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Quotes: Duke 85, Gardner-Webb 66
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 12/16/2013
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Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski
Opening Statement:
“Overall I was pleased. We’re off, but we’re not off. The last 13 days have been, in some respects, for some of these guys, exhausting with academics. I thought overall we came out sharp offensively. They were sharp offensively also. Playing in this type of setting for them, they are playing their best basketball right now. It’s free stuff. You have to play really hard in order to stop them from doing this stuff on offense. I thought our big guys did a good job. Amile [Jefferson] had 10 rebounds in 12 minutes. I thought Marshall [Plumlee], they went small most of the game, but Marshall on those free throw rebounds. Those are big plays for us. Semi [Ojeleye] had good minutes. Andre [Dawkins] played like he’s been practicing. Now Andre had the least exhausting exam because he’s in graduate school. Nothing against our graduate students, but his exams were over a long time ago. So he’s basically had over a week where he’s done and so he was able to come in extra. He and Steve [Wojciechowski] would come in every night or late in the afternoon after our morning workouts and put in extra time, and it’s paid off. He’s been practicing great, and he played that way today. There are some real positives there today. Our defense in the second half was a lot better than the first half. You don’t stop playing for two weeks and not have some slippage. But overall I was pleased with our team.”

On communication defensively:
“The second half [we communicated defensively] really well. The three they got was an out-of-bounds under that we left [Naji] Hibbert open, but I thought we did a good job defensively. Then we had to play the post well. That’s where Semi, when he came in, he did a really good job on [Jerome] Hill. Hill is one of those 6-5 post players. He’s got that game where you can foul him and he’s got that left hand. He’s a good player. Sometimes when you finish exams you don’t want to talk to anybody so I thought our talk was good most of the time, lacking sometimes, but overall okay.”

On what he liked about the offense early in the game:
“We were sharp. The ball was moving fast. They had a zone that spread out to cover our threes, and we made good reads. We made really good reads and guys were very unselfish. Quinn [Cook] had another really good game. We were just very sharp. I think it’s the most offensive rebounds we’ve had in a game. Guys were hungry, knocking the ball out. Josh knocked it out, even though he only got one offensive rebound, he knocked it out a couple of times, which kept the ball alive. Overall it was good. It was a good effort by our guys.”

On biggest difference between Quinn Cook this year:
“Just maturity. Last year he’s playing with three veterans. This year he is the veteran. It’s kind of like the torch has been passed. Maturity, leadership, it’s his team. He’s running his team. He’s done a very good job of that.”

On departing early for New York City:
“We have to move out of the dorms so we stay in a hotel here. We might as well practice here and get up there late. It’s not like we’re leaving in the morning. We’re going to practice here, go through out scouting and get up there late tomorrow night. Then you wake up and you’re there. The main thing is, not that we don’t like Durham hotels they’re great, move on to the next thing and get acclimated there. We’re going to play a really good team, a high-scoring team in UCLA. Basketball has these breaks that other sports and football don’t have. We just had exams. That’s a big break. You’re going to have a Christmas break. How you handle those emotionally as a group is a big factor. So we need to focus on that game on Thursday night and then go home and then come back and we have two good games before we start conference.”

On balancing Rasheed Sulaimon:
“You’re just on his side. He’s just not playing well. You can see it. It’s not about attitude. He’s got a good attitude. He’s a good team player. It’s just not going well for him. It’s kind of like in baseball, one of your really good hitters striking out all the time and just can’t get a hit. We have to keep positive with him. His teammates are really good with him. He’s good with his teammates. The other thing is, even for Matt [Jones], Matt’s playing real well, but when Andre’s playing that well you have to get Andre on the floor. Unless they’ve changed this, there are only 200 minutes. Five guys, 40 minutes. You have three guys who are going to probably take up half of those minutes in Jabari [Parker], Rodney [Hood] and Quinn. Then it’s a matter of how you do it. Whenever someone says someone’s not playing, who would they play for? Or are you going to give me magically 25 more minutes. That’s just the way it is. You have to stay positive with everybody. It’s a long season. Look, Andre three weeks ago at this time, he wouldn’t have played like he did today. Things change and you just hang in there with everybody and hopefully no one gets hurt and you have enough guys playing well you have a chance to win. That part of is not complicated. All of our guys have good attitudes and are working hard and we like that.”

Duke Junior Guard Quinn Cook
“They made an adjustment at halftime – they stopped our transition [in the second half]. They made a good adjustment. They’re well-coached and we weren’t sharp in our halfcourt [offense]. We were so used to getting up and down in transition in the first half. We kind of wanted to get back to that but they were stopping us, so it’s a credit to their defense. They did a good job out there.”

On what the team focused on over the long break:
“The first thing was to focus on our schoolwork and getting done with those exams. Those are big. We did a lot of scrimmaging against each other over the break. We got it in all break. We had a great start [tonight] and then kind of got lazy. We’ve got a big game on Thursday, so we’ve got to get back at it tomorrow.”

On what Duke needs to do to continue to improve:
“Just guys staying hungry and we are hungry. Those two losses at the beginning of the year hurt. Guys like me, Josh [Hairston], Tyler [Thornton], we’re used to getting our first loss in January or February. We have two right now, so guys are staying hungry and we just want to keep getting better daily.”

On how he’s encouraging Rasheed Sulaimon:
“Just knowing and telling him that I have confidence in him and I’m in his corner. He’s a great basketball player and we need him. He’s in a funk right now, and he’s trying hard to get out of it. He has a great attitude coming in every day, and we’re all in his corner and we’re going to need him.”

Duke Redshirt Sophomore Forward Rodney Hood
When asked how it felt when Duke was running and playing so well in the first half:
“It’s hard [for opponents] to keep that pace, especially with the guys on the court. It’s five guys that can attack you, or at least three guys that draw double teams at all times. Defensively, we’re getting it. Ever since the Vermont game, I think we’ve been getting better and better. We’re getting more mature on defense. We let down a little bit [tonight], but I think that’s because we didn’t play for a long time and are just getting back into the swing of things. Offensively, I think we’re as dangerous as anybody.”

On Rasheed Sulaimon:
“Rasheed’s been doing so much better, especially over this two-week break. We’ve just been in the gym working out. We just have to keep him positive. Everybody knows he can play, and he knows he can play. It’s just a matter of him doing it consistently on an everyday basis. And that’s the good thing about our team – he’s one of the best players on our team, and we need him to come on and be who he is. That’s only going to help us.”

On Andre Dawkins’ hot shooting and how that helps Duke:
“It makes it a whole lot easier, just him being a weapon out there. He draws two people just like me and Jabari [Parker] because people are trying to find him for the three-pointer. He’s an amazing weapon. He’s one of [the best], if not the best, shooters in the country, in my opinion. He’s a knock-down shooter but also, he’s a veteran guy. He’s been through this type of season, and we need him to be on the court, just from his veteran leadership. He’s been through it, knows how to score the ball, knows how to get open, and that makes our job so much easier as far as scoring the ball and spacing the floor because you can’t leave him.”

Duke Freshman Forward Jabari Parker
“We looked pretty good. In the second half we could have built upon our lead. We got them into a comfortable place and then we didn’t put it on the gas. We kind of shied away from being aggressive and trying to get them into an uncomfortable position.”

On how Duke learns from its two early-season losses:
“We find things that we have flaws in and we can kind of build on them. You see a lot of teams that did well in the beginning of the season and now they’re starting to deteriorate. The most important thing we want to do is keep developing. We don’t want to peak too early. That’s a positive way that we can look at it.”

Gardner-Webb Head Coach Tim Craft
On his team’s fast offensive start:
“We started out well offensively. We played pretty good offensively the entire first half. Unfortunately we couldn’t get any stops on the other end. They were terrific on the offensive end. They hurt us in zone; they hurt us in man. We couldn’t guard them, particularly for that first half. Second half, we were a little bit better. We defended a little bit better in the second half, but it just wasn’t good enough to make it tight.”

On the success of Jerome Hill:
“Jerome was good, 9-of-10. He was terrific on the offensive end. They were switching pick-and-rolls and he was able to score a little bit on those switches. But at the end of the day, we didn’t rebound it well enough. We didn’t defend well enough to keep it close. But he was great, he was great offensively.”

On the stretch at the beginning of the second half:
“We were better defensively, got some stops, but then we couldn’t score. So there was that window there where we had an opportunity maybe to close the gap. When we kind of made a few shots they always covered with the run, like good teams do. They were able to do that tonight. Anytime we were able to cut into it a little bit, they responded with a run to open it back up to 16, 18. It was kind of like that the rest of the second half.”

On his team’s resolve:
“I was proud of our guys in the second half. We really, I thought, battled in the second half. We defended much better in the second half. They shot 58 percent in the first half and in the second, 36. So we were much better in the second half. We fouled too much, but defensively we were able to put some stops together. We just weren’t able to capitalize those with scores while we were doing that. But I was really proud of our guys in the last 20 minutes, for sure. Much better on the defensive end.”

On what the team can take away from today’s game:
“It’s a privilege for us to be able to play here, in this arena, with the talent level they have here, the history of this program. It’s a privilege and opportunity for our guys to be here and to compete. I think we can take a lot away from it. We don’t see this type of talent in the Big South, but it’s like a road swing. In the Big South, we always play two road games back-to-back. So the talent we’re going to face is a little bit different on this swing – Duke and Georgia – but the amount of time, the preparation and the number of days are the same. So I think we can take a lot away from it as we go into league play. I think we’ll learn a lot from it.”