Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, senior captain Grayson Allen and sophomore Marques Bolden all spoke to the media Wednesday afternoon prior to the Blue Devils' showdown with North Carolina in Chapel Hill Thursday night at 8. Here are some highlights from what they had to say.


Krzyzewski on his relationship with North Carolina head coach Roy Williams and the rivalry:


“I’m a little bit older than what he is, but we should all both be mature enough to know that we’re the caretakers of our programs and we’re the guys who are in this spot right now, but we don’t own it…. He wants to beat our program and I want to beat his, but we all understand there’s a bigger world out there called college basketball.”


Krzyzewski on what is different about this year's Tar Heels:


“What they all have is perimeter skills, and that’s the difference. I think they’ve adapted their style really well to fit their kids, and they play it well. They’re tough matchups because [Luke] Maye can bring it down the court. He can play in the post and in the same exchange, go out to the 3-point line, so it’s a tough team to defend, and they can all shoot.”


Krzyzewski on how dangerous Joel Berry II is despite his struggles this season:


“Joel is one of the great players in college basketball. The thing about him is that he’s been on the stage of great games. He’s won most of them. He’s lost a few, but he’s been there, and that’s what they have going for them. With [Theo] Pinson, with Maye, those three kids were a huge part of a national championship team and we’re trying to get that experience.”


Krzyzewski's lighthearted hypothesis for what went wrong in Duke's loss to St. John's:


“Saturday, I drew six things in out of bounds and timeouts that when we walked on the court, we didn’t run, so I don’t know what happened. Maybe someone had a laser in the stands and said, ‘We’re going to make you mind-dead or whatever, but you go here and you go here.’ And oh, well that didn’t happen.”


Allen on his experiences with the rivalry:


“This rivalry draws on so many things. It’s amazing for me, coming from Florida—a football state—how people are just all for this, all for the game, all about basketball. This week, you’ll be walking on the street and you’ll see a Duke fan saying, ‘You have to beat UNC on Thursday.’ You won’t get that for any other game, and I’m sure they probably get the same thing.”


Allen on the battle between two of the ACC's best rebounding teams:


“Carolina is still a very good offensive rebounding team, one of the best in our conference if not the best. We have two, really three, really good bigs with Marques coming off the bench, and so we’re playing to our strength. Those guys have been monsters this year, double-double machines and you have to keep feeding the beast down there. ”


Allen on playing at the Dean E. Smith Center:


“It’s almost bittersweet because it’s like I don’t have to go back there and get booed, but it’s an amazing place to play. It’s always fun to go there, and guys love to play in those types of crowds. It’s just such a big game, such a great atmosphere around the game and the rivalry. It’s really something that we look forward to.”


Allen on the intensity of practices since Saturday's loss to St. John's:


“We’ve gone at each other a lot. It’s been extremely competitive, not only from the guys who’re starters but also the guys coming off the bench. Everyone has done a tremendous job at practice going at each other, playing 5-on-5 and getting up-and-down. Everyone has stepped their game up because of that and guys off the bench have had some of their best practices this week, and that’s making the stars play better.”


Bolden on preparing the freshman to play in the rivalry:


“One of these games, it’s not something you can really prepare someone for. We just try to tell them to play their game and not play to the crowd or their environment, because we know it’ll be an away game and a hostile environment. We just tell them to do what you’ve been doing and play hard.”


Mitchell Gladstone and Sameer Pandhare contributed reporting.