DUKE HEAD COACH Mike Krzyzewski
October 17, 2013INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
JEFF FISCHEL: I'm joined by Mike Krzyzewski, head coach of Duke.
Start with the fact that you lose a lot of production from last year, but you should be very comfortable with the people coming in to replace those guys.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I was more comfortable with the guys we had last year because I knew what to expect. You had a base of three guys who you knew were going to do really good jobs in Mason, Ryan and Seth.
In saying that, I'm excited about the group that we have. It's going to be a whole new system. The two most talented players we have are guys that have not played a second for our program yet. There's going to have to be a period of adjustment.
I think starting practice early has been good for us, the change. We can evaluate as this thing goes along a little bit. We're all healthy right now. We're trying to work on a new system.
JEFF FISCHEL: Questions.
Q. What is the process of getting the complementary players to buy into two guys that haven't played a minute being the focal point of the team?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Probably 'complementary', like a newscast, it's not a complementary part of the 30?minute program. I think it's the best part of the program.
The fact that you have these two guys, and they're very versatile, there's undefined roles out there for guys. In other words, how do I complement, to use that word, these two guys, and sometimes in doing that I become one of the really key players on the team?
Our guys have been really good about it because they recognize the talents of these two kids, in Jabari and Rodney, but they also like them as guys. So it's not like you're just competing against one of them for a position. They're there, and we're going to have three other guys with them. How do you fit into that? How do you adapt?
Like Amile Jefferson has adapted really well. He's actually probably better in that than he would be if we said, You're our center. We won't say that. You're just playing with them. So then he goes to his set of skills instead of trying to be a center, that type of thing.
Quinn Cook has to adapt, Rasheed and these guys, they get along well. We just have to try to figure it out.
Q. Mike Brey, he said you're well?known for your policy of eating your young when it comes to former assistants.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I've never subscribed to that philosophy, unless they're really cooked well (smiling).
You know, Mike obviously is a great friend, part of our family. To see what he's done at Notre Dame makes me feel very proud of him and our program, that we were part of that. A small part. He's been the main part. We were a complementary part to that.
I'd rather not play against Mike, just like Jim Boeheim. But our conference puts us in a position where Notre Dame and Duke are going to play. Wow. Syracuse and Duke are going to play. Those are instant rivalries, instant great games. I think that's going to be good for our conference.
JEFF FISCHEL: The ACC pre?season poll just came out. Duke with 51 of the 54 first?place votes. Rodney and Jabari both first team ACC pre?season. It speaks to how much respect you've gotten for these two before they have been on the floor for Duke.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I think it speaks to a high expectation level. One thing for us this year, it's not based on what you've seen before, it's what you think you're going to see. Whereas some of these things over the years, when you are picked high, you have a lot of guys coming back.
I hope we're able to come close to meeting some of these high expectations. I know our guys want to be able to do that. We'll see.
JEFF FISCHEL: Jabari, the pre?season pick for Rookie of the Year in the ACC, as well.
Q. You've had a great reputation of having great leaders at Duke over the years. Who are you looking for to be your leaders this year? What do you look for in your leaders?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, leadership, even if you name a leader, doesn't mean guys are leaders. You hope they become.
I think in Tyler, he is a leader. He's a guy that fits in perfectly, is a senior, has the respect of everyone else.
I think for Rodney, he has the potential to be a leader. The guys really respect him. But he's never been placed in that role before.
So I think the combination of the two of them can really help us. We're going to need Rodney to emerge even more because he'll be on the court a lot more than Tyler will. There's leadership off the court, there's leadership on the court. Both are really important. We need Rodney to fulfill that leadership on the court. That doesn't mean Tyler won't be there, but he won't be on the court as much as Rodney would be.
Q. You mentioned Coach Boeheim, not wanting to coach against him. Were you hoping maybe he'd call it quits before now? In some way are you looking forward to showing him who is number one?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Both of those are no's. I'm not interested in showing anybody I'm number one over him. I don't coach for that. I'd like to show our team we'll finish number one, so that's a goal.
No, I hope Jim coaches for 20 more years. I know his wife Julie wants him to coach that long because I know Julie. I know she would like that.
We're best friends. We've known each other for decades. The last eight years we've done together some really neat things for USA Basketball.
Whatever happens on the court, we know that every time we coach against each other right now it will be an historic event with the two winningest coaches going at it at the same time.
I'm sure that we will handle that in a way that will be good for the game, which he's done and I think I've done. At least we've done it most of the time.
JEFF FISCHEL: The fans are excited. It's already a sell?out at the Carrier Dome.
Q. You talked about a new system, new players with Rodney and Jabari being the focal point, guys having to adapt to them. For you as a coach, is that a bit of a departure for you?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It's really what I've done every year. It's just that my team doesn't necessarily need it as drastically as it does this year. I mean, it's really a big change.
But we adapt every year to our personnel. So over the years, the 34 years I've been at Duke, our teams have been different. The last few years, actually number of years, we haven't had the depth of athletic ability that we have on this team. Hopefully this team will develop the skill level that some of the teams we've had that will go along with their athletic ability. If we do, I think we'll be very good.
Q. We were just handed the Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year. Hoping to get a comment on C.J. Fair from you. Talk about his game a little bit, how he helps make Syracuse what it is this season.
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I end up watching Syracuse a lot because Jim coaches and you cheer for him. So Fair is different. I don't think he has a position. He always comes up big in big games. Looks to me like a guy that the tougher the situation, the better he is.
I was disappointed that he was not able to play for the United States this summer because I thought he'd be a great addition to one of our U.S. teams.
It doesn't surprise me that he's rated that high by everyone. He's one of the better players in the United States. Talking to Jim, I know he feels that he's one of the key components for their success this year.
Q. Talk about all three of the newcomers. Is it exciting from a competition standpoint to get three high?level programs joining you in the ACC now?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It's great for our conference. I'm always excited. I didn't need any new additions or anything. I'm excited to coach at Duke no matter how many people we have in the conference.
The fact is that I think it's great for the conference. I think right now we are the best conference. We need to do what we should be doing to make sure we feel that way in January and in April and two years from now. Instead of just saying it, I think we now need to do it. It will be interesting to see how that all develops.
But the potential is here for some greatness. The instant rivalries that are being created as a result of that expansion for basketball in the ACC is remarkable.
Q. Can you talk about what the addition with Coach Brey, Dixon and Boeheim to a league already loaded with great coaches, what does that bring to the league now?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: It just means three more good coaches. I mean, I think when you have great competition, it makes you better. It will make everybody better. We didn't add three programs that are trying to emerge; we've added three programs ? and Louisville next year ? that they're there. They have been. They have a tradition of excellence. It's not just about coaching, it's about the program. They expect excellence. It's not somebody joining the conference hoping to succeed. They know how to succeed.
Game in, game out, the conference is going to be tougher. I think it will produce more really good teams and more NCAA teams than we've ever had in the ACC.
JEFF FISCHEL: Coach, thank you.