HEAD COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI

Opening statement:

“We’re going to get ready to have practice here, but we’re healthy and hopefully nothing happens in practice. Obviously, we’re very excited about tomorrow. We appreciate our students, too, for staying because Spring Break starts today at the end of class, so that means they’re staying for our game. We have some festivities – they’ve had them all week – but tonight, we’ll have a little team meeting with them and that’s been a neat tradition that we’ve had and I’ve really enjoyed that. Thank goodness they’re here for the game.”

On how different North Carolina has looked in their last five games: “They looked pretty darn good against us. They were great against us. I think they were as good against us as they’ve been against anybody. They just didn’t hit free throws at the end of the game, so we were fortunate. But, they’re fast break was like a charge in Chapel Hill. They’ve done that well, but I still think they did it the best that night. I think that [Garrison] Brooks and [Cole] Anthony now have learned to play together. They’ve had that opportunity, and during the time that Cole was out, Brooks, as good as he is, he got better. When Cole came back, now they’re both outstanding and their grad-transfers have played well – [Christian] Keeling obviously the best. They’re a good team. They were a good team when we played them, they’re still a good team.”

On what some of his favorite memories are of the Duke-North Carolina rivalry: “I’ve been very fortunate for 40 years to be a part of this rivalry. Actually, Coach [Roy] Williams and I have talked a lot about it, how lucky we are. Whatever great memories I have, he’s had great memories too, because that’s how close the rivalry is. Actually, we have a lot of our former players back. I saw Christian Laettner today, so you kind of remember games that he played. I think it’s the 25th year from when I went out for about four months and Jeff Capel hit the shot to send it into another overtime. It’s such a game that’s watched, so people remember plays and these guys over the years have come up with so many great plays. Our win there was a crazy win, so you’re going to remember that because it’s not just a shot, it’s like a sequence of events that really are caused by Tre Jones. The game always measures up or goes beyond and I expect the same tomorrow. Hopefully, it measures that way for us.”

On how seniors Jack White and Javin DeLaurier have grown as leaders: “They’ve been great guys and obviously they’ve contributed at different times to some big wins for us. I think this year, it was more important for them to be mature leaders off the court, to make sure that there wasn’t this differential between seniors and freshmen, because our freshmen our younger than the freshmen that we’ve had the last few years and we haven’t had as many seniors, so it was really important for them to get along and they do. Then, on the court, especially in practice, to be able to give their guidance, to talk to them and help them in drills, encouraging them and what they do before, during and after practice. They’ve been really like great big brothers to our young guys.”

On what the next level for freshman Vernon Carey Jr. is: “I think it’s still if he would run the court more so he would beat the double-team, because Tre [Jones] gets it down the court and I think we could get more from that. For him, part of it is he always expects a lot of people around him, but when a shot goes up, can we get some offensive rebounds? Those are cheaper buckets – the running of the court and the offensive board. The offensive board, you’re usually one-on-one, and the early post is one-on-one, if we can get him into a few more of those situations. A lot of that comes with experience. He’s had a fabulous year, but he still has a terrific upside.”

On if playing on Monday night was beneficial as far as having extra days to prepare for North Carolina: “We actually spent two days just getting their bodies and minds fresh and not even talking about North Carolina – Tuesday and Wednesday. It’s a long season. A lot of times, people talk about a freshman hitting a wall. I don’t really think that’s happened to our guys or, because of somebody else playing a little bit better, we haven’t seen it. Just the fatigue, and even for Tre [Jones] the number of minutes. The same thing for next week – we’ve got to look, for this week and next week, the big picture – making sure that we get refreshed [and] we’re working out. We’ve added a few new things offensively, and we’ll continue to do that next week, but staying fresh and healthy, both physically, emotionally and mentally I think is important. Next week, too, is Spring Break, so we have a little bit more time and maybe they can catch up on some of their academics during that time, going into the NCAA Tournament. Our thing right now is looking at – obviously, this game tomorrow is huge and the ACC Tournament, we always want to do well in that – but at the end of the day, we’ve got to be fresh in about 10 days for that week.”

On if there was a point in his career where he saw North Carolina coaches as friends off the court: “Well, Dean [Smith] never gave out his number. No, he was great, one of the great men of all time. Even towards the end of his career and when we started to achieve at a high level, we developed a good friendship based on great respect. It’s kind of like you know what the other guy’s going through when you have to do it every year at the level with the scrutiny that’s there. Roy [Williams] and I both understand that. I think there’s great empathy for one another and great respect. We now are the guys running these two incredible programs and we won’t be running it all the time, but while we are running it, you want to do it with class, dignity and a pursuit of excellence and doing it the right way. I think we both have handled that. Their players and our players have handled it. There used to be more interaction between players because they had pickup games. That’s changed for a while, but still, even on staff, Nolan [Smith] and Kendall Marshall are really good friends. They grew up together, so they know that they have something really good and we have something really good. You don’t have to make something bad to make you stuff look good. We both know we have good stuff.”

On if the university has been involved in travel preparations with the spread of Coronavirus: “Yeah, we’ve had our team meeting with our team a couple days ago. We got a lot of material the NBA has sent out on how they’re dealing with their players. Our team physician, Dr. [Jeff] Bytomski [and] Jose [Fonseca] gave a good report on it. Obviously, one of the main things is if you have any signs of sickness, let us know. Washing of hands, sanitize, making sure that maybe there are more fist bumps now instead of handshakes – things like that. Our university is well on top of it.”

 

SOPHOMORE GUARD TRE JONES

On how it is different playing an opponent like North Carolina for the second time in a season: “Usually, it’s different. Any other opponent, it would be different, but I feel like whenever it’s them, it’s the same – it’s always a battle. It’s one of those games the atmosphere is crazy. Everything about it is just different. I think there’s not going to be a lot different about the game. Obviously, some stuff will be different, but I think it will be intense like it was last game [and a] crazy battle again.”

On how valuable it was to have two rest days after the NC State game on Monday night: “Getting a couple days rest is always huge, especially at this time of year. We don’t get that much and so I’m just trying to stay fresh, mentally and physically, but stay sharp with everything as well, not get loose while we were getting our rest and be able to be ready for Saturday night.”

On where the team’s hunger is at: “I think it’s at a high for us. I think that we know what’s at stake now – obviously not just tomorrow night – but at this point in the year, we’re in March now. I think we know what March is about, what this time of year is about and we’re ready every single game now.”

On if he prepares any differently for a rivalry game: “I wouldn’t say you would necessarily prepare differently, but as far as the team goes, we know that we’re all going to be playing extremely hard [and] the other team will be playing extremely hard, so it’s just one of those games where you’ve got to take it up a notch. Because of the rivalry, there is a little more at stake.”

 

FRESHMAN CENTER VERNON CAREY JR.

On what the adjustment has been like since he has seen more double and triple-teams: “Like you said, with the double and triple-teaming, I just have to pass out of the post I feel like a little bit quicker, and then make quicker moves just to get open and score. That’s what I have to do.”

On what sort of a challenge North Carolina C Garrison Brooks presents: “He’s a great player. Just watching film over the past two seasons, just seeing him progress, it’s going to be a battle tomorrow. That’s just what I’m looking forward to.”

On how the last North Carolina game compared to the rest of the season: “That last UNC game was crazy, with us being down by 10 or 12 with I don’t even know how many minutes left. Just that atmosphere, that level of intensity – it will probably match or even be greater tomorrow, I feel like. That win was big for us because I think we had a game two days after – FSU. Those were two key wins for us. I feel like it just led us in the right direction.”

On who he watched clips of when trying to create counter moves in the post: “Marvin [Bagley III], Jahlil [Okafor], Wendell Carter – just those bigs recently, and just trying to incorporate some stuff into my game.”

 

GRADUATE STUDENT FORWARD JUSTIN ROBINSON

On if he believed that he would be making significant contributions after Coach K told him to be ready to play: “I guess no, but I did take to heart the ‘Be ready,’ and the staying ready. I think that was a very important knowledge or piece of wisdom he gave to the team. That was something I learned my freshman and sophomore years, and then I really took it to heart these last couple years.”

On how he helps the team prepare for the North Carolina game as a captain: “It’s such a big game. There’s so much energy around it. It’s tricky because usually, you’re trying to get everybody hyped before a game, trying to get a lot of energy going, but with this, you almost have to calm everyone down a little as one of the older guys. We’re just trying to make sure everyone is really sharp, everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing, knows the game plan and comes out ready to go.”

On how he has told the young players to remain focused in March: “I think it’s really easy in March to get caught up with all of the craziness with the brackets. There’s so much going on – watching other games, other big upsets when the tournament comes around – and so I think the main key will be an everyday thing. We have to refocus. No matter what kind of craziness happens around in the basketball world, we have to stay focused on our game, our next opponent and ourselves more than anything. I think there’s not anything I need to do right now, it’s just a daily reminder to the team.”

On how the fans have supported him during his career at Duke: “They’re amazing. The fans, they’ve been the best. They’ve been so kind to me. Even around campus, walking around, they’ll come up, give me a high five [and] cheer me on. Then, when I get on the court, they always cheer super loud for me, so yeah, they’ve been great.”

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