Hello Duke fans. This is Quinn Cook with a DukeBluePlanet exclusive. Duke Nation had the Izod Center packed. Best fans in the world.
DB of DukeBluePlanet asked me to talk about our team and what it takes to be a Duke point guard.
The season has been great but we have to keep building on it. Winning the championship in the Bahamas was my favorite moment so far. We beat three tough teams over three great days and never let up. We prepared for each of our opponents. We all knew the game plans, our opponents’ best players, and we executed what our coaches wanted us to do. How we prepared for each game over the three days said a lot about our team and how much we want to win. We competed for 40 minutes over three straight days. We fought for the championship trophy.
This team fights. We have each other’s back. When somebody is down, we pick them up. When I was struggling a little bit during the final game in the Bahamas, Ryan, Seth and Mason all told me I was going to make big plays at the end. I was fortunate to hit some big shots after that and make some free throws. That’s an example of how we stick together. I got that MVP because my teammates believed in me. We are brothers who understand if we fight for 40 minutes we are in great shape. We want to wear teams down and outfight them. It is not about playing. It is about fighting. We’ve proved that in some of our games so far. It’s been fun but we have to keep it going.
We are older and that helps us. We have three great seniors and two great juniors. You have to remember we only had one senior last year and five freshmen. We have guys who have won a national championship and lost tough games. We’ve seen the big picture and understand what we have to do to reach our goals.
One area we need to work on is our defensive rebounding. Sometimes we get too caught up in Mason’s outstanding rebounding numbers and think he can get every rebound. Our perimeter has to get better at rebounding and getting loose balls, battling in there with the big guys. If we do that, it will help a lot.
The difference for me this season is I came in really hungry. I felt last year as a freshman I didn’t come in ready. I’ve told Sheed and Amile to stay hungry. Don’t get satisfied. There was a time last year when I got a little bit satisfied when I was the starting point guard. Back then, I remember thinking I was where I wanted to be and I let up a little bit. You can’t do that. I lost it because I got satisfied. You have to do extra. Never stop working or preparing.
I knew this summer would be a key time for me to develop into a great player. As the point guard, I needed to be more of a leader and connect with all my teammates at a high level.
Mason is a guy I realized I needed to become great friends with. We worked out a lot this fall when he came back. We got some good morning work in. The biggest thing was becoming closer off the court. We became tight in the fall and it has translated on the court now. He helps me. He runs the floor, he’s always cutting to the basket. It’s easy to play with a guy of his caliber. He’s been playing well all year. If I throw it up, he will go get it. He just makes me a better player.
Playing with Mason and being the PG at Duke, you better be in tip-top shape. You have to be able to run the floor, run the team, communicate, make plays for your teammates and yourself, and have energy to pressure the ball. You also have to be well-prepared. You have to study the game. Your basketball IQ has to be tremendous. During your free time, you need to watch film of other great point guards. You have to be a leader. The point guard is a QB out there and a reflection of the coach. If you aren’t a leader out there, you have no shot at being a great point guard.
Being a point guard for Coach K is a challenge because he was a point guard. He will be tough on you. That’s what he told me when he recruited me before I came here – “I am going to coach you hard.” That’s something I really appreciate. As a point guard, you can’t take any days or plays off. Coach knows what he’s doing. I listen and become a better player. It is a blessing to have someone with that much knowledge and stature pushing you every day. We need to have a great connection.
Before I go, I have to give a shout-out to my brother Nolan Smith. Nolan calls me after every game. If he can’t watch us live, he sets the DVR and we talk after he watches the game. Nolan tells me to stay hungry and never be satisfied. He tells me the good and bad. He’s been there. He knows what Coach wants. He is where I want to be someday so he a great role model to have. He also talks to me a lot about being a leader. He feels I have been communicating well. I went out to Portland this summer for awhile and we worked on defense. He says I’ve been doing a good job pressuring the ball.
I have to keep working. You can’t get satisfied. We haven’t reached our ultimate goals yet. I understand if I get satisfied, it will impact the whole team. I have to keep playing hungry. The past doesn’t matter. We have to keep moving forward.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to wish me luck on my chemistry exam tomorrow via Twitter (@qcook323). Let’s get it.