Maui Jim Maui Invitational Game 7: Duke 78, Auburn 72
Duke – 78, Auburn – 72
Auburn Tigers Press Conference with:
Bruce Pearl, Austin Wiley and Jared Harper
MEGAN GODFREY: Coach, can you give an opening statement on tonight’s game.
BRUCE PEARL: Well, I thought our kids played really hard. We didn’t quit, we didn’t play very well, we didn’t execute. There were some, Duke’s athleticism and their ability to protect the rim, some of the things that they did defensively to keep us out of our ball screen action was effective. We’re very disappointed that we weren’t able to take advantage of the opportunity and our great strength is our balance and I think when we continue to become a little bit more balanced in many ways we’ll continue to become a better team.
MEGAN GODFREY: Questions for the players.
Q. Austin how surprised were you by Marques Bolden and just how he played inside today for them?
AUSTIN WILEY: I really wasn’t surprised, I know he’s a very good player. I remember playing against him in the past, so, yeah, he’s a good player, it wasn’t any surprise.
Q. For both players, obviously this was a big time game, what do you think even in this loss that you kind of learned about your own team?
JARED HARPER: I would just say that just learn that we can fight to the end, we were in the game the whole time, I think, but we had some crucial plays, some crucial turnovers during the game, I personally had two crucial turnovers I thought could have swung the game a different way. But I guess use it as a learning experience just getting us ready we have to play another game tomorrow, so just getting prepared for that.
AUSTIN WILEY: Yeah, going off what Jared said we had some crucial turnovers, but rebounds me myself personally I gave up some, we just got to get back in the lab when we get back to Auburn and just get better.
MEGAN GODFREY: Questions for coach.
Q. When you look back it’s just how they started and how they got in your guards, I mean how much did that sort of set the tone for how things unfolded the rest of the way?
BRUCE PEARL: I thought that we let them get middle and turn corners and that was a big part of our game plan to not let them do it. Once we solved that a little bit I thought we kept them on the sides and gave us a fighting chance. We fouled them way too much, and you got to play aggressively without fouling, but Duke got whatever they wanted early. Now our kids kept on battling and obviously we got some dangerous players that can make shots and we try to give them some freedom. I thought our second chance points were terrific and but, yeah, Duke’s start says something about the fact that those four freshmen are a lot more mature than — those four guys are really good now. It’s a special group. So I think Coach K got out of this what he wanted, he wanted to get tested a little bit. I don’t think — we threatened them but they were never scared. If we could have got off to a better start we might have had a much better chance to win the game.
Q. In your opening press conference for the tournament you talked about your back court who battled. What did you learn about them? You saw them under the lights with this team, they seemed to come down the stretch and compete. How did you, how were you reacting with that?
BRUCE PEARL: Those two guys can play, offensively and defensively. And I trust them, try to put them in positions where they can do what they can do and you got to give them some freedom. But we’re dangerous because of that. We didn’t shoot the ball well outside of those two guys and typically our stretch 5’s and 4’s will knock down shots and Chuma just hasn’t shot it well yet, here Anfernee didn’t and we were 0-5 between Chuma and Anfernee. Those guys make a couple shots, which they typically do, all of a sudden we’re in a little different position.
Q. You hear so much about the four freshmen and how dangerous they are. But when you get Marques Bolden playing the way that he played today, how does that change the dynamic of this team?
BRUCE PEARL: Well, their size and their length at the rim was significant. 11 blocked shots, we got, we, they blocked more shots than we shot free throws. I mean — and they do a great job of changing shots. So that rim protection allows them to kind of use their length on the perimeter and the length on the inside. So look, Bolden is a great example, in this era of the one and done, it’s terrific. But without the Marques Boldens that stick around for two, three and four years and grow and develop — he’s becoming a pro now. He was a highly recruited kid, but he was a prospect, everybody knew it was going take a little time. A lot of times with bigs that’s the case. You rarely find bigs that are ready to go one and done. Duke’s done a terrific job, Marques has done a terrific job and stayed patient. So many times, if he wasn’t getting his minutes early in his career as a very promising player, he’s transferring, go someplace else and go find playing time. He stuck it out and I’m glad he’s being rewarded with this team.
Q. I guess I wanted to follow that up because no one’s ever going to question Harper’s heart, I mean he’s got a lot of guts of the. But when you’re trying to counter size and length sometimes with your back court what are some of the ways you’re going to be able to counter that in the future when you face teams with that kind of size?
BRUCE PEARL: Well, you know, those guys were still able to squeeze off 36 shots between the two of them, so sometimes they over shoot over, sometimes they over shoot through, a little better job of getting some more inside stuff. I got to do a better job of taking change of Chuma Okeke. He’s a really good player and I don’t take advantage of him enough. I did a little better job of it last night and I should have done a much better job of it today. We should have gone at Zion a little bit more and made him cover and if I had to do it over again that’s what I would do.
Q. Speaking of Jared, he had that drive end to end on the court to go into half and he went up to — he almost dunked it and it seemed like that would have been a huge energy play for you guys going into half. Would that have potentially —
BRUCE PEARL: No, you know, they came out second half played well again early. Don’t forget. It wasn’t like — they jumped on us right away again at the start of the second half. So I don’t necessarily think that would have been the key, the key would have been the starting both halves better. That would have been the key to having a chance to win the game.
Duke Blue Devils Press Conference
with Mike Krzyzewski, Tre Jones and Marques Bolden
MEGAN GODFREY: We’ll start with an opening statement from coach.
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Big time game. Both teams played so hard. That was a heck of a win for us. To play this level of game at this time of the year is amazing for us. I thought there two guards are really as good as any two guards in the country. They are big time elite guards and we did, overall, a good job against them. But they are elite. Tre did a hell of a job and he only had one turnover, ran our team, I thought he did a good, really good job on Harper. He’s still 7-19, I think, or something like that, yeah. And but they can beat anybody. They can beat anybody. They’re primed to play us and our guys, I’m proud of them. It’s their fifth game to play at that level with that pressure. Cam hitting the free throws. And then the huge difference I think in the game was Marques’ play, especially in the second half. Just for awhile there it was play after play. And we had a 12-point lead and we had a chance to kind of I’m not sure knock them out, but we missed like four really good shots, a couple threes. And because they’re winners, they came back and we made a couple mistakes down the stretch, but we didn’t miss free throws. So big win. I think we’re tired, definitely, and we got to get going again to play whoever we’re going to play tomorrow, is it noon? We play at noon? Yeah. All right. Thank you. That’s it for me.
MEGAN GODFREY: Take questions, please.
Q. Marques, I’m not sure any player on this roster has faced more scrutiny than you from the time you arrived. What did it feel like today to sort of be a leader on this team and have the big game that you had here in Maui?
MARQUES BOLDEN: I really don’t pay much attention to a lot of noise. I know that my coach and my teammates have my back, so that’s really what matters most to me. And for us to come out and get this win today against a Top-10 team it means a lot.
Q. Tre, you were guarding Jared Harper for much of the game. How was guarding somebody so fast and so accurate at shooting those threes, especially down the stretch when you guys really needed to get a stop to put the game away?
TRE JONES: He’s a really good player like coach said. The coaches gave us a great game plan against both of those guards, what to do. And I knew that my teammates had my back no matter how I guarded him. So I felt like we did a pretty good job and just did what we had to do to get the win.
Q. Tre, this is the first time this year you guys have faced game pressure like that, a single digit game in the last 10 minutes. What was it like for you guys to be to — that was the first time, what did you see from your teammates and how they handled it?
TRE JONES: I feel like we handled it really well. We go through those situations all the time in practice. The coaches prepare us for situations like this. I feel like we handled the adversity and were able to make the plays to win the game.
Q. Marques, I know you said you don’t listen to the outside noise, but internally how did you kind of keep yourself focused as you’re kind of going through the ebbs and flows of your career and stay confident in yourself?
MARQUES BOLDEN: Just by staying positive and trusting the work that I put in. We have a great coaching staff that’s willing to help me whenever I want it. So for us to just work as hard as I’ve done these three years has been good.
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: One thing I would like to mention for Marques — remember Marques, this is the first year he’s been healthy the whole time. So he has continuity of preparation, shape, and it’s a big thing. It’s a big thing. He’s made the most of it. He’s really gotten in great shape and he’s taken great care of himself and as a result he’s good. And he’s good and he’s healthy.
Q. Tre, how much different is this team — how much better is this team when Marques is playing the way that he played today?
TRE JONES: We’re a lot better as you see, or as you saw today, what he’s capable of doing. We knew all along what he was capable of doing. We knew he could play like this. It was only a matter of time for it to come out in games. So hopefully he can stay like this and he can bring us to the next level.
Q. Marques, talk about starting alongside the four freshmen there in the second half. You really came out strong and made those big defensive plays and that led to offense on the other side. Just how have you developed as a leader this year playing alongside those guys?
MARQUES BOLDEN: Those guys are really talented, obviously, as everyone can see. And I just try to be the older guy on the court talking and just try to teach the guys everything that I wish I had known coming in.
Q. Marques, back in October you said you were really confident for the first time in your career here and mostly because you were healthy, but how is your confidence level? Have you maintained it during that time during in practice in the early season and what did today do for that?
MARQUES BOLDEN: I mean I know what I can do. I trust the work that I put in. So for me to come out and have good games it’s no surprise to me or my teammates.
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: One thing I would say about him too, this is the best, by far, that we have protected our basket in a few years. I mean for a kid to get seven blocks and change shots in there. He was as good as he was in some of the offensive things. The defense was exquisite. It was at the highest level. Seven blocks and changing some shots, man, that’s a heck of a performance.
Q. Tre, coach talks about you guys having kind of position-less kind of basketball, but it’s clear that you’re the floor general. What are some of the things that you try to do in those crucial moments to get that momentum going with your teammates?
TRE JONES: I try to surround them with a lot of talented players as you guys know. So my job I feel like is just be a leader for us, try to get us organized and get those guys in spots to be successful.
Q. Marques, Coach mentioned it’s the first year you have been healthy. How frustrating was some of those previous years with the injuries you had to overcome?
MARQUES BOLDEN: Obviously it was really frustrating. I hadn’t really dealt with any injuries up until that point. And then for me to be coming into college so young it was just kind of frustrating. But like I said, trusting my coaches, my teammates, we have a great training staff who gets us right, so, yeah, I just work with them every day and stay healthy.
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Before they leave I would like one more thing about Marques. In his freshman year he was starting and then got hurt and then never got back to that level. His sophomore year he’s playing really well and we have a lot of bigs that we had a rotation. And then he had an injury in January. And so he hasn’t been the luckiest guy in the world. And we’re proud of him because he’s stuck in there and we’re fortunate. These freshmen are fortunate to have him on our team.
MEGAN GODFREY: Take questions for coach, please.
Q. Last night talked a little bit about Zion kind of working through some frustration. It seemed like he go frustrated early on in this game, but it seems like he kind of picked up in other ways. What kind of growth did you see from him in this game today?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I thought, I actually thought today he put some pressure on himself. He usually is a kid that’s having a lot of fun. At one of the timeouts in the first half I said, smile, have fun, like that’s — I think he wants to be so good and that we got to be careful for all these guys not to put pressure on themselves and just to play the game because they love to play. Then he got better on it. He and Cam have to — it’s part of learning. They have to stay away from silly fouls. And Cam only played seven minutes in the first half and got his third foul and we don’t, we try to maneuver that when a guy gets two. So if we’re going to win a big game, we need our main players in there. And the third foul was really a silly foul, 90 feet from the bucket. And however, I thought he hit the biggest shot of the game when they hit their three to go down, they were down five and he came down, it wasn’t called or anything, he just, boom, he got us back to eight. That’s a big-time, it’s a big-time play. I thought that was the play of the game, really.
Q. You guys have knocked teams out pretty much in the first half all year. I want to ask you some of the things I asked Tre about. The way they handled the first time in a tight situation, what did you see in their faces during timeouts —
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: No, it’s the season. You look at our league we’re going to be in a lot of games. We’re going to get beat. You can get beat and play well. And this team would be an outstanding team in any league. And a lot of these kids won the SEC regular season last year and I can see why. And Bruce does a hell of a job of getting them to play so hard. And when they have Wiley out they really spread you and shoot the 3, and then Wiley is coming on. These two games he’s played better, a lot better than he did in the two previous games. So and when they get Purifoy back they’re, they’re right there. So to play this level of game at this time, and we’ll play another one tomorrow no matter who we play.
Q. Kind of regardless of who you play tomorrow, the bullseye is going to be, as it often is, on your guys’ back and you talked about them having fun with this, but how do you manage this because the longer this boulder rolls along, the more the pressure becomes on them?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I don’t know if they — when I said that about Zion I don’t, I don’t want you to think that I feel that these guys are all feeling pressure. I just thought he wasn’t himself today to begin with. And then obviously he made some good plays. It’s got to be fun for them. And they can’t let — and I’ll do everything I can not to let them think that everything is won in November or December. But what we need to do is just use the season to get better and don’t worry about, no one gives a trophy for who is No. 1 in November, December, January or February. Even March. And don’t play for things that the outside wants you to play for. Play for what you want to play for and that’s fun, getting better. They really like each other, they love each other, and they play so hard. For us at the end of the game we needed to understand time and score. We had a break and the ball and a 10-point lead and we turned it over when we should have taken time and gone up by 12 or 13. Until you’re in those situations you don’t learn them. 8-point lead, inbounding the ball and we didn’t post to get it, and they’re playing hard, they have been in those situations. So we’ll point those things out — and you’re not going to learn them, experience is the best way to learn, and hopefully we can get that experience and win. But it might be that you get an experience and you lose too. So but today they won and I’m proud of them.
Q. This is a little off topic so I apologize, but yesterday you mentioned getting a perfect 2-1 at the end of the first half. And in both games you’re not auto benching guys with two fouls in the first half. Why do you think — these are all normal things in the NBA, they’re not normal in college basketball. Do you have an opinion on why more college basketball coaches don’t do it?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I think there’s so many ways to coach, so many different systems, and all of them at some time have won, so there’s not a perfect way of doing it. I think you have to do what you believe is right. And so for my whole career I’ve played guys with two fouls. And if I’m playing against a coach that doesn’t play, then I go at — I try to go at that guy at different times during the half because that’s the best way to play defense on them. But again, sometimes when we have done that in the second half that coach has beaten me. So there’s not, it’s not the perfect thing. But we have always gone two for one. I think the international stuff that I’ve done helps me in that regard because that’s what those guys do. They do it just naturally and it’s beautiful when you get it done.
Q. There’s, in the sport of basketball, there’s the wrong play, the right play, and the necessary play.
About 90 percent of the time your team makes the right play or the necessary play. What do you attribute to the high acumen of basketball IQ of this team collectively?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, recruiting. And then giving them a system where they’re allowed to think and react, not where they, there’s, you don’t put them in a box. They, you let them grow freely. And so the development of their mind in the game is huge. And then through talk, if you can combine all five minds, then it’s unbelievable. But I think that’s the way kids get better. All of our guys get better. Every kid that plays for us gets better. And because we, we do that. And these kids are getting better. Hopefully they will get a lot better.
Q. About four years ago Tyus Jones kind of stepped into a role as a leader on this team. Now we’re watching Tre. How do they compare in terms of their maturity level at this stage of their career?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Really the maturity level the same. Actually, Tre’s ahead of him defensively
because Tyus played only zone in high school. But the ability of understanding the game, being there to make big plays, great teammate, all the stuff. They have all the intangibles, the Jones boys have all the intangibles. Whatever Debbie Jones has fed them has worked. And I think that the other thing is Tre’s more ready maybe than even Tyus because Tre has Tyus. Tyus had his older brother. He didn’t have a guy who went through all this. And they’re so close. Tyus flew from California in between games to see his brother in his first game. And ironically it’s the same city that Tyus ended his career. Tre — I don’t know that karma stuff, it’s kind of cool. And do you know what? Just a lot is said about Jimmy Butler. Good, bad. Jimmy provided the transportation to have Tre’s brother Tyus there. I texted him right after the game. And he played for us on the Olympic team and that’s a hell of a — they’re basketball people. They just have lived the game and we’re benefiting from that. No question about it.