Harry Giles grew up in North Carolina, so living in the Duke-UNC rivalry is nothing new for the freshman forward.
But being in Durham, the Duke rookie said, is a different story.
“I’m from here, so I know a lot about it anyway, other than being in Durham exactly,” said Giles, a Winston-Salem native. “I heard the city is crazy the day of. It divides the week of to. I’m excited to see that in a way.”
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Giles is Duke’s only true freshman from the state. Though the others are from varying regions, Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski said the Duke-North Carolina game isn’t just a regional event, so all of them understand the weight of this week.
“People watch this,” Krzyzewski said Wednesday, the day before No. 18 Duke (18-5, 6-4 ACC) hosts No. 8 UNC (21-4, 9-2) for the 243rd installment of the rivalry.
Krzyzewski will be coaching in his 83rd game between the two teams come Thursday.
I mean, I watched it but I really didn’t think too much of it. As a basketball junkie, I would watch it just because.
Matt Jones, who’s from Texas, on his impressions of Duke-Carolina rivalry prior to playing for Duke
“It’s a national game and for our sports, its kind of a treasure,” he said. “It’s one of those treasured rivalries.”
This year’s freshmen who landed at Duke from various regions have been guided this week by the team’s veterans. Duke forward Amile Jefferson, who’s from Philadelphia, and guard Matt Jones, who’s from Texas, have more than 100 career games between them; Jefferson missed the series last year with a foot injury.
Before arriving to Duke for the 2012-13 season his freshman year, Jefferson knew the Duke-UNC game was advertised as one of the best in sports period. But because the 6-9 forward isn’t from North Carolina, he didn’t realize the magnitude of the rivalry.
“Being from Philly, we had our own rivalries up there. You know, Temple, Nova, LaSalle, Drexel, so I knew about this one,” said Jefferson, who has never lost to UNC at Cameron Indoor Stadium. “I was always excited to see it. I grew up watching rivalries, so this was one I liked to see.”
Duke’s freshmen have come from as far as Australia in Jack White, while others are from the west coast, southwest and midwest.
Jefferson said he and other vets have made sure the rookies don’t get too caught up in hype.
“They understand,” Krzyzewski said. “I think it’s a rivalry that is not just nationwide but in some respect worldwide.”
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan
UNC at Duke
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Where: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham