1. What are your impressions of this Duke team early in the season?
Grant Hill: They have good balance. They have tremendous talent in Okafor, obviously. I think Justise Winslow is a tremendous talent, as well. I think those two guys compliment each other. One's a wing player, one's an interior player. They've got good guard play this year. Tremendous depth. And they're defending. I think they didn't do a great job defending the perimeter last year. I think this team is a better perimeter-defending team.
They have two big guys in the interior with Okafor and Plumee off the bench. I just like the depth of this year's team. I feel like they're not as dependent on one or two guys. They defend. They play well together. I like this team. I like what I've seen thus far. Tonight against Wisconsin will be a huge, huge test for us.
2. Duke is more dependent on freshmen than ever this season. Why do you believe Coach K has embraced one-and-done culture instead of trying to recruit players who might be there for more than one season?
Hill: I think ultimately you need talent to win. I think Coach enjoys coaching great players. He's been fortunate throughout his career to coach some really great players at the college level. I think he's done that at the Olympic level, too. He enjoyed coaching a Jabari Parker or Kyrie Irving or a J.J. Redick or a Jason Williams. He enjoyed coaching those type of players.
Nowadays, if I were there or Christian [Laettner], there would be pressure on us to leave. We probably would. It's just a different time, different generation. I think he's adapted and been able to change through the years. Not just in terms of his coaching style and his ability to connect to different players, but also just accepting that it's a different world for him. The fact that he's been able to succeed and thrive over 30-plus years, you don't do that unless you're willing to adapt and change, and certainly he's been able to do that.
3. What has Coach K's Olympic experience taught him about the game in general, and how has he applied that to Duke?
Hill: I think the way they play is different. I think the game in general has changed. I think teams in college and the NBA, they're more perimeter based. They shoot more threes. The style of play has evolved. It's changed through the years. Coach has changed with that. He's been around NBA coaches. He's been with Mike D'Antoni. He's incorporated some of those offensive principles into his offense. It's not so much in terms of the sets but in terms of the mentality.
People say LeBron can benefit from Coach K, which he has. But I think Coach K has benefitted from his association with LeBron, too. Learning and understanding how great players work and operate. I think he's learned from those guys and he's improved and gotten better as a result of that. It's been sort of mutually beneficial for everyone involved. The young guys at Duke have benefitted, too.
4. How do you think Jahlil Okafor will fare in his matchup with Frank Kaminsky?
Hill: It'll be a good test. It'll be a good test for the team and Jahlil. A little bit of a different style of player than he's accustomed to playing against, a guy who can shoot from the perimeter, pull you out and have great spacing. They'll have to be really disciplined as a team defensively. Jahlil, because of Kaminsky's versatility, cannot get in foul trouble. I think he'll have to attack him on the other end to really put pressure on Kaminsky.
The thing about these two teams is -- obviously, everyone is pointing to that matchup and rightfully so, but these two teams have a lot of depth. These teams are very capable. Kaminsky could have a terrible game and Wisconsin can win. Vice versa with Duke and Okafor. I think it'll be hyped and billed as a matchup of those two guys, but I think it'll come down to the others, to what Winslow does, to what the other great players on Wisconsin do.
It'll be two good teams, both well coached. One's a little bit more experienced getting to the Final Four last year and certainly returning most of the guys on that team. One has a lot of young players. It's going to be fun to watch. I know I'll be watching, and it'll be exciting to see what happens.
5. Coach K has said Justise Winslow is the most talented wing he has coached since you were at Duke. What have you thought of Winslow so far and where can he improve?
Hill: You can always get better in all areas. I like the fact that he competes on the defensive end, he can score, he's unselfish, he can shoot from the perimeter, he can get to the line, he's got good size. He can improve everywhere, but I like what he does and I like that he's a good kid. He's got a very, very bright future, whether that's one year at Duke or he comes back for another year.
He's fun to watch. This will be great for him to go against a very experienced team on this type of stage on the road. For our freshman, it doesn't get any better than this particular matchup tonight.
6. So many non-conference games of this caliber are now played on neutral courts. Do you prefer the atmosphere of playing at a college campus, or is it beneficial to get out from that environment?
Hill: Coming from the Duke perspective, ultimately you're going to play against another great team at a neutral site on your quest for a championship in the tournament. I know at Duke, everything we did was about winning a championship. When I played we had neutral-site games against big teams, so getting accustomed to playing in that environment was a good thing. It was something we could draw upon later in the season. Then also, going on the road in a hostile environment, there's something exciting about that, too.
At the end of the day, to win a championship, you're going to have to win on a court that's not your own. It's a great experience early on. If we win it's great. If we lose, I'm OK with that. It's a long season. Sometimes a loss against a good team can help you and lay the foundation for later in the season. It's good to add these type of contests early on just so both teams can get a feel for what they have and who this team is. It's early enough to where it won't really affect these teams in the long runs down the road.
Hill interview comes via All-State GoodWorks team.