City Sports Report

Mike Krzyzewski “I want to win, I still have the desire to prepare to win”

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Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski and players Quinn Cook and Marshall Plumlee speak after the team’s win over Robert Morris.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: First of all, just congratulations to Robert Morris. Not just a good team but an outstanding program. This is their 8th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and they’ve also had a number of NIT appearances, and what Andy’s done is not just built a good team but a really good program. Whenever you beat a team that’s a good program that means even more. They have a well-conceived offense to take advantage of those individual skills of Reed, Jones and Pryor. Those kids can really score the ball. I thought our defense was excellent tonight and we obviously shared the ball really well. To have 28 assists in a game is fantastic. Our bench, especially Marshall and Amile, gave us a huge boost. They were real veterans in this game with offense and — offense and on defense, they were outstanding. And then Quinn had another outstanding game. We feel good about our performance. Grayson got 12 minutes tonight, we weren’t sure how long he would be able to play. Hopefully that’s a sign of him getting back into really good health. Any questions that y’all might have.

MODERATOR: Questions first for Quinn and Marshall.

Q. This question is for Quinn. Your leadership skills have really shown through this season. You were on a couple of the Duke teams that had some disappointing losses in the NCAA Tournament. What did you tell to the younger guys on your team in order to get them motivated for the tournament, or did you need to tell them anything?
QUINN COOK: Yeah, it’s a new year, it’s a new team, it’s a new season, we’re 0-0. We played in some big-time games and earned a spot here in the NCAA Tournament. I just told them to be their selves. I don’t want them thinking a lot so I kind of let them be themselves and act instinctively. Justise and Jah made some big-time plays in the second half when they cut it to ten and Grayson, him being under the weather, him getting some minutes out there was good so going into the game Sunday, whoever we play, we have that confidence with one game under our belt.

Q. Quinn, when you have bigs inside like Jahlil and Marshall, how much easier does that make it for the guards?
QUINN COOK: A lot easier, they create so much attention and they’re always talking on defense, helping us out. The guards in pick and roll situations. They carve a lot of space out so for early drives if we don’t hit them, they’re very unselfish, so when they get the ball inside, if they don’t have a shot inside they pass it out, so those two make our jobs easier as guards.

Q. You talked about telling the guys just be yourselves. What kind of fine line is it to kind of be yourselves and be loose like it certainly seemed you were and then when Jahlil missed that reverse dunk, and we’ll talk to Mike about that later, what’s the fine line there being yourselves and also being into the game one hundred percent?
QUINN COOK: Just making the right plays, just — we know what we need to do. We’ve played in big, big time games where we know we can’t have that. You know, two points can end your season. Freshman mistake, Jah knows that that and he bounced back from it. He made some big time plays when he made that run.

Q. Either one of the players, after they cut it to 10, what did you do really well down the stretch?
MARSHALL PLUMLEE: I thought we really came together and responded. I think there was a timeout, they got a little emotional, and every team here is very capable of winning, they wouldn’t be here if they weren’t. So it can turn around just like that and we’ve got to be ready and be able to respond. So I would have to say it came from a little bit of emotion and drive that came from a timeout.

QUINN COOK: Yeah, like what Marshall said, Coach called a timeout and just told us we’re fine, we’re missing some shots, we missed some open shots. They hit some tough shots and that’s how the game goes. The crowd got some momentum to those guys and we made some big time plays. Justise’s 3 was big time for him to struggle in the first half and come out and have six big time points was big for us. I hope it gives those guys confidence as freshmen, get that good game under their belt. We’ll be back on Sunday.

Q. Quinn, you get your first couple of 3s, how big is that to get it going because obviously it seemed to sustain you and, it seemed, your teammates throughout the game?
QUINN COOK: It’s big, just for a player’s confidence just to see a shot go in. Myself and Tyus have a great chemistry, so it’s tough to guard. We work on that in practice, so to see some shots go in was great, and cause a lot of attention, when I hit a couple, guys run out to me and open things up. Coach is always telling me keep shooting, doesn’t matter if I miss six in a row, 10 in a row, he wants me to keep shooting so that does a lot for my confidence as well.

MODERATOR: Thanks, guys, congratulations. Questions for Coach?

Q. Mike, how do you draw the line between guys having fun and being loose and not being as focused as they need to?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: You see it. I’m with them every day and I know them. We have great relationships with our guys. So especially in this tournament, you want them to be loose. I thought to begin at the beginning of the game a couple of our freshmen were — they didn’t talk. Jah, Justise, they weren’t talking, they weren’t themselves and that’s why Marshall and Amile coming into the game gave us a huge boost. You just do it by feel. I know them well enough, I feel like I can get emotional, funny, serious and they’ll respond because of the relationships that are built. It’s my responsibility to spontaneously act when I do have a feel, when I do see something, and for them to react to me. And they’ve done that and they did it tonight.

Q. Sort of following up on that, how much, I guess, were you trying to — what message were you trying to get across to your guys when you’re teaching a young team in the tournament in that second half timeout?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Which second half timeout? We had a number of them.

Q. When Jahlil missed the dunk.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, you can’t do that. That’s the easy message. Like, don’t do that, especially don’t do it when you’ve played four consecutive minutes and you’re tired. You just can’t do that. So, I mean that’s an easy one.

Q. Coach, Marshall Plumlee seems to be really coming on. Is that something you’re seeing in practice or is it in the games or a little bit of both?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think it’s the last month really. Marshall has been consistently good. He’s had great practices. He’s had mature, veteran practices where he never takes a possession off, he’s talking, he’s sharp, and it really sets a good tone, and it translates because he does that in the practice. And in the game tonight, our guys threw three lobs to him, maybe four, and that’s showing confidence in him. But he deserves that because he and Amile really did a great job for us tonight.

Q. Coach, could you talk about Quinn’s leadership and just how the whole dynamic has worked so well with him and Tyus this year?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It’s been a fabulous dynamic. They have a great relationship. I saw in somebody’s article, I do read articles, not every one, but where someone had interviewed Austin Rivers, and Austin made a point I think, which is very, very good, is that as a freshman you don’t know about how much you should talk about different things, and to have an upperclassman say that’s what you should do, especially when it’s an upperclassman who has a big-time role on the team like Quinn does. We as coaches say these things, but when Quinn says them in his own language and his own way, they resonate even better. This is our 30th win. He’s led us to a fabulous season and hopefully he’ll lead us further into this tournament.

Q. Coach, what gives you the drive that you have that you win so much; you won national championships, you won regular season championship. What motivates you and keeps your drive up to keep winning like you do?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I want to win, I still have the desire to prepare to win and want to win, but along with that, I have a responsibility to have the drive for the players that I have the privilege to coach. I mean, I shouldn’t coach unless I have the drive and you can’t fake it, you can’t fake it. And these kids deserve it. It’s their moment. I don’t like to bring up what’s been done in the past, whether we’ve won or we’ve lost, because we’ve already done that. It’s what you’re doing right now and how emotionally and mentally ready you can be to help your team. And my staff’s done a good job. I love my guys. It’s easy to do that, for me it’s always come easy to have drive. Now, I’m not necessarily smart. Sometimes I haven’t been the smartest guy or whatever, but the passion to win has never been a thing I’ve run out of yet.

Q. Mike, when you came back after the ACC tournament in preparation for this tournament, what was the demeanor of the practices? High? Was there any letdown?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: No, good. Again, we tried to prepare for this like we did for the ACC tournament, and in that we had about 40 minutes of contact the first day just to get back to playing some defense, but then after that was individual work, 5 on 0, and to try to get fresh. Grayson didn’t practice until he got here. The open practice here was the first time Grayson has played this week since the ACC tournament. And Quinn was sick last week, so we wanted to make sure he wasn’t rundown. And then Jah started — we saw some improvement with him and that’s what we’ve done. We thought we played great in the first game of the ACC tournament for some reason, we didn’t play as well for more than half of a game, and then we almost won that game. And so we weren’t — we weren’t going to punish our guys or anything like that. We didn’t want to wear them out, we wanted to get them healthy.

Q. Robert Morris runs usually a three guard set. You guys had a lot of success in the front court. Was that something you saw coming in today, that that’s maybe something we can exploit?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I don’t know about exploiting it but what we tried to do was not let them walk into their offense. When they walk into their offense, then they have more energy. You have three explosive players. This way, they have to, even if we didn’t turn them over, we didn’t think we were going to turn them over, although we did a couple times, was more working in their offense already and maybe having them out a little bit further than if they just walked into it. Overall, it was good and I thought Matt did a really good job. Matt sets a tone defensively for us.

Q. I just want you to talk about Justise and the stretch after they cut it to 10, he had a 3, took two defensive rebounds, one for the layup, one to feed Tyus for the 3. He really kind of kick-started you at that point.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: He made the biggest play of the game when it was down to 10. Robert Morris fought the entire game and put themselves in a position with double digit minutes to maybe win the game. Justise had 6 points but the 3 points were worth a lot. I don’t know how many, a lot. And then his verve during that time, and Jah during that time all of a sudden went from 10 to 18 real quick. But that was — I mean, that was a key part of the game and Justise was key along with Jah during that time to get us back because there’s a lot of game — just the tournament’s different and you can get a lot of pressure on yourself and have no pressure on the other team when they’re placed in a position like that. Justise really responded.

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