Ryan Kelly talks the China trip, his beard, role and his Panda hat

BDN was on hand for Coach Mike Kyrzyzewski and his press conference to discuss the trip to China.   We had a chance to speak with Ryan Kelly before he arrived with the first two questions being ours.

Kelly opens with a synopsis of his trip to China -

I think it was a great trip for our team and Duke University to be there expanding the Duke name and the Duke brand.  For us to be able to see all those sites is an amazing, once in a lifetime experience.  You don't know if you will ever be back there so you have to experience it.  At the same time you have to focus on winning basketball game while you're over there and have two different mind sets. It was good experience for us to get to do some fun things but when it came time to get on the basketball court, we had to be ready to play and win and I think we did a good job at that.

On his improvement since last season -

I am playing with confidence and I have expanded my game in areas but really it is just taking on a new role and I knew I could do some of these things on the basketball court.  It's taken some time to get my body to where I could do those things but I need and will continue to work for this is just one step in solidifying who I am as a basketball player.  I need to keep making jumps and as I told you this summer, I need to make another jump from my sophomore to junior year and think I have put myself in a position to do that.

On what the journey meant for his team -

It gave us a chance to learn our roles on the basketball court, especially for the freshman on and off the court.  Most teams that win looking back see that we are the closest team.  Both my years both teams have been winning teams and very close on and off the court.  You have to continue to grow in being a good team and the trip was a step in doing that.

His thought on his role for this coming seasons team -

I would like to think I am a leader for my team.  I want to be somebody my teammates can look up to and know I will be there for them.  I need to always be consistent no matter how the games are going.  I want my teammates to look at me and say, he's going to lead by example and his intensity and he is somebody we can count on no matter how bad or well things are going.  I want them to look at me and see the confidence in me.  I now have an expanded role on offense and as a defender.  I know I can score the basketball for the team and me doing so will help our team win as well.

On bartering in the open market in China -

When we were out in the open market, you feel like you are getting a good deal and trying to get the price do.  I can claim the best purchase on the team though.  I don't know if any one of you have seen the picture of my Panda hat, but if you see the pictures you will understand why I go the best purchase.  I payed like a dollar and a half for it.

On the Georgetown incident in China -

We heard about it and crossed paths.  We were going to Beijing and they were coming in at the hotel.  It was an unfortunate situation but tempers will flare.  They are obviously a talented team and it will probably bring them closer as the season goes on.

On his new beard -

I don't know about that. (smiling) but I will keep it as long as I am playing well.  I talked to Brian Zoubek.  He text me that he liked the beard, so ...  Coach said it was alright.  As long as I keep playing well, he's okay with it.