New York – BDN’s Andrew Slater caught up with Nolan Smith after the Gonzaga game and got his thoughts on several things in the following interview. This is normally part of BDN Premium’s Locker Room Report, but we decided to share this with all of the Blue Devil Nation in order to give you an idea about our latest premium addition which brings you inside. BDN goes out of our way to talk with players before or after the media throng gets to them in an effort to bring you a more unique experience. BDN Premium Members get full site access which includes all the latest on recruiting from a growing network of sources. You can also discuss this with members on our private message board, which is the fastest growing forum out there. Enjoy the words from Nolan and Happy Holidays to all from the Blue Devil Nation!
Um, no, I wouldn’t say surprised. They’re a great team, but we have a lot of confidence in our ability. That kept us going. We wanted to go out there and play forty minutes of great defense. It helped us out early when we came out early and weren’t making shots.
How do you account for your jump this year, in terms of production?
Just being aggressive and confident.
You’re shooting a lot better.
Yeah, well, I shot better today than the last time, but..
That’s okay. It came back.
Exactly, you know, Jon and Kyle and these guys have really helped me out a lot this year and I had a summer of hard work.
Yeah, I saw you doing some of that hard work out in Las Vegas with the D.C. Assault.
Do you have any interest in going into coaching or running D.C. Assault later on?
Oh, yeah, my stepfather is Curtis Malone. I’m definitely always looking to give back to the community.
Can you talk a little bit about your Twitter activity? Is that a way for you to reach out to your fans and tell them what your up to?
Oh, yeah, definitely. It’s a way for me to reach out. I love my fans and I just love people.
Talk about coming to the big tournaments and playing the big opponents.
Oh, we love coming to places like here
How do you account for today’s breakout performance?
My teammates and coaches are always looking for me to become more aggressive. Today, shots were falling and I got into a really good rhythm. We all just put in a great effort.
What was the team looking to do, in terms of keying on Boldin and Gray?
This year, we have a very good team defensively. We’re a huge team inside and that gives us the confidence on the perimeter to just get out there and try to keep our man in front of us. We wanted to just get on him and, whether it was me on Boldin or Jon on Boldin, we wanted to stop him in transition. We just got one hundred percent effort for forty minutes tonight. They felt us out there. We didn’t want to let them get anything easy out there.
Can you talk about, early in the second half, you guys had a working lead and then hit a couple of threes and it didn’t seem like they had the quickness to match-up?
Jon and I got into a really good rhythm and, you know, Coach was calling plays and the team really responded. They set great screens to get us open. We played great out there today. Whether it was with penetrating and kicking, shots were just coming so easy for everybody. We all got good looks and, today, Jon and I were able to knock down those shots.
How about when they cut the lead down to nine and then you guys responded with a give-and-go and then went on your own run?
Yeah, well, in a game like this against a top opponent, it’s very important to try to respond and you know that one or two possessions may wind up being back-breakers. That play really got to them and then we got into the rhythm of our offense. The whole team was really struggling offensively at the beginning part of the game and that play really helped us get going and into that rhythm.
Duhon was here today. Jason Williams was here and Greg Paulus.
Yeah, did you guys want to look good in front of the Duke guards of the past? [Duhon approached Nolan]
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. You definitely want to look good in front of the alumni.
Chris Duhon: Are you staying or are you out?
Chris Duhon: Alright, hit me up.
I will. I definitely will.
Yeah, we definitely wanted to put a show on for them. And they saw that we have two good guards here so they don‘t have anything to worry about.
What about the mindset this year, Nolan? How does it compare also, in terms of being a shut-down defense in the half court?
Defensively, this team is a lot tougher than, well, my first two years here. In comparison to last year, this year’s team takes a lot more pride in stopping guys. Like with the Gonzaga team today, they’ve been scoring points tremendously this year and, as you could see from our effort today, it just shows what we’re capable of, when we continue to give effort in practice and in games for forty minutes.
They never seemed to get in any kind of flow and shot a very low percentage from the field.
Yeah, we knew we wanted to stop Boldin and Gray. That was our game plan. Take them out. Never let them get anything easy and definitely never let them get any wide-open threes in transition. Tagging them and not letting them get into a rhythm was the key.
You and Jon seem to have a good chemistry out there and it was especially evident today. Can you talk about your chemistry?
Oh, yeah, Jon and I have a great chemistry both on and off the court. Today and, well, all week in practice, we’ve just been working on getting our offense in a flow and playing together even better. You know, in the first few weeks, we were playing well, but we felt like we could take it to another level, where, if we made the extra pass, we could get even a better look or a better shot than we thought we had. We’ve improved since we’ve started to do that and I think it helps our shooters as well. We’ll hopefully continue to grow.
Did the team look to shoot more three pointers in this game?
No, we just took our opportunities, based upon what the defense gave us. They were giving us some open looks and so we took them.
What happened the first eight to ten minutes?
I think it was both teams just looking to feel each other out, you know, defensively and offensively. It really just took one bucket to get us going offensively.
Do you think this was your best performance overall, given the opponent, the venue, and the performance?
Um, yeah, it was a CBS game against a great team. My teammates really helped me to expose myself. They helped me to show that I’m ready to make that next jump to be one of the elite guards in the country. I’ve just got to continue to work hard and work with my teammates to get better.
Do you think you benefited from coming in here a couple of weeks ago and playing against two quality opponents, in terms of your shooting here today?
Yeah, definitely, it was like a home game out there today. It was great just coming back here and have a good feeling.
Were you the person to call it Cameron North?
No, somebody the last time had a poster up that said it, but it definitely feels like Cameron North. When we walk in here, it’s just absolutely great to see all of the Duke fans up here. You know they were here early before the game and it was pretty much all blue in there. It feels like Cameron North. I think the coaches love coming here and I know the players definitely love coming here. It’s a great arena.
What about the play of Jon Scheyer the last two games?
Oh, yeah, Jon’s been playing great lately, but he’s always such a poised player, you know. We’re going to try to feed off of him.
Has he been doing everything differently?
He’s a senior. He’s “been here and done that.” He’s played in big games and taken big shots. He’s running the show.
What kind of a statement win was this? Playing against another highly ranked team and putting up those numbers.
It was definitely a statement game. We especially wanted to show our defense out today and what we could do against a high scoring team. There are a lot of teams around the country that can score, but thank God we’re one of the teams that can go out there and really defend. To go against an offensive unit like that and then to hold them to so few points hopefully really shows what this team is capable of. Hopefully, this sends a message to the world. I mean we could’ve just scored fifty points out there today and still have won. You know it will hopefully show that we can stop great teams like Gonzaga.
Tonight, although he was able to rebound and played good defense, Singler didn’t have a great game offensively and yet, because of the production you and Jon, two of the big three, were able to give the team, the team didn’t miss a beat. Can you comment on that?
I think it just shows that we have a lot of weapons. I mean I may have an off game and Kyle and Jon will be there to pick us up. Jon might have an off game and me and Kyle’ll be there. Our perimeter guys love playing together and Kyle’ll get back on track. He’s going to continue to play and let it come. He didn’t have to force anything.
Can you point to when you felt you and the team really got on a roll?
I think it kind of just happened. It was after an in-bound I was wide open and then from there on we were just penetrating and kicking. It kind of just got everybody the good looks and we just shot the ball with confidence. We started to do that and just rolled.