Clemson's Brad Brownell
“This was certainly a great team win and I’m really proud of our players for showing a lot of resiliency, not only with the quick turnaround but also from halftime. I thought we played exceptionally well in the second half and gained confidence throughout the game on both sides. It was great to see Jaron (Blossomgame) play at his level with his capabilities. Rod (Hall) and (Landry) Nnoko, along with Jaron, were huge. And K.J. (McDaniels) was the guy who really kept us in the game in the first half and gave us every opportunity to stay within striking distance. I think he was one of the guys who settled us down early and gave us the belief that we could win. Obviously as the game went along, I think we convinced ourselves that we could win.”
On Blossomgame’s performance: “Well, he obviously hasn’t played as well as we would like. He’s a better player than he’s shown. We certainly thought that he would play more like this but we didn’t think we’d get 14 (points) and 14 (rebounds) out of him. There are going to be games like today when he has 14 and 14 and then there are going to be nights when he doesn’t play as well. He has to listen to the coaches, stay focused to what needs to be done, commit to doing the little things that we recruited him to do, and as he continues to get better and his confidence gets better, bigger things will happen for him.
“All he has to do is watch K.J. in front of him. He’s gone through a ton in the last 18 months and I’m really happy for him because I know how it’s hard it’s been. All that work and having to sit out and then having a second surgery after the first didn’t go so well and that sets you back even further. I think we, as coaches, have been good being patient with him and it paid off today.”
On the effort of his team: “As the game wore on and we gained confidence, I think we did a good job of keeping Duke from making a big run. Our defense was terrific after halftime and that was what enabled us to [win]. They’re an offensive juggernaut. We’re known for our defense and I think every good program stands for something. If you don’t have something that your program stands for, you’re going to struggle.
“We’re trying to do things right on and off the court and play tough-minded, physical basketball and we showed that. At halftime we really weren’t playing that way. We didn’t play well against Florida State, especially offensively, that’s obvious. But if you saw the film and saw how competitive our guys were defensively in the game, I wasn’t as mad as everybody in Tiger Nation was after the game. If you saw the kind of effort our guys put forth in the game, with those kind of athletes, to hold them to 21 points in the first half when we’re playing poorly, you have tough-minded guys.
“At halftime, when we were down to Florida State 21-16 I told them, ‘You guys are playing hard. Keep it up. We have to play better offensively.’ Today I told them, ‘We’re down 37-31 and everybody’s excited because you made baskets. That’s great, but that doesn’t win, not for our team.’ When you play an offensive-minded team like Duke, if you play an offensive game, you’re going to lose. You have to play the way you play.
“Certainly, our guys were terrific around the rim. I thought Landry Nnoko grew up a little today. I thought our leaders Rod (Hall) and K.J. did a great job being leaders and were warriors out on the court.”
Duke's Mike Krzyzewski
“First of all, congratulations to Clemson. Brad and his staff and his team just had a heck of a game. Their kids played so hard, and it started from the get-go. From the start you could tell they had a great verve. I thought that in the first half we did a good job of countering that, but their physicality and athleticism and determination wore on us.
“We got doubled on the score in the second half. A lot of it was their defense. We missed some shots that we should hit. In saying that, I’m not sure that that would have been enough to beat them. [Jaron] Blossomgame had an amazing game, 14 and 14. He had two big three-point shots, that I think turned the tide definitely in their favor. That’s how games change.
“They killed us on the boards, 48-30. We’re not a good team right now. We’re a small team and we need make up for it in other ways. We’re not some powerhouse. When you watch the game, they’re bigger. [K.J.] McDaniels is one of the best players in the league. He’s the best athlete, and he’s also an outstanding player. They were terrific, and we need to get a lot better. We’re not very good right now and that’s on me as a coach. I never bad mouth my team or any guy. We win together, we lose together, but we’re not very good right now and we’ve got to take steps to try to get to be good, because the league is unforgiving.”
On why Duke 'isn’t good' at this point: “The other teams are good. We’re not physically strong, so we have to do things collectively, like rebounding. Everybody has to rebound, and then you hope that you can match the other team. We don’t have to out-rebound them, but match them. When I say we’re not very good, we’re not very good compared to who we’ve been, and who we’ve been has been very good. We can’t live in the past, we have to live in the present and figure out how this team can win, and that’s our responsibility as a staff to do that. Today we weren’t able to do that.”
On Clemson’s toughness down the stretch: “Guys play hard. Duke doesn’t own the patent to play hard, or any team in the United States. Everybody’s allowed to play hard, and this team played really hard against us. We also have to understand that whenever we play, we’ll probably get that team’s best shot.
“They didn’t have pom poms here on Thursday night; it wasn’t a packed house. That’s nothing against the Clemson, that’s not a knock on the crowd. They came out and they were great. What I’m saying is that’s what we get. That’s what I’ve done for 25 years, and I understand that. My team has to understand that. When we see a team on tape, it’s not necessarily the team or the crowd that’s going to show up for our game. Again, they were outstanding. Their crowd, everything. They were obviously the most deserving of winning.”