City Sports Report

Mike Krzyzewski on one-and-dones “It’s up to us to adapt to the environment”

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Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski and players Quinn Cook, Tyus Jones, and Justise Winslow speak with media before game against San Diego State on Sunday.

Q. This is for Quinn and Tyus and Justise, too. Last night Coach talked about how Quinn, you’ve shared that leadership role with a freshmen, and how a lot of times freshmen need that go ahead to speak up. Can you talk about how you guys have worked out that dynamic and it hasn’t been a problem like it might be for a lot of teams and kids?

QUINN COOK: Definitely. One thing about our team, it’s not just the upperclassmen, the seniors, juniors doing all the leadership, the motivating. A lot of times we have three freshmen on the floor at all times and even Grayson has stepped up, which makes four. So we want to have leadership from everybody and there’s been times when I’ve been in a funk and either one of these guys get on me telling me to step it up and that’s one thing that makes our team so special. We’re close off the court so it translates on the court so we can say whatever to each other and we can trust each other. It’s not just been myself. Amile, who’s captain, everybody asks, played a part in being a great leader this year.

TYUS JONES: Quinn has been a great leader since day one, he’s been a leader of this team. But as a leader he told us coming in that everybody on the team can be a leader, everyone can get on somebody, tell them pick it up or what they did wrong and stuff like that. As the leader and captain of our team, for him to say that it just gives you confidence and he made that known since day one.

  1. JUSTISE WINSLOW: Pretty much it’s about keeping everybody accountable. Q’s our leader but at the same time if Q’s not doing something right, then Tyus is going to get on him. It’s just about trusting, believing in each other, having your brother’s back and keeping everybody accountable.Q. This is for Quinn first and then Tyus, and Justise can jump in after that. San Diego State’s a pretty good defensive team, seems like tempo’s going to be important for you guys to get the game going at a higher speed. Quinn, what’s going to be important for you guys to pay attention to in that department?
    QUINN COOK: We have to play at our pace. I think they like to control the tempo. They’re a great defensive team, they’re very long and they use their length to their advantage. We still want to get in transition, get some early 3s, get Jah going, and I think the key did rebounding. Those guys are humungous. I think if we can control the boards, and make those guys work, I think we will be fine. Those guys are a heck of a team, they won some bigtime games, especially last night against St. John’s to advance. They’re a confident team and they’re shooting the ball extremely well. We have to focus on rebounding and it will be fine.

    TYUS JONES: Yeah, like Quinn said, they’re a great defensive team so we know that we’re going to have to work on the offensive end and be sharp. But yeah, we’re going to have to keep them off the glass, hold them to one shot and then try to get out like Quinn said and get some easy transition points and maybe open things up for us. We’ve just got to be sharp and stay together, regroup, not worry about last name. It’s a new game, a new day, so we’ve just got to be sharp and play Duke basketball.

    JUSTISE WINSLOW: Really just comes down to playing smart and playing our game, push is when we can but at the same time know the time, know the situation, know when to pull it back out. I think we’ll do a great job of doing that, it starts with the defensive rebound on the defensive end so we got to get that first before we can run transition, but when we’re playing in transition we’re pretty much unstoppable. With the way we can knock down 3s in transition, big fellas on the floor, it just makes us real tough to beat.

    Q. This is for Tyus and Justise, as freshmen talk about what it’s been like playing for Coach K and maybe one thing, one of the most important things you’ve learned from him? And also you guys seem to be growing out your hair all year, is that something that y’all talked about doing as a team or something that you just ended up doing instinctively?
    MODERATOR: Coach K, then we’ll deal with the hair.

    TYUS JONES: Playing under Coach has been great and that’s a big reason why you come to Duke, so you can learn from the best coach in the game. For myself personally he’s taught me just a lot, not even having to do with physical skills on the basketball, but more leadership stuff, having to talk more, how to control and run your team, just taught me how to be a better and more complete point guard.

    JUSTISE WINSLOW: For me just as a freshman like Tyus said, one of the biggest reasons you come to Duke is to play for Coach K. He’s one of the best ever, but just one of the biggest ways he’s influenced my name is from the mental aspect, mental preparation, mental focus. That’s something that I kind of lacked coming into my freshman year but just learning to be more consistent, play consistent, be mentally consistent night in and night out is something that Coach K has really taught me pretty well so far this year.

    QUINN COOK: I can speak on the hair. Justise, he had it when he first got here and I was kind of growing mine out, so Matt started doing it and then Tyus and Jah joined along, and Matt cut his. All the fans like it so we just kept it going.

    Q. For Justise and for Tyus, Rick Pitino, the Louisville coach came out a few days talking about the one-and-done rule and he said should get rid of that rule and top talent coming out of high school should probably be allowed to go to the NBA if they can and players who go to college should probably stay in college a few years. What do you guys think is fairest to you?
    JUSTISE WINSLOW: It’s nothing we can really say, nobody can comment on that. Whatever the rule is, that’s what you’ve got to follow. Right now the rule is right now one year. For a lot of players, if they’re ready, they’re going to leave. But you just got to abide by the rule, whatever the rule is. Whatever we think is fair, whatever, doesn’t really matter. Just abiding by the rule is the biggest thing.

    TYUS JONES: Yeah, same thing as Justise said. You’ve got to abide by the rules no matter what. Players, we don’t make the rules, so just kind of the new era. 10, 15 years ago, players were used to being able to come out right after high school, but it’s just something that’s changed in this day and age.

    Q. Do you wish you had a statement in that rule?
    JUSTISE WINSLOW: No, not really.

    TYUS JONES: Me, either. It’s one of those things where you can’t focus on it, can’t worry about it and that’s — personally that’s not where our focus is at this point.

    Q. For Tyus and Justise, you talked about coming to Duke to learn from Coach K. Can each of you talk about him and express the difference in your game now as opposed to the beginning of the season, how much have you grown?
    TYUS JONES: I think I’ve grown, like I said earlier, just being a better, complete point guard, just doing more of the leadership things. Coach has taught me a lot with that as well as Quinn at the same time, just doing small stuff like talking more at dead balls, bringing the team together, just making sure everybody knows what play we’re in, getting guys in the right spots. Stuff like that, small stuff that you might not focus on in high school and coming into college. He stresses that to me as the point guard. And like Justise said, mentally, mentally how to approach the game, how to break down defenses and reading defenses and stuff like that. That’s what I feel I’ve improved on the most.

    JUSTISE WINSLOW: The biggest thing that Coach K has been able to teach me isn’t anything physical like skill-wise but more mentally how to approach the game whether it’s through the game plan or scouting of your opponent. Like Tyus said, it’s really just a mental aspect, his leadership, his ability to pass that down to us, but really just being able to focus and prepare for each game, each practice and just the mental approach, learn how to defend ball screens and those type of things has really been the biggest thing and biggest advancement that Coach K’s given to me.

    Q. To Tyus, you and Jah decided you wanted to go to college together. How hard was it to keep that pact and what led you to go to Duke?
    TYUS JONES: It wasn’t that hard for us. People didn’t believe us, but we were in it one hundred percent together. We approached the recruiting process together. We took visits at the same time. We talked daily about different schools and stuff like that, ultimately Duke felt like home to us. Coach K, we had all the trust in the world for him and the staff, and we loved the team already. Duke was home and we’re a hundred percent glad that we came here.

    Q. For all three of you, do any of you know any of the San Diego State players? Have you run across them anywhere, and if not, does that change anything when you’re playing a team that’s knew?
    QUINN COOK: I know Winston Shepard just from the AAU circuit. We played on Adidas AAU circuit, did camps together. So I know him. We all watch basketball. We watched them play Arizona and Maui. We watched, myself and Tyus watched them play against UNLV this year. We’re fans of the game so we are familiar with those guys and they’re a great team. Coach Fisher does a heck of a job.

    TYUS JONES: I don’t know any of their players personally but like Quinn said, we’re fans of the game, so you know them through AAU in high school and obviously from this year just watching college basketball, you see them play a couple of times. Obviously you’re just watching and observing. So we see them and we’re somewhat familiar with them, but on a personal note I don’t know any of their players close or anything like that.

    JUSTISE WINSLOW: Well, I know Winston Shepard just because he’s from the Huston area, just working out with him back home. Like they said, just being fans of the game, you get to know a lot of players of a lot of the teams. Our coaches do a great job of doing the scouting report on all the players so by the time the game rolls around we’re pretty familiar with all the teams.

    Q. After the Notre Dame game, Coach K was pretty unhappy the way you started the game and said he hoped you learned a lesson about having to prepare and focus every timeout. Do you feel you’ve learned that lesson, is that something you’ve got to be concerned about going on?
    JUSTISE WINSLOW: Definitely, we’ve got to learn to start better, have stronger starts and just put a better 40-minute performance all together. We can’t have those lulls like we did yesterday in the second half where we let them get back in the game, and if we can do that, start strong and play hard for 40 minutes, then we’ll put ourselves in a great position to win.

    TYUS JONES: This is just a learning experience for us. This is something that we can learn from and especially prior to the tournament, it’s something that we don’t want to let happen again. So like Justise said, we’ve got to come out the gate strong, focused and mentally prepared and be ready to go 40 minutes.

    QUINN COOK: Basically saying the same thing, just we can’t spot a team 17, 18 points, especially in the postseason because guys are playing for their season. I know seniors, they don’t want their season to end and I think after the Notre Dame loss, I think we kind of really realized that we are close to the end, and we don’t want the special teams to end our season, just starting with attention to detail, sense of urgency for all 40 minutes.

    Q. In that post-game press conference he said that he thought that you guys took for granted what it takes mentally to prepare to win because you had gone on that long win streak. Did you take that loss to Notre Dame, was that fresh in your mind coming into the NCAA Tournament?
    QUINN COOK: I don’t think so. I think we had a meeting after the game and we didn’t watch any film or anything of the loss. I mean, I just think it was something that we knew what happened and we fought back and we had a chance to win. So after, it’s a new season. Coach said it was 0-0 and we just got prepared for yesterday’s game and we didn’t have an opponent so it was a week for us to really focus on ourselves, just get back in the right shape, get back sharp the way we were because I don’t think we were sharp as we were in those 12 games, 13 games we were winning. So we kind of focused on ourselves and just took it as one-and-done mentality.

    TYUS JONES: Yeah, just a lot of the same thoughts Quinn has, just we weren’t as sharp as we had been in the previous games. We played a really good game versus NC State the night before so I think we came out a little bit more relaxed and not as intense as we needed to be and it hurt us. We spotted them 15, 17 points and dug ourself a hole that we just weren’t quite able to climb out of.

    Q. For Quinn, I’m interested, what’s your perception of them? Obviously they’re not a college basketball blue blood but over the last five years they’ve won just as many NCAA Tournament games as Duke has, I think they have more players that have played in more NCAA Tournament games than on your roster. Do you consider them a top 25 big-time school or are they just sort of one of those other schools out there in the wilderness?
    QUINN COOK: They’re here for a reason. Coach Fisher, he’s obviously experienced coaching the Fab Five, being in National Championship games, actually winning the National Championship, going to the Elite Eight a couple years ago. We respect those guys, they’re a top 20 team, they’re here for a reason, they beat a great St. John’s team that we played against and we struggled with those St. John’s guys and they were up the whole game. We definitely respect those guys, they’re here for a reason. We’ve got to prepare the same way as we do for any team and I think we’re doing a great job of that and I know those guys will be ready.

    Q. For the panel, does SDSU resemble anybody that you’ve played already?
    QUINN COOK: They remind me a little bit of Virginia just the way they play defense. Their length, they play at their own pace. And they’re older, I think they start three seniors, Polee, O’Brien and Quinn, juniors with Shepard and the big guy. They’re good. Chol, coming off the bench, they’re extremely talented and they play great defense, they play great defense and that’s what really sticks out to us. Defense wins games so we have to play defense just as they do tomorrow.

    TYUS JONES: I agree with Quinn, they remind me a lot of Virginia just because of how good a defensive team they are and their size and length. They’ve got Polee and Shepard as a two and three and they’re 6-7, 6-8, so when you’ve got size like that, it’s a hard match-up and it definitely gives you an advantage so they remind me of Virginia just because of the size that they have.

    JUSTISE WINSLOW: Like they said, Virginia, with their length and ability to control the pace and the tempo, that’s the biggest thing that they do. Playing at their speed and teams really have trouble with that, just their ability to play defense and their length makes it really tough to score on them.

    Q. I wanted to ask again about preparation last night, there was a lot of talk about the balance between focus and looseness that you obviously don’t want to come out — Quinn, you’ve been through everything, how do you keep the team loose and focused at the same time?
    QUINN COOK: I mean, just be kids. I mean, we’re all, you know, in college. I mean, we want to have fun. We’re not always in hotel room just talking basketball. We want to be ourselves, that’s how we stay loose. But also at the end of the day when it’s time to watch film and get prepared for the next team. We take it seriously. On the way to games, it’s all business, we’re never joking and laughing when it comes down to being prepared for the game. We’ve been in some big time games this year and we created some good habits. We don’t play tight because we always remind ourselves that we’ve been here before, especially with a younger team, that’s the advantage we have, with the amount of big games that these games have played in, it really helps us.

    MODERATOR: Okay, thank you. We’re ready to begin with Coach Krzyzewski.

    Q. Way back in December 2001, Coach Fisher was still building his program and they came to Cameron Indoor Stadium for great exposure. Talk about how far he’s brought that program from that day?
    COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, he’s built a great program. San Diego State and their community should be really — should really value the fact that Steve’s been there. That’s what we’re going to face tomorrow. We’re not going to face an outstanding team; we’re going to face an outstanding program. All the values and principles that he brought there and developed, you know, after his first year, his first year was difficult. Since then, he’s brought in great kids who played the game the right way. This team is no exception to it. It will be a difficult game for us against Steve’s team.

    Q. You and Coach Fisher met a long time ago in the tournament and you’ve been around coaching circles a long time. What is your relationship with him? How much interaction, I know you have some common Midwest roots as well.
    COACH KRZYZEWSKI: We’ve been friends for a long time but before the championship game in the early ’90s, we’re both old coaches who we got in it for the right reasons and we’re still in it for the right reasons. So he’s a good friend. He and his wife are good friends with my wife and I. He’s just been really good for basketball. I’ve enjoyed my friendship with him.

    Q. Coach, Jah and Tyus wanted to go to college together. Do you recruit them as individuals? How did you guys approach that or did you recruit them as a pair?
    COACH KRZYZEWSKI: We really approached it, recruiting them, as individuals because no matter what youngsters say, you can’t be sure about that. But they came on their visit together. Their families know each other really well because of USA Basketball, and so we saw that connection. But the thing, if one of them, if they were going to be true to that, if one of them didn’t like it, then the other one wasn’t going to go. So obviously I’m glad it worked out that way. We recruited them for a long time.

    Q. Rick Pitino was on Dan Patrick show a few days ago, talking about the one-and-done rule, doesn’t like it. You’ve been able to adapt your program to whatever system there is and done well with the one-and-done, but if you had your way, would you change it? And do you think this is the best way for the students?
    COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Right now in college, a lot of students aren’t completing four years because they’re getting out into the business world, so I think there’s a change anyway going on. Certainly in other sports, kids go all the time. It really doesn’t matter what I would want, it’s what the players’ union and the NBA would decide on. I think the NBA would like two years. And the counsel for the players’ union came out a couple weeks ago, I don’t know what function this was at, but said that it didn’t seem like they wanted the same thing. They would even like kids to come right out of high school. We just have to adapt to whatever’s going to happen with the NBA and the players’ union. Really, it doesn’t make any difference what we want, we have to adapt to it.

    Q. Just to follow up on that just a little bit, you’ve been through the first third of your career where you never lost a guy early. Then you went through another decade where you lost a few but kept a few, Battier, Redick for four years. Now you have kind of been in this one-and-done era where you’ve had a lot. Can you just talk about your career in that regard and how much more difficult or is it more difficult now with this system?
    COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It’s always difficult to get to the level of excellence that we want no matter what the environment is. Basically it’s up to us to adapt to the environment and whatever culture is there and the rules. It’s like running a company. If you want to be a CEO for a long time, you had better adapt to the changes that are occurring in business an the economy and international relations and all that. So adaptability is the key thing. I’m also at a school that allows me to adapt and the people, the infrastructure that we have in our program and in our school and the leadership has allowed me to change accordingly. But we’ve changed a lot over the years and we needed to. Now, I don’t think we’ve changed our values or our principles, but certainly the way we recruit and how we play and how we interact with our guys continually changes.

    Q. Last night San Diego State shot the lights out from the 3, and I think they scored the most points they have since February or January. How do you prepare for that as this is a team normally that likes to muck it up but now they’re coming off an offensive outburst. Does that change how you prepare?
    COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think one of the things that changes is how Polee’s played. He was out for a long period of time and I think he’s been back for seven games or a small number of games. He was fantastic last night. And he may be coming on. In other words, he may be regaining what he missed by being out and then that gives them another 3-point shooter besides Shrigley and Quinn and gives them even more depth. And you put more than one shooter out there and it stretches and it gives O’Brien a chance to make more plays. So I just think they’re integrating him back into their system has helped immensely and makes them a more difficult team to defend.

    Q. Obviously not from here, so I’m a little bit confused how this works. Is a Charlotte crowd a Duke crowd or is it going to be mixed tomorrow? Because I heard a lot of Carolina, saw a lot of Carolina shirts last night. Will the Virginia fans root for San Diego State? What do you expect in terms of the crowd?
    COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I don’t expect anything. You know, I expect to play San Diego State. A crowd never influences us. We always play in front of a big crowd and sometimes that crowd is for us, sometimes it’s mixed, and sometimes it’s against us. I’m trying to figure out how to guard O’Brien, not how to sell Duke shirts and dolls and all those types of things. I just hope we have a great crowd, it’s two tremendous games, four really outstanding programs.

    Q. With the way they play defense, how important is getting your transition game going going to be and what’s the best way to go about that?
    COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think St. John’s is pretty good in transition, and I don’t think Quinn was up to par health-wise last night. I think they’re a better transition defense team than they showed last night, let’s put it that way. I think they’re an outstanding defensive team for a number of reasons. One, they’re very athletic. Two, they have amazing length. Then they have incredible experience and then they’re deep. So they’ve done their thing a long time with one another and then they have — you can’t practice against length unless you have it. So I think you’re surprised. I mean, kids can be surprised with how long they are and how athletic they are. They’re one of the best defensive teams in the country and I think those four factors, a lot of people can’t matchup with that in putting a defense out on the court.

    Q. You’ve talked a lot about Matt Jones as a guy who doesn’t need the ball as much on offense?
    COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Right.

    Q. How has he improved or changed your ball movement?
    COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, Matt’s helped us in every way. Before ball movement, he’s our best perimeter defender off the ball, and he’s good on the ball also, but he adds a toughness element. He hasn’t been a consistent high percentage shooter, but he’s hit unbelievably big shots, and then he can streak but he can also drive the ball. And then he can play where he doesn’t take a shot and he’ll be all right. So the ball, the ball doesn’t stop in his hands, it usually moves to another good place. And then he can offensive rebound. Matt’s been a really good player for us and that’s why he’s been starting. I think that lineup has helped, and then our two big guys coming off the bench, Marshall and Amile have really improved during this last month.

    Q. Coach K, Tyus and Justise talked about how much you have helped them improve their game from a mental aspect. As freshmen. And as a Coach who has been doing it for a long time, do you find it easier to relate to your younger players or do you — does it get easier as time goes on?
    COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, no, it doesn’t get easier. I think it doesn’t get harder, it’s just always different. I mean, my middle daughter is here with her three boys: Quinn, Rem and Caid and they’re all different. She relates to them in different ways and I think that’s what you have to do with your players. Tyus and Justise, they want to learn and they’re capable. Their glass is bigger as far as what you can fill it, you can give them more because maturity- and then intellectually as a player, they can absorb more. And then there’s no stoppage because they believe in us. Not just me, but Jeff Capel and Jon Scheyer and Nate James, so they’re very willing learners. It’s been great coaching them because they give you energy. I think if you would ask any teacher what class do they enjoy teaching the most, they would say the class that wants to learn because it brings out more of your teaching. Those kids, that’s what they do, they’re great kids to teach.

    Q. You look at who Marshall has had to guard in practice throughout his career: Miles, Mason, Jabari a little bit and Jah this year. How do you make sure that, especially when he’s going up against Jah, like, he doesn’t get frustrated or down on himself or just because that’s a pretty tough assignment for anyone to handle?
    COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, it is, and also you’re not getting like, even if you did well in practice, there’s no headline about that. It’s a good observation. I think we have to tell him how well he’s doing. And then there’s a point, big guys come around at a different timeframe than the perimeter guys. This last month he’s just taken a giant step forward forward. Marshall is really a good player right now. I do think throughout his career some of those times he was hurt, and so that knocked him back, but playing against Jah, I think, has helped him. I really think in practice when they’re doing individual work, playing against Sean Obi has helped, who’s transferred and strong guy. Sean’s done a good job in practice sessions to be physical with Marshall and with Amile and that’s helped him.

    Q. Mike, what about this tournament still surprises you? Like with the way we started off this year with some of the 14-3 upsets, things like that. Have you just seen it all before or are there still things that happen that kind of take you back?
    COACH KRZYZEWSKI: No, I don’t think you’ve ever seen — you see different ways to win and lose. I wish we didn’t see a game starting at 10:45. I mean, I can’t even believe that that could happen. I can’t believe that that could happen. Could you? I mean, how did that happen, by the way? That’s not right. That’s not right. But the tournament keeps growing and kids keep doing magnificent things, some kids do things that aren’t so magnificent which lead to someone doing something magnificent. The tournament has — everyone talks about game pressure. When you get to the tournament, it’s tournament pressure. It’s game pressure at the highest level. What that does creates even more magical moments. We had tournament pressure on us last night when it got down to 10 and Justise responded with three magnificent plays that gave us 8 points and them none. So, like, that was a great moment because he was not — he hadn’t been playing that well and then all of a sudden he was great. But the pressure of the tournament can get to you. It can get you to perform high or low. So there’s always something new, always something new that’s going on.

    Q. Sort of piggybacking off that, you’ve been around the game a long time, Austin Carr scored, I think, 61 points in an NCAA Tournament game. It’s a record that stood since, I believe, 1970. What are your thoughts about that and do you think anyone is ever going to challenge a record like that?
    COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think most records will eventually be beaten because they just are, they just are. Nothing against Austin, he’s pretty good. Wonder if everyone knows who he is. Wonder if any players know who he is. Well, yeah, they may not know anybody from the ’80s. I have to be careful about that when I make references, like is that out of date or whatever. But it will be broken at some time just number of wins — probably Coach Wooden’s record will never be broken, that’s one that’s — that’s pretty darn hard. But points, rebounds, things like that, wins I think pretty good chance that they’ll all be broken.

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