Press Conference: Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski at the ACC Tournament
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Duke.
We’ll start with a brief opening statement from coach and then go to questions.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, what an afternoon for ACC, for basketball. State, we both played so well. Both teams were so difficult to stop. It’s a credit to them. They played yesterday. They played Saturday at Notre Dame. Their third game in five days. They were really good.
Barber has been a great, great player. Not a good player, but a great player. He not only produces points, but he produces attention with his extended dribble. That attention creates openings for talented players like the Martins and Rowan, Abu. But it starts with that kid. He’s just been a sensational player.
Our guys, this is the best we’ve played offensively in about three weeks. I was worried. The team that plays the second game here the second day, you only have 20 minutes to warm up, so you’re never in the gym. We were concerned we might not be able to shoot.
Now we’re concerned about having too long of warmups in any gym we go to. We might go to 20 minutes (laughter). We shot the heck out of the ball. It’s a good thing we did. Proud of our guys.
Again, congratulations to State for a job well done, and for playing it out, too. They showed up. They showed up. They were in a position to win. We were fortunate and we won.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Mike, how is Marshall? What does it say about him to be able to play the way he did despite all that?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: His nose is broken. It says a lot for him to come back in the game. He makes the big play. Not only to come up with that play, but to free throw, then on the defense he came over on Barber. It was team defense on that.
We did a good job on the ball, as well as you can do with him. But him coming over made the play. It was two consecutive plays that Marshall made to win.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I don’t know. We’ll listen to what they say. Usually with a nose, I’m an authority on noses (smiling), it’s one thing I know a lot about, at least big noses. It’s more like if you have an eye socket or something like that.
But we’ll see.
He would probably want to wear something, right? Knowing Marshall, he would (smiling). But we’ll see. We’ll get some advice on that.
Q. Grayson, as a guy who plays with a lot of toughness yourself, when you see Marshall coming back into the game, what does that do for the rest of you guys? Does that give you a lift?
GRAYSON ALLEN: Definitely. Marshall has been a great emotional leader for us all year long. We know how tough he is. We know he battled down there in the post. So to see him come in, he’s got blood dripping down his face, he’s still out there yelling like a maniac, it fires the team up.
That’s what he’s been doing all year. He’s been great at providing energy and using his voice and emotion he has on the floor.
Q. You might have to play four games in four days this week. Is there any worry going forward you’re going to use so much energy now, that next weekend you’re going to be out?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It’s a good question. What we’ve talked about coming into this week is, Don’t pace yourself, play one game at a time, and let’s get better.
We got better today. We had to get better because State was so good. We’ll do the same thing tomorrow. If it ends up that we run out of gas…
The one thing we have going for us next week, we know we’re in the tournament. We’ll be a decent seed. We have spring break next week. That will help. That will help us.
But, you know, this tournament deserves you and the conference deserves you playing your best, and that’s what we’re trying to do.
Q. This was the highest score posted by two teams in this tournament in 21 years.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Is that right?
Q. And the ’95 game was an overtime game. What was it like to coach in a game like this and how much fun was it to play at this tempo?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It’s fun for them because they didn’t play any defense for most of the game. First of all, you’re amazed as a coach that these kids from both teams are hitting so many shots. People were hitting tough shots, too. It’s not like the other team wasn’t trying.
What we said at halftime, though, is, Look, you can’t play this game like it’s Saturday afternoon in the gym. You’re just playing for winners, see who has the ball last, who keeps the court.
They’re loose. I think we’re loose offensively. We can’t be loose defensively. But, you know, entertainment-wise it’s a pretty entertaining game. It’s not just one guy. You had like, what, eight double-figure scorers in this game. That’s a lot of double-figure scorers. Thank goodness we had three more points than them.
Q. For the players, talk about the energy it will require to come back in 24 hours and play Notre Dame. Do you feel that’s going to be a test or…
GRAYSON ALLEN: Well, we’re a young team. We’re playing in the ACC tournament. All of us want to be here.
I think for us it will be easy to get the energy to get going and play. Throughout the game we have to keep that energy up. That comes from talking to each other and making plays.
But to start off this game, I mean, we’ll all have energy. We’re all college kids playing in the ACC tournament. It’s fun.
BRANDON INGRAM: For me, I don’t think it will be hard at all. I think coming in here with energy today was a good thing for us. Just leading on to the next game is going to be a fun thing to have. We’re going to be very excited coming into here the next game.
Q. For the players, what was it like to play in that kind of a game? Grayson, what was your perspective on defense on the play under the basket with 10 seconds to go?
GRAYSON ALLEN: For us, they had gone through that set where they were running Rowan off a couple screens. We knew they were going to go back to it.
We switched off and got off to Rowan the shooter. But, Cat, he’s tough to keep in front. He made a play to the basket. Someone came over and tipped the ball. I was just coming down and saw the loose ball and went to grab it. That was really what we needed to do the whole game, was get loose balls, be energetic on defense.
Q. What was it like to play in that kind of entertaining game?
BRANDON INGRAM: It was great. Just seeing the ball finally go down after a couple games. We just tried to get out there offensively. We did an okay job defensively, but we know we have to get better.
Q. Mike, a lot of people have said all year that your squad is thin, but when you get the balance you got today, what does that mean? How well can this team play?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: We are thin, but we’ve been thin since Amile got hurt. They’ve learned to be the team they are, which is a really good team.
Big thing for us is not getting in foul trouble. They’re in great condition. I’m not as worried about them being tired as I am worried about foul trouble. They’ve grown together.
They’ve done a great job. For the last about five weeks, we’ve become a very good basketball team. Outside of the Pitt game, we all didn’t show up, and they did really well, we’ve been playing really good basketball, competitive basketball.
I’m proud of them. They’re young. At times today, we have four freshmen and a sophomore on the court. Because we’re Duke, no one talks about that. Or because there’s seven guys, whatever. But because they’re under that type of microscope all the time, pressure, people wanting to beat them, they have to get better in order to survive.
They’ve gotten that way.
Q. Mike, you’re very familiar with Notre Dame. What are your priorities to come away with a victory? I’m sure you noticed that they suddenly went up-tempo on Saturday.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: You know, I haven’t watched them. It’s not personal, because I love Mike. But we’ll watch them real quick now. I keep my eyes on the road. I’m a good driver in that way.
They’re an explosive offensive team. I’ll tell you what, a game similar to this is the game in Cameron. We both scored over 90 points.
They’re a really good offensive team and so are we. They’ll have a little bit more rest, but our guys will be ready to go. We’re both good teams, good teams that will do a good job in the NCAA tournament. I look forward to doing it.
You know, Mike’s been a huge part of what we’ve done at Duke. We were there. We almost went to a Final Four every year that he was there, and won a couple national championships. What he’s done with Notre Dame’s program has been fantastic.
I’m proud of him. We look forward to having a good game against them tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.