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NCAA Tournament 2022: Duke Talks Michigan State

Mike Krzyzewski, Wendell Moore, Jeremy Roach, Mark Williams and Paolo Banchero to be precise.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round-Duke vs Cal State Fullerton
 Mar 18, 2022; Greenville, SC, USA; Duke Blue Devils center Mark Williams (15) reacts during the second half against the Cal State Fullerton Titans during the first round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Krzyzewski, Wendell Moore, Jr., Jeremy Roach, Mark Williams and Paolo Banchero met with the media Saturday to discuss Sunday’s matchup with Michigan State.

The biggest question mark was answered early, when Moore was asked about the hip injury he suffered yesterday due to slippery floor conditions.

His response was very encouraging.

“I’m doing really well. Been in treatment all night, this morning. Had a chance to get

warmed up, get some shots up. Definitely feeling a lot better.”

Deep sigh of relief.

What can Duke expect from Michigan State?

It’s not like they’re strangers. The programs seem to meet every year.

Krzyzewski deflected numerous questions about his relationship with Spartans coach Tom Izzo, complimenting him and his program but focusing on tomorrow’s game, not their history, long as it may be.

Obviously, Krzyzewski wasn’t giving away much about Duke’s strategy tomorrow, other than to acknowledge the obvious; Michigan State has a lot of balance and depth, they attack the offensive boards and they can hit 3s.

But he suggested that the interior could decide the game.

“They have four big guys who can give you different looks. So holding our own on the boards and staying out of foul trouble, making sure that Mark and Paolo stay out of foul trouble and how we all handle the physicality of the game.”

“Obviously, a well coached team,” Williams added, “a physical team. They play in the Big Ten. It’s a lot of physicality in the Big Ten. They’re going to play hard, play fast, going to try to get out in transition and that sort of stuff.”

Or maybe it won’t be decided inside.

Krzyzewski went into some detail on his decision to start Jeremy Roach over Trevor Keels.

“Look, when you have not just young players, but older players, sometimes you start another shortstop, just it’s a long season. Jeremy played great when Trevor was out. He’s played really well the whole season. When he came back, I thought his assists and that, it was more even, assists to turnovers.

“We tried something different with Trev up on top, and that didn’t go as well. We weren’t able to put pressure on the ball as well. So during this week, we just made that change. I’ve talked to our guys on the perimeter. It doesn’t matter who starts, especially those four kids are going to get starter’s minutes. But putting Jeremy on the ball was really important yesterday.”

Roach says he feels good about his game.

“Just the biggest thing for me is keeping that same confidence and consistency and the hard work. That’s the biggest key, just stay level headed and don’t get too big when stuff’s going your way, don’t get too down when stuff’s not going your way. Just stay consistent.”

Moore said the guards needed to take control of the team.

“It starts with us as guards. It’s our job to lead the offense and lead the way defensively to also pick up their ball handler and get the ball in to these guys. They make good things happen when they get it.”

Moore candidly admitted that the team has been aware of and impacted by all the hoopla surrounding Krzyzewski’s last season.

“Every game we play has been Coach’s last something, so we’ve kind of been able to adapt to it. We view it as kind of motivation for us because we say we always want to go out and do it for Coach, send him out on a high note. But at the same time, this is our season as well, too. Coach will tell you guys, he’s probably told you guys before, he doesn’t like the spotlight on him like that. He wants it to be about us. So we’re all in this together. We’re going to make it about us and Coach.”

Moore also said that the team has become stronger through all the added attention.

“I think this group has done a really good job, especially we’ve faced some kind of adversity all year. I mean, the biggest adversity for us this year has been the pressure that’s been put on us. I think that we faced it, really as well as you could.”

Friday night was the first NCAA experience for most of the team and Banchero said the team was ready to take those lessons learned and move on.

“I think just our overall communication on offense and defense was much better than it has been. I think our defense was much better. I think we’re sharper just overall, sharper as a team, and we definitely played better than we have in the past probably three, four games. So just want to build on that. We know Michigan State’s a big challenge, a great team, but we just want to be sharp the same way we were yesterday.”

“We’ve really had a good week,” Krzyzewski said. “I think our team’s getting better. If we’re fortunate enough to win tomorrow, to beat Michigan State would make us better, and we’ll try to keep growing.”

Williams said Duke is ready.

“We’re up for the challenge. We’re ready for the opportunity. We’ll be ready to go.”