Duke's Krzyzewski: 'We're playing our best basketball'
Did Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski steal the 2-3 zone from Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim?
That's what the Hall of Fame coach was asked when he was a guest on The Dan Patrick show on Tuesday.
Krzyzewski said he did not, but he picked up a lot from Boeheim, and Mike Hopkins, Syracuse's top assistant at the time, while they coached together for Team USA.
Krzyzewski appeared on The Dan Patrick Show and ESPN's Golic and Wingo Tuesday morning to talk about the upcoming Sweet 16 matchup between Duke and Syracuse, and coaching against his good friend Boeheim. Among many things, he was asked about the zone by both shows.
"When you're with (Tom) Thibodeau, (Mike) D'Antoni, (Nate) McMillan and Monty Williams and all these guys and their assistants, you talk a lot of basketball," Krzyzewski said during one of the interviews. "So Jeff Capel, who is my associate head coach, and Mike talked a lot about the zone and drills that you use, but also the mentality of coaching the zone.
"More so than the X's and O's, there's a mental thing about, ok, 'do you believe in this? How do you get that across? What can you accept? I think guys who don't use the zone a lot, as soon as someone hits two threes, they say 'man that's not working.' Then they go to man-to-man and the ball screen defense they have is not good, but they stick to man-to-man," he added.
He said Hopkins and Boeheim understand that, and he and Capel learned a lot from them.
Duke has used zone defense as its primary defense since its Feb. 18 game against Clemson. It has helped catapult the Blue Devils to a top-10 ranked defense in the country. Since Duke went zone nine games ago, it hasn't given up more than 74 points in a game. When Duke played Syracuse earlier this season on Feb. 24, Duke played zone the entire game.
In its lone meeting with the Orange this season, the Blue Devils won 60-44, giving up the second fewest points in a game this season. The fewest was 40 points against Evansville on Dec. 20.
Historically, Krzyzewski-coached teams have run a man-to-man defense. But Duke's man defense has not been as effective as its zone. At times early in the season, it was bad.
Boeheim's teams are known for their 2-3 zone defense. The Orange ranks fifth in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency, which is points allowed per 100 possessions. Syracuse gives up 92.2 points per 100 possessions. Duke is not far behind, ranked eight, while giving up 93.3 points per 100 possessions.
Duke and Syracuse face off in the Sweet 16 of the Midwest bracket on Friday at approximately 9:37 p.m.