Monday, February 9, 2009

Q&A with Mike Krzyzewski

Here are excerpts from Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s news conference Monday as the Blue Devils prepare to play host to rival North Carolina at 9 p.m. Wednesday:

Q: What is it about this series that negates the home court? They’ve won three in a row (at Cameron), and you’ve won two out of the last three (in Chapel Hill).
A: I just think because we’re both good teams. Good teams can win home or away. I know we’re, for the last 10 years we have the best percentage on the road, but they have to be the next. They have a good percentage on the road. Good teams can win away.

Q: You’ve often said that you think this game is one of the best celebrations of college basketball. What’s your favorite part of it?
A: For me, I’m honored to be a part of it. The rivalry and the game between Duke and North Carolina is bigger than any coach, player and combination. That’s why it’s the true identity game for college basketball, because that’s what college basketball is. When you’re the coach of one of the teams, you’re basically like the caretaker of this rivalry. Like right now, Roy (Williams) and I have to do a great job. And I think both of us have done a good job of not just competing against one another, but competing with dignity and the class that the rivalry deserves.

Q: You’ve won national championships and coached the Olympic team. Do you (feel) something extra in you when you coach in a game like this?
A: You know what, if I get more from this game than I do from another, I shouldn’t coach. Not that this game isn’t a great game. But I don’t want to be the doctor who only operates well on Friday, or because you gave me more money. I’d like to operate well on anyone.

Q: Going against a full-strength (Ty) Lawson unlike last year, how important will Nolan (Smith) be?
A: Everybody’s important. No one person can stop Lawson on the fast break. It’s a team commitment to try to slow their offense down. In a game against a really good opponent, the main thing is that you have more than five players. The benches of both teams, I think, will be very important. - Ken Tysiac