Coach K: 'Brad's done one of the great jobs in the country in coaching his team'

'It was a big win for us against a really gritty tough Clemson team. And I thought our team was tough, too'

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski yells to his team during Friday's game against Clemson.

Photo by Sefton Ipock

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski yells to his team during Friday's game against Clemson.

Duke's Mike Krzyzewski

"Look, it was a bruising game. Points were really hard to come by. I know they're fighting for their NCAA lives. And they fought all year. I mean, Brad's done one of the great jobs in the country in coaching his team.

"You know, we had them down by small double digits and then we couldn't put the darn thing in the basket. And to get like a 14, 16, and really take control, they never give up. And their kids played with a lot of heart and so did our kids. And when they took the lead and Rodney made that play, it's really one of the best plays for us that a player can make, to just take it down the court like that. And then get a one and one, not two shots and to hit those two free throws is just huge.

"When I think back on our first ACC game against Notre Dame, Notre Dame had a similar situation with a little bit more time on the clock and he took it and he didn't go and attack. And we lost the game. And so déjà vu, and all of a sudden he's in that situation again. And this time he makes that happen. Like that's a heck of a thing for that kid. He was throwing up at the start of the we had to take him out, he got sick. And so thank goodness he was okay.

"It was a big win for us against a really gritty tough Clemson team. And I thought our team was tough too. It was just - you know, the basketball tonight, both games were just great ACC games and we're thankful obviously that we came out on the winning side."

On Clemson's comeback: "The personality and the heart of Clemson's team probably rose to its highest during that time because they're fighting for their lives, not just in this game but for the tournament. And we beat a team that put everything on the line against us.

"I thought like when it was three points, we'd get a five point lead, we just could not get a stop. And I don't know if we were I know we were tired, both teams were tired. And it was really hot in there. I mean, that's the hottest. It was really hot. And I think that had an effect on both teams. The time of the game and, I mean, there's nothing you can do about it.

"But the kids tonight really fought through a lot and gave us commentators say it wasn't a pretty game. Then don't commentate. To me it was a great game. You have both teams fighting until the end like that, it's terrific. It's not going to be pretty."

On Duke's semifinal match-up with NC State: "First of all, we would love to face anybody in the semis and I've coached a lot of games in this tournament. And every one is a huge game. And you're just happy to advance.

"I'm not surprised at NC State. NC State is playing great basketball. And Mark's got his team at a real high level of belief. Warren is playing lights out basketball. I mean, he's had a great year, but the last few weeks, last couple of weeks, you know, phenomenal is not exaggerating. He's been unbelievable. And he never seems to get tired.

"I was watching - I watched the first half back at our hotel until the under four and then when I got here I was watching in our little coaches' area. First of all, I thought it was a great game. And Warren is at that elite level right now. Knowing the history of this tournament, sometimes a kid, they're really good, but then when you have a guy playing like that, you become even better. Because he gets points for his team. And he's very efficient.

"Tomorrow will be a very difficult game for us. And again, I don't know where these bubbles are and all of that, where their team is right now with the NCAA, but tonight's win against Syracuse has to go a long way. Again, you at this time of the year so many teams that are going to be pretty good seeds in the tournament get knocked off by teams that just are playing with great hunger and great sense of urgency, and in a lot of respects, this week, starting towards the end of last week, until Sunday, is some of the best basketball of the year.

"And to see kids on all of these teams fighting like crazy for an opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament, it's magnificent. We're in it. And so you have to beat teams like that. And that's difficult. It's really difficult. And tonight that was the case and tomorrow will be the case too."

On the expanded ACC tournament format: "Well, there's nothing you can do about it. That's what you have to do. I'd rather be a high seed. I do think, though, when you come into the tournament today and you haven't done anything in the arena and if you're the second game of the two games, you don't have much of a warm-up.

"So I think that's where Carolina and us were in today. The team you're playing against, they've won. They've just won the day before. They know the building. They have a good feel. And there's not that much separation, if any, from the teams. And all of a sudden that little bit I mean, it has an effect. There's no question about it.

"But I don't know how you it's just the way it is. I mean, we talk to our team about it, warm up harder, you know all of that. Maybe we warmed up too hard, got ourselves tired or whatever. But that's part of the conference tournament that's different. It's different in the NCAA Tournament. Because everybody starts out 0 0. There are no byes."

On the ACC's NCAA prospects, with teams like Clemson, Pitt and NC State fighting for bids: "I really don't think the conference is getting the respect it should. Because Syracuse was the number one team in the country for a while. Virginia has been really good. Carolina in February was as good as anybody and they still might be as good as anybody.

And then we've been pretty darn good the whole year, I mean, where we're ranked and everyone talks about the Big 12, and they should. Then they say, 'Well, when somebody beats one of those teams, boy, that makes them a tournament contender.'

"Well, we've gotten beat by - Clemson had beaten us. Wake had beaten us. Notre Dame had beaten us. People say, 'Well, they're not having a good year' - well, they beat us. So they have to be pretty good.

"Same thing with Syracuse. Syracuse gets knocked off. Our league is a lot better. A lot better. When I see these things where they say certain conferences are getting six or seven and we might now like I can't even believe people now say, "Well, Pitt's earned it." Well, yeah, they have - before today. Before today.

"Again, I'm not trying to just be a cheerleader for the conference. I love our conference. I'm just trying to be realistic. We have a great conference this year. This year we have as many top ranked teams to match up against anybody. If you look at the top 15 and the RPI or whatever, I think we have more, as many or more than anyone else.

"So that means these other teams are good that people are saying are on the bubble. I mean, it's frustrating. I'm frustrated for our guys. Because all of us can just because we're Duke or you still have to earn it. We could be in that position next year or the next three, four years, where we're the eighth place team in a strong conference and not getting the credit."

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Comments » 17

MoncksTater writes:

I know some do not agree but I have always liked and admired Coach K. The guy is frank and says pretty much only what he feels and I respect that. His complimentary attitude toward the Tigers and Brownell are heartfelt ...and spot on in my estimation. We may not get into the NCAA's but this team has done us proud and coach Brad Brownell has proven what an X's and O's master he really is. The player development from the beginning of the season until this point has been tremendous...Clemson may indeed be on its way to changing some perception about just being a football school. Bravo Tigers ...Bravo !

33dtb writes:

we bumped their player on his way to the hoop....got called for a foul and they went up by one................Rod Hall got tripped by TWO dukies that didn't have the cajones to block him and no foul is called...................Real class ACC, Duke, K, and referees.

FlopEye writes:

in response to 33dtb:

we bumped their player on his way to the hoop....got called for a foul and they went up by one................Rod Hall got tripped by TWO dukies that didn't have the cajones to block him and no foul is called...................Real class ACC, Duke, K, and referees.

Clemson has, and will always get the short
shaft from the ACC. In 1971, y'all had a
chance to make a strong statement to the
ACC with USC and Maryland. Paul Dietzel
tried to lead you out of the wilderness,
but you decided to bow down and grab your
ankles, after promising to back Dietzel.
You showed real class in '71 by back-stabbing
USC, so don't complain about the lack of class
of the ACC. You deserve each other.

SoCalTiger writes:

Coach K can praise all he wants but this team came up short yet again. Brownell has only beaten Duke once. He took OP's team to the NCAA his first year at Clemson and that is it. Nothing since then. He can't recruit worth a flip. There isn't an elite player even looking at Clemson. BB's elite players have transferred out. Imagine where this team would be if they had two KJs. They would be playing for the ACC championship like they did under OP. The only consolation for BB is the NIT. OP had them there by his second season. Why in the world is OP languishing at the bottom with DePaul instead continuing the build at Clemson is beyond me. Does anyone think that BB's teams will break through one day and really contend? I hope to eat my words one day.

MoncksTater writes:

Clemson never considered leaving the ACC in 1971. The Coots left because they just couldn't hack losing on a consistent basis to the likes of Duke and Carolina. If Paul Dietzel was such a prophet why hasn't Dirtpecker hoops ever improved since they squirmed free 43 years ago ? They have not had a decent basketball team since leaving the ACC .
On a lighter note , any chance that Clemson has to slight that scheister lawyer factory in Cola it should relish , because CU owes its entire existence to the fact that USuC has never made good decisions in the state of SC and for the people of SC .

TheTruth46 writes:

in response to MoncksTater:

Clemson never considered leaving the ACC in 1971. The Coots left because they just couldn't hack losing on a consistent basis to the likes of Duke and Carolina. If Paul Dietzel was such a prophet why hasn't Dirtpecker hoops ever improved since they squirmed free 43 years ago ? They have not had a decent basketball team since leaving the ACC .
On a lighter note , any chance that Clemson has to slight that scheister lawyer factory in Cola it should relish , because CU owes its entire existence to the fact that USuC has never made good decisions in the state of SC and for the people of SC .

Monkeytater..coots...dirtpeckers? Not amusing any longer, but, the source is considered. Perhaps you should review SC's basketball history. You might find they have been better than you suggest. In addition, you might review SC leaving the EZZ, and Clemmons, along with Marys Land agreeing to depart as well. You will find you are incorrect on both topics. Also noted in your post, it is apparent you agree with Blabbo's comment about Carolina being in Chapel Hole, and USC being located in California. That being the case, he might want to investigate and determine who the school is in Columbia that keeps kicking his rearend every November.

TigertownBound writes:

Coach K and Georgia Techs coach were right saying that we are an NCAA tourney team. This team has gown two things that clemson hasn't shown in the past two years: the ability to win close games and the ability to shoot free throws. If Devin Coleman hadn't decided to transfer, I think his offense could have won us a few more. This could have easily been a 5-7 loss team if we had started the season playing as well as we ended it. Brownell has shown the ability to develop players (look at Nnoko, KJ, and Rod Hall) and now the recruiting is following. Two players averaging 30+ ppg is exactly what this team needs. Grantham could look for early playing time if he gets behind Blossomgame at the 4 and Devoe will be a huge player for us in the coming years. I truly believe that if we give Brownell the time, he can build a very special basketball program at Clemson.

SoCalTiger writes:

in response to TigertownBound:

Coach K and Georgia Techs coach were right saying that we are an NCAA tourney team. This team has gown two things that clemson hasn't shown in the past two years: the ability to win close games and the ability to shoot free throws. If Devin Coleman hadn't decided to transfer, I think his offense could have won us a few more. This could have easily been a 5-7 loss team if we had started the season playing as well as we ended it. Brownell has shown the ability to develop players (look at Nnoko, KJ, and Rod Hall) and now the recruiting is following. Two players averaging 30+ ppg is exactly what this team needs. Grantham could look for early playing time if he gets behind Blossomgame at the 4 and Devoe will be a huge player for us in the coming years. I truly believe that if we give Brownell the time, he can build a very special basketball program at Clemson.

It doesn't matter what the other coaches think. It's the NIT this year. Not sure what close games you're counting, but they lost just as many close games as they won - Auburn, Wake, Notre Dame, Pitt and Duke. They dominated in defense and free throws, but that alone doesn't win games. "Recruiting is following" is not accurate. Most of Brownell's best recruits have transferred. Brownell is doing the best he can with adequate players. There are no elite recruits in sight. Brownell inherited a good program but is just now getting to the NIT. This is as good as it's going to get with this coach. And Louisville is on the way.

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

in response to 33dtb:

we bumped their player on his way to the hoop....got called for a foul and they went up by one................Rod Hall got tripped by TWO dukies that didn't have the cajones to block him and no foul is called...................Real class ACC, Duke, K, and referees.

That's not what happened. Hood got bumped on his way to the hoop and the officials correctly called a foul. Rod Hall had the ball stripped and the officials correctly did NOT call a foul. They showed the replay in slow motion about a dozen times and the commentators pointed out every time how the Duke defender poked the ball away and that there was no contact. He didn't grab or slap Hall's arm to dislodge the ball. He got all ball. Hall then flew across the baseline without being touched trying to draw a foul which I can't blame him for. But the officials made the right call. The ESPN sportscenter guy who questioned the call was Scott Van Pelt who is a MD alum and is a HUGE MD fan... who also hates Duke. He still goes to therapy twice a week trying to get over Jason Williams torching his Terps more than a decade ago.

Clemson might have gotten the committee's attention with 2 wins over Duke had Hall pulled up and hit a short jumper to win the game. But the awful strength of schedule and lack of quality wins away from Littlejohn were probably too much to overcome. When Ron Wellman was asked why NC State made the field the 1st thing he mentioned was that NC State had 3 top-50 wins away from home.

SlappleDapple writes:

in response to YabbaDaboDooDoo:

That's not what happened. Hood got bumped on his way to the hoop and the officials correctly called a foul. Rod Hall had the ball stripped and the officials correctly did NOT call a foul. They showed the replay in slow motion about a dozen times and the commentators pointed out every time how the Duke defender poked the ball away and that there was no contact. He didn't grab or slap Hall's arm to dislodge the ball. He got all ball. Hall then flew across the baseline without being touched trying to draw a foul which I can't blame him for. But the officials made the right call. The ESPN sportscenter guy who questioned the call was Scott Van Pelt who is a MD alum and is a HUGE MD fan... who also hates Duke. He still goes to therapy twice a week trying to get over Jason Williams torching his Terps more than a decade ago.

Clemson might have gotten the committee's attention with 2 wins over Duke had Hall pulled up and hit a short jumper to win the game. But the awful strength of schedule and lack of quality wins away from Littlejohn were probably too much to overcome. When Ron Wellman was asked why NC State made the field the 1st thing he mentioned was that NC State had 3 top-50 wins away from home.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BivU-NFCE...
If you think that was clean, I'd hate to see your bathroom.
Either they're both fouls or both no-calls

SlappleDapple writes:

in response to TheTruth46:

Monkeytater..coots...dirtpeckers? Not amusing any longer, but, the source is considered. Perhaps you should review SC's basketball history. You might find they have been better than you suggest. In addition, you might review SC leaving the EZZ, and Clemmons, along with Marys Land agreeing to depart as well. You will find you are incorrect on both topics. Also noted in your post, it is apparent you agree with Blabbo's comment about Carolina being in Chapel Hole, and USC being located in California. That being the case, he might want to investigate and determine who the school is in Columbia that keeps kicking his rearend every November.

Coots and dirtpeckers are no longer amusing (This is a Clemson blog FYI, feel free to eff off), yet Monkeytater, EZZ, Clemmons, Marys Lamb, Blabbo, and Chapel Hole are absolutely hysterical and demonstrate the depths of your incredible intellect? Good one!

TigertownBound writes:

in response to SoCalTiger:

It doesn't matter what the other coaches think. It's the NIT this year. Not sure what close games you're counting, but they lost just as many close games as they won - Auburn, Wake, Notre Dame, Pitt and Duke. They dominated in defense and free throws, but that alone doesn't win games. "Recruiting is following" is not accurate. Most of Brownell's best recruits have transferred. Brownell is doing the best he can with adequate players. There are no elite recruits in sight. Brownell inherited a good program but is just now getting to the NIT. This is as good as it's going to get with this coach. And Louisville is on the way.

I didn't in any way mean that we won every close game. This team is head and shoulders above last years squad in terms of competing in the last five minutes of games. How many games did we see last year where we clawed back from huge deficits just to lose by 5+ points. And I don't suppose that a shooting guard that was just named an All-American by any service can be considered elite. I'm sure Brownell would love to do elite recruiting, pulling in three to five five star recruits like Duke, UNC, Kansas, Kentucky, etc. but that just won't happen. Maybe I'm alone in thinking he can take us to some great seasons in the future. The potential is there for this team to easily hang with the likes of Duke and the other big teams if players add to their offensive repertoire. Gabe Devoe and Donte Grantham have the potential to add instant offense, and if Patrick Rooks can hit open threes consistently like so few on our team can, that will take pressure off of the main scorers.

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

in response to SlappleDapple:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BivU-NFCE...
If you think that was clean, I'd hate to see your bathroom.
Either they're both fouls or both no-calls

Hood got hit twice: once by Nnoko with the right arm attempting a strip (he didn't get any ball) and then the shoulder block by KJ McDaniels. Yeah Hood embellished it but the replay shows that the question wasn't whether he got fouled but which of the 2 fouls they called.

Your still shot doesn't show anything. Someone who didn't see the final play who looks at your picture would draw the conclusion that Thornton came down on Hall's arms. That's not what happened and you know it. Thornton reached in and poked the ball away. As you can tell from the photo, the ball is already out and Hall is beginning to flail his arms in a spectacular tumble out of bounds. ESPN showed the replay how many times in slow-motion? And every time they pointed out that there wasn't contact. Thornton reached in and hit all ball.

The worst part of all this is that now Clemson fans are going to scream about how an official cost them the NCAA tournament and not the missed opportunities against Auburn, UMASS, and Arkansas or the putrid losses at Wake Forest, at Notre Dame, or the home game against FSU. Quite frankly, your tournament chances were ruined when Brad Brownell made your port-a-potty of a schedule. Get a coach who can recruit talent and isn't afraid to play someone decent.

SoCalTiger writes:

in response to TigertownBound:

I didn't in any way mean that we won every close game. This team is head and shoulders above last years squad in terms of competing in the last five minutes of games. How many games did we see last year where we clawed back from huge deficits just to lose by 5+ points. And I don't suppose that a shooting guard that was just named an All-American by any service can be considered elite. I'm sure Brownell would love to do elite recruiting, pulling in three to five five star recruits like Duke, UNC, Kansas, Kentucky, etc. but that just won't happen. Maybe I'm alone in thinking he can take us to some great seasons in the future. The potential is there for this team to easily hang with the likes of Duke and the other big teams if players add to their offensive repertoire. Gabe Devoe and Donte Grantham have the potential to add instant offense, and if Patrick Rooks can hit open threes consistently like so few on our team can, that will take pressure off of the main scorers.

You think that clawing back from huge deficits to lose by 5+ points is a good enough? You think that simply hanging in with the likes of Duke is good enough? You think that Brownell's inability to pull in elite recruits is a good thing? If you accept all of these deficiencies, then you have the team you want. You have the coach you want. Good for you. As a diehard fan since the 70's, I saw what Bill Foster, Cliff Ellis, Rick Barnes and Oliver Purnell did. Brownell has had a few years to "rebuild" since his first season taking OP's team to the NCAA. This was the year to go back to the tournament. This was the year to beat the Heels at home. Neither happened and it won't happen under this coach.

TigertownBound writes:

in response to SoCalTiger:

You think that clawing back from huge deficits to lose by 5+ points is a good enough? You think that simply hanging in with the likes of Duke is good enough? You think that Brownell's inability to pull in elite recruits is a good thing? If you accept all of these deficiencies, then you have the team you want. You have the coach you want. Good for you. As a diehard fan since the 70's, I saw what Bill Foster, Cliff Ellis, Rick Barnes and Oliver Purnell did. Brownell has had a few years to "rebuild" since his first season taking OP's team to the NCAA. This was the year to go back to the tournament. This was the year to beat the Heels at home. Neither happened and it won't happen under this coach.

If you want Oliver Purnell back, you can have him. Last I checked he is a guy who went running from a challenge after Trevor Booker left and has gotten a few 10-12 win seasons at DePaul. Brownell was left with his good players, that much is true. They transferred because they would rather play fast paced basketball than learn to play good defense. Granted I have only been keeping up with Clemson basketball long enough to see maybe two of OP's years. I like what Brownell is doing and that is just my opinion: no need to be offended. I personally like seeing good defense, and in the long run that will yield better results than good offense. And I apologize if I think its a little too much to expect NCAA tournaments every year. Coach K, in his first three years, had a losing record overall; and we see how that worked out.

33dtb writes:

in response to YabbaDaboDooDoo:

Hood got hit twice: once by Nnoko with the right arm attempting a strip (he didn't get any ball) and then the shoulder block by KJ McDaniels. Yeah Hood embellished it but the replay shows that the question wasn't whether he got fouled but which of the 2 fouls they called.

Your still shot doesn't show anything. Someone who didn't see the final play who looks at your picture would draw the conclusion that Thornton came down on Hall's arms. That's not what happened and you know it. Thornton reached in and poked the ball away. As you can tell from the photo, the ball is already out and Hall is beginning to flail his arms in a spectacular tumble out of bounds. ESPN showed the replay how many times in slow-motion? And every time they pointed out that there wasn't contact. Thornton reached in and hit all ball.

The worst part of all this is that now Clemson fans are going to scream about how an official cost them the NCAA tournament and not the missed opportunities against Auburn, UMASS, and Arkansas or the putrid losses at Wake Forest, at Notre Dame, or the home game against FSU. Quite frankly, your tournament chances were ruined when Brad Brownell made your port-a-potty of a schedule. Get a coach who can recruit talent and isn't afraid to play someone decent.

How exactly does getting the ball stripped include the inside feet of dukies on either side of Hall INSIDE his center of gravity..?????

TheTruth46 writes:

in response to SlappleDapple:

Coots and dirtpeckers are no longer amusing (This is a Clemson blog FYI, feel free to eff off), yet Monkeytater, EZZ, Clemmons, Marys Lamb, Blabbo, and Chapel Hole are absolutely hysterical and demonstrate the depths of your incredible intellect? Good one!

Eff off?? What a quaint way to express ones self. Did you come up with that all by yourself? Speaking of incredible intellect and based on your posts, I'd say your IQ equals the same number as your shoe size. Have a nice day.

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