Gonzaga Defeats Duke, 89-87 for Maui Invitational Championship
Gonzaga defeated Duke, 89-87 for the 2018 Maui Jim Maui Invitational Championship title at the Lahaina Civic Center. Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura was also named the 2018 Maui Jim Maui Invitational Tournament MVP.
Gonzaga – 89, Duke – 87
Duke Blue Devils Press Conference with:
Mike Krzyzewski, Tre Jones and Javin DeLaurier
MEGAN GODFREY: We’ll start with an opening statement from coach.
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Great game. I thought both teams played their hearts out. Kind of two different halfs. I thought they dictated the flow, the pace, they were very much in control the whole first half. I think their experience, I mean they’re really good, obviously Mark’s teams are well coached, but they’re
experienced good, they can beat anybody. They started out that way, where I thought we looked young. It’s not that we were tired, because we both played the same amount of games, but I thought emotionally they were more ready than we were. And that’s something that you learn. You have to learn that by being in these situations. We were ready to play but we weren’t as emotionally ready to play as we needed to be. And the second half they gave us a knockout punch in the first four minutes. And then in the last 14, 15 minutes of the game I thought we dictated everything. It started with Tre’s play where he scored and then stole the ball and got fouled. All of our guys need to know that just one
guy making a play like that can send, it can turn the emotion of the game around and Tre did that. Then it’s anybody’s game there right at the end. We have a number of moves right at the bucket or right around the bucket where we couldn’t finish or get fouled and that’s really the game right there. We had the ball right by the bucket a few times and couldn’t finish or draw a foul and then — and they won. Congratulations to Mark and his team. They’re a beautiful program and great group of kids.
MEGAN GODFREY: Questions, please.
Q. For Tre. This is the reason why you come to Duke, to play in these kind of games. What was it about playing Gonzaga that they were able to do that other teams weren’t able to do to you early on?
TRE JONES: Like coach said, we both were ready to play but they came more emotionally ready. So they came out more ready to play emotionally and had more fire behind them. And we dug ourselves a hole that we had to dig ourselves out of in the second half.
Q. For Tre and then Javin, what do you think happened the last 14 minutes that allowed you guys to kind of dictate the tempo, where Gonzaga was really sticking it to you before that?
TRE JONES: I feel we just got to playing how we know we can play, the way that the coaches want us to play and the way that us players know that we can play and want to play as well. Like coach said, emotionally early on we weren’t ready to play. But within those last 14 minutes we all kept trying to pick each other either up. And guys were picking me up and I was trying to pick other guys up. And we all came together and started fighting together rather than just by ourselves.
JAVIN DELAURIER: Just what Tre said. His play in the second half sparked the rest of us and we finally started to fight in the last 14 minutes, whereas before we had just come to play and we weren’t as emotionally ready as Gonzaga. But the last 14 minutes we played how we’re capable of together with emotion and we just got to do that earlier.
Q. Javin, obviously a tough loss for the team, but how much has Tre kind of evolved into the leader
for this team and the first couple games of the season?
JAVIN DELAURIER: Tre, I think, is the heart and soul of our team. We go as he goes, he’s an amazing
player. He almost never makes the wrong play and he’s capable of providing everyone with energy. We all respect him. He’s our point guard and we’ll follow him into battle.
MEGAN GODFREY: We’ll take questions for coach.
Q. Obviously great game by both teams but where would this rank as a regular season type of early
tournament game for you guys, for — you’ve been here a long time or been around, where would this rank?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: No, it’s a big time game for any part of the season. We’re not, again we’re not who we’re going to be and they’re not either because they’re missing a really good player. But they’re ahead of us as far as knowing one another and knowing their system and they’re strong. Mark’s teams are smart, they’re strong, they play together. And it’s a tough matchup for us. And we knew it going in, that’s why you can’t get off to that type of start. But again it’s a great game for us. This whole tournament we played, look in our first six games, we played three Top-10 teams, and one other who is supposed to win their conference. We played a hell of a schedule. I think three days in a row for young emotionally, not physically, is tough. It’s just, it’s tough. And that’s where veterans win or have a better opportunity to win. But proud of my team. And they — we were in the process of getting blown out there the first three minutes of the second half and they turned it around. It wasn’t coaching, our kids turned it around and Tre in particular did that.
Q. Tre missed that dunk early in the game. A lot of young kids that could have taken them out emotionally for the game. He seemed to fight back really well from that. What did you see from him the way he handled that?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, well the other way is we handled it is we didn’t make anything of it. He knew — you could feel it. When you compete like this it’s not just hearing, seeing. It’s you feel the game and the game didn’t feel right. Even though you had really good knowledge, you’re ready, but it doesn’t feel right. And as a guard, as a competitor, maybe making that play might, boom, it might just do what he did in the second half. So I don’t fault him for that. He has tremendous feel for the game. He’s way ahead in spite of his young age. That’s one of his gifts.
Q. Gonzaga shot 65 percent in the first half and then 41 percent in the second half. What were they
doing offensively in the first half and what adjustments did you make?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: They were just dictating the flow. I mean we were not playing good defense. But they were playing great offense. They are an outstanding offensive team. Not that they’re bad defensively, but they have great movement and we weren’t talking. And our bigs were not able to defend their actions the way we needed to defend them. So in the second half we went smaller and we played better defense against them. Even though we had a height disadvantage there, it was better in their movement, so we did a lot better job. But they’re a tough team to defend, they’re a tough team to beat. They’re a tough team.
Q. You talked the other day about just what Maui, as being so unique as a tournament, what it can do
for you guys in so many ways. Do you feel like this, a loss is tough, but do you feel like this is part of that?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: No. I mean we learned a lot here and we appreciate the — how everything is done, the people, all the people who helped, the volunteers and everything. They create an environment that’s really good for all the teams. Gonzaga’s a team you would like about four days of preparation for, you know? They do so many things. So in trying to simplify things in a one day, less than one day prep, we weren’t able to do that. That’s part of it. But we won’t be in that situation again. So overall to play and be put in a position to win against them, overall that’s a good thing for our team.
Q. You guys were able to find your driving lanes on offense to the basket more in the last 10, 12 minutes than you were the rest of the game. Was there something you guys did differently there?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: No, we didn’t have a big guy in. What they were doing with our big guys just zoning in the middle and we weren’t active or using the big and DHOs or ball screens enough, so that just opened driving lanes for us. Really pretty simple.
Q. Jack was really solid through all 26 minutes that he played. As you said, for such a young emotional — or emotionally young team, what does he provide being on the floor around those young players
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: He’s the ultimate glue guy because he also, he’s the guy who tried to guard Hachimura when we went small. And he just does all the dirty work. And he’s a heck of a player for us.
Javin started playing that way. Javin hasn’t played as well. And then the last 10 minutes of this game he played like he can play. And that makes us better. So I think it was tough for Marques to come back from yesterday. That was such an emotional thing for him to play at that level and that well. And again, there’s some of youth in there, just handling all — not that he wasn’t ready, but it just, it’s tough to get on at the same level when you are not accustomed to playing at that level. You showed you were so damn good and then it’s tough to do it 24 hours later unless if you’re, that’s who you are. So hopefully we can all learn from that. But there’s a lot of good stuff from the game.
Q. What did you think of Hachimura and the kind of player he is and the challenges he presents?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, not only him but they have, they’re good. I mean they have good basketball players. And they’re old. They’re strong, they’re old, and they’re unselfish and they play their butts off. And Hachimura gives them a guy that you can go to to get a bucket or get fouled. But he’s better because the other guys are good too. In other words, you can’t just double team him or whatever — well, you can try, but he’ll, another good player is going to be open. They have good weapons. Norvell is a heck of a player, Perkins is that outstanding veteran guard that’s been through all the wars. So I talked to Mark before the game behind in here, behind the curtains there, and just how much I liked their team and what he’s done. He’s done a marvelous job with his program. And it’s an honor to play against him and their fan base and it’s great game for college basketball today. The fan base is there, the effort, and two outstanding programs. That was really good basketball today.
Gonzaga Bulldogs Press Conference with:
Mark Few, Zach Norvell Jr and Rui Hachimura
MEGAN GODFREY: Give us your thoughts on the game, coach.
MARK FEW: Yeah, hey, it was just a fantastic game and you just, you just got to love this tournament. I
love this place, I love Maui, and it’s just been an awesome, awesome experience for our team and our
fans and everybody involved with our program. But what a basketball game. Duke is everything that
we thought they were and probably even a little bit more. They got no quit in them. Those are really, really talented, high character, tough dudes to stop and they made a heck of a run. But what I was most proud of is we ended up winning this game on the defensive end those last two stops. So obviously we can really build on that.
MEGAN GODFREY: Take questions for the players.
Q. For both you guys, can you just tell me what was going through your mind as they were making that run toward the end there?
ZACH NORVELL JR: Just stay positive, confident. Perkins and Geno, they did a good job in our huddles keeping us together, not letting us waiver at all. It was big time for us.
RUI HACHIMURA: Honestly, I lost my like focus and everything like that minute. And then but I came back because of those guys who are trying to make me go back to the game. So I kind of, I think I did.
MARK FEW: You were fantastic. It was only a little two-minute stretch. You were fine.
Q. Rui, in those last two drives that Barrett was coming down the gut there, it seemed like to me
your eyes kind of lit up a little bit like if you were thinking in your head bring it a little bit, but how much do you look forward to that one-on-one battle when you know he’s coming down to try to win this game?
RUI HACHIMURA: I think he did, he switched on me and then he tried to play one-on-one against me. And then I was like, okay, let’s do it. I have to, you know, we’re the best team in the country and I’m going to be like, you know, I’m the best player too, so I have to guard him.
MARK FEW: Amen, brother. Now you’re getting the message. I like this, yeah. That’s, let’s continue on this line of thought here.
RUI HACHIMURA: Yeah, my thinking was like I had to do it. I got to do it.
Q. Rui and Zach, in a game like that, how much does it help when you have won so many games already with this program? I mean how much does it help you kind of not panic in those moments?
ZACH NORVELL JR: Experience plays a big role in had this. Perkins, with him being one of the top guards in the country, him controlling the pace of the game was huge for us. We came down the stretch and got some stops, we knew we were winning it on the defensive end. Things were kind of a little shaky down the stretch on the offensive end, but we locked into our plan and sat down and got some stops, it will be, it will come out good for us.
RUI HACHIMURA: Yeah, I think we have more experience than those Duke guys. And also I think we like practiced those like those five minutes, like the last five minute situation, so that’s why that’s, yeah, we did pretty good job.
Q. Rui, you looked surprised when they announced the MVP. Were you surprised?
RUI HACHIMURA: Oh, no. I didn’t know what they were talking about. (Laughter.)
Q. Did you think you earned it?
RUI HACHIMURA: No, I didn’t know about it. I didn’t know like we had a MVP and stuff, so I didn’t know like, yeah. And the people just, the teammates and stuff started doing stuff for me, so I was like…
MEGAN GODFREY: Take questions for coach.
Q. I know coming in here in early in the season you were having some issues or some questions about your rim protection. Seems like a lot of those questions got answered this tournament, especially today.
MARK FEW: Yeah, some. I think we still had some issues there in that stretch from about the 10 minute mark down to the 2 minute mark. But certainly when Brandon’s jumping up there and providing that and I think Filip still is kind of learning. Obviously Rui did a nice job down the stretch. But obviously when we get Killian back that will continue to get better and better. But it was good, not great here. But we got a lot of stuff on film we can go home and really spend some time with.
Q. I know it’s early, for not even 2019, but is this the biggest, one of the biggest regular season wins that you can remember in your career? I know it’s been a long career but would this be right up there towards the top?
MARK FEW: Yeah, I mean I would, shoot, I guess. My memory is not what it once was, so I just kind of deal day-to-day and move forward. But obviously if you can win this tournament, the premier tournament, every year and with this kind of field and everybody was saying was the greatest ever, I think that it’s more a culmination of the three wins and how we did it. We certainly didn’t play perfect in games one or two, but figured out ways to get through them. We had some great kind of performances from guys like Jeremy Jones and obviously Brandon Clarke yesterday and that got us to this point. And we played good. The lights were on us tonight and we played good, which you have to against Duke. You have to pretty much play great. I thought we played great. We left a couple points on the board with the free throws but other than that we were pretty good.
Q. Obviously players in those moments, they feel the energy and the emotions of the game. But
what about coaches? You’re looking at Coach K on other side of the court, do coaches feel some of that in those final moments as well? Did you?
MARK FEW: It’s a real serene like calmness about it, actually. You just kind of are in the moment and you’re just watching the basketball and not really — I’m more just kind of, that’s kind of some of the calmest times, it’s a heck of a lot better than the pregame feelings when we were trapped in the locker room waiting for the game to start, I can tell you that. You just trust your guys to run the right scheme and we defended it the right way and then just live with the consequences. It’s a nice little calmness, actually.
Q. There are moments in a program where you kind of reach those milestones and it felt like in the arena there was a moment where it’s clear that this team is one of those teams that’s going to challenge for the championship. How do you keep full focus in the moment when you have a big victory like this?
MARK FEW: I think that’s going to be a huge challenge. My good good buddy Jay Wright, I think he used the term we just, we got to stay away from the poison, last year when his guys moved up and were No. 1 early in the season and what a phenomenal job they did, man, they just kept their eye on the prize and kept getting better and better and their culture was strong. So we got to learn from them and follow that lesson and we made so many mistakes this week I mean when we get them in the film room it’s probably not going to be the most pleasant experience. We’ll get back to just kind of coaching the way we tell them and practicing what we do, but it’s a long, long haul. Hopefully we can get healthy here with Killian and that will change us and help us even more and certainly we have been able to really grow with him out but he’s an integral part of what we do and keep it moving forward.
Q. I know you struggled sometimes with Rui being a little too differential sometimes. To hear him say
what he just said, what does that, what can that do for you your program if he starts to think that way?
MARK FEW: No, I mean, it means everything. We have been working on this, I’ve been working on him to truly believe that and he’s not a great — he doesn’t show his emotions great, he doesn’t, he’s not, he
doesn’t share much, but much more comfortable talking like that and for him to voice that means he’s getting it and I think on this stage he showed it too. He was wanting the ball and when we got him the ball for the most part he was delivering against some high, high level athletes and some damn good defenders around the rim. So that’s a really, really good sign for us. And I think it’s another great sign that Brandon Clarke’s really starting to figure out that he can do a lot of great things at the highest level too. So those guys and you know Snacks (Norvell) is always going to be hunting shots and making plays and I really think Perk has really, really grown up and that was two unbelievable floor generals going at it tonight, Jones is, I mean it looks like he plays like he’s 30 or something. I thought Perk did a good job of managing that game also.
Q. Duke has never lost here until now. You guys have a pretty special relationship with Maui know how much you enjoy the island as well, you talked about it yesterday, how special is this win going to be in the next 24, 36, 48 hours for you guys?
MARK FEW: Hey, the best thing about when the Zags come to Maui is we get tomorrow off. So I’m going to enjoy every hour on this island tomorrow with my family and friends and we’ll have a nice Few type of day where we do a little bit of everything and get out and about and have a great time. The players are going to do the same thing and then we have a big Thanksgiving dinner at night and it’s awesome and pretty powerful because obviously we have a lot to be thankful for and then we head home, so it has the makings of a great day. For me at least.