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ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE OPERATION BASKETBALL


October 16, 2013


Rodney Hood

Tyler Thornton


CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA

JEFF FISCHEL:  Time to talk about Duke basketball.
Rodney, now that you've settled into the starts lineup for Duke, give me your impressions of what it's like playing for Duke basketball.
RODNEY HOOD:  It's a tremendous honor to be able to put that uniform on.  The tradition has been laid down for the program.  Just to be able to help keep that going is a tremendous honor.
JEFF FISCHEL:  Tyler, what have the years been like for you at Duke?
TYLER THORNTON:  Like he said, it's been a tremendous honor, like the best feeling in the world to be able to wake up in the morning and say, I play for CoachK.  To see the history, trying to write your own history at the same time.  It's like living a dream day in, day out.
JEFF FISCHEL:  Yes, sir.

Q.  Rodney, you're a team captain without having played a minute for Duke.  That is a position that is revered.  What does that say about what you accomplished during your year on the sidelines?
RODNEY HOOD:  It was a great feeling to be named team captain.  It just goes to the respect that the teammates and the coaching staff have for me.
It's a big responsibility, especially at Duke.  I'm looking forward to that challenge.
JEFF FISCHEL:  Tyler, what has it been like seeing Rodney get in the lineup?
TYLER THORNTON:  Last year in practice, on the scout team, whatever, he was by far the best player on the scouting team.  He really helped us get ready for our opponents.
He set his foundation.  He earned his respect at that moment.
When the season finished last year, he just cranked it up when we were in open gym and workouts.  The guys just respect him.  The game speaks for itself.

Q.  Syracuse coming into the conference.  Obviously you know your coach is number one on the wins list, Syracuse is number two.  They never like to play each other.  Now they have to.  Talk about the excitement of that game.
TYLER THORNTON:  Those are two of the best college coaches of all time.  It's going to be a historical moment.  Definitely looking forward to playing the newcomers into the ACC, to have a fresh feeling.
But you would have never thought that we would have a home and away with Syracuse in a million years.  For it to happen is going to be amazing.
RODNEY HOOD:  Like Tyler said, it's going to be an amazing feeling.  Of course, they got Coach Boeheim, who is very respected, one of the best coaches of all times.  Two historical gyms.  I think they're trying to set a record when we go there, which is going to be great.
Them coming to us, see what the tradition is like, we can't wait for it.
JEFF FISCHEL:  Rodney, what do you think of playing in front of who knows how many people at the Carrier Dome?
RODNEY HOOD:¬† It will be the most I ever played in front of in my short basketball career.¬† It's going to be exciting.¬† That's why you come to big schools like Duke.¬† You want to play in front of those type of crowds, Final Four‑type atmosphere.¬† I'm looking forward to it.
JEFF FISCHEL:  Tyler, dealing with your intimate setting as well.
TYLER THORNTON:  Big games are always the most fun no matter where you're playing.  Their home gym, be that size, the atmosphere, I couldn't ask for anything better.
Then on the flipside, for them coming to us, they'll feel when the game gets really hyped, the gym actually starts shaking, it's going to be a different feeling than what they're used to.

Q.  Can you talk about what Jabari Parker is adding to the equation for you guys?  I know a lot of is expected out of him this year.
TYLER THORNTON:  He's definitely a very versatile player.  There's a mental adjustment for all freshmen they all have to make.  He's in the process of doing that.  He's doing a great job with accepting that.
But his skill set is something you can't teach.  His quickness, his athleticism, he has a great feel for the game.  He really understands the things we're trying to do.  He's going to get better every day.
RODNEY HOOD:  Like Tyler said, he has a great skill set, very talented, very mobile for a guy his side.  Long wingspan.  Can really play versatile, unselfish guy.
Like Tyler said, he's going through a learning curve right now which is good.  Rather him go through it right now than once the season is going to be cranked up.  I think he's ready to make a big impact this year.

Q.  We're used to seeing Duke and North Carolina in this conference every year.  With the newcomers coming in, Syracuse, Notre Dame, discuss the challenge of trying to stay at the top of the conference and the extra motivation to show these newcomers that this is our conference.
RODNEY HOOD:  Like I said, it's going to be fun just from a competitive standpoint.  Syracuse, UConn are rivals, them coming here, we want to create the same type of game, legendary games.  Hopefully we going to win.
It's going to be fun playing against those guys.  It's going to be a challenge for both teams, for all teams coming into the ACC, and teams that have already been here.
TYLER THORNTON:¬† ACC, regardless of the new teams, all those games have a bigger impact and bigger importance.¬† Those games are always amped up way more than the non‑conference schedule.
But it's going to be fun having those teams.¬† Each win is going to be that much sweeter and that much more important to add to your r√©sum√© in trying to win a regular‑season ACC championship, then turn around and try to put it together for three or four big games to win the ACC tournament championship.

Q.  I read where guys that graduated spent their entire careers in the top 10 on the national rankings.  Talk about that remarkable consistency, any kind of pressure it puts on the next class to make sure you don't slip out.
TYLER THORNTON:  No, I don't think there's any pressure.  The coaches do a great job of keeping us in the moment.  We thrive in situations where it's a big game, a big matchup.  Coach has won so many of those games, he knows how to prepare his teams for those games.
Because of that history, because of his knowledge for the game, we're able to win in those big situations.¬† Ultimately it keeps us in the top‑10 ranking.
RODNEY HOOD:  Like Tyler says, it keeps us in the moment.  That's the biggest thing coach preaches for us.  Different kind of teams have arisen from Duke, the '91, '92 teams, the 2010 national championship team, they're all different.  We're a different team.  We got to stay in our moment and do the best we can to hold the Duke tradition up.

Q.  Coach has made it clear that Rodney and Jabari are the two guys that you and the rest of the team need to mold yourselves around.  What does that mean to you as a guy that's been there for a while?  Why is he so confident in guys we have yet to see play?
TYLER THORNTON:  The feeling in our locker room, we only go as far as those two take us.  We have 12 guys that can really play, but those two are by far our best.
They set the ceiling.  Once they push through that ceiling, it allows everybody else just to follow up and bring what they can to the table.  It just makes us that much better of a team.
JEFF FISCHEL:  Rodney, you got to go to New York.  What was that experience like?
RODNEY HOOD:  It was easily one of the best experiences of my life.  Especially me being from down south where you only see the World Trade Center, the Empire State Building from the television set.  To be able to go to the 105th floor, looking down at NewYork City, I was a little scared, but at the same time it was a great experience.
Going to Motown, Broadway, Rutgers Park, one of the most historical basketball courts ever made, it was just an eye‑opening experience.¬† It was a great team‑bonding experience.
JEFF FISCHEL:  Good look to Duke this season.  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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