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Opening statement: 

“[Today is the] first official day of practice with the four hours a week that you can work with them in the summer. It’s a big change from last year. Compared to last year, we’re so far ahead of what we’ve been able to put in and the relationships we’ve developed with the guys. It’s been really good. I love the work ethic of the team, the athleticism, the talent, the comradery – it’s all good. These kids have been great to work with and we’re excited about the whole season. My staff has done a great job. The plan that we discussed in the spring that eventually turned into fruition in June has worked out tremendously in all aspects for our program. Joey [Baker] has a minor injury that’s kept him out for about four days. He’s had a great summer and September and he knows what we’re doing. We’re going to be cautious but he should be back by next week, hopefully. [It was a] big day for my wife and I yesterday – we got our [COVID-19 vaccine] boosters in one arm and our flu shot in the other – double dose. We’re both feeling great and obviously thankful to Duke that they take such good care of their people.” 

On using Paolo Banchero’s skillset to the team’s advantage: 

“He has to learn how to use his skillset and size in this new venue and new environment. He’s learning how to do that. His versatility is tremendous and we’ve had a lot of success in the past – the past three decades or more – of using a very versatile big in different parts of the court. He can do that. He’s smart and easy to play with. He still has things to do before he meets up to what I want him to do, but he’s really progressing well. [He is] a great kid to coach.” 

On the team’s backcourt prowess: 

“Since it’s my 47th year, I don’t like to call them backcourt or post or whatever – I call them basketball players. We have really good depth on the perimeter. There’s veteran depth there. Wendell [Moore Jr.] has had a sensational summer and fall – not a good one, a sensational one. Jeremy [Roach] has gotten more athletic and Joey [Baker] has been good. When you add Trevor Keels, he’s an outstanding player and AJ [Griffin]. Jaylen [Blakes] has become a really good role player. We have a lot of depth to where you can play four of them at one time if Paolo’s out with a big.” 

On staying at Duke during the summer while the assistant coaches were recruiting: 

“First of all, it’s been great for me and I think that’s what I like most about coaching is developing relationships with the guys. As enjoyable as it is to watch an AAU tournament on Sunday afternoon somewhere in the United States, I would prefer to be on the court with my guys. That’s part of the plan that we’ve had is for my guys to hit the road like crazy and I would take care of stuff here. But they did too – it’s not like they weren’t here. Whatever they felt they needed to do recruiting wise, they did it. It’s completely different from last year, the relationship aspect of it. That’s nothing against those guys last year. My wife said, ‘Why didn’t you do this like 10 years ago?’ I said ‘Retire?’ I don’t think it would work like that every year. It’s working out pretty well this year. We will not have a chance to revisit the last 10 years. 

On Theo John’s transition to Duke: 

“Theo has done great. One, he played for [Steve] Wojciechowski so he knows how to play. He was one of the top defenders in the Big East last year. He can really protect the basket, defend the ball screen and he’s a man. He and Bates Jones, they’re 23 years old, have both been at outstanding programs playing for Wojo and Bob McKillop. Even though Bates was a role player for Bob, he knows what it means to come to work every day. They have fit in so well and I think our freshmen are more physically mature than they have been. Their overall maturity has been helped by being around those guys and having limited guys. We did not go into numbers when filling out our roster last year. The only two transfers were graduate transfer bigs. Even though a number of kids looked into our program and asked us to recruit them, we didn’t go there. We decided this was our group. Since then, we’ve [offered] scholarships two of our walk-ons – my grandson, Michael [Savarino], and Keenan Worthington. We’re just into ‘Less is more’ and the commitment to one another and let’s go. Let’s see what the hell happens with all of this.” 

On how his relationship with associate head coach Jon Scheyer has evolved: 

“We’ve had a great relationship, otherwise I wouldn’t have recommended this plan. Jon is ready and I knew that when we put this whole thing together in the spring. He’s a natural. He’s a great relationship builder and a hard worker. He’s got it. But so do my other guys and we have developed even more. When we have a staff meeting to go over my practice plan and afterwards, you spend a few minutes together just talking. Him being able to do that is so important and it’s important for me. It’s much better than if in April I said ‘See you guys’. If we did that, we wouldn’t have the recruiting year we’re having. My guys have worked so hard on the road in the visits. A big key is my daughter Debbie [Savarino]. She’s an assistant athletic director and she’s done so much with our program. She and Jon have developed an even more amazing relationship to make a program go. It’s been great and I love how well it’s going.” 


On whether there are any differences in his approach to this season: 

“It has actually been more like a normal preparation. Obviously, you think of the last year and everything that was unusual. Naturally this year, when you think about the summer, you think about the preseason – we feel like we are way further along in terms of our comradery, our understanding of concepts and execution. It has been exciting just to bond in a normal way this year.” 

On the difficulties of getting so many new players on the same page: 

“We have had freshmen classes where we have had six, seven new guys, but yeah, the freshmen class in addition to Theo John, Bates Jones as grad transfers has been a lot of new. Then you think about Joey Baker, Wendell Moore – these guys who are experienced and returning – they haven’t had typical college careers. It has been a lot of new, but I think there has been a lot of exciting parts to that. The thing that I can tell you is these guys have practiced with an incredible hunger and edge and that has been great to see.” 

On how his experience as associate head coach has prepared him for the next opportunity: 

“It has been great. I think for us we have been around Coach for a long time now. So, as we get into the preseason work like we have been doing and the first day of practice today, we know the expectations. The offense that we are putting in is unique to this team, but there is just a great comfort there, a great bond. It has been going really well. I feel comfortable with my role and obviously there have been a lot of things this summer that have been added to my plate. But in terms with being the best associate head coach that I can be, I feel comfortable, ready to go and will support him anyway as possible this year.” 

On how he will balance his current role with preparing to be the program’s next head coach: 

“For me, it is pretty easy. I feel like I have grown the most from my failures in my career. You look at the last two seasons, when you end both seasons due to COVID and last year was a tough year all the way round. It creates this incredible hunger that our players have had, our coaching staff has had. That includes myself, so for me, [the goal is to] enjoy each day. You notice I did not say the word ‘last’ in any word I just said, except right now. No matter what, for all of us there is an emotional piece to this and it is important that we don’t get too far head, that we don’t get too sentimental. But also, we are going to use that as motivation. [Coach] doesn’t want it to be about him, it’s going to be about the team. But there is no question that everyone of us that are coaches, that’s in the locker room want to send him off with a very special season.” 


On recruiting with Jon Scheyer as the next head coach as compared to the previous coaches he has worked with: 

“That’s a great question. [Steve Wojciechowski], when we started we were trying to rebuild Marquette. At Duke, it’s been a small number of guys, a select few and at Marquette our database was huge. Wojo was great, but it was it a lot of numbers. With trying to rebuild Marquette, Wojo was relentless, just like he was as a player. Then you come here and the program is already set in place. You’re working for a legend. Coach K is swag. And what I mean by that is when he walks into a building you automatically get street cred, you get suburban cred. It’s Coach K. It’s a different kind of hit. I experienced that the first time he and I were on the road together. Being at Marquette, I have a polo on and nobody notices you and Marquette is a great basketball brand, but when you’re out on the road with Coach K, I don’t care where you’re at – inner city or suburbs – he brings it. People are in awe, so to speak. It was different and it was an adjustment. All eyes are watching you and people take your calls. You have to turn people away, so to speak. Now the transition to Jon – you never know how people are going to respond. We were behind recruiting this class and Jon has an amazing ability to connect with these younger guys because he’s still kind of young. Whether it’s listening to the music, speaking the lingo, he does a great job with that. I’m the old man of the staff. We’ve got two young guys – Nolan [Smith] has done an incredible 

job and Jon – it was just us three on the road this summer and we had a lot of ground to make up. But Jon was really organized with recruiting so we know exactly what the job is. Whether it’s reaching out to the parents – and the thing that’s been different is we’re all recruiting [each player]. Years before in working with Wojo, it’s been ‘That’s my guy’ where a coach is responsible for one player. That hasn’t been the case with us. So when you think about if I’m recruiting you, if I made the initial contact, you’re going to hear from Nolan. Nolan is going to call you and [speak] with you. Jon is going to call you. It’s been group recruiting, so to speak. I think that’s worked well for us so far.” 

On what he sees his role being on the staff this season: 

“We lost a great coach in Nate James, so when you get the title, so to speak, you don’t really change but you’ve got to be there. You’re always there, but I guess I have to be ready to more. I think Nolan has done a great job with player development. I have the bigs this year so it’s different for me, because for the first three years Jon and I have had the perimeter. Then, Jon is kind of overseeing it and he’s getting in there as well on both ends. He’ll come down and he may see something with the bigs and go at it and do the same as well with Nolan. With practice and getting the guys in and working them out, it’s been a group effort. Nolan has been responsible for the perimeter, I’ve been responsible for the bigs and Jon has been with both of those groups.” 

On Mark Williams’ potential: 

“He can be really good. In talking about Mark, it’s about the foundation. I’ve talked about this – building his foundation and starting with the defensive end. We want him to be, if not the leading shot blocker in the country, one of the [top] and having that presence and being a great rim protector. Then on the offensive end with our guards, Mark should be the best lob catcher in the country. Anything around the rim, you just throw it up and he’s 7-foot and 7-1 with that wingspan. He catches everything and finishes around the rim. Then when he gets a chance to get into the post, he’s really skilled. I think he’s going to show this year where he can step out. He can shoot the ball – he has range out to the three-point line. It’s going to be different this year because at the end of last year, nobody had really game-planned for him. You were trying to stop Matthew Hurt and DJ Steward. He was probably fourth or fifth down so he kind of snuck up on you. Now they’re going to be more prepared and ready for him, so he has to bring that edge and intensity every day.” 


On feeling pressure as leader and someone the younger players look to: 

“I feel like I’m ready for this, especially with the team we have. We have so many guys [to where] it takes the pressure off all of us. It’s not always going to be just one person or two or three people. I think we’re going to have a good eight, nine or 10-man rotation. Everyone can play a huge part on the team so I don’t really feel any pressure. I’ve got my guys behind me and I wouldn’t want to have any other team behind me. We’re just going to go out and do our thing this year.” 

On head coach Mike Krzyzewski wanting to live in the moment and what it’s been like so far this year: 

“It’s been just like that. I don’t think there’s been one time where he has mentioned this being his last season. It really is everything he says. He’s locked into that moment. He wants us to be as good as we can be this year. He’s totally invested in us and that’s all we can ask for.” 

On improving his body during the summer: 

“It’s just been a constant grind. I was here in early June for a couple of weeks and then I went to Miami for a couple weeks and to [Los Angeles] for a couple weeks to train. So really, it’s been improvement all summer and the big thing with me is I want to get bigger, stronger and faster. I just want to learn the game a lot more. I really think this summer has been a productive one for me.” 

On having the fans back in Cameron Indoor Stadium: 

“It’s going to be electric. I’ve actually been thinking [about it] since the last time we had fans. Just having them be in there is going to be a huge boost for us. We’re going to feed off their energy and hopefully put on a show.” 



On being the only senior on the team: 

“Yeah, it’s crazy to think about. Four years have flown by, but I’m taking it as a wonderful opportunity. We have such a great group of young guys that are willing to listen and learn so just trying to show them stuff that I’ve learned over the time that I’ve been here and help them out wherever I can.” 

On the team’s ability to play physical: 

“If you just look at the height chart and the wingspan and everything, we have a really big team and so using that to our advantage on defense and obviously offense as well, being able to impose our will a little bit is something that we are trying to do this season, which is something that we weren’t able to do last year. We have a really big and strong team.” 

On what he has worked to improve during the offseason: 

“All-around everything. Working on defense, continuing to become a better shooter, a better scorer, but then being a better leader. I feel like last year we were lacking that a bit. So, making sure that there’s a voice and a presence. I think Wendell [Moore Jr.] and I have done a good job with that and then having Theo [John] and Bates [Jones] as older guys as well has helped a ton. So, I think it’s a mixture of everything.” 

On what he has seen from the freshmen class: 

“They’re awesome. They came a little bit earlier than everyone else. Me and Wendell [Moore Jr.] were here throughout the summer. They came early June and the moment they stepped in Durham, they were ready to work. They compete and try to win every drill every time we play. So, it’s been so much fun working with them and I’ve learned a lot from them as well. They’re awesome. I couldn’t be happier with that group.” 


On how he plans to handle external pressure: 

“Just staying mellow, staying level-headed – not getting too high and not getting too low. If I have a real good game I am not going to be the type to listen to all the hype that comes with it. I have never been that type of player. [I am] always knowing that I have something to work on. If I have a bad game or a bad day, just telling myself to shake that off, it is going to come back to me and moving on to the next play.” 

On stepping into a leadership role since he arrived: 

“Just coming in here and feeling accepted right away from Wendell [Moore], Joey [Baker] and the rest of the returners and all the coaches. It made me comfortable to use my voice and be a leader. I am still working on that. Wendell and Joey, I think, have been the two biggest guys for me as far as leadership and looking to ask questions or look for energy in the team – Theo [John] as well. Just being comfortable, being able to speak up, say what I see and help lead the team. I think we will be the best if everyone holds each other accountable and steps up as a leader in some way. I feel like as long as we do that as a team, we will be straight.” 

On what he sees the identity of the team being: 

“I would definitely say a tough team defensively. We have size, we have length, we move well athletic laterally. [We will] definitely [be] a team that is going to cause problems on defense. Then, we have a lot of skilled players on the floor at all times. We have a lot of players that know how to play the game of basketball. They don’t need a lot of coaching and they have a great feel for the game – kind of play off of their instincts. It is going to be fun, we are going to run a lot, we are going to push the pace and shoot the ball well too.” 



On if he feels more comfortable this offseason compared to last year: 

“Absolutely. Just getting a different flow, obviously having more time to bond with my teammates, having a whole summer to work with them and get familiar with how they play, stuff like that – it’s been great.” 

On if the way last season ended added motivation for this year: 

“Of course. It definitely hurt, just not being able to go out on a win or a loss but having that taken away from us was painful. But it’s obviously motivation for this year. We know what we’re going into. Stakes are high.” 

On what it means to him to be a part of head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final season: 

“It definitely means a lot. That’s historical. You don’t get that opportunity a lot, so just being a part of something special like that means a lot and I’m really excited to be a part of it.” 

On how he and Paolo Banchero will complement each other on the floor: 

“Paolo is a great player. He’s a legit 6-10 and can move really well. I think we complement each other really well. He does a lot of things on the floor, and then me being able to play alongside him will make my life a lot easier – hopefully it will make his a lot easier too.” 


On what skills he has worked on this summer: 

“Everything – just learning the game, reading the game. Coach is big on the game is 90 percent [mental]. Learning the game, learning different reads – stuff like that. How I talked about the game slowing down – just seeing more, seeing open guys, seeing lanes to drive – just different things like that.” 

On how he is feeling physically: 

“I think this is probably the best I have felt since before my injury. The leg has been back to 100 percent. [I’m] confident jumping off that right leg. This year is going to be a big year.” 

On his expectations for the season: 

“Just to win. It is Coach K’s last year so we want to go out with a bang. For me personally, last year didn’t go as planned. It wasn’t a typical Duke year. Coming with that confidence and that motivation for me [is important].” 


On what drew him to Duke during the recruiting process: 

“Ever since I was a little kid, it was one of those things I saw and then I instantly knew I wanted to go there. That was my goal ever since I started playing basketball. I knew I wanted to go to Duke and be at the best college in my opinion.” On how he would describe his game: 

“I would say unpredictable and really a special talent that’s willing to do anything to win. [I’m] a guy who just wants to win and whatever coach asks, he’ll do.” On how the process has been recovering from an offseason injury: 

“Getting back to playing again, I would say there were some ups and downs, but I knew that if I just continued to work, it was going to click at one point. Injuries, I don’t see it as a bad thing. I see it as kind of like a slingshot – it’s setting me up for a better future because it made me hungrier and it made me want to become more of a better player. I know that now, when more adversity comes, I’ll be ready for it.” 

On the team chemistry: 

“Ever since we got here, I think the team chemistry has been the greatest. One of my favorite times spent with my teammates was we went to this escape house and we had an hour to escape and figure out the clues. I think that was a really cool way to bond. We were two clues away from completing the whole thing, but it was cool to get that team bonding started. Ever since then, we’ve all just clicked and have so much fun together.” 


On what drew him to Duke during the recruiting process: 

“The experience here has been everything that I expected and more. I chose it just because of the opportunity that it has to build me as a person and an athlete. You’re surrounded by great people in the classroom, great people on the court, so it’s been a great opportunity just to be a part of this legendary university and prestigious university.” 

On how he would describe his game: 

“I would say I love defense. I love to play hard. I’m going give it everything I got. One thing about me is that I love to win. [I’m] able to hit an open shot, defend, talk – those are parts of my game that are really going to show this year.” 

On the team’s expectations for this season: 

“We’re just going to push each other. We have a lot of high expectations this year, especially Coach’s last year, so we’re going to push each other in the dorm and on the court. We have high expectations for ourselves.” 


On the similarities between head coach Mike Krzyzewski and his head coach at Marquette, Steve Wojciechowski: 

“[There are] a lot of similarities. Wojo was under Coach K’s wing for so long. There’s a lot of the same references so it’s made that transition pretty easy for me. There’s obviously some differences in the technicalities and how Coach K runs things but overall, it’s been a smooth transition for me.” 

On his transition to Duke: 

“It’s been great so far. I came down in the summer and got to know the guys and was around the program. I was in a different mindset at first because I thought I was going to be done with college and [moving on to] playing professionally to make some money, but everyone’s path is different and I thought this was the best place for me. The opportunity to be here is once in a lifetime and to be here for Coach K’s last season [and with] the team that we have, we definitely have the opportunity to do something special. I wanted to be part of that.” 

On playing alongside Paolo Banchero and Mark Williams: 

“Mark and Paolo are both really good. It’s going to be a fun year, I can promise you that. Mark’s length, his athleticism – he’s just coming out of his shell and he’s going to be a really good player for us. Paolo is very talented and he’s learning a lot. He’s taking the responsibility to become the best player he can be. Seeing him grow in the amount of time we’ve been together has been special.” 



On his adjustment to the team and Duke: 

“It’s been great so far – not much of an adjustment really. It’s a new town, new city, but not too different. It’s been a great transition. I’ve really gotten along with my teammates and we’re really gelling on and off the court. They’ve made that transition easy. On the court, I’m soaking up as much as I can, learning from a new coach and bringing as much as I can from my past four years at Davidson. I’m really trying to make the transition as seamless as possible and it’s gone pretty well.”