What Mike Krzyzewski, Duke Basketball Players Said About Arkansas

SAN FRANCISCO — Arkansas basketball is the latest team to have a chance to end the legendary career of Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. The No. 4 Razorbacks play the No. 2 Blue Devils on Saturday (7:49 PM CT, TBS) in the NCAA Elite 8 Tournament.

The game could be Krzyzewski’s last as he retires at the end of this season after 41 years at Duke. by Eric Musselman The Razorbacks stand in the way of another Final Four for Krzyzewski.

It is also a revenge of national championship 1994, when Arkansas defeated the Blue Devils. Krzyzewski said he remembered it well.

Here’s what Krzyzewski, along with Duke players Paolo Banchero, Jeremy Roach, Wendell Moore Jr. and Mark Williams, had to say about the game against Arkansas.

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On Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman

Krzyzewski: “Their family is one of the big names and one of the great families in the history of basketball in our country. His dad was just an amazing coach and defensive coach. I think the kids in Arkansas benefit from Eric’s experience in the pros, and you can see a lot of the influence of the pros, especially in some of the things they do offensively and some of the unique things they do defensively.

“I think that confirms the number of people over the last five or six weeks they’ve probably been the best defensive team in the country.”

On Arkansas’ 1994 national championship win over Duke

Krzyzewski: “We played against a great team and one of the great coaches of our sport in Nolan (Richardson). It was a hell of a game, and it really ended in a timeout. I felt like we knew Scotty Thurman was going to take the ball, and we put a nail on it, which didn’t affect his trajectory, and he knocked it down, we had a chance right after, but it was a hell of a game.

“These things are disappointing in that you don’t win, but I wasn’t disappointed with the effort. We really had a great year.

“A story about that: About a month and a half before that, we changed our offense a bit. I said (at Duke Grant Hill Center) we were going to put in a new offense. Charlotte’s attack and put him on top. It worked. We went to Charlotte. I should have said that I will put a national championship. Then he could have won three.”

On Arkansas forward Jaylin Williams

Banchero: “He’s a key player for them. It really seems like he’s holding them together. He’s able to pass, shoot, really do everything in fifth for them. He’s a great player. And then the charges , it’s not something you see a lot, a big man take on that many loads. It’s really unique. So you have to be aware of him at all times, just where he is on the floor.

On former ACC players Au’Diese Toney and Chris Lykes

Moore Jr.: “Certainly, I have memories of Au’Diese. He gave us 27 and 22 (points). We played him while he was at Pitt, so he’s definitely capable. That’s for sure a great player. Coming from North Carolina, I got to see him a lot on the AAU stage.

“Chris, he’s still a great player. I mean, in Miami, he was their leading scorer and an All ACC player. He was ACC, so he’s a really good guard. Those two guys bring a lot of energy to Arkansas. They bring a lot of energy and athleticism, defense, goalscoring. Those two guys are two major parts of the team and two things we were looking for in the scout.

On Arkansas’ defense against Gonzaga

Roach: “It’s really good to see the strip and how they adjusted to Gonzaga. They got them out of transition. They were really physical with them the whole game. I think going into this game tomorrow we have to just match that intensity and even have more intensity than them coming out of the gates.You don’t want to give them a rhythm early on because it can get scary.

On Guard Arkansas JD Notae and Au’Diese Toney

Moore Jr.: “He’s definitely probably one of the best guards in the country. If he misses a shot, it means nothing to him. He’ll take the next one as if it were his first shot.

“I think that’s what makes him such a great player. It’s really just his short-term memory. Nothing seems to bother him. Even in great moments, he has supreme confidence no matter how he shoots, that he will hit the next shot.

“As far as Au’Diese goes, he does a bit of everything for the team. He’s really kind of like a glue that holds them together just because he’s able to do so many things. He’s able to defend “He’s capable. He’s capable of bouncing back. He’s probably one of the toughest kids they have on their team. When you have a guy like that, he really strengthens their whole team when he plays well.

Krzyzewski: “(Toney) has great energy. It’s something you look for in every player. He’s got tremendous athletic ability and competitiveness, but he plays with energy, man. When you do that and you have the athletic ability that he has and the freedom that he has with Eric, you’re going to make a lot of great plays. He did that in Pitt for Jeff Capel, and he’s doing that now on a team that, really across the country, is as hot as any team really the last 20 or so games.They had a remarkable time.

“I think they started the SEC 0-3, and what a turnaround, although their league is very tough. I mean, they beat Kentucky, Auburn, Gonzaga, Tennessee. Come on. That’s one of the best teams in the country.”

Christina Long covers the Arkansas Razorbacks. You can email her at clong@swtimes.com or follow her on Twitter @christinalong00.

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