College Hoops

Coach K Duke vs Coppin State Postgame Press Conference

Opening Statement:

“Juan [Dixon] had his team really well prepared and they are old … they’re men. They reminded me a lot of Stephen F. Austin from last year. We showed how young we were today. They sensed it. Some of these kids are four years older than us and they’ve been through it. They are great kids and it was a chance for them and they played their butts off. They were more physical than us and we had so many unforced turnovers. We had 22 turnovers and they were like ‘how did that happen?’. They played good defense but it’s a containment defense so you shouldn’t turn it over as much. If you get 22 turnovers in a game and go 4-for-10 from the free throw line, it’s a recipe for disaster. Our rebounding was excellent — we had 50 rebounds. Our two young guards really came and helped us. There was a lot of game pressure on our team today. It’s such an unusual atmosphere and there’s no pressure on the other team. None. Especially for a young team at home, there can be a lot of game pressure because you’re supposed to win. You’re supposed to win and win at home except home isn’t like it has been. Obviously, Jeremy [Roach] helped with his leadership and DJ [Steward] really came through. We really put ourselves in a position, and they [Coppin State] put us in that position too, where there was an immense amount of game pressure down to six points. During that time period, some guys really stepped forward. DJ hit some big buckets, Matthew Hurt hit a big three and although he had limited minutes, [Jaemyn] Brakefield really helped us. We have a lot to do but give them credit. They played well and they got to the free throw line. That’s another thing you have to adjust to in not having a game yet or a scrimmage are the fouls. They’re touch fouls — you have to keep your hands off people. You’re not really gaining an advantage because your habits aren’t there yet. It’s your first collegiate game and all the sudden, [Anthony Tarke] backed you down. He’s 230, 6’6” and if you don’t use your forearm and use your hand, it’s a foul. There’s so much to learn from.”

On DJ [Steward]’s ability to make key plays:

“We have a lot of confidence in him. He or Joey [Baker] could have started but we started our veterans today and started DJ in the second half. He’s a natural scorer. To come up with 24 points in your first pressure collegiate game, that’s a big time performance by that kid.”

On the importance of Jalen Johnson’s rebounding:

“In the last couple of scrimmages, he’s had high double-figure rebounds. He had 17 in our last scrimmage and he’s getting stronger with the ball. In congestion, he had seven turnovers. He goes 19 and 19 … that’s a heck of a first time performance for anybody but especially a freshman. We just have to be stronger with the ball. The biggest disappointment for me was the turnovers. The turnovers lent itself to not playing as well on the defensive end at times. Jalen did a heck of a job for us. We had two freshmen with 19 and 24 (total points from Johnson and Steward respectively). I can’t remember when we had a guy with 19 rebounds. He’s shown that in practice.”

On cleaning up turnovers:

“Obviously we work on it every day. It’s tough to explain some of those turnovers. You throw the ball across the half court and you throw it out of bounds. Why would you even be looking there? Or you leave your feet. I don’t know if there were some jitters. But again, they [Coppin State] played solid defense. In the history of me being here, he [Juan Dixon] is one of the greatest competitors we’ve ever faced and one of the great guys with his Maryland teams. They played with that toughness. We’ll work on it. You won’t win many games if you turn it over 22 times. We’re shooting over 50% from the floor and that’s 22 times you didn’t get a shot. And you gave them a run out in some of those. Overall, our defense was pretty good, but not on those run outs.”

On the season opener with no fans:

“It’s very difficult to explain because you can’t compare it to anything. It’s never happened…there’s not atmosphere so you have to provide the atmosphere with your enthusiasm and talk. We did not talk very well. I think once you start making a few mistakes, you draw within and you’re thinking about that. We have a bunch of guys who need to develop. We have good talent, but it’s not developed talent. A kid knows when they make mistakes that are crazy. It affects you because you’re like ‘Why am I doing that?’. You get within and without a crowd to pick you up, even if it’s an opposing crowd, you can get more within.”

On getting the post players more experience:

“When you’re playing against five guards, they will take advantage of a big guy and that’s what they were doing right away. Mark [Williams] and Patrick [Tapé] will play and they are good players. [Coppin State] shot 35 threes … that was a game plan. If you don’t adjust and go small, they will have a better chance of beating you.”

On the play of Jalen Johnson today:

“19 and 19. We wouldn’t win without him. He’s such a good passer. It’s his first collegiate game and if we don’t turn the ball over like we did today, we would be jumping up and down saying wow. But when you have 22 turnovers, you don’t want to jump because you might turn the ball over again even though the game is over.”

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