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Press conference quotes following the Duke win over UNC in the ACC Basketball Tournament

Posted Monday, March 14, 2011

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Greensboro, NC - Duke head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski and several players sat down for a press conference following their win over UNC in the 2011 ACC Basketball Tournament. UNC head basketball coach Roy Williams and his players also spoke.

Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski

Opening statement:

"We’re ecstatic about the win. We beat an outstanding team, a team that we have ultimate respect for, and I thought we played like it. I thought it was our best game of the season. We got better this week. The guys practiced well, and in the Maryland and Virginia Tech games we played well, and they played well against us and we got better. Today our defense, especially our defensive rebounding at critical times … we had exchanges where we probably gave up three or four offensive rebounds, but for the most part we did not give them easy baskets. These two guys (Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler) executed really well. Seth Curry hit as big a bucket as there was in the game to put us up, I think by 12. Andre (Dawkins) in the first half just gave us a verve, I think he hit three 3s. And our big guys have done really well. Ryan Kelly had a great week here, a great three days. And we need all of that to beat this team. We’re very proud to be champs of this conference. I hope you don’t grow tired of me telling you what a privilege it is to coach in the ACC. It’s the best, and we try to play as hard as we can here because of the respect we have for this conference, and it paid off with a championship this time."

Was there any extra motivation playing a week after losing in Chapel Hill?

"The fact that we just played them. We didn’t play well – they played real well, but I didn’t think we competed well in Chapel Hill. The last two weeks of the regular season we just didn’t have the spirit. We were working hard, but there wasn’t a spark. It’s almost like we wanted to play in March already. We beat Clemson (in the last week of the regular season) but we had to play really hard to beat them. It was like there was something missing, and this week we found it. This week we got a little bit more refocused and got better. We didn’t have bad attitudes or anything (before), but there was like a newness. Losing at Chapel Hill the way we did made us realize that we didn’t have that. We didn’t play real well there."

On the role players stepping up:

"We put Miles Plumlee in the starting lineup. Ryan Kelly had a great tournament, and Andre Dawkins, guys who were a little bit inconsistent got consistent in this tournament."

On calling a play for Kyle Singler early in the second half, resulting in a key 3-pointer to slow a UNC run:

"We’ve won 123 games together. These two guys make a lot of our plays look good. When they’re making a run at us, I’m going to have either Nolan or Kyle taking a shot. For the most part, they’ve come through – and even if they didn’t, I’ve told these guys that I’d rather lose with them than win with others. The fact is, though, is that I’m not going to lose very much with these guys and haven’t lost very much with them. I just have ultimate confidence in those two guys, and they know it. If we lose because we take a shot that’s taken in confidence, then we lose. But we have to make sure we don’t take shots that aren’t taken in confidence."

On hugging Nolan Smith and jumping for joy in the closing minutes:

"I was higher than him, I think. I used him for leverage."

On a report that Kyrie Irving had said there was a ‘good chance’ he might play in the NCAA Tournament:

"I think that’s the emotion of missing out on being in this championship. He’s progressing very well, but we’re far away from that decision. He has done well. He’s worked out here every day. We’re not trying to hide anything. We tried to show that, first of all, we do have a guy named Kyrie, and he’s progressing well. I didn’t even watch him in warmups, but our training staff has done a remarkable job. He’s done a lot in water. We have really good facilities, and it’s helped him a lot. If we were a water polo team, he would have been playing today."

On the consistency of the big men (Miles Plumlee, Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly) throughout the tournament:

"They were really good. Steve (Wojciechowski) is doing a great job with them. We continually put more things in where they will get more touches and make more plays. Mason in particular, he’s a great passer. His pass to Andre (Dawkins) today was right on target and Andre knocked it down. I think our big guys feel more involved now in the offense."

On the senior leadership of Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith:

"We told them before today’s game that our team will go like they go. When you study leadership, you never see a leader that’s down. You never see a good leader or a leader of any team that’s not enthusiastic, that’s not brave, that’s not outgoing. I just reminded them to remember that’s who they are, and the other guys will follow them no matter what their stats are. You have to show them. Our two seniors are our leaders, but a leader doesn’t have to be a senior. They just have to portray that image so that the people following them will be at their best. Nolan and Kyle have certainly done that, and they did it at a really high level today. But North Carolina’s a really good basketball team. We played a great game today, but we realize that they’re really good. (John) Henson had 18 rebounds today. You’ve got to be kidding me. He’s all over the place."

On Nolan Smith’s defense performances throughout the entire tournament:

"As much as Nolan did offensively, I thought his defense made him MVP for this tournament. He had a bounce. At the Maryland game, he had an out-of-body experience during that for awhile. But, against (Virginia Tech’s Malcolm) Delaney, you could see that he had a bounce. We even showed him a couple clips this morning of him just having a bounce and a spirit to play defense. We felt that he needed to do that again against (Kendall) Marshall, and he did that. So, his defense was key because it all starts with on-ball pressure."

On the significance of the ACC Tournament:

"They (the players) know it’s important. I’m not just saying this because I’m too old. I’ve been in this league for 31 years. I love the ACC. The ACC has made me a better coach. Duke University obviously has too, but the ACC is the best conference and with the people who support all the teams, and the fans. I just love our conference. I feel like when you’re a part of something that’s bigger than you, and when you’re at a tournament representing that conference, you should be trying to be at your best. That’s my attitude, and the guys know it’s important. They don’t talk about the NCAA Tournament or anything like that. We just say we want to win this tournament, and you can tell how happy we are. Again, we have to move on to the next thing here in a few hours, but it’s an honor. It’s an honor, and I’ve said that for a long time, and we should all feel lucky to be at this conference."

On Duke potentially receiving a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament:

"We’ll just do whatever happens. Usually the way it is, if you’re one of the top four seeds, you should go to the closest pod. I knew no matter what, we and North Carolina should be in the top four. I don’t know how it all figures out. We’re 30-4 and won the ACC (Tournament), so we probably should be (a number one seed). But if we’re not, we’re not, and I’m okay. Let’s just get home, get something to eat, and figure out where the heck we’re going. We’ll start 0-0 again."

Senior Guard Nolan Smith

On playing like a top seed in the NCAA Tournament:

"I think we showed that we should be one of the top No. 1 seeds. We’ll see in a couple of hours what we get."

On his toughness:

"Right now, this is the most important time for this team and for myself. It’s all about winning. I just want to be tough and show my team that I want to be a champion again."

On overcoming his injury:

"I just wanted to win. My trainers did a great job making sure I was healthy and getting me back on the court as soon as possible. Once I took the floor, I didn’t feel any pain."

On extra motivation after losing to North Carolina eight days ago:

"Good defense is about excellence and playing good defense. It’s not only giving up 58 points, last time giving up 51 in the first half. We wanted to send a message to everybody – to our fans, to ourselves – that we’re going to play defense and we want to be champions."

On being up 14 at halftime and making sure UNC’s string of comebacks in the tournament didn’t continue:

"We just wanted to keep our foot on the gas, and we did that. We did a good job of keeping up our energy, kept playing hard. Our big guys did a great job on their bigs. We were just very tough the whole game. We played a 40-minute game and guys made a lot of plays."

On players other than himself and Singler going 18-of-26 from the floor and the trust he had in them as point guard;

"I trust my teammates to the fullest. Ryan had a stretch this year where he was perfect (shooting), and every time I passed him the ball, I felt like he was going to hit a shot. The same with Seth and Andre. I work with those guys every day in practice. They want to win championships, and I am going to get them the ball when they are open. I have full belief in those guys to take shots with confidence."

Senior Forward Kyle Singler

"We wanted to come in here and win a championship. It took us three games. We played well throughout the weekend and I thought we played our best basketball in the championship game. It’s great to win a championship."

On the benefit of Duke’s experience:

"There were some times when our experience helped, but our young guys stepped up today, made some great plays, made some great shots. Experience can only help so much; you just have to go out there and play. It was a team victory. There were some big shots from Seth (Curry) and Ryan Kelly. It was great to see. Towards the end of the year, we’re going to need our young guys to keep shooting like that."

On Nolan Smith:

"Nolan was great. He came up with some tough plays, made some tough buckets. I thought his defense on Kendall Marshall was great, too."

On the defensive job against UNC’s Harrison Barnes:

"We had a great scouting report on him, and we followed the game plan very well. It wasn’t all on him. He was a team assignment. Personally, I just tried to limit his touches and force him to take tough shots."

Was there ever a point today when you said to yourself mentally, ‘We’ve got them?’ "

"With Carolina, you can’t ever think that way. They’re a great offensive team, and the minute you let up, that’s when they are going to make a push. Our guys did a great job of staying focused and trying to play winning basketball."

Sophomore Forward Ryan Kelly

On playing North Carolina a week after losing in Chapel Hill.

"They were the ones that set the tone last time we played them and we couldn’t let that happen today. We were playing for a championship. We were going to lay it all on the line – and we did."

On Duke’s consistent success in the ACC Tournament:

"We want to set the tone. We try to win every championship we can. This is the first step in getting ready for the NCAA Tournament."

North Carolina Quotes

Head Coach Roy Williams

Opening Statement:

"Well, congratulate Duke on a great game, a great run through the tournament. I love my guys, how tough they were the first two days. I didn’t like the way we played, but we had some great things with the comebacks. You couldn’t spot Duke those kind of things and come back because they are too effective. At the end when Mike (Krzyzewski) took out Kyle (Singler) and Nolan (Smith) I stood up and clapped myself because those are two marvelous players and you don’t see seniors hanging around that much playing, and what they did was fantastic. We had some chances, I felt like we got in the second half (when) we cut it to nine we never got the ball. We cut it to 10 and came down and missed an open three and I turned to our bench and said, ‘Boy that would have been fun if we had gotten it down to seven.’ Seth Curry made a three from the left corner and Ryan Kelly made one from the right corner and all of a sudden it was back there where it was a really hard mountain to climb. You just have to congratulate them. They shot the ball in the basket. They did some great things. It really hurt us in every phase of the game. We didn’t shoot it well, we had too many turnovers. Their defense was so much more aggressive than our offense. We were trying to start our offense 40 and 50 feet out on the court and you can’t do that against Duke. We got to get it into the scoring area and try to have good spacing and see what options you have. They were 9 of 20 from the 3 point line, shoot 50 percent from the field and we shoot 25 from the three point line and 34 from the field. We have four more turnovers so you add all those things together and it is a bad afternoon for us. Congratulations to them. Nolan Smith, I really like him. I really like him as a kid, I really like his game. Before the game, he was down there warming up and I said, ‘Nolan, how is your toe?’ He said ‘fine’ and I said ‘shucks’ or ‘darn,’ or I didn’t curse. I just love how tough he is, he is really tough on both ends of the court. You saw yesterday he made it tough for Malcolm Delaney and he really made life tough for Kendall (Marshall). But it was Duke University against North Carolina and today Duke was a much better team than we were."

Is there a reason in the three tournament games that you got off to a slow start?

"I don’t know what it is. If I did, I would have already fixed it. I know that is a standard answer. We played Duke at our place eight days ago, we got off to a good start. The game before that, Florida State, we get off to a good start down there. We get off to a good start against Maryland at home. It was just when we crossed the city limits into Greensboro, we didn’t realize the starting time of the game or something. If I knew what it was we would have tried to fix it, we talked about fixing it. The first play of the game, we get a layup and we miss it. They come down and they get a layup and miss it but they get an offensive rebound and put it back in. We turn it over 40 feet away and they go down and score again.

If I knew what it was, I would have fixed it already."

"It’s not North Carolina doesn’t do this or North Carolina doesn’t do that, you have to give the other team credit. He’s (Nolan Smith) a tough, tough dude to guard. They have a senior guard who in my opinion had the best year of anybody in college basketball. I know Jimmer Fredette has had a great year and Kemba (Walker) has had a great year, but I can’t imagine anyone who’s done more than Nolan Smith has. He’s guarded people, he’s done everything. We have a freshman (Kendall Marshall) trying to guard a senior (Smith). Let’s give some credit to Duke and their players. It is hard to guard Nolan. We have done a better job recently defensively than we did today, but he’s a good reason for that. It’s wasn’t what North Carolina fails to do. Yeah, we have a freshman point guard and he did not play well. He’d be the first one to tell you that. He will learn from it and be a much better player because of it. Nolan’s aggressiveness on the defensive end of the floor made us start our offense 45 feet from the basket. Kendall didn’t feel like he could get past him and that’s an uncomfortable feeling for a point guard. I used this example with Kendall: A long time ago, before he was even alive, (Las) Vegas beat Duke by 30 in the national championship game with a point guard named Bobby Hurley. He learned from it and became a big-time, big-time, big-time player. I told Kendall that I expected him to do the same thing. And having a freshman as our go-to guy, Harrison Barnes, has a tremendous ability to score the ball. Kyle Singler, another senior, was guarding him and made it tough for him. Some of his shots didn’t go in as easily today as they did yesterday. Sometimes he lost a little patience too. Teams that I think always have the greatest chance is called experienced talent. That’s what we played today. We have some talent, we don’t have a lot of experience. I think experienced talent today beat talent."

With the falling behind early and having to fight back, is it a good message for the players that you can’t keep doing that? Do they need that?

"Evidently, because I couldn’t convince them otherwise. Duke convinced them today. Do I like that? No. I’d like to have those 8-0 leads in our favor. But I never think the basketball game is over in the first two minutes. I want our guys to be able to reach back and keep going, keep going and keep going and never give in. Hopefully, those kinds of things will start happening. We’ve got to play better early. I’ve always said you should be able to learn some things when you win, but there’s no question it’s more effective when you lose."

How hard is it to guard Nolan Smith when the other guys are knocking down shots?

"We always talk we have to focus on Nolan, but you can’t ignore the other guys. They were great today. Look at Ryan Kelly. This is a guy I love. I tried to recruit him. If you look at the game at our place he was 0-5 in the first half. Some guys shoot the ball in the hole about any time, but most people are human and not going to shoot it in (all the time). They did a great job of finding people, finding shooters. We just didn’t get Nolan’s penetration stopped. When he breaks you down and gets to the middle of the lane, he’s so effective at scoring, with the little eight- or 10-footer and getting fouled. We didn’t want those other guys to beat us to death, either."

We can see talent, but how long is that list of ways you can only learn from experience?

"I think it’s a long list and one is the finality as you go down your senior year and all of a sudden one game and you’re over. Seniors and experienced players understand the swiftness with which your season can end. More experienced players understand how special these moments are. (Former Tar Heel) Tyler Hansbrough and those guys really relished the idea of the experience they were having as freshmen. They thought it was going to be there probably all the time. There’s little things. They get out and hedge on a ball screen and they’re down in the (defensive) stance just a little more than we are. So when there’s a collision, the referee does not call a foul and Leslie (McDonald) dribbles the ball off his foot out of bounds. On the other end we got a guy who jumps out there and tries to hedge and he’s a little bit short in his stance so he’s standing more straight up and the official calls a foul on him. The extra five seconds it takes to get a great shot, the more experienced players do that. In the first half the shot clock’s winding down. We have a deal that we’re going to switch the screen on the ball with the shot clock winding down and our guys forgot. It doesn’t mean that Nolan’s got to bank the friggin’ thing in. But he made the shot because we didn’t have a guy step up and guard him. You can’t play the game of basketball always trying to teach every possession. Sometimes they have to step up and do it beforehand. And those teams that step up and do it beforehand will be the more experienced teams."

Junior Forward Tyler Zeller

How much more physical was Duke than you?

"They were more physical and I think overall just more aggressive. The refs let us play and I don’t think we adapted to it as well as they did."

What do you get out of this game in preparation for the NCAA Tournament?

"Hopefully, we adapt to it well and we come back and we practice harder than we’ve ever practiced this week to prepare for it and then we go out and play the full 40 minutes, which is what we didn’t do here. We came, and in the first half we were usually terrible and we got behind and in the second half we were always trying to come back. It’s one of those things we got to do, to put 40 minutes together. In the (NCAA) tournament, you can’t afford to get behind like that."

In the second half of the season, you pushed teams out defensively and turned them into jump-shooters. How was Duke able to get into the lane?

"I think you got to give a lot of credit to Nolan Smith. He’s a great player and he’s a tough guy to stay in front of. He can create a lot of stuff. When he’s driving to the basket you’ve got to help and then he kicks it out to the shooter. You’ve got to give a lot of credit to him, and he’s a great player."

Sophomore Forward John Henson

How much more physical was Duke than you?

"They were physical. We got in there and tried to get tough with them. Both teams came to play, but they were more aggressive. We have to come prepare, we have to play again next week."

Were you tired after expending all the energy of the last three days?

"They played two games, we played two games. They played after us. That’s just an excuse that we are not gonna use. We should have just came prepared."

In the second half of the season, you pushed teams out defensively and turned them into jump-shooters. How was Duke able to get into the lane?

"It seems almost at will he (Smith) can get to where he wants on the court. That’s something we couldn’t stop tonight. We got to do better at that and playing our principles."

What do you get out of this game in preparation for the NCAA Tournament?

"We just to prepare to come back and remember how this felt, come back and be resilient like we always do and keep playing."

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