Gbinije Recounts Duke-UNC Experience

One of the top names on the class of 2011 radar for the Blue Devils is 6'6, 185 pound wing Michael Gbinije. The Virginia prospect recently visited Duke unofficially, but also returned over the weekend for his first court-side Duke-North Carolina experience.

TDD: This was your second time down to Durham. Was the schedule any different this time around?

Michael Gbinije: We got in right before the game started. My dad, my mom, my brother, and a high school teammate of mine. We got to campus and went straight in and found our seats pretty quickly. It was pretty exciting to be at my first Duke-UNC game.

What were your impressions of the atmosphere and, in particular, the student section?

The Crazies were really creative. They were chanting my name a couple of times telling me they loved me and wanted me to come to Duke. It was a lot of fun.

Being recruited by both programs, what's the mindset when you are court side in that kind of game?

I try to go in with an open mind. I am trying to see how I'd fit into the offense. Will I be asked to do things differently than I'm used to? Will I be able to do the things I'm good at? How are the coaches with their teams? That kind of thing.

Can you shed some light on your evaluations from Saturday night?

Sitting behind the Duke team bench, I got a good look at Coach K and how he does things. Even when they were really beating UNC by a lot and the game was decided, Coach K is very competitive. He stayed on the guys to make sure they execute, play the game the right way, and have fun. The thing with the Duke bench is all the guys are talking to each other and to their teammates. They are very engaged in the game. They are constantly talking to their teammates about what's happening and encouraging them.

On the UNC bench, despite the fact that they were down, I noticed that Coach Williams was very patient. He was trying to coach his guys up. I'm not saying he wasn't frustrated - he did, but I could see he was trying to improve his players even when they were rattled.

With Coach K, he's very big on details, and it seems like if there's a problem happening on the court with a player or as a team, he'll solve it better than Coach Williams will.

Do your evaluations jive with what you've heard as far as perceptions of the two coaches go?

I definitely hear the perceptions that are out there when it comes to those coaches and their teams, especially when it comes to style of play. How the coaches are and stuff like that.

I'm getting a better idea into who each Coach is, and there's things that I like about each of them. It seems like with Coach K, he's kinda a mix of my AAU Coach and Coach Mac from my high school. My AAU coach curses a good amount, but he doesn't necessarily get in players faces a lot, whereas Coach Mac, he'll get in your face because he believes players need to be challenged to get better.

With Coach Williams, I do agree with the perception that UNC plays a more open style, they just have a different team this year than other years.

Does the difference in intensity and sense of demanding play any role in your perception of Duke?

At first, being honest, it may have been an issue with certain things, but it's not so much now. I can tell he's a worker first and foremost, and he wants what's best for his players.

Did you stay for the senior night festivities?

Yes, my family and I stayed after the game. All the seniors got a chance to thank everybody and address the Crazies and the fans there. They each took their turn talking, it was nice to see how much everybody cared about them as players.

Was this your family's first time down to Duke?

It was. We got a chance to briefly talk with Coach K, and we were talking with the assistants quite a bit. The assistants were really open with me and my family, especially Coach James. He primarily talked a lot with me and my family about the game and some of the things they were doing on the court.

We didn't even know initially that we were going to be able to go down for the game because of the state playoffs and all that, but Coach James talked with me a couple of weeks ago, and he was like "Do you want to come down for the game?"

Previously you mentioned that your parents hadn't yet learned as much about Duke, but that they seemed to have a preference on schools early on. Do you feel they had a chance to get some of the information that was previously lacking?

I would say that my family had a real positive reaction to the visit. They like the school, they like the way the program does things, and they really like Coach K a lot. It was a real good for everybody to go down, we had a good time.

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