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ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE OPERATION BASKETBALL


October 29, 2014


Quinn Cook

Amile Jefferson


CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA

Q.  Amile, we've heard a lot about Okafor and what he can be to this team.  How have you pushed each other in practice so far?
AMILE JEFFERSON:  Every day in practice we're doing a lot of things to compete, a lot of drills, and right now we're pushing each other by communicating and talking a lot and making sure that we're fighting and everything we do.  Off the court we're all best of friends, but when we're in between those lines, everyone is fighting and trying to win.

Q.  After the disappointing loss to Mercer in Game 1 of the NCAA Tournament this year, do you feel that this team has something to prove?
AMILE JEFFERSON:  You know, I think what happens is people take that loss as that we had a bad season, but we really didn't.  We actually had a pretty good season, and it's just the nature of the beast.  March is brutal, and if you're not hungry, things like that will happen.
It's more about getting our team to be hungry and worthy of winning in March right now than proving something to someone.  We have something to prove to each other that we are worthy of winning, but for our group right now, it's about being worthy and getting ready and having that hunger right now, so when March comes, it's just innate.  It's in our nature to be that good.

Q.  With the young talent that's come in as well as other guys that have been on the squad before, how do you feel the balance is right now as far as how you guys have taken in the guys that are new?
AMILE JEFFERSON:¬† The balance has been great.¬† I think that's partly due to how close those guys were when they came in.¬† You know, their bond was something special even before coming to Duke.¬† They were already best friends.¬† So it was kind of like we just all fit around that, around that real close‑knit bond that they had, instead of it being vice versa, and I think that really helped for everyone to become really, really tight and really, really good friends on and off the court, and that really helped the balance, so it wasn't like upperclassmen head‑butting with the younger guys.¬† It was just like everybody coming in as a collective unit.

Q.  As a captain on a team that's stock full of freshman talent, what type of knowledge do you impart to them?  What do you say to them going into this season?
AMILE JEFFERSON:  For me it's just about being really, really vocal and telling them all that I've learned from our previous leaders, like Mason, who was a leader that brought in every day and really made sure before practice that guys were ready.  Now that it's my turn to be a leader, I really try to make sure that each and every day guys' heads are where they need to be so that young guys don't have bad practices or come into practice with extra baggage like maybe I did bad on this test or I'm having problems back home.  When we're in practice, we're in practice, and that's what guys have to focus on.
I take it upon myself as my job to make sure that everyone is ready once we start for the day.

Q.  After Countdown to Craziness the other night, you said that you had some things to learn.  We saw some game action in front of people.  What are some things that you discovered on Saturday?
AMILE JEFFERSON:  I think that we discovered that we can be really good and that we have a lot of talent.  But the things we have to learn are definitely on the defensive end, communicating with each other more, making sure that everyone is in the right position on defense, and then just playing fundamentally sound and making sure guys are rebounding.  But from Countdown, I think everyone saw that we have a talented corps, and playing around Jahlil and making sure all our pieces complement each other is going to be really good and help us have a really, really good unit this year.

Q.¬† Talk about Matt Jones and his work during the off‑season.¬† His shot looked improved the other night, as well.
AMILE JEFFERSON:¬† You know, and watching Matt in high school, he was a knock‑down shooter, and it was great to see.¬† At times he struggled, but he worked so hard this summer on his shot.¬† I think everyone can see that it's much better, and it feels like‑‑ it seems to me like he's back in that comfortable state that he was when he was shooting the ball really well.¬† So it was really exciting to see someone get back into I guess you could say like their swagger or their comfort zone where they're just playing how you know they can play.
For me it's really exciting to see him play the way he's been playing.

Q.  How did you guys possibly allow Marshall Plumlee to win the dunk contest?
AMILE JEFFERSON:¬† I'm pretty sure Marshall won like a City of Palms back in high school, so he had the championship belt before.¬† He has won on a big stage.¬† He's seven‑foot, and he jumps just like his brothers.¬† I think a couple guys missed a couple dunks that would have really wooed the crowd.¬† But I think it was much deserved for Marshall.
THE MODERATOR:  Quinn, you're up.  The comment was just made about Marshall and his ability to get up.  Grayson Allen I think surprised a lot of people by his vertical.  Are there other elements to Grayson Allen that are going to surprise some people do you think?
QUINN COOK:  His ability to shoot jumpers, to knock down jumpers has really impressed everybody on our team.  He's a heck of an athlete.  When we did our testing and stuff for our strength and conditioning, he placed in the top three in everything we did athletically, so that says a lot about the gifts that he has.  He works hard.  He works extremely hard.  All the things that he does well, it obviously pays off.

Q.  Quinn, with you and Tyus, just how he's pushed you and you've pushed him so far and what the expectation can be of the backcourt featuring both of you?
QUINN COOK:  Yeah, this preseason and all summer it's been great just getting each other better, working hard, him showing me things, myself showing him things and things like that.  It's been good for both of us.  We want to play together in the backcourt.  He makes the game easier for everybody.  You know, he gets guys the ball, and it's been fun thus far just getting to know each other and getting acclimated with each other's playing styles.  Hopefully we can be really good this year.

Q.¬† You came into the program highly touted with great expectations.¬† You've shown flashes of greatness.¬† Talk about your consistency and what you've worked on this off‑season and what you expect out of your senior season.
QUINN COOK:  Just hopefully this year being the most consistent.  That's been the biggest thing for me.  I think just the up and down, like you said, I've had good times and I've had some bad times.  Just stringing a lot of positive things this year, just growing up, being mature and knowing that this is my last year and playing with a sense of urgency.  I want to leave here as a winner, and just myself and Amile being captains, just helping these guys out and just us leading by example and get being out there and getting the job done really has been my biggest focus, and just having fun.

Q.  It seems the early indications are that you might be part of the group that's coming off the bench.  Is that accurate in your view, and how do you embrace that role and what can you bring in that role?
QUINN COOK:  Yeah, we don't have a starting lineup yet.  Different guys, we have like a white and blue team different guys are put on the white team, different guys are put on the blue team.  So we'll know soon, but whatever Coach wants us to do, I think everybody will buy in because he obviously knows what he's doing.  We all have to buy in and just put personal sacrifices aside.

Q.  Given the depth that you guys have, how many different variations of starting lineups are possible, and will we see a number of different combinations of players on the floor this year do you think?
QUINN COOK:  Yeah, it's a lot of different combinations that we'll be seeing.  We have 10 guys that can play and contribute immediately, I think.  I don't know if we'll do five and five like we did last year a couple times, but we have guys who can play, and that's been motivation for everybody to not take days off because you can't take a play off because you're going to get exposed in practice.  It's been good, competitive energy in practice.  Everybody has been getting better.  All 10 guys are ready to start playing.

Q.¬† Rasheed Sulaimon is one of those guys that was up and down last year, as well.¬† What type of off‑season did he have?
QUINN COOK:  Rasheed has been practicing great.  He knows he didn't have the season he wanted to have last year, just being up and down, and he had such a big freshman season.  He knows what he had to do this summer and he's been playing great, and he seems more mature.  He's been good.

Q.  How would you define a successful season for Duke?
QUINN COOK:  You know, win the regular season championship, win the ACC Tournament, and win the national championship.  You know, I think guys are based on how much they win here at Duke.  I don't think it's based on how many points you average or your personal.  Guys want to leave here as winners, and the most loved guys at Duke history, they've all won.  I mean, we want to go as far as we can.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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