Jan 7 Q&A with Coach K
Coach K
Coach K
TDD Staff
Posted Jan 7, 2013


The ACC head coaches met the media on Monday afternoon for the weekly press conference.

Coach, with the veteran players that you have playing at a high level, how has that helped Rasheed Sulaimon blend in and what have his contributions been so far?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, it's always easier for a younger player if he's playing with established veterans. There's stability most of the time. They can talk to him during a game, not just us talk to him during a timeout.

Rasheed is very athletic and can guard. He's an outstanding driver. He's just done a really good job bringing us a high level of athleticism to our perimeter, the ability to defend, then put the ball in the basket also.

I heard you say a few weeks ago about the '11 team, having a shot to run the table. Almost 40 years now since we've had an undefeated team. Besides talent, what do you think it takes for a team to go undefeated and is there anything about college basketball that has made it harder over the last few decades?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: First of all, just everything has to go right: health, you need veterans. Kentucky almost did it, but they had some veterans on their team last year. Yeah, I don't think you can just do it with young guys.

It took a blend on that team. Kyrie was like an older young player, which obviously he's shown in the NBA. He's just way ahead in maturity to go along with exceptional, exceptional talent. You need good guys, where you don't beat yourself with team issues, jealousies, things like that.

I'm not sure, that's a pretty tough thing to do. That team had a chance because we had the big guys, depth. We had Nolan and Kyle as the veterans. Then we had the best player in the country in Kyrie.

One of the more noticeable things about your team statistically is you've got five guys who can shoot the three and all at a very high percentage. Is this maybe the best collection of this many good three-point shooters that you can recall having?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: No, I don't think so. I think we have good three-point shooting. I think the three-point shooting is enhanced by the fact that we have a player inside that demands attention in Mason. As a result, I think sometimes you get more wide-open shots when you're trying to take away the post.

I think the type of threes we've had this year have been a higher-percentage three overall than in the past.

I want to go back to the undefeated thing again. It's obviously pretty ridiculous to project that. This is the sixth time you've had a team start 14-0. Does pressure build on a team that's undefeated? When Illinois and Saint Joe's got close a couple years ago, there was a suggestion, They might be better off if they lose a game, take the pressure off. Do you buy any of that?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: No, I think some of that is true. It just depends on the team and the situation. Overall I think pressure has something to do with it.

I think one of the biggest things is you get accustomed to winning and you expect to win, but you have to keep the hunger for preparation and the hunger for competition while you're winning, while great things are happening for you. And that's very difficult.

It's very difficult to keep your edge at that level for a long period of time. Therefore, a team has to be really good because it would have to win games when it doesn't have that edge, where talent sometimes just does that.

I don't think that's our team this year. But I think you need that. And I agree with you, though, that there is some amount of pressure there.

People start talking about you being undefeated and not talking about the game you're playing. You end up answering a lot of questions about being undefeated and not the competitor that you have to face. That can be distracting and reduce your edge in preparation.

The other thing is obviously people get pumped up to play an undefeated team. You're No. 1. You've been such a good team for so long, you face that when you're No. 4 or 5. Does it get any different when you're No. 1 and undefeated?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I think if it's someone that hasn't been No. 1 as much. If it's us, I think people get pumped up to play us. I've coached in over 200 games where we've been the No. 1 team in the country. I know that people are pretty pumped up when they play us.

That comes with the territory. Thank goodness you're in that territory because it's nice to have that attention. Can you recall the last time you lost a game on the road and fans did not rush the court?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: No (laughter). Well, neutral site. If it was a neutral site on the road. At an opponent's gym, no.

That's a sign of respect, a sign that it means something. But also it makes what our kids have done over the years even more impressive because you're getting everyone's best shot all the time. That's what each Duke team has to learn. Even the guys who have been on other Duke teams but they were in different roles, like our seniors need to understand that now. They understood it as underclassmen, but now they're the leaders. It takes on a different level of significance for those kids.

Mike, what about Quinn Cook's makeup allows him to be so effective even when his shots aren't falling?

COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, he's a natural point guard. I think if you're a natural point guard, and there aren't that many anymore, there's scoring point guards, different names for point guards, but just a natural point guard is somebody that is judged by winning. That's the way they used to judge all point guards.

So Quinn understands that. If we win, he's done a good job. If we didn't win, he hasn't done as good a job, no matter what his stats are.

He's been exposed with USA Basketball and now at Duke with a high level of expectation for the point guard. He's got a really good personality for that.


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