K: "We're playing an outstanding team"

Coach K

Coach K talks about his team, the game against Miami, and changing lineups in Durham as part of his weekly teleconference.

Q. Last year Reggie Johnson really hurt you guys inside. You get them without Johnson but you don't have (Ryan) Kelly. Who has the advantage?

Mike Krzyzewski: Well, they've played great basketball with (Julian) Gamble. Gamble is a sixth-year senior and is averaging close to a double-double in the last five or six games. I mean, he's really been a key for them. The thing they do so well with their big guys is they protect their basket so well, and that's why they've been a really good defensive team. They're an old, very good team. They're accustomed to playing together, and they've adjusted really well with a key guy out, although he's been out at different times over the last couple years, so they're a little bit more familiar with it. I'm sure they'd like to have him back, but they're playing pretty well without him.

Q. You guys, this will be your third straight game without Kelly. I know you don't get comfortable without him, but is it getting a little easier to-- guys getting a little more comfortable playing with the current rotation?

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I think as you go along, you're going to be more familiar with one another, and when that guy is out, you get accustomed to that better the longer he's out, and we don't want him out for as long as he may be out.

But I think the thing that happens is roles change and points of emphasis and opponents' attacks on you change and how they're trying to stop you. They can look at more ways of stopping Mason (Plumlee) and Seth (Curry) with Ryan being out, and that makes it more difficult for us to score.

So we're going to have to really do a good job of screening and getting each other open and really work -- we're trying to work at being much better in our execution on the offensive end.

Q. When you've gone down to Miami in recent years, it's one of the times during the season when their building is usually full, and it's not that way for all games. Do you sense that there's more of a buzz about their program? Do you have any feel for that at all and what kind of atmosphere you might expect Wednesday?

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: You know what, we always have a good atmosphere wherever we play. I mean, the people down there should be excited about their team. They're 4-0 and in the top 10 RPI. Every game that we play in, there's a good atmosphere. Wednesday will be no different than any other game we play except that we're playing an outstanding team.

Q. Amile (Jefferson) obviously gave you guys a good lift the other night. Can you describe the process of a player that has different strengths obviously than Ryan? How do you figure out what he does to complement that group?

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, Amile is a good player. He doesn't have the playing time or the experience that Ryan does, and he has a different skill set. The main thing that Ryan gives us besides his experience is he can score. He's one of the best scorers. Whoever we put in in that spot is never going to be able to duplicate that. But Amile can be a good defender, screener, offensive rebounder, and he can give us a lot of energy. But one guy is not going to take Ryan's place. Amile, Josh (Hairston), Marshall (Plumlee), all three of those guys have got to give us what they can give us. It's different, but if they're playing hard and they're going to their strengths, then obviously they can all be of assistance to us.

Q. I wanted to follow up on Amile a little bit. I know one of the things, he's brought a lot of energy like you said, and he's doing good things. One of the things he's having trouble with seems to be his fouls. Is that something just a young player getting used to this level of play? Is there anything that can be done to maybe to try to adjust that mid-season?

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I think that comes with experience. I think what happens is that, especially for big guys, they've never played -- they've never had to play defense like they have to play in college in high school. High school, it's the most dramatic difference for a big guy, much more than a point guard or a wing player, is how you adjust and what's allowed, when can you put a forearm on, when does the forearm have to be off, verticality, making sure your hands are straight up. And then sometimes it comes where people who are officiating the game have to get accustomed to you.

I thought when we played State, he had a couple calls where his hands were straight up, but he's so long, he's got a great wing span, that you're not accustomed to that, and then it can appear, well, maybe he fouled when he didn't. That's just a period of adjustment that a young player has to go through.

Q. You must have been a little relieved to see Rasheed (Sulaimon) kind of got out of his offensive doldrums last time-out. Has that relaxed him do you think? Do you think that's something he needed?

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, again, he's a young player, so the intensity of the games that we play in every game and the schedule that we've played, by the time we got to Christmas, those are more tough games than he's ever faced in a season, and we're only at Christmas. A high school player never goes through that.

So freshmen are more apt to have up and downs in their performance. I think he had three great days of practice before our Georgia Tech game, and that helped him, and then he played real well. Hopefully that's the way he will play.

But freshmen are more apt to changes in performance than upper classmen.

Q. You mentioned a week ago, though, that his offensive struggles were impacting other parts of his game because obviously early in the year he had been a great defender. Did you see the other things come back as his offense did?

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I thought the other things came back and then his offense did. I think we're just looking at it a little bit different way. If a player has to depend on hitting a shot to determine what performance he's going to have, then that player is not going to be a good player. A player needs to play well, and then the offense will take care of itself. If I'm going to see how I'm going to play based on if I hit a first couple shots, then we'renotgoingtowinverymanychampionshipsor many games here at Duke, or anyplace. A player has to concentrate on playing the game, and then his offense will flow into it, otherwise he becomes a very shallow player.

Q. Obviously with the crowd that Mason Plumlee draws around him, especially within the ACC games, in the four games that you've played so far, he's your second leader behind Quinn (Cook) in assists. Is that something he's developed, or has he always had that part of the game? How has that come along, his ability to pass and find the open man?

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: No, he's always been a good passer. I think the fact that he gets the ball now and is able to make more plays, you're going to see more passing, but he's a very good passer and is okay about passing. He'll hit an open man. He's not a selfish player. That should be a part of our game, if he's doubled or his shot is taken away from him, that we need to move when he gets the ball to make sure that we're in open spots to respond to a pass that he might make.

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