INDIANAPOLIS (WDRB) -- Comments from Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and his players on Sunday night's NCAA Midwest Regional Final against the University of Louisville in Lucas Oil Stadium:
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI, ON SCOUTING THE CARDINALS: We're trying to get to know Louisville in a very piecemeal fashion. So we've watched a little bit of Louisville up to now, and we're going to do more this afternoon and more tonight and more tomorrow. When it's turned around this quickly, you have to kind of do it in stages, because they're a great team. I think they're the best team and playing the best right now. So our guys have done a good job, and we're going to have to play a great game in order to beat them.
KRZYZEWSKI ON WHETHER IT HELPS TO HAVE PLAYED LOUISVILLE BEFORE: I think the fact just that you were at the same party together. This is a bigger party, so you know how big they are. Even though Dieng was not with them, you have great respect for them. Their guards lived in our paint and they've lived in a lot of people's paints over the years. They're better and we're better. They were interrupted early, and they haven't been interrupted since then with injury. We've been interrupted since then. But the fact that we played, the fact that we won I don't think is significant. The fact that we have some familiarity with them helps.
MASON PLUMLEE ON THE DIFFERENCE GORGUI DIENG MAKES: Well, I think he does the best job in their team of protecting the rim. Obviously blocking shots, but also altering shots. And then offensively he gets buckets around the rim, and then he has a nice little face‑up jump shot. So I think he gives them a different dimension, but he's not one of those guys that are 260, 270, where they can just move you on the block.
KRZYZEWSKI ON THE DIFFERENCE DIENG MAKES: Well, he's one of the best players in the country. I think it helps their defense to have a great rim protector, because they hit you with different types of defenses, and you can be even more aggressive knowing that your basket is protected. I think any team in the country would love to have him. But then offensively, he's improved. He's a legitimate threat to get ‑‑ he's the second leading scorer and can hit free throws, can make buckets inside and can hit from 15 feet. His game has really expanded. He's a terrific player.
QUINN COOK, ON HIS GAME AGAINST LOUISVILLE IN THE BAHAMAS (15 points): I'm coming to the game with confidence, just playing against two great guys in Russ Smith and Peyton Siva. Our guys know we have to be at the best of our game. In the Bahamas, it was a battle. All 40 minutes. Guys stepped up at the end of the game, and I was fortunate enough to hit a shot down the stretch and hit some free throws. But my teammates carried us the whole game. So we know it's going to be a battle all 40 minutes, so we just want to fight all 40.
RASHEED SULAIMON, ON WHAT MAKES SMITH AND SIVA SO GOOD AT PENETRATING: Their guards are tenacious on defense to start off, and their defense leads to easy buckets on the offensive side. And both of those guys, Peyton Siva and Russ Smith, are great at getting into the lane and creating opportunities for themselves and for the rest of their team. And when you have two guards like that, that can create so much havoc, puts a lot of pressure on your defense, and they really are the bulk of their team, and they're two important pieces that we have to contain.
KRZYZEWSKI, ON LOUISVILLE JOINING THE ACC: Well, for all these schools that have joined, it makes us the most powerful basketball conference, I think, ever. And I hope our league is able to understand the assets that we've accumulated and what it does to the assets we already have. I think if positioned properly, it sets us apart from anybody. And we shouldn't look at where football is or whatever. We have the best asset as a result of Louisville, Syracuse, Pitt, Notre Dame, and the assets we have, we're joining together. I mean, we better know how to make use of it.
SULAIMON, ON WHETHER PLAYING LOUISVILLE IN NOVEMBER WILL HELP: It helps a lot. Like Coach said, they're a great team and they're different now. But to have the familiarity that we had playing them earlier in the season is a great help. We know how they are defensively, and we know one of the big keys of the game is to handle that pressure. And it's very hard to prepare for a team like Louisville. But knowing that we played them earlier in the season does help a lot.
COOK ON WHETHER PLAYING LOUISVILLE IN NOVEMBER WILL HELP: Like Rasheed said, we've experienced their defensive pressure and the guards' pressure. I think they're a better team now and they're playing the best basketball in the country, especially with Dieng there. We didn't see how they played with Dieng. So I know our coaches are doing a great job preparing for those guys, and I think we'll be ready.
SETH CURRY, ON WHETHER PLAYING LOUISVILLE IN NOVEMBER WILL HELP: You just get the up‑close look at how they attack for 40 minutes. It's not only playing them, but playing other teams that pressure like them, like, say, VCU or other teams like that, just give us a better idea of what we're going to see tomorrow.
KRZYZEWSKI, COMPARING SMITH AND SIVA WITH MIAMI'S DURAND SCOTT AND SHANE LARKIN: Well, you've got four really good players. Scott and Larkin are two of the best also. Now, the styles of play are different. The Louisville team really attacks you well in transition. And they play with such a verve and heart when they push the ball up the court. There's not a better transition guard in the country -- I'm trying to think of one in recent memory -- as Smith. He is courageous, plays with great heart. I'm getting old. If I need a transplant, I hope he would give me his. He could give me part of it and I'd have more courage than I have right now. But they're exciting guards. And Miami doesn't play that way. They're more in the half court. But these two guys put incredible pressure on you. The whole court, both offensively and defensively. They used the whole court in putting that pressure on you, on both sides of the ball.
RYAN KELLY, ON HIS ROLE IN THE LOUISVILLE MATCHUP: I think it's going to be huge for me to help handle that pressure. I intend to be the guy that takes the ball out of bounds, and that's an important position to be in for ball reversal and to help bring the ball up the court. I think both Mason and I did a pretty good job last time we played them, and throughout the season, handling that type of pressure. But that will be a big part of the game, having poise from that position. And then rebounding the basketball is going to be huge. Their four‑man, all their four men, they throw multiple guys at you who really attack the boards and are athletic guys. So those will be two huge parts of the game
PLUMLEE, ON THE DIFFERENCE IN HIS ROLE VS. LOUISVILLE'S PRESS AS OPPOSED TO OTHERS, LIKE VCU: I think VCU is quicker to run guys to the ball. Louisville brings it to you more. When you take it to them, they're going to be aggressive and try to get their hands on the ball. So you just have to be smart. I think you have to be aware of what area of the court you're in. You don't want to be thrown into corners, crossing half court in the corners. You really have to think before you get the ball, where you want to get it.
KRZYZEWSKI, ON THE UNUSUAL SITUATION OF BEING AN UNDERDOG IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: We know going into every game that we're a target, and we'll be a target tomorrow. And Louisville has been. So you've got two programs that are accustomed to people playing their best against you all the time. Now we've got a chance to play our best against one another. So it's -- for an Elite Eight game -- Elite Eight games are huge anyway. But this one, I think it's like a national championship game. Both teams have had great years, and the two years ‑‑ the two seasons of the two teams could match anybody's in the country. And to have ‑‑ just to have it work out that we're playing right now against one another, I think it's great for college basketball. I hope we both live up to the game.
KRZYZEWSKI, ON THE QUICK TURNAROUND TO PREPARE A GAME PLAN FOR LOUISVILLE: Yeah, that's a good question. Again, you don't know if it will work, but we've just been in a lot of these situations. And what I've been doing for the last seven years with the National Team helps you too. Quick turnarounds and learning from different people what they do, the players like at that level, what they do. The mistakes and the good things that you've done over the years, and you come up with a plan. So you never know if the plan is the right thing, but it will be better than the one we had in '86.
COOK, ON WHETHER THE GAME HAS A NATIONAL-TITLE FEEL: I think so, just because of the magnitude of the game to get to the Final Four, the coaching matchup, the two great programs. It's definitely going to be a championship feel and that's how we have to approach the game -- as a championship. We know those guys are going to be ready, we're going to be ready, and it's going to be 40 minutes of hard-fought basketball.
PLUMLEE ON DEFENSIVE KEYS AGAINST LOUISVILLE: We have to guard the ball screen well to help our guards keep them out of the paint. I think Russ Smith is the most aggressive guard we've seen. We'll be ready to play. We'll be rested.
PLUMLEE ON THE ATMOSPHERE HE EXPECTS: It'll be a home game for them, but we expected that.
KELLY ON LOUISVILLE'S DIFFERENT DEFENSIVE LOOKS: You just have to be smart and constantly paying attention. They have a deep roster. They throw a lot of guys, a lot of bodies at you. And guys that are really right now are playing very well off the bench. The kid Harrell, Van Treese, they are both playing really good basketball and making little plays that make the difference. They are very athletic, but they like to be around the rim. All three of those guys can play off the bench, that 4/5 position, like to be around the rim. Though they have different games, there is not a dramatic difference in one guy being an outside shooter or different things like that. I think we'll be prepared for what they bring to the game.
CURRY ON PLAYING AGAINST RUSS SMITH: I mean, he's aggressive, and it's non-stop attacking you the whole game, and defensively, too. He's tough to deal with and you gotta be alert.
CURRY ON LOUISVILLE'S PRESS AND PRESSURE: I think we've done a good job with pressure and presses all year. I think our biggest weapon is our big men. They're able to take pressure off our guards, and they'll do a great job of handling the ball. I don't think we've been too rattled by pressure this year.