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On if he has talked to his players about circumstances surrounding the game: 

“Not yet. I didn’t meet with them yesterday – I just texted them last night when we were sure that we were the outright winners of the regular season, just to congratulate them. But I’ll talk to them today. There’s so much about me, but the moment is about us and I want them to understand it’s our moment. It just happens to be in this situation, and for them not to play because it’s coach’s last game, but to play because we should want to win, so I’ll try to get that message across to them.” 

On what it means to him to have up to 80 of his former Duke players attending his final game: 

“Well, the first few years, I don’t think I would have predicted that 80 of them would be coming back or that I would even have 80, but it’s great. By being in one place and having a good level of success throughout, you’re able to form a lot of friendships. Jeff [Capel] and I – they did a really nice thing at Pitt and then we talked. When he was 17, he could not imagine that we would be friends and after a few of his games, he could really have a hard time imagining that, although most of his games were good. That’s one of the treasures of coaching this long at one place, is those friendships. Yesterday, I had a long talk with Quin Snyder and we have an unbelievable relationship. I told him I want him to have that relationship with Jon [Scheyer] because they’re two very similar guys in their approach to the game. [I’ve been] getting calls – I was texting with Kyrie [Irving] this morning. Those mean a lot. A lot of guys can’t be here, but the guys that are coming, that’ll be great. I think they’re probably going to get together in different groups, so that’s a cool thing.” 

On if he will use any advice he’s given on past Senior Days for himself on Saturday: 

“Actually, I said that to my staff this morning. I said, ‘Who would have ever thought it’s my senior day?’ I won’t be concerned about me using up all my energy in warmups. I’ve tried not to think about it that much, but I know it will be emotional. A couple of years ago I did a ‘Letter to yourself’ for CBS. Maybe I should write one of those tonight. But your point is a good one, and I’m not sure how I’ll do.” 

On what he feels when looking at the tents on Krzyzewskiville, which can serve as a microcosm for what he’s created: 

“I really take a little bit different look at it than that because the Schwartz-Butters building overlooks all the tents, so in the pandemic when we didn’t have it, I’ve really missed seeing it every day. You look out your window and say, ‘Woah – that’s there for our program.’ My daughter, Debbie [Savarino], helps run [K-Ville] with the line monitors, so every once in a while, I’ll bust in my conference room and it’ll be Debbie and the line monitors having a meeting, so I get to meet with them. They did a fantastic job renewing. We lost that little bit of our culture. These things are good for a university’s culture. There’s a spirit – how do you get everyone together? Sport does that. I just have looked at it and said, ‘I’m pretty lucky.’ I’m really lucky to have that. I’ve been coaching for 47 years. Almost five decades to coach at West Point and Duke, and then 11 years of coaching the U.S. team. You can’t get much luckier than that. It’s been such an honor and a privilege to do it for two of the greatest schools in the world and then obviously for your own country’s team. I’m very lucky, and glad that Kobe [Bryant] hit a few shots against Spain so I was able to keep doing it.” 

On dealing with his emotions after each of the last three opponents on the road presented pregame gifts: 

“Those things were great. I didn’t have time to reflect on them before the game. So when it happened, it’s easy for me to put it on the back-burner. I talked to Syracuse’s AD (John Wildhack) the next day because it hit me – wow. We had a great talk about the history of veterans at Syracuse. With Jeff [Capel], I talked to him later. With this, there’s so much before, so it’s different. It’s just different. I’ve tried never to look in the past too much or in the future, but a little bit of thinking yesterday – this is your last game in Cameron. It’s crazy. How did that happen? How is it here? I’ll have to spend some time, have a meeting with me, maybe a few tough talks about keeping my eyes on the road, so to speak. In sport, you never know what’s going to happen, so the spontaneity of emotion, of performance, is one of the great things about sport. It really is reality TV. Reality TV is not reality TV – sport is. That’s the beauty of it, whatever sport it is. That’s the life I’ve lived. I think I’m going to, overall – I’m talking to myself right now – just let it happen and see what happens. But try not to let it negatively influence anything for my players because for them, it’s their game. They’re playing the game, I’m not playing the game. I’m responsible for making sure that they have the best chance to win that game and I’ve got to keep my eyes on the road for that.” 

On how he and Duke will be able to separate from one another: 

“We won’t separate. You don’t spend your 42 years here – Durham is our home. We’ve seen Durham grow in to one of the great cities in the United States, and this university continue to grow. My wife and I are going to stay on as ambassadors for the school. I actually had a good half-hour talk with Vincent Price this morning about this weekend, but also about that role and how we can help in furthering Duke’s cause. In saying that, I will have nothing to do with our basketball program. This is not about me. People have told me some things that have been written where I’m trying to maintain control – that could not be further from the truth. It was mine for 42 years, but it’s Duke’s forever. Whatever I can do to help Duke and the program, and Duke athletics, I’ll do. I’ll be busy because I do a lot of speaking. I want to get another dog, quickly. Because of the season, we didn’t want to train a puppy, but I’ve missed my dog big time during this season. Yesterday, it was so beautiful here and I had to do some business, but when I got the business done, I was going home. I said, ‘This would be a hell of a day to walk Blue.’ I’m going to look forward to that. We in coaching – in any sport – you give up to have the life that few have. I’ve lived that life and now I’m going to be selfish about not giving up anything. In saying that for my wife, she’s made so many sacrifices. To be quite frank with you, she hasn’t reminded me that much about it, but I think in retirement she’s probably going to get what she wants most of the time. I have no excuse, like I’ve got to see this recruit or I’ve got a meeting with Paolo [Banchero]. Those things aren’t going to work.” 

On the team improving on its ability to stay in the moment: 

“Immensely. Us being able to know them and coach them, I feel like in the last couple weeks, the maturity of our team – not that we are immature – but the maturity of our team has gone up a lot. We’ve changed a couple things that we do in not doing as much, but doing fewer things deeper. Maybe it is time for them to absorb more, or that combination of the timing is right with that little bit of change. Really, it showed up in our Virginia game. The day before, we were running defense and I’m looking, I told Chris Carrawell and Jon [Scheyer], ‘These guys look like a machine out here. They look like one of our old teams.’ Right now, we are moving the ball better. We just seem to have made a jump, and hopefully this game will help us make another jump.” 

When he discovered what an asset Cameron Indoor could be, and how his relationship with the students has evolved: 

“We have always considered the students to be the sixth man or sixth person. I really commend our university – those could be very expensive seats. They’ve made it for the undergrads and the grad students. I don’t know what year – 1984 or whatever – it just started, the craziness. Obviously, it’s an advantage. I think it used to be more of an advantage because now it became a bucket list target for opponents to win there. Not that they didn’t want to win before, but a little bit more, I think. But the relationship with the students has been terrific. Early on, in trying to build it, we would go out and speak to fraternities, sororities, different houses. I remember going to ‘B.O.G’ – a bunch of guys – and going to their place. Who would you guess from our mid-80s team would be in that area. Mark [Alarie] – he was obviously a part of that. It’s been great. We usually have a meeting the night before the Carolina game with the students in Cameron. We will again this year. That’s been great.” 

On his first game coaching at Cameron Indoor Stadium: 

“I don’t remember my first game here. The game I remember from my first season — maybe because we were only so good — was the Carolina game where Kenny [Dennard] hit Gene [Banks] and we sent it to overtime and we were able to win. That was electrifying – as electrifying as coaching against [Bill] Raftery at Seton Hall and their small gym and our fieldhouse – God bless those days. That was like, ‘Wow, this is really something.’ In saying this, because you bring up the first game – I’ll be forever grateful to my AD, Tom Butters. He believed in me three times. All of us need opportunities. I think I mentioned this when I announced that I was going to retire, but it’s really cool if the person or the people who give you the opportunity believe in you, because then you get through tough times. If I were in this day and age, I hope there would still be a Tom Butters, but there is a good chance that I would be coaching or teaching in high school because I would be fired. He believed in me enough to hire me, to stick with me, and when I was having physical and mental health problems during 1994-95, he stuck with me even though I had put in my resignation to him. He said ‘No way.’ Those are the moments that the people who believe in you when you can’t see the light, they see the light in you. Their belief is the light in you and it never extinguished, and that it what Tom did for me.” 

On the support of his wife and daughters during his career: 

“We are a coach’s family, so we haven’t talked about this until after the Pitt game. They know there’s not going to be any talk about anything until [after the next game]. That’s the next game. Now, this is that. I will have a lot of family here – my brother’s wife, my nieces and their families, my best friend, a lot of Columbos. It will be neat to share. My wife has been a great wife, but a great coach’s wife. Even today, we just got off the phone. I call her midday just to make sure that I don’t get in trouble, and she said, ‘I don’t want to put any more on your plate.’ I said, ‘When did that start happening?’ But a lot of people are coming in – how are we going to spend quality time? So, she and Debbie [Savarino] are handling that either after the game or Sunday morning. I said that’s a good thing to put on the plate. She’s really talented and smart, and so are my daughters. I’ve said this many times, but a big reason I think that I’ve continued to try to get better and get better is because of being with four ladies. A woman’s wisdom, their understanding of people and situations, and they just ask a hell of a lot more questions. A guy might get tired of it, but when they walk away, they say, ‘I’m glad they asked that question.’ We just have to be curmudgeons – it’s in our nature.” 

On if he is emotionally and spiritually ready to let go of the game: 

“I am. I wouldn’t have made that announcement unless I knew that I had to do this season. I had to do this season for continuity, especially from the pandemic and to have a plan. I want the program to keep going and stay at the level that we have most of the time been. We have been knocked back at times, and that is going to happen, but for the most part we have been one of the [best] programs. Jon [Scheyer] is going to do an amazing job with that, so I’m ready. Believe me, there is no thought in my mind. I won’t be at games – where do I sit? I’m not going to hover over anything. Everyone needs their space, and they’ll need their space, but right now this is my space and I’m going to try to finish out in a good place. I think we are in a good place. It’s not like I’m looking forward to the end of the season. When I say I’m looking to that new chapter, don’t confuse it with I’m ready for this to be over – I’m not. We’ve put too much into it.” 

On whether it feels like he is coaching his last game against North Carolina or his last game in Cameron: 

“It doesn’t feel like either one of those. It feels like I’m going to coach against Carolina – it’s our next game and we’ve got to win. That’s the mindset – if you’re able to push emotion off the plate, it’s got to be an emotion for the game. Otherwise, you won’t do a good job in the game. I’m 75 years old – I should have learned that already. I know I’ll do that. It doesn’t mean it’s going to translate into a win, but it will translate into a winning effort and that is all I want for my team are winning efforts, and winning takes care of itself. The other guy can have a winning effort too. Sometimes, theirs is a little bit more than yours, but if you don’t have a winning effort then you’re not deserving of winning.” 

On why preserving Cameron Indoor Stadium was so important to him: 

“You didn’t have to be a champion. Everyone recognizes this is a very special place. One of the things I would like to do in that new role is, how do we enhance Cameron by taking a look at what people have done around the world for not just arenas but great places, to keep them alive. There are two buildings here in the athletic facilities that need that, and that’s Cameron and Card. These are historic places. They’re not just buildings, they’re not arenas – they’re more than that. They are basically the very fabric of our university. They are part of that fabric. I’d like to try to figure that out. It’s something the Duke Endowment should be involved in because it enhances that, plus they’ve got a lot of money. That’s my little sneaky way of maybe making someone think about that.” 

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