Coach K: South Carolina played with heart, toughness

I thought you might enjoy reading what Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski had to say after his team lost to South Carolina Sunday night in the NCAA Tournament in Greenville, S.C.

Q. In the second half, was it South Carolina making shots, or did you feel like you guys weren’t contesting enough of them?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: I thought we were playing our butts off. And it was a real, we got worn down. It’s the most physical game we’ve been in all year. And then we were in a lot of foul trouble. So you just try and patch up, put — I wish we had some of that tape that doesn’t let water into the boat.

And just trying to do anything you can, because the game, the game was very complex in the second half with the fouls. Again, they had fouls too. I’m just saying we’ve played about seven guys and so you’re juggling a little bit, just juggling a little bit.

Q. There’s a lot of red eyes in the locker room. What do you say in the locker room after a stunner like that?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Before you were able to come in there, I told them I love these guys. I’m proud of them. I’m disappointed that we didn’t win tonight. But at the end of the season I want my guys to either be crying because we’ve lost or crying because we’ve just won.

And it shows that if you’re not doing one of those, that means you never really became a team. It was never really that important. And for these guys, they were a really good team. This is one of the most proud teams for me because all the stuff.

You all keep talking about expectations. I mean, look, a lot of these kids were just hurt at the start of the year and whatever. And they never used it as an excuse. And they became close. And so I just told them — I told them I love them and I’m proud of them. I wish I could keep coaching them this year. But that’s not going to happen.

Q. What makes South Carolina so tough defensively? And I guess just what did they do to you guys on that end that was so hard to deal with?
COACH KRZYZEWSKI: Well, first of all, they’re well-coached. And they not only are good technique-wise, but they add heart. They add toughness. They add all the intangibles that go with great technique. And then they’re all committed to it. And they played it at a high level, and the game was a very physical game. And they adapted well to it, and we adapted okay to it. Not as well as I would like.

But they’re a terrific defensive team. Frank does a great job with his team. And whoever he brought in, they’re committed to playing that end of the court. And because of their depth and their age, they’re a little bit older, they put it out there. It’s tough to play against, obviously. Tonight it was tough to play against. And we tried and came close, but we weren’t good enough.

One last thing, I’d like to thank the organizing committee, the people of Greenville for hosting it. It was, wherever you went, people were pleasant. They were proud to have the NCAA Tournament here. All the volunteers, everyone greeted you with a smile. They were terrific. And we’re very appreciative of that. And just to say thank you.

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