Duke vs. VCU Pregame Quotes (Round 1)March 15, 2007

Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski

Overview and on being in Buffalo: Were happy to be here. Buffalo is one of my favorite towns. You always run into good people and good food. It really reminds me of Chicago and we are excited to be here, literally. We are in good health and excited to get going.

On the CAA: I think the CAA rivals the Missouri Valley Conference which has gotten a lot of publicity lately. The league is a terrific league and I thought that they would get more than two bids this year. I really love their conference its a great basketball conference. You have some of the best coaches in the country in that league.

On being a sixth seed and pressures of Duke Basketball: Were thankful to be in the tournament and to be a sixth seed. If youre a program that has had great success I dont think you can ever look at yourself as a seed. As long I am there I would think that nobody would ever play us thinking that we (Duke) are the underdog because they would be playing our team and our heritage.

On Gerald Henderson: Hes improved as a basketball player. As a result of the North Carolina incident he has gotten attention that you would not want to have for a player. I have tried to be the one to get the attention instead of him. I think some of that stuff just happens. I have tried to be there for him because I dont think he did anything intentionally. Hes one of the great kids we have had in our program and we are getting him to move on.

On this being an interesting season: This is the youngest team I have ever coached and no one is ever going to pay attention to the age of my team they look at the age of me (Coach K) and the program. We really need to give these kids a chance to grow while the program is being viewed as old and successful and that dynamic has made for an interesting season.

On unique problems in playing VCU: They turn you over so you have to value the ball and be strong with the ball. They also break you down off the dribble. They have two seniors who have been there. Their have veteran basketball players who know how to win.

On Greg Paulus: I am really proud of Greg. He started practice in the worse way. He was in magnificent shape and then broke his foot the second day of practice. Then he got hurt two more times. By the time we started the ACC schedule we had no continuity and he was not in the shape that he was when he started practice. A lot of kids would have never recovered, but he really came back strong. My hope is in the future he will have an injury free season.

Duke Student-Athletes

DeMarcus Nelson
(On what team has learned this season)
The team has grown throughout the season and have grown stronger. Right now we have experience playing in close games, so it prepares us well for the Tournament.

Greg Paulus
(On playing close to home)
Its exciting because I get to play so close to home, its something Ive always wanted to do.

Nelson
(On preparing for a team theyve never played before)
Our preparation is always the same no matter who we play, thats something the coaches always preach to us, they tell us to always respect our opponent.

Paulus: Weve prepared for this game the way we have all year, we need to take advantage of the situation, we understand theyre a good team and that theyre very capable.

Nelson
(On Gerald Henderson)
Thats something people constantly bring up, weve tried to move on and get past it, weve let Gerald know that were behind him.

Nelson
(On the teams mindset heading into the Tournament)
I dont feel any different, each team will have different seasons, but this team is in a good place and we need to capitalize on our situation and concentrate on VCU.

VCU Head Coach Anthony Grant

From opening statement: Over the course of the season, our guys maybe were looked at as underdogs, so to speak. Theres a sense of accomplishment, but at the same time, I think they remain hungry.

On matching wits with Coach K: I told somebody the other day, its not about matching witsthats a mismatch. You look at what hes accomplishedhes a legend in the game, hes a Hall of Famer. I think right now for me, its more about putting our team in a position where they can be successful.

On the matchup against Josh McRoberts: His size and physicality is something that we havent had to deal with over the course of the season. Were undersized in the frontcourt. I think all year long, weve had to deal with the fact that were undersized. I think our guys have done a good job of putting ourselves in a position where we can be successful against other frontcourts that may have more size and physicality. So were going to have to do it as a team. I dont think any of our players matches up with McRoberts or really any of their frontcourt players, so weve got to do it by committee.

On building the VCU program: Thats what Id like to establish here with our program at VCU, is a level of consistency, where the expectation level is to play for championships. I think coach Capel in his four years at VCU established that with the success that they had. My job is to try to continue to build upon that and take it to the next level

On Gerald Henderson and playing Duke as a whole: I think he brings a tremendous level of athleticism. Hes a big time competitor. His skill level in terms of being able to shoot the basketball, the way he drives the basketball&I think really their entire team, for what weve played against, will be the most talented team that weve faced. Gerald Henderson is a big part of that. The combination of him and their other players, the balance they have on their team, thats going to be something were going to have to contend with.

On his experience as an assistant last year: I think the nature of the NCAA Tournament, you never know what to expect. I think just getting our guys the understanding of getting their focus where it needs to be. I think thats probably the biggest thing.

VCU Student-Athletes

Jesse Pellot-Rosa
(On what beating Duke would mean)
It would mean that we advanced to the second round, it would be a tremendous boost to the program.

Pellot-Rosa
(On differentiating playing Duke this year and Duke the tradition)
Theres no difference, theyre Duke and theyre a great team, a lot of people underestimate them, but weve just got to go out there and play hard.

B.A. Walker
(On the excitement of Sunday and the reality of actually playing)
Sunday we were real excited, leading up to today were just real focused, the mindset of the team is trying to win, not just being happy to be here.

Pellot-Rosa
(On being an experienced team and playing Duke)
I think its an advantage, as seniors we have experience to bring to the table and we know what to expect from the fans. Duke is a great team and to win we just need to stay focused.

Pellot-Rosa
(On ODU staying in the same hotel)
Its kind of weird staying in the same hotel as them, we havent seen them yet, but were rooting for each other being in the same conference.

Walker
(On playing in the Tournament as a freshman)
Coming out as a freshman, we didnt know what to expect. Against Wake Forest we only lost by one point so that told us that we could play with anyone. Getting back to the Tournament as a senior is real special.

-Courtesy Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference