City Sports Report

Jahlil Okafor : “I’ve had the time of my life playing here at Duke”

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Jahlil Okafor and Quinn Cook of the Duke Blue Devils spoke with the media in advance of their matchup with Robert Morris tonight.

Q. Jahlil, you’ve had a lot of firsts in your first year at Duke. What’s the biggest things you’ve learned going in your first NCAA Tournament, and do you feel like you have some unfished business to take care of?

JAHLIL OKAFOR: Just preparation, trying to prepare the same way for every game, not trying to overthink tomorrow night’s game, that being my first NCAA March Madness game. Just preparing the same way, looking to my leaders, Quinn Cook, Amile Jefferson, things like that, they’ve been helping me the whole way.

Q.Jahlil, I want to ask you, you’ve obviously had a pretty good freshman year. The Big Ten has floated a proposal to make freshmen ineligible for varsity athletics. I’m just wondering your reaction to that and if that was the rule, would you maybe have followed a different path coming out of the high school?
JAHLIL OKAFOR: I don’t really have any comments about that. I’m happy it’s not a rule this year because I’ve had the time of my life playing here at Duke my freshman year.

Q. Quinn, obviously you guys have said that this is a new season, you’re flush and everything, but you are coming off a loss and you guys have been coming pretty good coming off losses this year. What’s the secret behind you guys have been able to be good coming off the losses this year?
QUINN COOK: It’s a new season, we’re 0-0, taking it one game at a time, we’re flushing everything out that’s happened in the regular season in the ACC tournament and just starting fresh. We have a great Robert Morris team tomorrow and we’re just looking to play well tomorrow.

Q. For Quinn, your college career in the NCAA Tournament has been kind of a wide range of early exits but a deep run. What have you learned, I guess, in your past tournament experiences that you think will help this group?
QUINN COOK: Have to play with a sense of urgency each game, everybody’s playing for their life right now, nobody wants the season to end. Teams are playing their best basketball, teams are playing for something. So just trying to — don’t want our season to end yet, just keep taking it one game at a time.

Q. Jahlil, obviously it’s all about the tournament right now, but there’s a lot of focus on you and your pro potential and so on. Is it hard to put that in the back of your mind at this time or does this affect what could happen in the next few months?
JAHLIL OKAFOR: No, like you said, my focus right now is on the tournament, and when I first decided I wanted to go to Duke University or even the thought of college basketball, I always imagined the opportunity of winning a national championship and the time is now and this is where I want to be, so all my focus is on this right now.

Q. I just wondered, after the Notre Dame game, Coach K was pretty unhappy, he said, with preparation and how you approached that game. He said he hoped it would be a learning experience. Can both of you talk about what you took out of that experience and if it will help you going forward?
QUINN COOK: We didn’t start the game the way we were supposed to. You can’t give a great team like that an 18-, 17-point lead, and we were playing catch-up the entire second half. We cut it to had 4, cut it to 6 and they made big-time plays. We know we can’t start the game like that, guys, myself, Amile being captains, we have to realize that when it’s not going well in the first couple of minutes we have to step up as leaders and take control. We didn’t do that in the first half and we chipped away at it but they made big plays. Coming off a loss like that, we know what we need to do and we’re ready to start this new season and we are off to a great start tomorrow.

JAHLIL OKAFOR: We were in a funk the entire game, the majority of the game, and we just have to find a way to get each other out of that funk, trigger something out of one another to get out of the funk. Coach let us know the entire first half we weren’t playing as well as we needed to, that’s why he called a timeout with like two minutes in the game because he could tell we were going down the wrong path so we just have to find away to get the best out of one another, we’ve been doing that the entire season, that was a bad game for us.

2 Comments

  1. Alina

    March 26, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    Very informative and DUKE ALL THE WAY!!!

    • craigbattle

      March 29, 2015 at 5:26 am

      Thank you!

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