball better than anyone in the country.¬† It starts with defense, and their defense leads to their offense.¬† And they're tenacious getting to the rim creating for others.¬† So they're two of the best.
Q.¬† Mike, this is actually the first time since the 1992 East Regional where you and Rick have teams that are going against each other in the tournament.¬† Two parts to the question.¬† One, can you just talk about your relationship with Rick, if there is one.¬† And, second of all, what memories do you have from that game?¬† I guess, obviously, Christian's shot seems to be the paramount one.¬† Is there something you think of primarily when you harken back to 1992?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† Yeah, Rick and I are real close friends.¬† I think he's one of the best.¬† One of the best ever.¬† And our relationship was good before that game.
After the game, it's grown exponentially.¬† I think when the basketball gods deem you worthy enough to put you in a great moment, sometimes you're placed in that moment as a winner, and sometimes you lose.¬† But sometimes the loser shines more than the winner.¬† I thought his‑‑ how he reacted and has reacted since made him shine.¬† And I respect that.¬† I think he‑‑ if I'm placed in that situation, I would hope that I would be able to do it at the level that he did it.
Rick's the kind of guy that he knows he's good and it's okay for someone else to be good.¬† And then if the other guy who's good wins, you shake his hand and you know you'll be good and you'll get another chance to be good.
I like that about him.¬† Tom's like that.¬† Tom Izzo's like that.¬† And they're two of the guys that I really respect a great deal in our profession.
Q.¬† Mike, what were your thoughts when you saw that Louisville would be joining the ACC and what does that mean for your league?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† Well, for all these schools that have joined, it makes us the most powerful basketball conference, I think, ever.¬† And I hope our league is able to understand the assets that we've accumulated and what it does to the assets we already have.
I think if positioned properly, it sets us apart from anybody.¬† And we shouldn't look at where football is or whatever.¬† We have the best asset as a result of Louisville, Syracuse, Pitt, Notre Dame, and the assets we have, we're joining together.¬† I mean, we better know how to make use of it.
Q.¬† Seth, how much, if any, has the condition with your legs improved over the course of the season until now?¬† And does it concern you that in quick turnarounds, where you play in a day or two, that your performance or your production in the second game has dropped off?
SETH CURRY:¬† It's felt a little bit better as the season's gone along.¬† The biggest thing is to be able to get used to when I'm at practice and just getting able‑‑ being able to get in a routine of preparing for games and things like that.¬† That's the things that's benefitted me most down the stretch of the season.
I don't think this next game off short rest is going to be any different.¬† I feel ready to go.
Q.¬† For Rasheed, Quinn, and Seth, as players, how much does it help that you have played against Louisville and you kind of have physically seen them and gone up against that pressure before?
RASHEED SULAIMON:¬† It helps a lot.¬† Like Coach said, they're a great team and they're different now.¬† But to have the familiarity that we had playing them earlier in the season is a great help.¬† We know how they are defensively, and we know one of the big keys of the game is to handle that pressure.
And it's very hard to prepare for a team like Louisville.¬† But knowing that we played them earlier in the season does help a lot.
QUINN COOK:¬† Like Rasheed said, we've experienced their defensive pressure and the guards' pressure.¬† I think they're a better team now and they're playing the best basketball in the country, especially with Dieng there.¬† We didn't see how they played with Dieng.¬† So I know our coaches are doing a great job preparing for those guys, and I think we'll be ready.
SETH CURRY:¬† You just get the up‑close look at how they attack for 40 minutes.¬† It's not only playing them, but playing other teams that pressure like them, like, say, VCU or other teams like that, just give us a better idea of what we're going to see tomorrow.
Q.¬† Coach, are Smith and Siva any‑‑ are there any similarities that they have with the Durand Scott and Shane Larkin that you faced of Miami?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† Well, you've got four really good players.¬† Scott and Larkin are two of the best also.¬† Now, the styles of play are different.¬† The Louisville team really attacks you well in transition.¬† And they play with such a verve and heart when they push the ball up the court.
There's not a better transition guard in the country‑‑ I'm trying to think of one in recent memory‑‑ as Smith.¬† He is courageous, plays with great heart.¬† I'm getting old.¬† If I need a transplant, I hope he would give me his.¬† He could give me part of it and I'd have more courage than I have right now.
But they're exciting guards.¬† And Miami doesn't play that way.¬† They're more in the half court.¬† But these two guys put incredible pressure on you.¬† The whole court, both offensively and defensively.¬† They used the whole court in putting that pressure on you, on both sides of the ball.
Q.¬† Coach K, Rick has said that in the tournament teams don't get tired because of the number of television timeouts.¬† Do you feel, though, that fatigue could be a factor against their press?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† We're concerned about our turnaround from last night more so than their press.¬† I think if you have‑‑ just because your normal clock has been screwed up.¬† In other words, you don't get to bed 'til 2:30 or 3:00 in the morning from the late game.¬† And then we had drug testing afterwards‑‑ which is a question to ask for another time, I guess, why you would do that to a team that plays the late game.¬† But I guess I shouldn't ask that question right now.
That's what I'm concerned about, is‑‑ there is enough time in the game to rest.¬† It's just how do you enter the game.¬† And so we have to make sure our guys enter the game with fresh legs, whatever we can do.
Like we can't do too much on the court today, and get them off their feet and there won't be much practice time, as much walk‑through time today.
Q.¬† Ryan, the rest of your teammates kind of spoke of their role.¬† What do you see your role being in tomorrow's game?
RYAN KELLY:¬† I think it's going to be huge for me to help handle that pressure.¬† I intend to be the guy that takes the ball out of bounds, and that's an important position to be in for ball reversal and to help bring the ball up the court.
I think both Mason and I did a pretty good job last time we played them, and throughout the season, handling that type of pressure.¬† But that will be a big part of the game, having poise from that position.
And then rebounding the basketball is going to be huge.¬† Their four‑man, all their four men, they throw multiple guys at you who really attack the boards and are athletic guys.¬† So those will be two huge parts of the game.
Q.¬† Coach K, I was wondering in what ways has Rasheed improved from that November matchup to now?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† Well, he's had a great freshman year.¬† Playing games like that in Atlantis helped him become better.¬† When you're playing Minnesota, VCU, and Louisville three consecutive days.¬† He's a veteran player now.¬† And in the last two games, has really played a complete game, both offensively and defensively.¬† His defensive rebounding the last two games has been a huge factor for us advancing.
He's our best driver.¬† So last night he was able to take the ball to the basket.¬† And he gives us another ball handler, really good ball handler.¬† So when you're trying break the press, we feel we have five ball handlers, because all five of these guys can handle the ball.
But Rasheed is an attacker when he has the ball and he can finish, whether it be with a score or with a foul.¬† So he's become an outstanding player.
Q.¬† For Ryan or Mason, can you describe how it's different, kind of the role you play against the pressure against VCU against the pressure that Louisville has defensively?
MASON PLUMLEE:¬† I think VCU is quicker to run guys to the ball.¬† Louisville brings it to you more.¬† When you take it to them, they're going to be aggressive and try to get their hands on the ball.¬† So you just have to be smart.¬† I think you have to be aware of what area of the court you're in.¬† You don't want to be thrown into corners, crossing half court in the corners.
You really have to think before you get the ball, where you want to get it.
RYAN KELLY:¬† I think another thing, you have to be very strong with the ball, have great hands, love reaching for the ball, getting steals.¬† And at any point some guy can come running at you.¬† That's part of the game.
Like I said, I think we've done a pretty good job, and we'll certainly have to play at a high level and do that at a high level tomorrow.
Q.¬† For any of you guys, Ryan said last night that this team realized that after last year maybe you weren't good enough defensively, maybe not tough enough.¬† How do you make that transformation to be better defensively, to be tougher?¬† And how important is that in a game against a team that wants to treat you that way?
MASON PLUMLEE:¬† I think the first thing is we're getting better late in the season with our defense.¬† This is a new team.¬† Guys have gotten better individually defensively.¬† But we didn't have Rasheed last year.¬† Quinn didn't start for us last year.¬† So I just think our defense as a team has improved greatly, and a lot of that has to do with communicating, knowing where the help's coming from, and then these guys do a good job of putting pressure on the ball.
SETH CURRY:¬† I think our mindset is better now than it has been middle of the season, beginning of the season.
Defensively, we're tough coming into games.¬† We've been setting tones early in this tournament of getting off to good starts.¬† And that's just what we have to do going forward.
Q.¬† Mike, would you go back to your comments on the ACC for a second?¬† Obviously, you and Carolina are the only ACC teams to make it this far in the tournament since '04.¬† Curious, when you say about making the most of those assets, is that as a league or is that sort of getting some of these other teams in the league to keep up with these new teams that are coming in?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† I think how you use your assets, how we position them TV‑wise.¬† Does our conference develop its own TV network?¬† Where we play the tournament.¬† When do we play the tournament?¬† How do we position our regular season?¬† How do we make‑‑ how do we have the teams that are playing play schedules that are worthy of being considered for NCAA consideration.
In other words, to take a real close look at our league with the new members and say:¬† Why are we different, why are we better, and how can we be the top league?
And if we don't do that, then we're negligent, to be quite frank with you.¬† We'd be negligent.¬† We'd miss out on a great opportunity.¬† These schools shouldn't be coming in just because we want to do football.¬† Our league was founded on basketball, and that doesn't mean football isn't important.¬† It is important.¬† I like it.¬† I want it to be great.¬† But I want ACC basketball to be the best.¬† And we have a chance to do that again.
Q.¬† Mike, I'm curious what your thoughts are on the transfer rules as they're currently constituted and then the proposal that would allow players to move on without sitting out if they get a 2.6 GPA.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† I'm not a big proponent of that one.¬† If there was a players' union, these kids would go at any time, anywhere.¬† Just like coaches.¬† And they'd get benefits.¬† You couldn't use their images.¬† I mean, it's a complex issue.¬† So I don't have a stand right now.
I think it has to be equal, and right now it's not equal.¬† We have a kid sitting out who transferred for all the right reasons.¬† They lost their college coach.¬† And he's not eligible to play.¬† You have a lot of free agents right now.¬† The fifth‑year guys are free agents.¬† That doesn't mean they're bad kids, but they're free agents.
And then there's not a set rule where every transfer has to do the same thing.¬† And so whatever we decide, every transfer should be treated the same.¬† Not because they're going home or because of sickness or because their father was fired or anything like that.¬† It should be you're a transfer, this is what's allowed to do.
And we as a‑‑ who do you think talks about those things?¬† Who's in charge?¬† Well, who, though?¬† No, President Emmert is in charge of the entire NCAA.¬† He's got a huge job.¬† There should be somebody in charge of college basketball who does this on a day‑to‑day basis and understands everything about it.
And, again, I'm beating‑‑ just so you know, when they put the dirt on me, inside, underneath the dirt, I'm still going to be yelling for somebody to run college basketball.¬† And for reasons like this.¬† It's a complex issue.¬† But it's one that needs really to be studied and be treated in a very equitable manner for all kids, and we should take a look at everything that we're doing for kids and try to make it as good as possible.
I mean, these guys give a lot.¬† Not just these guys, the Louisville guys.¬† They give a lot, and they're taken advantage of.¬† They really‑‑ they are.
THE MODERATOR:¬† We're going to let the student‑athletes go to the meeting rooms.
Q.¬† Mike, going back to '92 for a second, as a basketball guy, have you always been able to appreciate just how important that moment was to this sport?¬† Also, when you and Rick have gotten together, have you ever just sat down and talked about that game, your thoughts, your emotions?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† Well, I have thought about how important it is.¬† It's one of those moments in time that helped define our sport.¬† When I've talked to Rick about it, we realize we were the lucky guys.¬† We had different roles at that time, but we were both lucky to be there.
And, to me, even though his team lost in a very heartbreaking fashion, the most heartbreaking fashion there could be, it really‑‑ that group that had gotten them there was elevated even more.
Like they had started in dirt, you know, and all of a sudden they were in the highest moment and they were knocked back.¬† And Kentucky honored them forever, forever.
Just some amazing things have happened as a result of that game.¬† Again, I feel privileged to have been a part of it.
And he and I have‑‑ it's like one of those things where you have this‑‑ you shared something that no one else could share.¬† So we'll always be real close as a result of that.
I really like that about our relationship, that we both realize that.
Q.¬† Coach, since the topic of transfers came up, what does it mean for Rodney to be here with the team even though he had to travel on his own.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† It's great.¬† That's one of the things about the transfer rule, that you're not allowed to travel with the team.¬† Even though it wouldn't cost you anything more.¬† And he practices every day with the guys.¬† He's part of the scout team and whatever.
It's cruel.¬† It's cruel.¬† That aspect of it, no matter what they do, as far as keeping everything else equitable‑‑ if you're one of the scholarship players, you should be allowed to travel, suit up.¬† You should be on the bench.¬† You're part of the team.
The other thing that happens over the year, when we have traveled, he wasn't able to travel with us during the year, so when we leave, where does he go?¬† Who's responsible for him?¬† I am, supposedly, but I'm at Virginia or Maryland.¬† He's back in Durham.
Something happened to him or whatever, people would say, Well, what were you doing?¬† I'll say, Well, I was following a rule.¬† No, you're responsible for him.
It's not right.¬† I mean, that aspect of it is‑‑ even if we don't change a whole bunch of things, that aspect of it should change.¬† No question.
Q.¬† Mike, what is it about Rick‑‑ you've talked about the '92 game.¬† What is it about Rick as a coach that made you respect?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† I really respect everything about him as a coach.¬† One, he's brilliant.¬† He's got charisma.¬† His players play hard all the time, and he's evolved.¬† He keeps evolving his system.¬† He's not the same guy that he was, and two years from now, he'll be a little bit different.¬† He's always looking to get better.
Rick and passion go hand in hand.¬† He's just a passionate teacher and he's passionate on the sidelines.¬† I really admire what he does.
Q.¬† Mike, Quinn did not play particularly well yesterday.¬† As a coaching staff, is there anything you guys can do to kind of help him turn it around when he has less than 48 hours to do so?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† Players don't play well sometimes.¬† He didn't have a good game last night, but Tyler had a great game.¬† So that's having each other's back.
A really important thing for any competitor is to be able to forget.¬† Not just forget when you play bad, but forget when you played well.¬† In other words, get on to the next thing.
He's played really well this season, and I would expect him to play really well tomorrow afternoon.
Q.¬† Personnel changes from year to year, but‑‑
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† A lot.
Q.¬† Well, with any coach.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† Some more than others, believe me.
Q.¬† Are there fundamental differences in your philosophy than Rick's?¬† Anything that you would point at that he does a little bit differently than you do?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† I don't study it that way.¬† That's for you all to figure out.¬† I don't look at it like what am I doing different than Rick.¬† I'm just trying to‑‑ my philosophy is always to adjust to the personnel that I have.¬† I'm not a system coach.¬† We play a different way every year based on the people that we have, even if it's the same people, because they change.
And the things that stay the same is we usually play man to man, but we do it in different ways.¬† And how we run our offense, we change our offense every year to get our best players shots.
To me, that's what I've tried to do my entire career.¬† I do what that with the Olympic team.¬† Each of those teams was different.¬† China, Beijing, Istanbul, and London, they're different.¬† They're different.
Q.¬† Mike, in the moment in '92, do you realize the significance of the moment, or how long does it take to hit you?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† No, I don't think you can realize the significance at that time.¬† Although you saw the‑‑ to me, I will always remember the stark‑‑ the difference in emotion, the result of the game.¬† Because really right in front of me Richie Farmer collapsed.¬† And I see our guys jump and I see him fall.¬† And really I was more taken by Richie.¬† And I understood by looking at him‑‑ I could never understand completely, because it didn't happen to me, but just how tough that was.
And so the fact that it was that tough and that happy, you knew you're in this crazy‑‑ it was kind of crazy.¬† And then it became bigger because we also won the national championship that year.¬† So it led to the top prize.¬† We would not have won two in a row.
I mean, it could stand on its own, but adding that made it that much better.
Q.¬† For as good as your teams have been and for as good as Rick's team has been, this is only the third time you've played each other and the first time in the tournament since '92.¬† Is that surprising to you and have you guys tried to schedule‑‑
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† That's why we got them in the conference.¬† Got to start doing this a little bit more.¬† Those things don't surprise me as much, because there's only so many non‑conference games you play.¬† I guess when you say it, you say, wow, that should have happened more.¬† But you don't sit around thinking why you haven't played Louisville.¬† I can't remember‑‑ well, we played UCLA.¬† Like the top programs.
I do think it's cool, the thing that we do at the start of the season with the four teams, Kansas, us, Kentucky and Michigan State, so, you know, they probably should expand that if you're looking to‑‑ if you're looking to see what would promote basketball even more.
Q.¬† Mike, should your team win tomorrow, you will match Coach Wooden for numbers of Final Fours.¬† For those of us of a certain age who grew up thinking nobody would ever come close to a lot of what Coach Wooden's done, what would that mean to you?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† I don't really think of history while I'm coaching.¬† If you do, I think you're looking in the rearview mirror, and I got to be in the moment of my guys.¬† So for Quinn and Rasheed, Seth because he wasn't a player, he was a transfer on the team in '10, it's important just to be in their moment.
So I don't want to count championships or games or Final Fours or anything like that, Elite Eights.¬† That would be a mistake, and I'm not going to do that.
Q.¬† Mike, I know by seeding you're the underdog in this game, maybe by other means, I don't know.¬† It's for the first time in a long time you guys have been in that situation.¬† Anything helpful or liberating about that?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† Liberating?¬† No.¬† No, we know going into every game that we're a target, and we'll be a target tomorrow.¬† And Louisville has been.¬† So you've got two programs that are accustomed to people playing their best against you all the time.¬† Now we've got a chance to play our best against one another.
So it's‑‑ for an Elite Eight game‑‑ Elite Eight games are huge anyway.¬† But this one, I think it's like a national championship game.
Both teams have had great years, and the two years‑‑ the two seasons of the two teams could match anybody's in the country.¬† And to have‑‑ just to have it work out that we're playing right now against one another, I think it's great for college basketball.
I hope we both live up to the game.
Q.¬† You were talking about the quick turnaround.¬† In '86, when you were in the Final Four, you talked at that time about you weren't experienced enough to help your team make that recovery after a tough game with Kansas.¬† Can you talk about what you've learned and how you are better suited now to handle this?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† Yeah, that's a good question.¬† Again, you don't know if it will work, but we've just been in a lot of these situations.¬† And what I've been doing for the last seven years with the National Team helps you too.¬† Quick turnarounds and learning from different people what they do, the players like at that level, what they do.¬† The mistakes and the good things that you've done over the years, and you come up with a plan.
So you never know if the plan is the right thing, but it will be better than the one we had in '86.
THE MODERATOR:¬† Coach K, thank you.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:¬† Thank you very much.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports