Andrew Tie, Brian Geisinger and Jim Young were at the ACC's recent Operation Basketball media event, talking to tons of players and coaches. During the course of the preseason, we'll be posting the Q&As they gathered.
Today, we catch up with Duke's Rodney Hood.
You’ve added three new teams, pretty good teams. Talk about how adding those teams change the league.
It’s going to be great starting off this tradition with these guys. Notre Dame, Pitt and Syracuse. They have great coaches. They have great legacies in the Big East.
Is it strange for you to be at ACC Media Day having never played a game in the ACC?
Yeah, it is kind of weird. But I’m honored to be here with Tyler (Thornton) and Coach (K), and it’s just a great experience. I think it’s going to be learn by experience. You don’t get the full effect of any experience until you go through it. I’m just excited to go through it.
How good is Jabari Parker?
He’s great. He’s everything he’s hyped up to be. A great athlete, a guy that plays very unselfish. He just loves to be in the gym…loves to learn.
Did you know his game before you actually played with him?
Yeah, in this day and age, we watch a lot of YouTube. It’s hard to not see him on YouTube. Especially when he committed, I watched a lot more. I knew he was a great player.
Is he going to surprise us this year with how good he is?
It’s hard the way people hype kids like us in this day and age. I don’t know if he can exceed their expectations.
What has Jabari Parker done to impress you, and what are some things most people don’t know about him?
He’s a regular kid. He loves video games. He’s a humble kid, which was surprising. He loves to play the game, and that’s why I love him, and that’s what his teammates respect about him…he loves to be in the gym.
You said he’s humble. How do you think that helps him with all the hype?
For any kid, including myself, it’s hard. Based on what we have to deal with in this day and age and social media, it’s hard not to see it. Me and some of the older guys are trying to shelter him from that and keep him in the gym. He loves to play the game, and he doesn’t care about the other stuff.
Talk about that Achilles injury. How does it feel, and are you out of the woods with that?
I think I am. I think I’m 100% healthy – well, I am 100% healthy right now. It was scary for me because I really wanted to play. I really wanted to go overseas. I made the team, and I wanted to play with them just to get some games under my belt before the season. I was scared, but I was happy it was nothing serious.
What’s it going to be like to finally play a game after sitting out a whole year?
It’s going to be great. Just to be out there, I haven’t played in an actual game in a year and a half. Just being out there playing with my teammates…it’s going to be great when that time comes.
What’s the biggest thing you worked on after sitting out a year?
Just the mental aspect of the game…the mental preparation that you have to have to be a great player, and that’s what I took into my game. I got better from it.
You’re a team captain. You’re only a sophomore, and you haven’t even played a game yet. What does that mean to you?
It means a lot. It’s just a testament to my hard work and the respect that my teammates and my coaches have of me, that I can lead this team in the right way. It’s a great feeling.
You guys lost your three leading scorers from last year in Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly. How do you replace that production and leadership?
It’s a different team. Last year was a great team. I really miss the seasons, but it’s a different team, different people. We got to go about it a different way.
You have sophomore guard Rasheed Sulaimon and junior guard Quinn Cook coming back. How have they improved?
Quinn, as far as his ball pressure, has went to another level. His leadership skills have went to another level. He’s really trying to be a great player this summer. Rasheed, very hard to keep out of the lane, very quick…improved defensively as far as really trying to dominate on defense. Those two guys have improved, and those are the only two guys that played big minutes last year that’s returning this year, so it’s going to be great to see them improve even more as the season goes along.
You’ve got Kansas in Chicago. You’ve got Michigan in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, UCLA at Madison Square Garden, Syracuse at the Carrier Dome – what sticks out to you when you look at the schedule?
We’re going to be battle-tested by the time it’s March. Being a competitor, we want to play the top schools and see where we are as a team. It’s going to be great because we very well may see these teams when it comes to March.
Which game are you looking forward to the most out of the aforementioned games?
The first one. I can’t look past any one of them. The first one.
What’s it going to be like to play North Carolina?
It’s going to be great. That’s why a lot of guys go to North Carolina and Duke…to play in that rivalry, which is one of the best in sports in general. I’m looking forward to it, but I’ve got to worry about the exhibition game on October 26.
With you and Jabari possibly playing the 3 and 4, and after having Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee last year, is there going to be a switch in style?
We’re different kind of players. We’re not necessarily more athletic in terms of vertical, but we’re a faster team this year. We’re going to try and get up and down the court and create a lot of turnovers off our defense.