College Hoops

I Got a Chance to Live Out my Dream Today: Jalen Johnson Talks Record-Setting Season Opener


When asked to describe the experience of his first college game:

“It was just fun. I’m really taking advantage of the opportunity, being here at Duke. This has always been a dream of mine, so I finally got a chance to live out that dream today. Everything went how we wanted it to.”

On his record-breaking rebounding performance today:

“To be honest, I was just trying to get the win. The win was the only thing on my mind during this time, and I was doing whatever I could to help the guys get the W.”

When asked how the game today compared to his expectations and if there was anything that stood out to him:

“I think just coming out and finally playing against somebody else other than ourselves felt good because we’ve been waiting. I didn’t really have any expectations other than to go out there and be myself. Just being myself – you see what happened when I was just myself. I just let the game come to me and whatever happens, happens. Most importantly, getting the W is what matters.”

On the one apparent blemish on his game today, the turnovers:

“I’ve just got to be stronger with the ball and know the time and score. It’s definitely something I’m going to get better at and improve for the next game.”

On how it felt to play in Cameron without any fans:

“You can control what you can control. Having no fans stinks but you can’t really do anything about it because there are bigger issues going on in the world. Just being able to play basketball is really what mattered right now.”


When asked what Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski was telling the team when it was struggling in the second half:

“The main thing he was telling us was just to play hard. We felt like we were playing not as hard as we could, and, in turn, giving up easy baskets that we shouldn’t have given up. So his main message to us was to play hard and keep taking care of the ball.”

On Duke’s turnovers:

“We just have to be stronger and more under control. Playing a team like [Coppin State], they have a lot of older guys who’ve played a lot of college basketball. So they’re coming in here hungry, trying to take something that’s ours, also on our home floor. The biggest thing for us is to be strong because teams know we’re young so they’re going to try to attack that.”

On the performances by Duke freshmen Jalen Johnson and DJ Steward:

“I’m not really surprised by their performances because I’ve seen it since August. DJ can really score the ball and he really showed that tonight, being open and in the right spot at all times and ready to shoot the ball. He was aggressive in the lane. And Jalen – that’s just Jalen being himself. He’s grabbing the defensive board and going, making plays for himself, for others. Those two are a great addition to our team.”

When asked why he thought Duke made as many mistakes as it did today:

“I don’t think it was so much about the practice or the chemistry. It was just a matter of us being stronger with the ball. We can’t allow older teams to come in and be more physical than us because we’re younger. I felt like we kind of allowed that to happen at some points in the game tonight where [Coppin State] would get a couple of steals and go on a couple of runs, and I think because we’re so young, we had a hard time figuring it out, myself included. I’m supposed to be a leader on this team, so it’s supposed to be my job to kind of fix that when it happens. I didn’t do as good of a job as I could tonight. That’s something we just have to improve on going forward – our leadership.

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