Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski doesnt want to compare his teams recent comeback victories against North Carolina and N.C. State. But if those wins have taught him anything about the Blue Devils, it might be this:
I do think our team has shown a great will to win, Krzyzewski said on Monday during the ACC teleconference.
Asked which rally more impressed him and his staff, Krzyzewski declined to compare. Against North Carolina, Duke rallied from a 10-point deficit with about two minutes to play. Austin Rivers made a long 3 at the buzzer to give the Blue Devils an improbable 85-84 victory.
Against N.C. State, the Devils trailed by 20 with about 11 minutes to play. Duke gradually melted away the lead, and took over the game in the final minutes.
Theyre just big-time wins for our team, Krzyzewski said. And Im really proud of the way they hung in there and were able to win those games.
Duke this week will play at Florida State in a game that carries significant implications for the regular-season title race. Both the Blue Devils and Seminoles are 10-2 in league play, and Duke has already suffered one loss against Florida State. UNC is also 10-2 in league play.
Tough Duke has shown an impressive ability to come from behind and win, Krzyzewski said hopefully we wont have to do much coming back during the rest of the season.
Some other highlights from Krzyzewskis portion of the call:
--Krzyzewski acknowledged that his team likely has a little bit more incentive to beat Florida State because of what happened the last times these teams met, when the Seminoles Michael Snaer made a 3 at the buzzer to give Florida State a victory in Durham. Krzyzewski said he re-watched that game on the way home from Boston last night and he described the first Duke-FSU game as just a heck of a game.
--Krzyzewski admitted he places a little less emphasis on winning the regular-season championship than he once did. Over the past 20 years or so, he said, he has placed more of a priority on winning the ACC Tournament than on finishing first in the regular season. The regular season is still very important, he said, but the tournament takes on a little bit different [feel] its like the showcase event.
--Krzyzewski was asked what makes Florida State such a great defensive team. The Seminoles are on track to lead the conference in field goal percentage defense for a record fourth consecutive season. Krzyzewski said, They have a great combination that you cant teach of length and quickness. You cant simulate that in a practice. Theyre the length that they come at you with. And then theyre quick. They have good athletic ability. And this team is really deep, so they come out you with nine or 10 guys And then theyre well-coached in their principles.