DURHAM, N.C. -- Members of the Duke men's basketball team addressed the media Wednesday in advance of Saturday's monumental matchup between 18th-ranked Blue Devils and No. 2 Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, close friends with Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim, also met with the Blue Devil Network to talk about the matchup, his relationshp with Boeheim and the expected atmosphere in the Carrier Dome. A transcript of the interview is below, while the video interview is also attached.
Duke enters the game winners of five in a row, including an 80-65 win at Pittsburgh Monday. The Blue Devils (17-4, 6-2 ACC) will be playing Syracuse for only the fifth time in series history and for the first time in the Carrier Dome. The game tips off at 6:30 p.m. Saturday and will air on ESPN.
Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski Pre-Game Interview Transcript for Syracuse January 29, 2014
On Syracuse’s success this season and the zone defense: “Syracuse is as good a team as there is in the country. It starts with their defense. They’re very difficult to score against. They play a zone defense, but it’s not just the zone. It’s a defense that’s very active that goes for steals and traps in that segment of the court. [Trevor] Cooney and [Tyler] Ennis, they’re the two top steals leaders in the conference, and if you get it on the baseline or on the side from out of bounds, they trap you with really tall, long and athletic players. There’s a reason they’re in the top two in the country, and defense is a major part.”
On the expected atmosphere in the Carrier Dome: “I think they’re gonna have their largest crowd ever. Playing in a dome is unusual, and not all of our players have played in a dome. Especially in a dome where everybody is against you. So it’s a different environment. The environment isn’t as much about the crowd as it is the space. We would hope that shooting there a couple times will help in that regard, but it is different. That’s one of the things about this year in our conference – you go to some different places. I don’t know if we’re the only team, but we’re one of the only teams that have gone to all three. We’re gonna go to Notre Dame, we’re gonna go to Pitt, we’re gonna go to Syracuse. I’m not sure if all the people who are trying to win our regular season have had to do that, but we’ve been given that opportunity to do that. Those are three new venues for us, and how you go to the game, the locker rooms, all that, there’s a newness there. You have to make sure that doesn’t become a distraction for you and you focus on the job at hand.”
On the significance of the game: “It will be an historic game. The fact that Jim [Boeheim] and I, total, have won over 1,900 games, it’s never been done. He and I talked about it this summer, because we worked together the past 10 years with USA Basketball, that every time we go on the court, it will be something special. What a great thing for our league to have that go on. How good is that for our brand? Not just Duke and Syracuse, but for the ACC. Our conference needs to take advantage of that, and it has. It’s College Game Day, and I’m sure that’s one of the reasons it’s College Game Day.”
On his relationship with Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim: “Jim and I are really very, very close friends, and our families are close friends. Even before USA Basketball and in the last decade with USA Basketball, our families have traveled together, we’ve competed as a team for the United States, and there’s a love, a camaraderie, a friendship that is deeper than a coach and another coach. We coach together, we’ve been on the sidelines, we’ve been in preparation together and we’ve been in those nervous times before a gold medal game. So we’ve shared experiences that two coaches competing against one another would not normally share, so it’s a very unique friendship and one that I treasure.”
On Duke’s improved play: “We’re playing well and we can play better. What you have to always be careful about when you start playing well and you win is that you still do the same preparation to win that you did when you weren’t winning as much. That will help you get better. I think the way the schedule is, with us playing at Miami, playing Florida State, playing at Pitt and then going to Syracuse, three of the four games have been on the road and they’re all against really good teams and athletic teams. So we hope that playing against that caliber of team will help us do a better job against Syracuse.”
On the attention the game is receiving: “We welcome all the attention that’s given to us. It’s much better to have attention than not have attention. If you have attention, it’s either that you’ve done something really crazy wrong and people are attentive or you’ve done something really good over the years. For us, we’ve been good, and [Syracuse has] been really good. So a lot of people want to see what happens when two really good programs get together and two guys who have been coaching a long time get together. Hopefully the game will measure up to the buildup.”