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Zion Williamson says “basketball Gods, they had our back tonight”

Zion Williamson (Duke Athletics Photo)

Here’s some comments Duke players and coach Mike Krzyzewski along with Central Florida coach Johnny Dawkins after No. 1 Duke rallied to beat Central Florida 77-76.

Q. Zion, what was your thoughts on the final drive looking down at a guy who was almost a foot taller than you when you took it to the basket?
ZION WILLIAMSON: You know, it’s March Madness. A lot’s going through my mind, but like Coach said, at that 2:09 mark when they were reviewing the play — you know, I consider him the greatest coach of all time. When he looks at you and tells you that you’re made for this moment, it’s like the most confidence you can be given. So when I went to the basket, I knew it was going in.

Q. R.J., what was going through your mind when you hit that shot at the end off the Zion missed free throw?
R.J. BARRETT: I was just thinking what can we do to win this game? I remember watching March Madness and watching a whole bunch of games and seeing missed free throws, somebody gets a rebound and a putback. So I thought, I’m just going to try to do whatever I can to get this rebound.

Q. Can you talk about their last possession, what Coach told you in the huddle, and kind of how that went down? It looked like they were going to hit that tip. What did it feel like on those last microseconds?
ZION WILLIAMSON: Go out there and play like defense. You’ve got to play like there’s no tomorrow. Tre played great defense and got — shoot like an off-balance shot. Dawkins came flying in. I mean, when he tipped it, you talk about microseconds, when that ball rolled around the rim, it looked like it was going in, but as Coach K talks a lot about the basketball gods, they had our back tonight.

Q. Just curious, with such a talented but young group of freshmen in the biggest moment of their athletic career at this point with two minutes left after the shot clock violation being reviewed, like what did you tell them to try to keep them calm and keep them focused?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: We had a lot of time, one. It was a long time to do that. And on the court, I said, look, no matter what the decision will be made, there’s going to be eight to ten, maybe more possessions in this game. And you guys were made for these two minutes and just be yourselves. And they are.

You know, we had a lot of foul trouble, and we are young, and we’re not deep, but we’re good. But we had a lot of stuff go on today that was difficult for us, and they were still able — and the most difficult was the other team, and we were able to find a way to win. These kids are that — they have it. They have it. Hopefully, we can continue to advance, but I love who they are, and I have confidence in them. If they didn’t come through, then I got their backs, but they did come through.

Q. Coach, Zion’s final drive to the hoop where he got Tacko fouled out, were you comfortable with that call? And can you talk about the missed free throw, where R.J. Barrett got the rebound?
JOHNNY DAWKINS: Definitely. You have a terrific game, and I thought the game was ref’d great. I have no issues with how the game was ref’d. It’s a game you have to make plays. Unfortunately, we just didn’t make enough plays. They made one more play than we made, and that’s how it was going most of the evening. They came up with one more big one.

That’s all it was. I think his drive to the basket was strong, and you have to call what you see. I have no issues with that. So that’s the nature of our game.

Q. R.J. Barrett?
JOHNNY DAWKINS: R.J. Barrett, I haven’t seen that play over again, so I’m not sure. Same thing, the ball kind of bounced his way a little bit, and the kid made a great play. A lot of guys don’t see those plays to make. R.J., you’ve got to give him credit. He was staying in the moment. He made a terrific basketball play also, the rebound putback.


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  1. When you run over two guys on the same play it’s pretty obvious his name and Duke on there shirt the ref wasn’t going to call it different.

    1. Amen Cats79. Duke got bailed out and they know it.

  2. I hate Duke…
    Yesterday, Today, and FOREVER

  3. I despise Coach K more than ever. I can’t believe he always gets bailed out and I hate that smug look on his weasel face when he has to touch chest of losing coach. What scares me is that he has probably just had their bad game but maybe same can be said for us, as well, because we haven’t been playing our best lately. We don’t have anyone that can stop Zion.

    1. You better hope UK loses with some of the things you have posted on here my friend. You are vulnerable Mike, lol. But hey, it’s a free country. I will say this, if PJ don’t play soon, UK has a real problem in advancing much further. I just can’t believe a player like that would sit out the NCAA tourney. Tape that foot up real good and go” PLAY” if you can man! Now, if the refs continue to let Williamson play football instead of basketball any team Duke faces will lose anyway. From what I saw, I’m sort of glad UCF is out of the way though. They looked like a champion against Duke in spite of the Duke team and the game officials. The last basket “all world” Zion W. made was an injustice to the UCF players that looked like bowling pins as he ran them over If he didn’t charge I’m blind. Like I say, I am not a big basketball fan because of what the sport has turned into. There are far too many missed calls and flat out unfair calls in the game today. Missed calls that determine game winners because they have let it evolve into a much more physical game than what it was originally designed to be. If they are going to let them play physical, at least call it fair for both teams.

  4. No question he is the best” full back” in college basketball. If he is given the right to flat out run over people then the defense has the same right to knock the crap out of him, and it is going to happen.

  5. I understand the points about the refs and Williamson, and K. But, that other team lost this game because they failed to make the big play when the game was on the line.

    1) Missed slam dunk.

    2) Failure to prevent Williamson from getting a shot at the rim on that last drive

    3) Failure to block out and rebound Williamson’s missed free throw.

    When the game is on the line, winners make at least two of those three plays and win this game.

    The big guy for the other team was inside the silly block/charge arc on that last drive. That is a block by rule. Don’t like the rule, change it and get rid of that silly arc, but that arc is the rule. That player must know where he is on the court, and the time and score of the game, and must understand that he, and he alone, cannot allow Williamson to get off the shot. He was a big boy, and had the strength to do that, but he did not.

    The failure to block out on the rebound is fundamental basketball. They failed.

    The missed slam dunk is a little more understandable, and is more on the passer not the player at the rim. Up 4, make the easy play and get the score.

    This loss is on those players and their coach, not the stripes.

  6. Maybe so Professor, it can be debated as you outline based on the current rule on what is called a charge these days. That said, it could have been called either way IMO, and they favored Duke IMO. Yeah, the rule needs to be changed, But that failure to make a call that Williamson charged on that made basket cost UCF the game. Willianmson flat ran over him with a lowered shoulder, and had been doing that all day. My point, UCF could have sealed the deal at the foul line possibly. Your other points are true. However things happen in a game that teams have to live with, on both sides.

    1. On the missed ft by Williamson and the put back by Duke’s Barrett, UCF player had position, Barrett appeared to be over his back, no call.

      1. That player pleaded for the push foul but I watched the replay closely, I did not see a push, I saw the UCF player not in the play. Perhaps that was a push, but it was not clear to me when I watch the replay several times. But, being tough and blocking out is the name of the game in rebounding. He did not get it done.

        1. OK Professor, but I saw it a little different. What I see is the UCF player had position, had him blocked out, and Barrett went over his back for the rebound. That should have been a foul on Barrett IMO, and at a critical time. Besides the way the ball comes off the rim sometimes makes it a difficult play. Anyway, the calls down the stretch all went in Duke’s favor.

  7. If PJ doesn’t play we really do not have much of a chance. We could get lucky if all players locked in and contributing but that hasn’t happened in a long time, and we already know how much we will get from Nick and EJ. It is a shame that mystery continues to surround the playing status of a key player for 2nd yr in a row where it appears pro considerations override team considerations.

  8. Smart money says the NCAA, CBS, and the Refs will do whatever it takes to put Zion in the championship game… $$$$$

  9. Guys, this tournament isn’t a competition, its money making entertainment. CBS will get the Duke/UNC title game they want no matter what. Money talks and the NCAA listens.

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