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Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski

Opening Statement

“First I want to thank everyone for coming today. Ironically, we had this on October 15th to celebrate the old days when practice used to start on the 15th of October. Today is actually our 13th practice. I think all coaches like the flexibility of 42 days before the start of the season, having 30 practices. It’s worked out great because a week ago, we were able to have our kids go home for fall break. It’s good. I like our team, it’s developing. They’re hard-working and we have really good chemistry. Javin (DeLaurier) is back today, so we have everybody back today although he’ll probably practice half of the practice. We want to blend him in a little bit. I’m really pleased with the work ethic of my new staff with Chris Carrawell and the dynamic of how guys have gotten together. This summer helped us being in Canada as we were able to get to know one another well. I feel really good about our group. I like the chemistry of the kids. The upperclassmen have all gotten better, and the freshmen are really good. I think we have a chance to be a very good basketball team.”

On team chemistry

“It’s what they do. They’re very personable guys and they’re good guys. They knew each other before they got here. They didn’t only know each other, but they respected one another. To get a class to be like that, you have to have those qualities, being secure in who you are and being secure about the fact that they are confidence that they have in my staff to know what to do with them. That they would get better together. They’ve communicated almost all of their senior years and they’ve played against one another. They love Duke and they love being students. They want a college experience. It has just worked out and they’ve been good with the upperclassmen. If you went to one of our training meals, you would never know class. That was there right away without us really doing anything.”

On what has stood out about this group

“One thing is that they’ve worked really hard and that they’re very coachable. They like one another. The main thing for us that stands out that hasn’t happened yet is their ability to communicate at the level that we need them to communicate on the court when action is going on. The talk that you need, especially on defense in man-to-man defense. Even on offense, but primarily on defense. Also when action stops, they need to have the ability to confront one another like ‘that was a good play’ or ‘come on man we need you to rebound more’, where you make each other better in real time. That’s a huge thing. In fact, it’s a point of emphasis for our practice today. Talk. The ability to confront. It coordinates your work. They’re all thinking and they all want to do well, but unless they’re talking together, and coordinating it, it doesn’t work as well. That will limit us if we don’t do that. Again, its October 15th and we have a long way to go. They want to do it, it’s just a habit and they haven’t been accustomed to doing it.”

On the importance of communication

“The communication aspect has always very critical for the success of our team. It’s actually why we had to change from man to zone last year because we were never able to conquer the communication thing that man was needed and they could do better covering an area and talk. It turned out, it almost worked to win the whole thing.”

On the development of Marques Bolden

“It’s not just playing time; I think he’s healthier. He had plenty of playing time. Your playing time is determined by how well you’re playing. If you get in the game and you’re playing well, your playing time is great. I think he’s the healthiest he’s been for a long time right now. Maybe that’s part of what has clicked along with that opportunity to do more in practice.”

On how Zion Williamson has impressed him

“The main thing for me is that he never takes a play off. He’s in unbelievable shape. He’s probably about 270. His lateral quickness is off the charts along with his jumping. He’s really a guard. He can handle the ball and he’s one of our best passers. He can drive the basketball. He gets the ball real low and when he’s up in the air, he can maneuver. He’s got great body control and he finishes. He’s a very special player and he’s getting better because he works every day. He’s got such a great attitude and he’s smart. There’s not a thing that this kid is lacking. He’s just already really good, but he’s going to be a very special player his whole career, not just at Duke. He’s one of the unique athletes that you will have seen, and that I have coached. I’ve coached a lot of unique athletes, and this kid is one of them. You can’t say he’s like somebody, because he’s not like anybody. He’s like Zion, and he’s got to figure out who’s Zion going to be and he’s in the process of doing that. He’s an easy kid to play with. A great teammate. I can’t say enough about him.”

On the team’s versatility on defense

“Our primary defense is man-to-man. We haven’t really even worked on zone because man-to-man has so many zone principles. In the last week, we actually haven’t done any pressing except man because we’re trying to get our man-to-man defense to the level that it needs to be. We’re adjusting. There’s a couple things that we started out with ball screens and changed one of the things in it and where it was positioned. It’s just the process of learning about your team and what they’re going to do. The biggest thing about putting in something is that you don’t have subs because you play against each other. In football you have an offense and a defense. Even in women’s basketball they bring in guys to play against, so you can see your substitution pattern. It really is different. That’s why the development of the team will really take an upward bound once you start playing games. These are all the kind of nuances of the building of a team.”

On how RJ Barrett handled the Canada trip

“I think he handled it really well. RJ is advanced. He should still be a senior in high school, but he reclassified. He’s always played up. Playing up at Montverde under Kevin Boyle was really important. In the international play in Canada, he always played up. It’s kind of like if you were the younger brother and you played with your older brother and his guys, except the older brother and his guys are really good. They’re not just old, they’re really good. So it brought out a level of maturity that you can’t teach. You have to experience that. He’s really experienced and his family handled that great. He’s very secure about who he is and is finding out about his teammates.”

On his energy level coaching wise

“I love what I do. I still love the preparation for what I do, which is paramount if you’re going to do it at this level. I want to do it at the level that we’ve done it. I’m healthier right now than I’ve been for years. I’m almost 14 months now out from my right knee being replaced and about two and a half years from my left. I’m actually able to demonstrate and be on the court the whole time with no pain. It’s the best movement that I’ve had in a long time, maybe eight to ten years. My staff has done a great job. I have no plans for leaving. I will leave it some time, but I’m not ready to do that yet.”

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