March 21, 2009
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: We're ecstatic about beating such a good team. A real man's game. I mean, that was a big-time man's game. Think they're really good.
I thought overall we did a decent job on Abrams where he didn't kill us. I thought Zoubek did a great job on Pittman when he came in, which neutralized him. You know, James is as good as anybody. We'd have to battle every possession. We got that ten-point lead, and then Abrams gets three free throws. Then it gets down to the end and there's so much game pressure on these kids. Kyle put in one of the most spectacular tip-ins to put us up by two. Just a tremendous tip-in. And then we played Good D.
You know, everybody on the court did something really well after Kyle fouled out. You know, David on the missed free throw keeping the ball locked. Obviously, G hitting free throws and coming up with the loose ball. Elliot making, and getting a loose ball. And Jon making that play. It will go down as one of the great plays for this team, you know, just hustling and threw it down the court. And our guys ran after it like crazy. It's just a big-time play.
I'm so happy for our guys. They've been such a good team to coach. I love my team immensely, and I'm happy for them. Especially after beating such a good team. Rick's team is just a very, very good basketball team. So any questions for the players, obviously, then me.
Q. When you grabbed the loose ball and began to throw it, were you conscious of getting it a long way down the court but not throwing it too hard as to throw it up the baseline?
JON SCHEYER: You know, to be honest with you, I was just trying to get it out of there. It worked out pretty well where it landed. I couldn't tell you I was positive that's where it was going. But I wanted to give one of our guys a chance to make a play. I didn't know who was behind me, so I didn't, obviously, just want to give the ball right back. I knew that there was -- I don't know what the time was on the clock, but time was an issue. So I was just trying to get it down the court and give my teammates a chance to go get it.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think a real critical thing in that is he didn't throw it back towards their bucket, he threw it towards our bucket. If nothing else, if they got it, they'd come up against a set defense. Those are plays that you think of Magic Johnson making and people just really smart making. You never thought I'd compare you to Magic Johnson, right? (Laughing) Well, wait a minute. But heady play. That was a really good play, Magic.
Q. Do you feel like you did a good job containing A.J. Abrams?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I thought we did a good job with him. You try to limit him from having a great game. I thought he had a good game. And he causes you to make so many switches that it opens up things. Like Ward took advantage of it, but at least it wasn't Abrams doing it, even though they were driving us there for a while.
But overall, we did a good job on him. He's just a quick trigger. He can really -- he's one of the best shooters we've played against in the last four years.
Q. Could you guys talk about the other day you had six guys in double figures. Today the scoring wasn't as balanced. But you had so many contributions by guys, Coach mentioned Zoubek, McClure and Elliot, could you address the contributions of those guys especially late in the game?
GERALD HENDERSON: I think the other day was more just the scoring, was more balanced scoring. Today it wasn't the same, but it was more just play making. You know, Elliot making some good plays. Lance making some good plays. You know, it was just overall good playing, not just scoring the basketball.
KYLE SINGLER: Just throughout the whole season kind of a theme of our team is not really the role playing guys. I mean, we all have roles on the team, but Zoubek, Dave, Elliot, they all have opportunities to make plays.
I think they've done a great job over the last couple weeks of making the simple plays. Well, not really simple, but making tough plays. Just the little things that might go unnoticed. And those are the types of plays that they make.
JON SCHEYER: I thought today they did a really good job at the end. Kyle fouled out, and I thought after he fouled out Elliot made a huge play, getting the ball in. And Dave that rebound off the missed free-throw was obviously a huge play. So those two after Kyle fouled out were huge plays.
Q. Fair or not, Duke faces higher expectations than a lot of programs. What does it mean to you guys to help the program meet them and take the program to the Sweet Sixteen again?
JON SCHEYER: You know, for us it's not about what other people feel or how other people feel how we should do in the Tournament or anything. We have our expectations, obviously. For us with these guys right next to me it feels really good to get this win with them.
Obviously, we expected to win this. We wanted to, so in that regard it feels really good.
GERALD HENDERSON: I think our standards have been so high, because in the past we've had teams that won. Trying to uphold that standard, you know, we're not really going to worry as much about what people think about us, but the biggest thing is just to win.
Q. If I could get Kyle and Gerald to talk about the offensive rebounding there in the closing 80 seconds or so. You guys really showed a lot of toughness on the offensive boards when it was really gut check time.
KYLE SINGLER: Yeah, well, sometimes you just kind of kind your spot in the right place at the right time. But crashing the boards, getting second opportunities for us is huge. You know, kind of gives us a second life. Especially down at the end of the game, it takes time off the clock which is huge, too. So getting on offensive rebounds, kind of towards the end of the game was definitely a big play for us. And having Gerald rebound the ball offensively and defensively is a big play for us, just because he's able to do it. And over the last couple of games he's been doing a great job.
GERALD HENDERSON: I just thought that one of the biggest plays was Kyle's offensive rebound tip. You know, Coach called a play for me to drive to the middle, I blew the lay-up, but, it's just amazing to see him jumping over everybody and tipping it in. My mind immediately went to like Nate James and Luol Deng, and them tipping it in, you know, in the NCAA Tournaments in the past. So it's just great plays like that that put us in a position that we are now.
Q. You obviously had your way with Justin Mason early in the first half. And when Varez Ward was on you in the second half, were you surprised how much difficulty you had getting to the basket? I was wondering how you described the scramble after Elliot's missed free-throw?
GERALD HENDERSON: The first half they were playing the ball screens a little differently. Pittman wasn't in the game the second half, so they were switching off of him. So it was a little more difficult for me to get to the basket. But there were some plays where I had some straight line drives and got to the basket, either got fouled or finished.
So it was just a matter of me either pulling it off for my jumpshot or getting all the way to the basket. You mean off the missed free throw. Yeah, the one where Dave was in there, he made a heck of a play. Coach told him to try to get in there to tip it without fouling. He tipped it. Elliot tipped it. I knew once I got it that we had the arrow, so they just fouled me. That was that.
PHIL WARSHAUER: We'll continue with questions for Coach Krzyzewski.
Q. You seem to take great pride in the way this team has grown up the second half of this season. If going from a team that loses in the first round of the tournament, second round of the tournament to winning what you call a man's game in the last two minutes. Can you talk about the way they've grown up?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think people follow us closer about stuff like that than any team in the country. Each team has to be given a chance to grow. I'm really pleased for, again, I said it after the ACC Tournament, our junior class. Our junior class has been the back bone of this team. You develop backbone. You're not born with backbone. You develop it. And you develop it by playing a tough competition. They did that for the last two years and they did it again this year.
They've become a really good basketball team because they stuck with it. I love this team. I have the best kids. I have the best kids. I wanted it so much for this team, because to share their joy and the accomplishments of the last couple weeks has been just a tremendous opportunity for me. I'm glad that I've had this opportunity to share it with them.
Q. More on that growth. When Kyle fouled out and some of the contributions you mentioned earlier, McClure, and the Jon Scheyer unbelievable pass, there are so many intangibles that happened after one of your best offensive players, best players, fouled out of the game?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I'm anxious to just watch the tape. It just seemed like there was a lot going on out there. And there were a lot of Duke players touching the ball or trying to make plays. I know Elliot was really down about missing the two free throws, but he made a good play to get to the line. I mean, chasing down that ball.
There was some confusion there. First, I thought we were shooting two free throws, then I thought we were taking the ball out of bounds. Then we're shooting two free throws again. So what I was saying to the team changed because of what we were being told. You know, that's not good. If the kid knows he's going to shoot it the whole time, I wouldn't have taken the time out. I would have saved the timeout. I'm glad they got it right in that. But I just told them I take responsibility for that. You made a heck of a play. Then two of his teammates made great plays after it.
Q. This day started ominously for the Conference, the specter of Black Sunday looming again. Were you aware of it, and how aware and did it play into your mind at all?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I knew that the two teams that were going to play here were going to give good efforts. In the NCAA Tournament so much is match-ups or one play. I was watching the end of the Florida State game last night, and Tony Douglas puts them up by three, then they're up by 1. The kid makes an unbelievable play. I felt badly for them, because I thought they could make a big run.
I thought Maryland, what they did, I think they probably ran out of gas. Gary did one of his best jobs.
So to see North Carolina and ourselves advance is great. But it wasn't a good weekend for the last Friday and Saturday. Saturday picked up after the loss. But hopefully we'll both be able to continue to win. That would be a nice thing.
I thought the atmosphere in here tonight was great. Everyone was talking about us being booed and all that. I thought our fans and the ACC fans who were here were tremendous for our basketball team. I heard a few when I come out, but I expect that. It was bad that my family was doing it, but that was the only thing that hurt. My daughters are booing me (laughing).
But I thought our Duke fans and the ACC fans who were here were tremendous in their support of our team. I kind of knew that going in. That's why I've never said I was concerned about it.
When things are in Greensboro -- Greensboro has been the heart of the ACC. When you get down to it, you want the ACC to do well. I've learned that from being here for 29 years. So I appreciate all that support from the fans.
Q. Watching you while the guys were talking, it seemed to really, really have this look of appreciation and satisfaction on your face. What is so particularly pleasing about coaching this group?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I've seen them grow. In our program when you have -- we've had good talent in our program during the last 25 years. But a few years ago with guys going pro, or guys not coming because they went pro, all of a sudden we hit a period where a year, where we had all these young kids. Then people just put it on them that they're supposed to win the NCAA Championship or the ACC. They're 18 and 19 years old.
So I've seen them grow up and stick to the work. That's why these last two weekends have been so gratifying to me, because it's a culmination of a lot of work and commitment. Winning the ACC and now advancing again. You know, I've got good kids. Come on these three guys, you want to hang with them. They're good guys.
I've been a part of a bunch of championships, ACC, Final Fours, a National Championship. But to do it with this group feels great. I mean, I'm so happy. I am really happy. I can't tell you how happy I am. And I'm happy because I'm sharing it with these guys.
Q. Gerald Henderson seems like he's playing stronger and stronger with every game. Is that more due to design or is he just getting that hot as time goes by?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, he's had a really good year. And down the stretch I just rode him. We were going to sink or swim with him, and we're swimming. Not only that, but he can make a play. He can make a play. He had that open three. I thought he was going to knock down that three. But he's the guy that we go to, because he can get his own shot.
You're talking about our -- I don't think G answered that question as well. Ward did a hell of a job on him. I mean, he was more physical with him. We had to do a few different things to kind of get him open on the wing. But Ward was really tough on him. And Ward had a great second half. I mean, if they won, you know, Ward would have been the hero, I think. Not just because of the offensive plays he made, but the defensive effort he exerted. He's been outstanding in both of these games here for them.
Q. You talked yesterday about how those high expectations are a sign of respect for your program, is there any sense of relief though on your part?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: No, no. I'm past relief. I think part of it was coaching the Olympic team. I coached three years, three summers with a lot of pressure on me, putting a little bit of my career on the line because you got to win. I told myself I'm not going to do that to be relieved. I'm going to do it and have the time of my life. When we won the Gold Medal I was exhilarated and not relieved. When we won today I was exhilarated and not relieved. That is the message I want to send to my players so they never feel that pressure.
I told our Olympic team and I told our team, we need to play because of anticipation, not expectation. Anticipation gets you forward, expectation inhibits. I thought our team has done that, especially in the last few weeks.
Q. I wanted to ask about Nolan, seemed mid season he might have hit a wall, then after him and Neil came back, seems like he played with new life?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: We're trying to get Neil to come and hit a few more of our guys. Maybe it jars you (smiling). I think his emergence last weekend in these two games was kind of the catalyst for us winning. You know, all things remaining the same, if we don't have Nolan, we're not going to win. He seemed so comfortable with what he's doing.
I think the big thing was the Outside the Lines piece that came out. I don't know if you all saw it about his dad passing, and that relationship. I thought that being out there helped. I know I've talked to him about it. I can't even imagine being his age and having that happen.
I think instead of him telling everybody this is what I've been going through, they did it in such a spectacular way, I think it was kind of a relief for him. I think that helped, too. I think he's just really at a good point right now. But I do think that piece had something to do with it.
PHIL WARSHAUER: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Can you talk about the effort you guys and the performance you guys gave and just coming up short, what the feeling is like?
A.J. ABRAMS: I thought we played hard. We kind of dug ourselves a hole a little bit. But we showed a lot of character, not only in this game but throughout the season of just having the will to fight back. I'm proud of what we did. We, obviously, came up short of what we want to do, but it was a good effort from all of us.
Q. Damion, can you talk about the play when Jon Scheyer went into the bench and threw it up the court? What was your perspective on that? And also, what happened to you at the scorer's table when you were down for a while?
DAMION JAMES: It was a tough play when Jon threw the ball down the court. Me, personally, it was a loose ball, so whoever got it, got it. But the ref's called the play. I hit a nerve in my arm, and my whole arm went numb for like five or so minutes, and it was hurting really bad, and I couldn't feel my arm. But it's okay now.
Q. Could you talk about what your goal was when Rick put you in the game with about 10 minutes left? I saw him talk to on you on the sideline before he sent you in.
VAREZ WARD: Well, all year I've been kind of the defensive stopper on the team. My goal was to try to come in and slow down Henderson a little bit. He got off to a really good start in the first half. And I wanted to try to come in and slow him down a little bit. That was basically my role when I entered the game.
Q. Offensively, too?
VAREZ WARD: Offensively I was just trying to take care of the ball, that was the main thing. I had a turnover early in the game, and I didn't want to turn it over again. So just taking care of the ball and making smart plays.
Q. Driving the ball? Was that also a goal, going to the goal with it?
VAREZ WARD: Oh, yeah. Going to the goal and just making smart plays.
Q. You got called for a foul on a rebound. From your perspective, what happened there?
DAMION JAMES: It was another tough call. The dude was hanging on my arm. It was kind of like a jump-ball situation. It was just a tough call in a situation like that. You know, it really hurt us. But it happens.
Q. How do you feel the Blue Devils did defending you as a shooter?
A.J. ABRAMS: I had some open looks. I had taken some tough shots early on that are knocked down. But as a group, I don't think they did anything special to stop me. I think we looked to Varez to start penetrating, and he did his thing as far as getting to the lane and creating for others. So we just came up short.
PHIL WARSHAUER: We'll continue with questions for Coach Barnes.
Q. Jon Scheyer's pass he made down the court. Your thoughts on that, especially the fact he didn't throw it back under his own goal and that kind of thing? How that sort of, one of those little heady plays that they seem to come up with in that last minute, minute and a half.
COACH BARNES: Well, I don't know how you want me to answer that other than the fact he went out of bounds with it, and that is the direction he threw it. Give him credit for that. When the ball went out of bounds, at first we were told it was a non-shooting foul. Then we sub a little bit, and it ends up being a shooting foul. Again, ended up being a great play.
Q. But just to follow-up, I think Dave McClure in addition tapped out the rebound missed free throw. It seemed like not just Jon Scheyer's play and that one as well, there were a lot of these little plays that they came up with. It was almost like 50-50 balls that maybe they got?
COACH BARNES: They came up with them.
Q. You missed a lot of free throws. Got caught on some picks outside. Had some defensive lapses and still with a minute to go, you're in the ballgame. How did that happen?
COACH BARNES: We told our guys we would stick around, stay, and actually told them at 4:00 minutes we were right where we needed to be. We did the turnovers. Didn't take care of the ball as well as we wanted to early. The missed free throws hurt you along the way. But toughness. I thought we showed real toughness tonight.
At no point in time did our guys really flinch and think they couldn't get back in the game. We felt at some point in time we knew we were going to open up the court and start driving the ball. Our defense definitely got going there, put some pressure on them. We started switching some ball screens and forced them into some tough shots.
Q. Looking back it seemed like you found that guy in the final game who can go get his own shot when he wants it. Any way you wish that could have happened earlier with Ward?
COACH BARNES: Again, it goes back. They chose to come out and guard. We felt that the one thing we could do is take them off the dribble. As you know, you've watched us all year. Lot of teams didn't guard us there. They backed up in the lane. That's why we felt pretty good coming in that if we take care of the ball we could shoot a high percentage. But we felt we could get the ball to the basket.
Q. Obviously, this has been a disjointed team at times. During the year you've had to remake it over and on over sometimes within a game. Talk about the accomplishment of getting to this point being within a couple of minutes of the Sweet Sixteen?
COACH BARNES: That's what I told the team after the game. We went through a lot of growing pains. We had to adjust it seemed like all year long looking for consistency. At some point in time every player on our team this year helped us. With that said, I thought the one thing that was really impressive with this group is the chemistry was great from the beginning. It never changed. They just worked their way through it.
It wasn't pretty. It was tough on everybody. It was never pretty. But the one thing we did is we competed. We came in here tonight really, fully expecting to win this game. We're disappointed. We're definitely disappointed because we thought it was right there for us. You know, we didn't finish it.
Q. Can you talk about the inside situation? The first few plays of the game it seemed like you were able to go inside at will after that. You got away from them though you had the blocks on the offensive board?
COACH BARNES: We were going to go inside. And Dexter, fatigue plays a little factor in it, too. We were going to keep going in there as long as we could. But they really started filling up the lane, too. They started doing that and we were turning the ball over too much trying to go in there and force feed it in there.
But, again, with Dexter as much as we can, we want to play through him. But yet, A.J., you want to get him going, too. So you work the game. I mean there are points in the game where we're going to try to do certain things. We knew at some point in time we were going to open the floor up and just start driving the ball at them and see how they would handle it. But we wanted to wait to do that more so in the second half. When we really got back to where we needed to be, that was working for us.
Q. Just to be clear on the free throws after Gary's foul, if you had known they were free throws and would there have been different guys in the game to block out?
COACH BARNES: Yes. We could still have subbed at that point in the time. But yeah, we were set up for a special situation, out of bounds play. We talked that whole timeout about what we were going to do to try to create a five-second call, and then it ended up being on the free-throw line.