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Jan. 13, 2014

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Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett

On the final play:
“We had Joe [Harris] coming open on a little flare drift screen and someone made a heck of a grab with his fingertips. I’ll have to watch the tape; I guess I shouldn’t say for sure. We got Joe with a similar three to start the second half and we worked on that little action. It’s the action we wanted; we just didn’t execute the pass to get a look at it.”

“The guy made a good defensive play. I’d have to see it and obviously we hoped we could have gotten a little more air underneath it and have a back screen on that weak side. It was a two point game and I thought we were going to get one here, but he certainly had eyes on that. It just wasn’t meant to be on that one.”

On Sulaimon’s last 3-pointer:
“There was an airball before that and again Jefferson got the rebound. When it’s an airball, it is sometimes hard because it hits the rim and you are trying to block them. There is an airball and we had our four guard lineup in and he got the offensive rebound. That is where Joe said that he got it on him and that’s what we got him to miss. Boy, if we could have grabbed that one and then been in a different position. We scrambled back and Rasheed hit that tough one. I was with him all summer and I said why did you have to do that to us? That thing was up on the rim, then bounced and just hung there. There are soft rims at Duke and that paid off for them this time.”

On the start of the second half:
“I wanted to get Joe going. They did such a good job of locking and trailing, making it hard for Joe. I thought in the first half there were too many offensive rebounds and miscommunication. Then they got some threes and that hurt us. In the second half, we wanted to strike quick with a shot and that worked, but I felt we reeled it in defensively and we became harder to score against. That is what I like and that is what you have to do. We made some stands defensively and it gave us a chance. We made some nice hustle plays to show that kind of heart. To have a one point lead, I told the guys not to hang their heads about that. We have time to improve. My line to them was: had won it wouldn’t have made our season, and had we lost, it wouldn’t break our season. We have to be ready for the next one. We play a good Florida State team. That thing could have gotten away, but they fought and scrapped and they will have another chance at that.”

On Akile Mitchell:
“He did such a good job defensively. Parker can create space and shoot that three ball. Akil [Mitchell] was our best match for him, so at the end, we were doing an offensive-defensive substitution. Akil did some really good things. Obviously, he is struggling at the free throw line, so he is shooting a lot of them. A lot of that is mental.”

On Malcolm Brogdon:
“I thought Malcom [Brogdon] was good. He was tough, made some big plays, and guarded well. It is hard when Duke spreads you out and with the new rules emphasis you try to keep your hands off, but it is hard to keep guys in front. For the most part, I thought our guys did a good job of keeping their hands off and making them shoot contested shots. There were some breakdowns, that is no question, but to my knowledge I thought it was solid in the second half. I will review the tape and maybe have a different stance on it, but I thought we made them earn most of their scores.”

On the offense:
“You have to try and finish. It is not that Duke is huge, but they have some players. I liked how Mike [Krzyzewski] has them getting offensive rebounds and shows some hustle plays that way. I thought we could have finished a little better, but that is part of it.”

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski

Opening Statement:
“We won tonight against an outstanding team. It was a great battle. Virginia is terrific. They’re as well coached as any team in the country. They’re strong. [Joe] Harris is — I just think he’s as good a player as there is in the country. He’s a coach’s dream, really. I thought we played with so much heart tonight. It was our best game as far as that goes. We beat a really good team. We haven’t been at our best since the start of conference and I haven’t been at my best since Christmas. That’s my responsibility. I’ve been knocked back and today we weren’t knocked back. We just have to keep moving forward. Sometimes things occur that are human and we were there tonight and we were collectively together tonight for the first time in a couple of weeks. It was my responsibility that we weren’t [together] as much as we should. Today we were. It was a heck of a win for our basketball team.”

On full team effort:
“Amile [Jefferson] was an animal. What a great game. The last few seconds just willed us to win. That was one of the greatest sequences that I’ve seen. The basketball gods are good to somebody that does that. He hit his two free throws. Obviously, Rasheed [Sulaimon] helped us in the first half and down the stretch hitting the big shot when we were down by one we wanted to have Rodney [Hood] get the ball from one end to the other and get the ball where he had the chance to drive it or kick. We got the shot and our kids really executed that well. We’re going to play more guys.”

On the first games of ACC play:
“I’ve had to get more observant with my team. I take full responsibility for those first three games. Everything is on me. Part of that is not seeing some things. At times we would get tired because we’re not as big as some teams, so getting more guys in would help. Once we got in to conference play, the defense picks up and the physicality picks up. Sets that we were running before, people scouted them and also stopped. We ran more motion offense tonight. We just have to keep trying to figure things out for our team and be there for them.”

On Virginia’s last set of the game:
“It’s not so much that we knew exactly what they were going to do, but if I had [Joe] Harris, I’d try and get him the ball. The kid is a great player. They’re really good. They’re as good as anybody and they can play with anybody. We just defended that well because we knew if would probably go to [Harris].”

On the next part of the season:
“We’ve been playing hard. I got knocked back right after Christmas and I’ve been knocked back for a couple of weeks. It’s on me, not on my team. What we will be doing, that will be on all of us. Today was on all of us, win or lose. We’re all in today. That’s the way it is. We’re human beings and human beings have setbacks. You don’t get a lifetime membership to the tournament. Just because we’ve won it four times, we’ve been to 11 Final Fours – you have to pay your dues every year. That’s the way it is. It’s a good club and it’s tough to get in. We’re starting to pay our dues better. The head coach is going to do a better job. We did a better job tonight. I can do better for my team. We just have to run our own race. Whatever is said about us, is said about us. Win or lose. We’re in the top 10, we’re not in the top 10, we’re this, we’re that. I have a good basketball team and my kids played their hearts out tonight. We’re just going to keep moving on. Really, we’ll be immune to praise or criticism because we will be our own self critics and there won’t be any excuses. We’re just going to play. Today my team was marvelous and I love them for how hard they played.”

Duke Sophomore Rasheed Sulaimon

On the three point shot to take the lead at the end of the game:
“I made myself available, and [Amile Jefferson] was looking for me. He trusted me, he passed it to me, and I shot it with confidence.”

“We needed [this win] bad. Regardless of two losses that we should’ve won, this was our home court as well and it was a must-win, protecting our home court and then getting back into the ACC race. We’ve been planning since we got back from Clemson. We knew it was going to be a fight, and Virginia, they’re a great team. We fought and that’s why we won.”

“I’ve been practicing well, and this game really helped my confidence. But it’s not about me – it’s about this team, and I think our team’s confidence got a lot better with this win tonight as well.”

“Every game in the ACC, especially with the two losses that we have, we know that we have to come out each and every night or else we can take a loss. We knew that Virginia was a great team coming in – they’re 3-0 and beat the three opponents that they played by a big margin of victory. We knew it was going to be a fight, and we knew we had to get this win.”

“I’d prefer a blowout but a win’s a win. No matter how we get it, we just needed it. We showed great character tonight and great fight, and we dug it out despite their run late in the game.”

“I was just trying to be aggressive. Coach told me to trust him, be aggressive, and look for my shots. That’s what I was trying to do, just let the last game [vs. Clemson] go, and just approach this game as a new game. And that’s what I did.”

When asked if he knew beforehand about Duke’s five-for-five substitution pattern:
“Actually, no, I didn’t. I knew he changed the lineup, and he told everybody to be ready. I didn’t know he was going to sub five in and five out, but he just told us to be ready. It was strange but it worked out really well. I knew he was going to do something like that because he wanted us to pressure the ball for the entire 40 minutes, so he wanted us to have fresh legs.”

Duke Sophomore Amile Jefferson

On the play of Rasheed Sulaimon:
“He played with heart, he played with determination, and he was a fighter tonight. He was not going to be denied when he drove. He took his time, got his feet set on his shots, and that last three – that’s as big of a shot as you can ask from anyone at any level. Him making that shot was a winning shot, and it was a winning play and a Duke play. I know he’s happy about that, and I’m happy for him.”

On the late three-point shot by Rasheed Sulaimon:”I got the rebound on the baseline, and I was scared that I was going to step out of bounds, so I actually jumped in the air and [Rasheed Sulaimon] was the first person I saw. He had a good look. Somebody was running out at him, but he got a good shot off. His feet were set and it dropped, so I was really happy.”

“We’ve got to protect our home. This is our home. When you walk out that door, you see there’s white tape down. And that’s us saying that when we cross that line right there, we’re going to be Duke. Everyone played tonight and everyone contributed tonight. It was a team win and we’ve just got to build from there.”

“We needed [this win]. This game was our season. This game is going to mark where we started and where we turned around and we started playing for each other and started playing together and as one. It was a pivotal game for us, and we’ve just got to build on it.”

On Duke’s five-for-five substitution pattern:
“I didn’t know how we were going to sub. I knew guys were going to play, and I knew guys were going to play early. I think it was great, especially for our bigs. When Marshall [Plumlee] and Semi [Ojeleye] come in there and they’re knocking people around and playing tough, it makes it easier for everyone.”

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