Four questions from coach Mike Krzyzewski’s teleconference Thursday to preview Duke’s 2 p.m. game Saturday with Xavier in East Rutherford, N.J.
Q: What is it about you guys and the Meadowlands (where Duke is 17-1)?
A: First of all, it’s the Izod Center now. Watch your tongue there (joking). People pay a lot of money to get names on those arenas. That location has been historically a big part of the NCAA. And a lot of it has to do with the fact that there’s such a rich tradition in New Jersey and the New York area there. We’ve been fortunate to play some of the biggest games in our history in that building. And every time I would either fly over it or drive past it or obviously play in it, it conjures up some memories of great, great games and the great kids, and the great kids we played against. Some fantastic basketball. Some of the best basketball, really, in the history of college basketball. That’s what’s happened in that arena.
Q: Has the inconsistency in the 3-point shooting been a concern?
A: Actually, there’s been no inconsistency. We’ve just not been good. We haven’t shot well. And so the consistency is that we haven’t shot well. Until last night (against UNC Asheville). Last night we were 11-for-27 from 3-point range. We’re good shooters, and I’m not going to tell my kids to stop shooting. It’s a long season, and as long as they’re taking good shots, I’d never tell a kid not to take a good shot. I just think we have to be instinctively aggressive, also, but not be one dimensional. In the one loss (at Michigan) we had I thought we became too one dimensional in our pursuit of going after the three. We didn’t get to the free throw line. I think you have to have a balance of not just inside and outside, but going to the foul line, which we didn’t have in that game.
Q: Can you talk about Gerald Henderson and his progress?
A: So far, I think he hasn’t gotten off to the start he would like or we would like, although last night (against UNC Asheville) I thought he played very well. Gerald should touch every aspect of the game, whether it be rebounding, defense, driving, getting to the line, outside shooting, he’s a player. He’s really a good player, and I think when he gets caught up in focusing on just one of those things, he’s a starter and a good player, but he’s not a really good player. He had a severe wrist injury in mid-February last year and played the rest of the year with it, and then was out for four months at the end of the season right after an operation. My feeling is, there still is a little bit of transition. Sometimes you remember who you were last instead of who you are. And the first few games so far this season he’s been playing like he did at the end of the year last season with the injury, not like he did before the injury. I thought last night he took a good step forward.
Q: You’ve had the success with the Olympic team, can you talk about what that’s done for you as a college coach?
A: Everything that’s been a part of that has been good. One, it makes you a better coach because you learn from being with other great coaches, like (Mike) D’Antoni, Nate McMillan, Jim Boeheim. You learn from coaching very special basketball players that we had on that team who are true professionals and have a commitment to learn. You learn by some of the things they do. And then you coach against a different group, a competitive group, the international community. They’re terrific. They’re outstanding in their concepts, especially on the offensive end of the court. You study and you get better.