Hairston Recaps Duke-UNC Experience

Josh Hairston spent the weekend in Durham before heading to Cameron for the Duke-UNC game. When he returned home he had a chance to speak with TDD to recap his experience(s).

TDD: While everyone saw the game, what was it like behind the scenes during the day at Duke on game day?

Josh Hairston: My family and I arrived on campus around 1:00 PM, and from there I went straight to meet up with Nolan. The team was just finishing their walk through so me and Nolan went back to his apartment and we just chilled for awhile.

The team had a pre game meal at 5 PM where they were all together, and then they pretty much had the option to do whatever they wanted to do as long as they were back for a specific time to get ready for the game, taping, stuff like that. The thing I noticed is that a lot of the guys just kinda stayed around after the meal. I could tell they were getting themselves ready. They knew that this would be a high caliber, important game, it was really awesome to see how focus all the guys were.

Did they do anything to get prepared mentally as a group?

I didn't get a chance to actually see the team walkthrough, but talking with my boy Dre(Andre Dawkins), he said that walkthroughs are all about business, getting your mind right, getting a lot of shots up, it's just real business like, they really try to visualize what they hope to accomplish on the court.

Speaking of Nolan, it seems like he's usually the guy you are paired up with on campus.

Nolan is always taking care of me and Tyler Thornton when we're on campus. With us playing for the same AAU team, he's like an older brother. He always looks out for us, takes us to his apartment, drives us around while we're on campus, stuff like that. We're real cool with Nolan.

Aside from the game it was senior night. What were your thoughts on those happenings?

There was a lot of emotion. That class was part of one of the youngest Duke teams in history when they first started at Duke. People either love or hate Duke, but I loved watching Duke growing up and I remember these seniors when they first came on campus.

With Brian Zoubek, he's really developed into a great all around player and it's great to see him having so much success through playing hard and rebounding and all that. I remember when Lance came in as a freshman, I remember watching him, and the thing that's great about Lance is how much energy he brings to the team. That's something I'm going to try and do myself, just have a positive mindset everyday.

The cameras caught Coach K tearing up as well.

You know, Coach K is like that with his seniors---it's like he's their dad and he really cares about his kids. I know it makes him really proud when he sees them grow from boys into men during their time here at Duke, I know it was a special night for him because he loves his players so much.

Back to the game, what was it like for you to experience a Duke-UNC game?

I had the good fortune to go to my first Duke UNC game last year, and it was packed, people were sweating, it was crazy loud, and that was just an hour before game time.

This past weekend it was even more incredible with Duke dominating UNC this year, they were putting it on UNC real good, and with the fans right on top of you, it was just incredible. Everybody was standing up, there were signs all over the place, everybody was into the game, I mean, it's just the coolest place to play a game. I think it was really good for me to get to see this game again and be a part of the team's activities during the day, gives me an idea about how to prepare for a big game like that.

What were your favorite signs and/or things you saw in the crowd?

My favorites were the "Cry Roy Cry" sign, and all the senior posters -- the ones where they had the oversized heads of some of the players. It's just really cool seeing how loving the Crazies are towards the team. They are serious about the game and supporting their team, and you can tell it gives a huge boost to the guys on the court.

You mentioned the businesslike approach the team was taking during pre game, did that change as the game progressed?

I think it became a mixture of guys really enjoying it because they were really playing well as a team. We were having success on the court, but it was also businesslike. You could tell the guys stayed hungry and committed to executing on both ends of the court. It was awesome to see guys smiling, having a good time.

You weren't the only recruit in attendance either. How much of a chance did you have to hang out with the other commits and recruits?

Kyrie and I were actually right behind the team bench, but we didn't spend a whole lot of time with the recruits that haven't committed or signed to Duke.

It was cool being with Kyrie. We got to look into the huddle because we were so close to the bench, we could see guys' faces, we even saw when Coach K was getting on the guys when their intensity slipped. It's tough in that moment, but I think it's a good thing. Coach K will hold you accountable if you don't do something right, but he's also quick to tell you "Great Job" when you're doing good things on the court.

It was my first time getting to hang with Kyrie together on campus, and that was really great. We learned alot about each other through having some time to just hang out and talk one on one. People don't know this but Kyrie is a real comedian, for two days he had everyone rolling.

Did the fans pick up on the recruits being there?

They did, and they sure loved Mike Gbinije. They were chanting his name and telling him to come to Duke. I think he really enjoyed it. He was clapping, and was really seeming to be into the game. You could tell the Crazies were real popular with him.

All the recruits seemed like they were having a good time, like I said, they spent a lot of time with the assistant coaches both before and after the game, we were all in the locker room together, stuff like that.

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