Postgame: Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, players talk ACC Tournament win over Notre Dame

coach k dukeDuke coach Mike Krzyzewski and players Grayson Allen and Marvin Bagley III talk with reporters after the Blue Devils’ 88-70 win over Notre Dame in the 2018 ACC Tournament.

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: We beat a really good team tonight. You know, look, I hope they get in, because I think they can beat anybody. That was a big-time game tonight. Mike has that team together the whole year, forget it; they could be — I’m telling you, if they get in, they’ll be — they’re going to beat people, and they’ll have a chance. Veteran, you’ve got a kid, Farrell, 12 assists, one turnover, Colson, keep getting in shape. I don’t know how that bubble works and that, but they’re very good. And we were very good in order to beat them.

I thought Grayson’s leadership has continued to get better and better, and tonight was a great example of him being at his best. He came out as hot as a player could come out hitting shots, and then the nature of the game changed, and he didn’t force anything. He was 7 for 10, 5 for 6 from threes, and no turnovers, but he was leading us throughout. And then obviously Marvin had a great game, and there were some things that — where we could go to him and he was taking advantage of it.

When you see Grayson, these guys say, okay, he’s got it right now and go to him, you know, that’s terrific. And I know it makes Marvin feel great in that regard. And Marvin is telling Grayson to shoot. And then Tre getting 11 assists was big.

Carter has got an injury problem with his foot that he didn’t practice this week, and he was — he played gingerly tonight, and we’ll see about tomorrow.

We just have to be really careful. But he did not play at the level because he’s not physically at that level.

Marques came in and did a really good job, especially in the second half. It was a big team win for us.

Any questions you want to ask these guys, you do what you want to do.

Q. Mike Brey talked about you guys keeping balls in play above the rim around the net. How big of a thing is that for your success?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, Marvin gets 17 rebounds, but 13 of them are defensive, yeah, they’re one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country, and he’s getting rebounds rim high or above and being strong, you limit them to one shot, that’s big. I mean, we out-rebounded them. But the defensive boards like that were critical.

Q. You guys really forced them into a lot of bad three-point shots and also important was you guys not fouling, they only took 11 free throws. Can you talk about that?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, you know, we haven’t been fouling. I think in the seven games previous to this, we’ve given up maybe about nine free throws a game. The zone gives us an opportunity not to foul.

Today I thought the way our perimeter was playing, they extended their three-point shots a little bit, and so they were taking them — Farrell can take them from anywhere and hit them, but they were extended a little bit more. And we were giving up twos, and sometimes that can get really frustrating, but we weren’t giving up threes. That was one of our goals going in is no threes. They could get 10, 12; they’re that good. But our perimeter did a good job in staying high.

Q. I’m going to ask one for each player. Marvin, do you think that this is the best that this team has played all season, the way you guys are playing right now?
MARVIN BAGLEY: Absolutely. You know, we’re definitely on a roll right now. Everything is — we don’t have it all figured out yet. We’re still learning, one thing at a time. But I definitely think that we’re getting better and we’re continuing to grow as a team, and it’s not a better time to grow as it is in March when we’re getting into tournaments and stuff like that. It’s a perfect time for us to continue to come together and play at our best.

Q. Grayson, this is sort of an outside looking in thing, but you can sort of enlighten us a little bit here, but the ’15 team was a great deal of talented freshmen with a senior leader, and you were on that, and you’re a senior leader surrounded by a bunch of freshmen. Are there similarities that we should be seeing?
GRAYSON ALLEN: That’s one similarity, yeah. You know, the way we play is different. One trend that I’m seeing that is a good thing for our team is our defense at the end of the year is the best that it’s been all season, and that’s the same thing that happened in 2015.

At the end of that year, by the time the tournament came around, we were playing — we were one of the best defenses in the country, and so for this team, that’s one of the things that we need to keep up is keep improving our defense, stay at it, and like Marvin said, keep playing our best basketball.

But keep getting better. I mean, we’re going to review film and get ready for the next game, but we know there’s a few things we can do better both offensively and defensively, but as long as we keep clicking on the defensive side of the ball, we’ll be good.

Q. Grayson, how important was it to get off to a hot start, not only for you individually but the team overall?
GRAYSON ALLEN: You know, it was important for our team, especially in a tournament like this. You’re playing in a new gym with a new ball, and it’s really good for all of our guys to see some shots go in, especially early on. That really got us going offensively for the rest of the game.

When we started pushing the ball early, we were getting very good looks, especially with Marvin running the floor, and either getting in great position or getting someone else open on the wing, and I think that got not only him going but a lot of the guards going, as well.

Q. Marvin, what’s it like for you in March Madness here to be pursuing championships here and then the NCAA Tournament, and also how would you assess how you played tonight?
MARVIN BAGLEY: It was a great team win. But for this — my first time being here, a lot of the freshmen’s first time being here, it’s a great experience. We can’t do anything but take it one game at a time. We can’t look ahead. We can’t assume that we have an extra day because one loss and we’re back home and we don’t get to come back, practice a little bit more, come back and play in this tournament again, so we really have to every single day lock in and just come together, man, and just try to figure everything out that we need to figure out and just continue to get wins.

Q. Coach, you’ve seen Tony Bennett’s Virginia defense develop over the last couple years. What do you feel like makes it so special, and why do you feel like it might be —
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: You know, I’ll talk about them if we play them. We haven’t played them for a month, so I haven’t watched them. Obviously they’re playing everything well, but if we play them, I’ll study them and I’ll give you a more intelligent answer than for somebody who might have an opinion on something that they haven’t seen.

But they’ve been great. Tony is National Coach of the Year and deserves it. Those kids play with such togetherness, both offensively and defensively, and for any good defensive team, their offense has to help, and so they don’t turn it over. They make you play defense. So that’s part of their defense. But they do it really well, and they do it well enough to be the No. 1 team in the country. But specifically I’d rather talk about it if we are going to play them.

Q. Coach, was it really just about activity increasing defensively from first half to second half for you guys?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: No, it’s about practice and finding out about our team. You know, when you start a book, do you already know the ending? You know, no. Or else you wouldn’t read the book. The season is different, and it’s really different when you have all the freshmen that we have. And so part of it is getting to know them, not just individually but how collectively they make each other better.

You know, we found that zone was better for us like the second week of February, but we played a lot of zone before then. But if we didn’t do all the man-to-man stuff before that, we wouldn’t be as good in zone, and we’ve been able to practice. In December we didn’t practice that much because of breaks.

We’re just growing. Like Marvin said, Marvin’s comment was really good. We’re still learning and we’re still trying to get better.

Q. Marvin, first half to second half tonight, was there anything Colson was doing specifically on the first half that you were missing shots, or were you just missing, and then the second half you made the same shots?
MARVIN BAGLEY: They just weren’t falling. My teammates did a great job of hitting me on a seal when I was posting, but they weren’t falling. Second half, we just had to have a short memory, move on to the next play, and don’t worry about anything that happened in the first half.

It’s a new 20 minutes, and our goal was to come out and play hard the first four minutes of the second half or just to get a run. We started doing that. We started playing. Everybody was hitting shots. Everything was starting to fall.

You know, we didn’t think about anything that happened in the first half. We had a short memory, like I said. We just went on a run and kept it going throughout the rest of the game.

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I think one thing for all the young big guys is the biggest difference — big guys have the biggest adjustment from high school to college because of the physicality, and especially on shots, and so I thought he made an adjustment, instead of just shooting the ball — they weren’t fouling him, but there was physicality. He played through resistance. I was just noticing — I didn’t realize he was 11 for 12 in the second half, and he played through resistance, I thought.

You keep adjusting. You keep learning about the game.

Q. Marvin, my question for you, you two are very different players, but from one big to another, are there little things that you can get from observing Bonzie, whether it’s how he draws a foul or just little tricks of the game?
MARVIN BAGLEY: Oh, yeah, you can learn — for me, I try to learn from every player. He’s a great player in this conference, and he does a lot of great things on offense. Being able to score, his moves in the post. So yeah, definitely I just try to take a little bit of small stuff from everybody and try to put it in my game.

But he’s a great player, man, and being able to go up against him tonight, it was a great experience. They have a great team, great coach, and it was a great game tonight.

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