College Hoops

Wendell Moore Talks Gaining Confidence, Preparing for the Season and More

DURHAM, N.C. — Duke men’s basketball sophomore forward Wendell Moore Jr., met the media Tuesday morning as the Blue Devils continue to prepare for the 2020-21 season.

On the day the program announced its 2020-21 schedule, Moore fielded a variety of questions about how the team is progressing with just more than two weeks before the November 25 opener versus Gardner Webb. The sophomore also discussed how starting the season with no fans at Cameron Indoor Stadium will play a role, to evaluating his position as a leader, and the outlooks at point guard with freshman Jeremy Roach and senior Jordan Goldwire.

On the areas he wanted to improve in during the offseason:

“I think the biggest thing for me wasn’t so much anything physically, but it was more mentally, so coming in with the confidence that I need to be able to play. Just letting the game slow down in my mind and trying to be more in the moment instead of focused on things I can’t control.”

On how he has stepped into a leadership role in his second year with the program:

“I would probably say normally I would have led more by example, but now since our team is so young, including myself – we have seven new faces – it’s kind of forced me to become more of a vocal leader. Since I’ve been around for two years, I kind of know what kind of things are going on, so anytime I get a chance to help the younger guys and Pat [Tapé] – being an older guy but he’s still young to the program – anytime I get a chance to help them, I’m just doing anything I can to make their transition smooth.”

On how the returning players from last year’s team have changed their games:

“I think all of us have progressed tremendously. I think the biggest area that we all improved on is we all became better leaders. Game-wise, I can say for Jordan [Goldwire], he’s also a lot more confident. He’s shooting the three a lot better, he’s getting in the lane a lot and he’s just making everybody else around him better. He’s the ultimate competitor and he’s ultimately one of our best guys to play with because all he wants to do is win. I could say the same thing for Joey [Baker] and Matt [Hurt]. Joey is obviously one of the best shooters we have on the team, but now he has the opportunity more to put in a balance, make plays for others and he’s doing a great job at that. Matt Hurt – I’m sure you guys have all heard – he put on 20-30 pounds of weight when he was back home, and I think it’s helped him a lot. He’s a lot stronger, he’s able to defend bigger guys a lot better which gives us the opportunity to play him at the five (center) and give us more mismatches. We can take advantage of that on the offensive end because he’s obviously one of the best offensive players we have. Again for me, I could say the biggest thing for me is my confidence. I’m coming in a lot more confident in my game, just putting all my skills to the test back home that I worked on.”

On if there is a collective sigh of relief from the team with the schedule being announced:

“I would definitely say yeah because we know who we’re going to play and when we’re going to play them and where it’s going to be. But I think for us, we were always ready. We were just ready for that first game to come around. I could say definitely for this year’s team, we’re really hungry. All the guys come in every day ready to work. We’re just ready to play some basketball.”

On what the strengths of the team are right now:

“I would say the strength of our team is our quickness. Coach mentions to us all the time that we’re not going to be the biggest team on the floor. There’s probably going to be one or two guys on the other team that are always bigger than us, so we have to use our quickness to our advantage, whether it’s in transition or whether it’s on the defensive end. We just have to pick out mismatches. Like I said, if we have Matt Hurt at the five, there’s a chance he’s going to have a 6’11 center on him. If he’s able to stretch him out to the three-point line, I think we can pick apart our mismatches very easily.”

On what kind of point guard freshman Jeremy Roach is in comparison to Tre Jones:

“I could say the thing that both Tre and Jeremy have is that ultimate competitive spirit. They make everybody else around them better because all they want to do is win no matter how many points they score or how many assists they get. Their main goal is winning. Playing with a point guard like that not only makes me better as a person and our team better, but it ultimately can make them better.”

On what the team’s mentality is knowing it will play games without fans at Cameron Indoor Stadium:

“Not having fans is huge. Obviously for a program like us, with the Cameron Crazies being so historically involved in our program, it gives us the ultimate home court advantage and so not having them there hurts us. But we’ve been preparing in the atmosphere we’re going to play in. In Cameron, we have everything set up. With the crowd noise, we tried that out in our scrimmage on Friday and the atmosphere is great. The atmosphere that everybody put together is obviously the safest atmosphere for us and it’s the best atmosphere for us that we can play in right now.”

On freshman Henry Coleman III’s leadership abilities and what he is like in the locker room:

“I would probably say Henry is one of the most outgoing people I’ve ever met, and I say that in really the best way possible. He brings the most energy. Anytime he comes in a room, you can tell he’s there. The energy he brings to us on the court is really second to none.”

On how active the program has been in the Black Lives Matter movement:

“I think we’ve been one of the most active programs regarding Black Lives Matter in the country, because Nolan Smith is a prominent figure in not only the Duke community but the Durham community, so he’s played a huge part in that. Also, Coach [Mike Krzyzewski] speaks out a lot for what he believes in and I feel like it gives us the confidence that he really believes in us. We all have his back and we know that he has our back.”

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