"We just get really excited to play those guys. The longer you have to wait, the more anxious you get. So we're kind of antsy and we're ready to just get it over with so we can continue with what we want to do."
Are they tough for you to read?
"Well we know that they're going to play their best. They've been kind of inconsistent this year, but like you said, when they play big teams they step up and play well and so that's what we're going to expect -- that they'll come out and be united and play their best game against us."
"We're doing our game plan just like we do for any other team. We scout them and we're going to exploit what we think are our strengths and their weaknesses and hopefully we'll get the better match ups."
What kind of place is the Dean Dome? What kind of challenges are there to play in that kind of environment?
"We know it's probably going to be the loudest place that we play in. We know that everybody hates us there more than probably anything. It's going to be tough. We're going to be on an island by ourselves fighting. I think that however loud it gets in that arena is going to be tough for us."
"It's real loud in that arena and those guys get real excited and feed off their crowd."
Is the Dean Dome a more difficult place to play than people think it is?
"It is. They get a bad rap because you don't see the students all along the court, but it just shows that these 63-year-old guys can scream just as loud as the students. They can say some nasty stuff, too. It's just fun to play there. They have a lot of school spirit and support for their team."
"We've matured. We just feel that for us to win this league we have to win games on the road. I think we've actually played better on the road than we have at home in the ACC. I think we have more of a sense of urgency knowing that it's just us, that we're not depending on the crowd to get us excited. We know that we have to bring excitement because there's no one else who's going to bring it for us."
"We're trying to learn the most because we know that when we walk into the gym we will hear thousands of people just boo. That gets us excited right there and gets us focused. We have to come out, in order for us to get back at all of the things that these guys say, we have to silence them. That's kind of the mentality that we have on the road."
Does it ever get old being hated?
"No, not at all. This is their time. It's been their time for many years. We've kind of just been the new kids on the block the last couple of years. We just feel that we're always going to be hated."
Who, along with J.J. Redick, would you say are the most hated players in the ACC?
"Probably Julius Hodge. Those two are right up there. I think J.J., because of his ability to shoot. On the road, he lets you know about it. He'll look in the crowd and smile at you and let you know that you can tell him anything you want."
And why is Julius disliked?
"You can just watch the tape and you'll understand why. He's just a competitor. He feeds off of that. He's good, and he's capable of doing those types of things."
"I think a lot about (the game with UNC) because I've been a Duke fan since I was a little kid. It's a great rivalry for college basketball and for the state of North Carolina. It's their tradition, for both programs. It's going to be a tough game Thursday night. Even though Carolina's coming off a loss to Clemson, they're going to be prepared to play us and give us their best shot. We can't be surprised by that. They have a lot of talent with Coach (Roy) Williams behind them so I think they'll be ready to play this game."
Talk a little bit about the match-up with the UNC guards.
"It's a pretty good guard match-up. Two of them are among the better point guards in the nation in Chris (Duhon) and Raymond Felton. They have some good wins just like we do. I can't determine who is better right now but that will be determined after the game on Thursday."
Why do you think North Carolina has been so inconsistent? They played really well at home but then they lost at Clemson.
"I can't say. I'm not a part of that team so I can't really say why they've been inconsistent. I really don't follow them that much."
What's the body language you have to have walking into the Dean Dome?
"You have to be confident. Especially playing on the road, let alone at Carolina, it's going to be a cold atmosphere. They are going to say things about you, about the Duke team, so we have toughened it up with us playing on the road so much this year. You have to have a kind of cocky swagger about yourself when you step on the court tomorrow."
Was there any point in the season when this team didn't have that cocky swagger, when you were playing not as well after coming back from Alaska?
"As a team, we've grown over the season. We weren't as good as we are now at the beginning of the season. It's come with progress over time, but I think that what happened in Alaska, when we played Purdue, was that we showed that we really didn't have that type of attitude. Ever since then, we've been building towards that, and it's gotten better ever since then."
"He's (Chris Duhon) a vital part of that. He's been playing great for us all season, and how he plays really lifts everyone else. His enthusiasm, his effort and the way he plays defense really helps our team take it to another level."
On Duke's defense
"You really can't rely on making shots every night. What you can do is rely on playing good defense, playing solid defense and defensive rebounding to help get some easy offense. That's what we've tried to focus on throughout the whole season, to make sure we're a good defensive team. We know we're not going to shoot the ball well every night. As a result of that we've been able to do that and it has helped us win some games where we didn't play as well on the offensive end."
"One thing is if you don't play defense you're not going to play. Since day one we have put a premium on playing defense and being a defensive minded team and getting points off defense. As long as you have that foundation of being a very good defensive team, the offense will take care of itself. In the beginning of the season our offense struggled at times, but we were such a solid defensive team that, that allowed our offense to come along."
"We needed our defense more. You don't have to have skills to play defense; all you need is a heart and mouth to communicate with your teammates."
On the most difficult things to learn for defense
"Probably the whole communication thing because in high school I didn't (communicate). One of the main things here is you have to communicate while playing defense. It's a collective effort and you have to talk a lot. In high school I didn't really talk that much. I was a little more into myself playing my own game out here and I was successful doing that. Here it's more like I've got to know if this man rotates up here, then I have to be in this spot. That requires communication. I've got to talk to people and people have to talk to me."
On intensity for UNC
"Obviously people are going to make a lot more of this game, but for us, it's just another game. We prepare the same we for each game; we don't look more to one game than another. Obviously it's great competition and there is going to be a lot of hoopla about it, but we're just trying to look at it as just another game."
On what Roy Williams brings to the Duke-UNC rivalry
"Obviously Coach (Roy) Williams is a great coach, and I thought Coach (Matt) Doherty (was a great coach). I don't know if that's going to change the rivalry. You've got two legendary Hall of Famers and that will make it a very good rivalry for years to come."
On the match-up UNC
"I think we match up well. I think it will be a fun game to watch. We haven't really done a lot of scouting on Carolina, but you see them on TV. And they're a very good offensive team so it's going to be tough to defend them. We'll still have scouting to do."
On a possible inside advantage for Duke
"I think it does give us an advantage. We've got size and with guys like Luol (Deng), he can help us out down low and he can also go out on the perimeter. He's a versatile player. That's something we're going to look at."
On what the rivalry with Carolina means to him
"To me, obviously I grew up in the triangle and I've watched a lot of Duke-Carolina games. Especially when I was being recruited, I heard a lot of things in high school. I know how big this game can get, especially in this area. I kind of know what's going on around the outside but it's important for me to keep my focus and understand that it is just another conference game which makes it a very important game."
On his relationship with UNC players
"I know a lot of players on the UNC team. I played with them. I know a lot of those guys and I'm good friends with them. But once we step on the court it's all business; that doesn't change if we're friends off the court."
On the fight during the Georgia Tech game
"I don't think it's out of character. We're an intense team and Georgia Tech is an intense team. Obviously when those two things clash you're gong to have conflict. I guess one conflict got taken too far. Coach K didn't say anything; he knew it was a fight. We were getting beat pretty bad at that point. That let us know we were going to be in for a fight. We didn't want to throw our punches with our fists; we wanted do it out on the court and that's what we did from that point on."
On getting three days' rest
"It's going to be really nice. Especially since a game of that caliber can take a lot out of you and it was important that we were going to have at least a couple of days to regroup ourselves."
On the strength of the ACC
"I'm not surprised. I thought it was pretty strong last year with a lot of young guys. This year, a lot of our young guys have been coming out and playing well. I think we have one of the best conferences in the country."
On being 7-0 in the ACC
"It's a very big accomplishment for us. It puts us in the position where we don't have to think about 'if they win this, then we win this.' We keep doing what we have to do, and everyone else has to catch up."
On playing on the road
"We know if you go to someone else's arenas we have to bring our own energy because there is not much energy coming from the fans. You have to rely on each other and concentrate on our game and our defense."
On taunting by fans
"We heard a lot of different things. We might see something in the stands and point at each other and laugh. It's all part of the game. It's good fun, but once game time goes you have to block that out and concentrate on us."
On becoming a better defensive team
"We know that when Coach K says that you have to do this or that, you just have to concentrate on doing it even if you think you are not capable of it. If you don't, you will not play as much. Whatever he says goes."
On being energized and motivated to play defense
"We concentrate on it and it is one of the main focuses of every practice. Most of the time we end on defensive drills so it gets implanted in our heads that if our offense is not going, just play hard defense."
On people talking about the Carolina-Duke game
"Early in the year people talked about how they 'can't wait for the Carolina-Duke and the Maryland-Duke game.' It's a normal thing. I think a lot of people went last year, but even more people are talking about it this year. It's a home game and it's the last game of the season for us."
On being recruited by Kansas (Roy Williams)
"Yes, I was (recruited by Kansas). I did not make an official visit. I only made one official visit and that was here at Duke, but I made about 10 unofficial visits along the AAU circuit. My family loved to travel so they would drive everywhere. We stopped by Arkansas and Tennessee and Illinois. Also, I was trying to get away from home and playing in the Big 12 would not have allowed me to do that."
On the Duke-Carolina rivalry and the close distance between the schools
"I knew they were rivals, but I never knew how big it was until I got here. I made an unofficial visit to Carolina and then stopped by Duke and I was able to see how close they really were."
Are rivalries good for college basketball?
"I think so. If you have a good rivalry, it makes people want to compete to the best of their ability. It draws a lot of attention and people get into it, which provides energy for us."
On playing in the ACC
"Everywhere we go there are people who dislike us. I have never seen a team that has been hated on so much. It's like you either love us or hate us. It shows a great amount of respect for us -- what Duke has done in the past and what we are doing now. When you are doing something right, everybody dislikes you or hates on you."
On Shavlik Randolph
"Over the summer he just worked on building his body up and getting stronger, which has made him more of a pounding guy inside. He's much more aggressive than he was last year. I'm impressed with his defensive skills and his ability to get around big guys. He can get you up in the air and make you foul him."