Coach K, Jack White & Tre Jones Speak on Duke vs UNC

In Game Previews by Brian HoraceLeave a Comment

DUKE HEAD COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI

On what North Carolina freshman Cole Anthony brings to their team:

“He’s a top-10 talent in the collegiate ranks. They’ve been hurt with a lack of continuity. They have a really good team, but [when] you take out that important piece for a significant amount of time, that’s going to hurt any team. Getting him back, there’s a period of readjustment and it’s just a matter of how long that will be. With his level of talent, he’ll do that quicker than most and it just give them a player who’s an ultimate competitor and big time talent to go along with their two big’s who really match up with anybody in the country. We think they’re a really good team and they’re going to continue to get better now that Cole is back.”

On if he sees big differences in the rivalry since it has become highly promoted:

“I don’t see a big difference. To me, it’s really a celebration of excellence. You have two of the top five programs in the history of the game and really two of the elite programs in all of sport playing against one another. The level of talent that’s been on the court for the 40 years that I’ve been here is staggering. It produces great games, and as a result there’s an anticipation for that level of game. Then, with the proximity of the two schools, the excellence of the two schools and the fact we’re in the same conference and you do it at least twice, that’s a lot. It’s really been the key factor in the advancement of our conference – not just basketball but everything, TV-wise. These games are never in January. They’re always in February [with something at stake] and they’re always placed in prime time and they have the biggest viewership. That’s what I’ve seen for 40 years. If you’re a business and you have something in your business – the ACC has it – that can draw that amount of attention and excellence… At both these programs, we’ve won double-digit national championships together in the 40 years. It’s very unusual. There’s nothing like it, and so when they say there’s no rivalry like it, well there’s no game like it. It’s a game that brings the past to the present and I love that because that’s just good for both of our programs [and] good for the ACC, but it’s really the celebration of those brands, not a celebration of a player, and that’s the thing that has separated college basketball from the NBA – although, because how the college game is marketed over the last decade, it’s lent itself more towards pro, whereas this game celebrates Duke-Carolina. That’s a stage that I hope the game will always be at.”

On if the rivalry doesn’t seem as antagonistic in the last couple of years:

“Yeah. I think the respect that we have for each other overcomes the venom of our fans. Roy [Williams] – I know him. We serve the game together and we’re both very lucky to be in the positions we’re in, but we also know how good the other guy is, the other team, the other program and I think that’s healthy. Look, we’ve had hellacious games, but we have not had the side shows. It’s really kind of been sport at the level you would hope it would be – the class, the dignity and the fervor to win, but still keeping all those other things in place. I think we’re in a good place with that.”

On how he’s seen North Carolina junior Garrison Brooks’ game evolve:

“He’s had a legitimate all-conference year and he’ll, I would think, be considered. Recently for him, what he did against NC State was remarkable. When you watch the tape of that game, he just jumps out at you with his play. He had a magnificent game against them. He’s different than the other big’s in the conference. He’s expanded his game to face the basket. He obviously runs so well, but he plays with great passion and I think it gives his teammates energy.”

On if there is something missing from freshman Matthew Hurt’s game that he wants him to develop:

“No, the other team goes small. Tell them not to do that. When they go small, then we’ve got to be careful [because] we have two big’s in. Even BC, sometimes [Steffon] Mitchell was the biggest. You have Virginia Tech, you have teams that can go all small or at least four. What we’ve tried to do is react accordingly with our depth. The two key guys are Tre [Jones] and Vernon [Carey Jr.] . Cassius [Stanley] – he can play in anything. Really, you try to figure out after that how we match up or how we can cause a matchup problem for our opponent. That’s the way we’ve tried to do the whole season.”

On what areas he wants to see freshman Vernon Carey Jr. improve in:

“I think he’s still adjusting to all the traffic around him. He doesn’t play one-on-one. There’s a lot of physicality there … How do you adjust when it’s not the forearm, it’s someone holding you? How do you adjust when there’s two or three guys around you? I think about three weeks ago or so, when you get a rebound, there’s a whole bunch of people – he’s trying to get it up too quick and it becomes a shot, not a score and so there’s still physicality. Now, is he doing that because he’s not hitting free throws or is he just doing that? Well, he’s hitting free throws. He spends an inordinate amount of time working on it, so can you grab it and go up stronger? It’s a habit. These things are habits and they’re habits that you can’t teach really in practice. There’s just the experience of playing in this in a game. Against BC, right at the end of the game, we could’ve gone up nine or 11 or whatever and he took a shot. Now, he got the rebound, he did all of the things, but if just goes up strong there he might get a three-point play. But, he’s 19, he’s learning. He’s a freshman, but he’s done great, not good. He’s had a great year.”

On former Duke player William Avery returning to Duke to earn his degree:

“Well it’s 20 years later. He actually has one or two classes with a couple of the guys on the team, and just learning the difference in education two decades later. I’m proud of him because he still has a lot of work to do. He had a really good first semester. He can’t do much for us. He can’t work with the guys. He’s like a manager, but having him around is great. He’s a great guy and he wants to be a coach and he wants to get his education and thankfully, our school is providing that for him. I wish there was ways of the guys who leave early to go to the pros to continue better here. It’s very difficult because we’re not an online school. None of my players [take online classes] … Our guys – there are no online [courses], and same thing if they wanted to come back – there’s nothing online. They would have to be here, and so it makes it difficult to continue your education. I hope sometime in the future, we’re able to figure that out. Jayson Tatum would like to complete his degree. We’re trying to figure that out.”

 

SENIOR FORWARD JACK WHITE On how to get the freshmen on the team prepared for the North Carolina game: “Funny you say that. I think all of them really have a good idea of obviously what this is about. I was just talking to Matt [Hurt] and he was saying it’s really different. He’s been seeing this his whole life growing up and he’s from Minnesota, and now that he’s actually here, he just said it feels different now that he’s in it. I think the freshmen class and for all of us, we’re ready for the fight [and] we know what it’s going to be like over there. No one on this squad has won over there. Me and Javin [DeLaurier] haven’t won there our whole career and we’re really just following coach’s lead. He’s hungry. We know this game is a big step for us in terms of some little milestones for our season with our 10th conference win and our 20th win overall. We’re just hungry to go over there and fight and come away with a win.”

On what makes North Carolina’s big’s so tough to defend: “First of all, they do a great job on the boards. They create a lot of really good opportunities for themselves on themselves on the glass and I think they work really well together. In terms of how we stop them, we’ve got to fight them. We’ve got to bring the fight to them. We know that they’re going to try to be physical but we know that we’ve got to try and put them on the back foot. We really just want to bring the game to them. We don’t want to be on the back foot, we don’t want to be the ones getting attacked – we want to be the attackers, the aggressors and just play our game. We don’t want to be timid or anything like that. We want to play aggressive Duke Basketball.”

On how to avoid complacency given North Carolina’s record: “We’ve just got to learn from what’s been happening to us. We’ve had really average starts or average stretches in games where we really shouldn’t have them. Whether we’re overlooking teams or whatever it may be, there’s no excuse for it. For them, their record isn’t a reflection of how they are, especially at home, especially now that they got Cole [Anthony] back. We all know that they’re looking at us as a big team to knock off and really get them going for the home stretch of the conference schedule. For us, we’re looking at this as just as big of a game as any. It’s our biggest game so far and that’s how we’ve been looking at the season – our next game is our biggest game. We’ve just got to take it one at a time. That’s what we’re doing with this one and we’re just hoping to come out and make a statement for ourselves that we’re getting better and that we’re ready for those moments and just trying to get our 10th [ACC] win.”


SOPHOMORE GUARD TRE JONES

On his matchup with North Carolina freshman Cole Anthony: “He’s a really talented player. I’m looking forward to it as well, but I’ve got to focus on just getting the win. I’m trying to do whatever I can to help this team win tomorrow night over there.”

On what he is worried about when guarding Anthony: “Him getting to his strengths. I’m obviously not going to say them, but just trying to keep him from getting to what he likes to do and make it difficult the entire night.”

On if Tyus Jones told him what it was like to play against North Carolina: “He tried to tell me what it was like, but you can’t really tell someone what it’s like until you go through it yourself. After being through three games against them now last year, I know what it’s like. Obviously, it’s different over there with their fans and the big dome and everything, but I definitely think we’re ready this year.”

On if he is harping on being the aggressors going into a game: “For sure. We’ve seen as a team what it’s like or how we’re like when we don’t come out strong and don’t come out hungry and things like that. Definitely one of our main focuses is coming out hungry.”

On if it feels like there is less of a buzz surrounding this game than last year’s matchups with North Carolina: “I don’t think so. Obviously, just outside of the attention that RJ [Barrett] and Zion [Williamson] did get, there’s less buzz around every game, but I don’t think it’s any less because of the season they’re having or anything. It’s the biggest rivalry in sports, so I think it has a good buzz around it.”

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