City Sports Report

Mike Krzyzewski Jahlil Okafor interview after loss to Notre Dame

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Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski Jahlil Okafor both spoke with the media after their loss in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament last night.  Below is a transcript.

COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  I want to congratulate Notre Dame.  I thought Mike had his team primed for us, and they played with great energy and togetherness.  They were a very difficult team to defend.
We’ve won a lot in a row.  I think we had won 12 in a row and playing light’s out basketball, and I don’t know from last night to tonight we just took that for granted on the necessary components to do that.  But for about the first 24 minutes, I’m not sure‑‑ I don’t know who we were coaching tonight.  We weren’t talking.  We weren’t doing anything.  We weren’t following instructions and it was like an out‑of‑body experience.

Again, Notre Dame has something to do with it because they come out with that verve, and in the last 16 minutes we play like we’ve played.  This has been a great basketball team.  They finally found their character, and they put themselves in a position where they could win the game, which was, to me unbelievable, to be quite frank with you with how poorly we’ve played for 24 minutes.

Hopefully, we’re still in a point in time where we can learn from this.  Next game we play, there is no more learning.  You’ve got to do it.  We had not lost since January, and sometimes I think you can take winning‑‑ not winning for granted, but the preparation to win, the emotional, the intellectual preparation that it takes to win, and we as a group didn’t have that.

Then the last 16 minutes we played our butts off.  Yeah, I’m proud of how we played the last 16 minutes, but not how we played before then.

Q.  Coach, you mentioned a lot of things that didn’t go well in the first half.  Was there one thing in particular that was the most concerning for you about your team?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  No, no.  Just that there wasn’t it.  We’ve had it this season, and then we found it at the 16‑minute mark of the second half.  Look, I love my team.  My team has played great.  But for some reason we were not there.  Even if we’re there, we may not beat Notre Dame, but there was no way in heck that we were going to win.

Q.  Did you feel at any point, even with the 16 minutes that you played really well, and this is a question for either one of you, that you ever really got into an offensive flow?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  Yeah, yeah, I mean, the second half, absolutely.  We scored like 38 points, and then we missed every jumpshot.  I mean, Q had‑‑ I’m not blaming him‑‑ but he had wide open looks.
No, our offense in the last 16 minutes was excellent.  That’s the best Ja’s played in a couple weeks, really, as far as getting him the ball.  No, I had no fault then in the last 16 minutes.  If we play like that, we’ll be all right.

Q.  Mike, did you notice right away that things weren’t looking good and that’s why you called that timeout really quick?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  Yeah, we said three or four things for them to do, and they didn’t do any of them.  That is so uncharacteristic.  Obviously, it’s not because they have a bad attitude or anything, but whatever, they weren’t there mentally.
We were trying to get something the whole half, but even at halftime starting a different group.  Then I think they got themselves going at the first timeout, and then they were a fun team to coach.  They’re battling, just like they have all year.  So you have to play 40 minutes and we didn’t do that.

Q.  Yesterday you said Quinn had been a little under the weather.  Were his legs there today?  Was it more a product of them‑‑
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  I never use injuries and that, sickness as an excuse.  He had to guard Grant and Grant was good, but, yeah, the two of them were having a battle, let’s put it that way.  So they probably tired each other out.
I think more so Quinn missed his shots because they meant more because we hadn’t played well, so you put some pressure on your shot I shot to hit this, instead of being in the flow of things.  I think it was more of that, but I’m sure he’s tired.  He played a lot of minutes, and he’s played really hard.

Q.  Last year you had a young team that didn’t live up to expectations in the postseason?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  I don’t know.  My team won 26 games last year.  They lived up to my expectations.  My team last year lost in the first round.  That doesn’t mean they didn’t live up to my expectations.  It was a disappointing loss.  My team played their butts off last year to put themselves as a high seed in the NCAA tournament.  We all have different ways of looking at it.  I’m telling you the way I looked at it and I was with them all year.

Q.  Tells you this young team is going to have that poise in the postseason, and also for Jahlil, coach said this was a learning experience, what did you learn?
JAHLIL OKAFOR:  Just we started off poorly and coach tried to warn us before the game that this is a game where we might get off to a slow start.  Myself and my teammates, like I said, we started off poorly.  Just finding a way to get each other before the game, he could sense something going on when we tipped the ball because coach he called a timeout in the first two minutes, and we weren’t ready to play.  So we had to figure out a way to get each other going when things like that happen.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  My answer to your second question is that we’ve won 29 games and have been one of the best teams in the country with four freshmen and eight guys.  I like my team.  We’re ready to go to war in the NCAA tournament, and we’ll take what the consequences are of our efforts.  And each team is different, each team, each season is different.

Q.  Jahlil, you played very well today, you had 28‑8.  What was your mentality today with the ball in your hands and what is your mentality going into the tournament?
JAHLIL OKAFOR:  Just trying to play better than I have the last couple of weeks.  Me and coach talked before the game and he told me I wasn’t playing as well as I needed to.  So just trying to play better for my teammates.  The past couple of weeks they’ve really been playing well and that’s why we’ve been winning.
So I feel like I let my teammates down, so we played with a lot of heart tonight and I tried to get my teammates going.  But for March Madness or the next postseason it’s the same thing.  Just try to be dominant, get my teammates going and try to help them out a little bit.

Q.  Coach, after all these years are even you sometimes surprised that your team has the it, almost perfectly, against N.C. State?  It was all it, and then you’re searching for the it the very next day?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  No I mean, 40 years of doing this, it’s tough.  I’m glad we’ve had it a lot, but it is not owned by anybody, it has to be earned, whatever it is.  All right.  But we’ve had it most of the year.

Q.  Jahlil, given the ease that you were getting the ball in deep and scoring in that run in the second half.  Were you surprised they never came at you with the double team?
JAHLIL OKAFOR:  I wasn’t surprised.  We played Notre Dame previously twice and they never double teamed me.  So going into the game I was expecting them to play me single coverage.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI:  I want to thank the city of Greensboro and all the volunteers.  They go nuts to make sure everything goes well for us, and, again, spectacular event.  From Duke University and all of us, the fans and our contingent, just thank you very much.

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