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Mike Krzyewski Advance to Sweet 16

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: What a game. It was reminiscent of the Final Four games. Both teams were lights out with the effort today. We’re so very proud of winning this game because we beat a heck of a team, obviously as well coached as any in the country.

I thought when we got down — we were young for a while there, and I was wondering if we were going to stay young. I don’t know, maybe the — whatever it was, the Powerade, or whatever the hell we’re repping here.

But my guys were so tough in those last six minutes of the game. The last four or five minutes, the defense was incredible. Jeremy hit a huge three for us, and in his drives, he willed that ball. He willed that ball in. They were some of the best drives I’ve seen as a Duke coach, really, especially in a pressure situation.

And then Trev, who’s been struggling — his three was outstanding. Obviously, our captain, Wendell, played well. Paolo, that bucket along the baseline was huge. And Mark looked like a hockey goalie the whole night, trying to protect our net. He did it enough to win the game.

I’m incredibly proud of my guys. This is — this was — you guys were terrific, man. I’m really proud to be your coach. It had nothing to do with coaching those last four or five minutes. It all had to do with heart and togetherness. They followed their hearts, and God bless them. We’re in the Sweet 16. You can ask them questions.

Q. Jeremy, the shot. What are you thinking? Take us through the whole thing. When you see it go in, what’s the feeling?

JEREMY ROACH: Kind of the last media, the four-minute media, I was thinking to myself, if I get an open three, I’m knocking it down. It was kind of like 1:30 left or something like that. The shot clock was winding down, and I knew I had to make a play. So just making confident plays out there was the biggest thing.

Q. This question is for Paolo. All week, Coach has been talking about you guys’ approach being a championship approach to each game, which I guess this would make your second championship of the weekend. What does that do to your mental — how far do you take that? Are you guys like we won the title?

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: We’ll take it to San Francisco.


Q. There you go.

PAOLO BANCHERO: I mean, it’s the NCAA Tournament. The season’s on the line every single game. So I mean, that’s really all that needs to be said. We knew that. We got down. We were in the time-out, and we were just like, look, we got three — I think it was like 3:40-something or four minutes. We were like, man, we got four minutes. We can either lay down, or we can turn it up. That’s really all it was, man. Just fighting, like you said, having heart. And just trusting each other really.

Q. Wendell, this is for you. Paolo just talked about when you guys got down. When you did get down and Baylor was walking back to take the free throw, the guys seemed to hang their head a bit, and I saw you clapping your hands to get them going. Can you talk about that moment for you as a leader and taking that approach to kind of pick the guys up in that pressure situation?

WENDELL MOORE JR.: I think at that time we kind of had maybe a turnover, then we fouled them right back there. The game was far from over. There was probably about three or four minutes left. There was still so much time left on the clock. I knew we had a chance. I knew once we got our foot in the door, there was no looking back from there.

Q. You had three possessions where you were either attacking or guarding Joey Hauser, and you were able to set up Trevor for the three, you ended up scoring yourself, and you blocked a shot at the other end. Did you get the sense you could kind of control the game in that matchup at that point in those last couple minutes?

PAOLO BANCHERO: First off, he’s a great player. I knew coming in I was going to have to be on my A game guarding him. I just wanted to be aggressive. I think early in the second half I was attacking and then I got back to settling. So down that last stretch I just wanted to get to the rim and put pressure on the rim.

Like you say, I was able to score and then put pressure on the rim and kick it out to Trev, and he knocked it down. That was just my mindset, trying to collapse the defense and either make a play for my teammate or taking advantage of it myself.

Q. Wendell, when you guys had the possession that led to Jeremy’s shot, Paolo brought the ball over you because he couldn’t get anywhere against Bingham. He gets it to you, shot clock’s running down. Could you take us through the process there, how aware you were of the clock, and how you were able to spot Jeremy open there?

WENDELL MOORE JR.: Like you said, the clock was winding down. Normally in that situation we call green, which means we have to get a good shot up. I was just looking at the matchups and thought Jeremy had a good matchup. I just kind of took it and gave it to him, and from there he made it happen.

Q. Wendell, on those last free throws, you seemed to close your eyes and take a deep breath. What were you feeling, seeing on those two last shots?

WENDELL MOORE JR.: I didn’t see anything but me and the bucket. That’s my routine. I really have to close my eyes just so I can lock in. I just feel like it’s really I’m the only one in there. No matter how much noise they were making, I honestly didn’t hear one thing. Just stepped up to the line and knocked them down.

Q. For any of the players, I was going to ask Wendell in particular, you said earlier this week that this represented what could be the last game for all of you guys as a team, not just Coach K’s last game if you were to lose. In that last four minutes, when you’re kind of looking at what might be in front of you, were you thinking about the end for you, for coach, some mix of the two? And what was sort of the conversation about like let’s not let that happen?

WENDELL MOORE JR.: Honestly, the conversation, I mean, losing didn’t come up one time.

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: You’re not going to talk about losing or else you’re going to lose.

WENDELL MOORE JR.: Yeah, for us right here, just a little quick story. Us five guys are so close over this past year. Earlier this summer, coaches allowed us to take a trip down to PGM and watch our respective teams play against each other. All five of us crammed up in the car, drove down there, twice actually. Ever since then, we just called ourselves the road crew. We knew it was going to come down to us at some point.

Once we got in the huddle, we just looked in each other’s eyes, and we knew we weren’t going to lose.

Q. This is for Mark. Coach K said you were the goalie today, but you had a huge block towards the end of the game, not only blocked it, but came up and got the ball yourself. Can you talk a little bit about what happened on that play?

MARK WILLIAMS: Yeah, so A.J. Hoggard drove to the rim. I just tried to do my best to protect the rim every time somebody drives at the block. Then I just got the rebound and tried to stay inbounds. Obviously, I kicked it out, got another possession for us.

I’m not thinking too much about like I want to get a block here. It’s more I want to win. If that’s the winning play, then I’ll do it. That’s all that really happened right there.

Q. Coach, the last few seconds of the game, Jeremy came over to you, I don’t know if he chest bumped you or hugged you —

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I don’t have a chest to bump.

Q. That’s kind of what I thought. Couldn’t see it from where I was.

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I was looking for a little prop there.

Q. Great chest. What was that moment like for you?

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: It’s great. I love these kids. They’re becoming men, and they’re so young, and we were young for a little bit at different times today. They took advantage of it.

We were so good in the last part of the game. I mean, just — I can’t tell you how proud I am of them because they — we had not been playing well. We had a helluva week of practice and camaraderie stuff and whatever. They believe in one another.

Look, I’m 75. To have moments like that, you’ve got to be kidding me. Really how damn lucky can you be to be in that? And I want to share it. I don’t want to sit down and say you guys enjoy it. I want to be in the party a little bit. That’s the enjoyment I’ve got, I’ve had for 47 years. Today was one of the really good days.

Q. Specifically about the defense late, how connected were they? You’ve been working on that all week. Mark had the block. Paolo Banchero had the block, and Wendell the steal.

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: We went to a little bit different coverage in the full court, like a soft, soft press, just so they didn’t get a run because they can really run. Then we started — we were going to switch 1 through 5. Mark has improved so much during the year in his lateral movement that he can stay in front, and that’s what he did. Like on that particular play.

Then our thing is no threes, no fouls. So we actually did that. And we won.

Q. Can you sort of take us a little bit through Jeremy’s year? He came out of the starting lineup a couple of times, and then obviously before Friday you chose to put him back in. What he gave you tonight, including that shot.

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Jeremy’s had a terrific year, and he’s a sophomore. Not everyone’s — we had guys we’re playing — not today, but guys who are in their sixth year and whatever. Along the way, you’re going to have ups and downs. He’s had many more ups than downs.

A big thing that changed on our team was the emergence of A.J., so how we did a lineup. Then Trevor got hurt. Jeremy kind of carried us for those few games and had like an eight or nine to one assist-to-turnover ratio. Then Jeremy came back, and he kind of evened out. We had that lull for about ten days, those four games, we were 2-2. We started the week, we just said we need great ball pressure. He can do that, and he did that today, but also to lead us.

His scoring, though, has been — really, he made some big time baskets today. It wasn’t just that three. Those drives to the basket were huge. And everybody got energy from them. So we’ve never stopped believing in him because he’s believable. He deserves it.

Q. When people look to define your legacy and career, they usually talk about the five titles and 12 Final Fours, but I believe this is 26 Sweet 16s. Does doing that 26 times, avoiding an early round upset, speak to your program as much as anything?

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I didn’t know that. I don’t — I’m not playing games. I don’t know that. But I’m proud of the fact that we’ve been there for four or five — for four decades, that we’re at least knocking on the door. Five times the door let us completely in.

I got guys who want to win, and our goal is to win the whole thing all the time, even if we’re young. So it says a lot for the caliber of player that I’ve coached. Like these guys, they’re good players, but they’re really good guys. So you don’t go to those Sweet 16s just with talent, you do it with character. That’s what my teams have had.

It’s not like I’ve given them that. We’ve recruited that, and we’ve made use of it.

Q. Kind of a two-part thing. It dovetails on that a little bit. First it’s also 1,200 wins for you today. What does that mean to you, and also this last tournament for you, you do end up going through Tom Izzo, who you faced so many times?

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Really, I said it yesterday. I don’t look at records against coaches. Tom Izzo is one of the great coaches, Hall of Fame coach, and a great friend. I’m not going to put that up on my wall, like a record.

But the 1,200 wins is substantial. Obviously, it’s a lot of wins. But it’s a lot of wins against quality competition, and that’s what I’m most proud of. It’s not just the number of wins, it’s the competition that we’ve had in order to win. Today was a good example of it.

The other thing is I’ve been fortunate that overall I’ve had good health, except for the ’94/’ 95 season, and I have a great school. So I have great people, good health, great family. Look, for me, one of the best moments for me was turning around and seeing all my grandkids right behind the bench, and they’re crying, they’re cheering. Wow, I mean, God bless how lucky — I mean, it’s so good. It’s so good. So 1,200’s great, but that scene was better.

Tyler Butler