Hood serves up a plate of patience

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DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke's Rodney Hood contemplated getting his grandmother to fix a plate for coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Those from the South know what that means: a slow-cooked, pork-infused and often instant-sleep-inducing home-cooked meal. Some of the good stuff that may or may not be cringe-inducing to those who have never tried or never heard of it before.

"He says he loves eating pickled pigs' feet," sophomore Rasheed Sulaimon said of Hood. "I never really ate pigs' feet before, but according to him, he says it's really good."

Sulaimon, who is from Houston, paused before adding: "I don't think anybody is that brave to try it."

Hood represents the Deep South to his core. He considers Monta Ellis, who went straight to the NBA from Hood's home state of Mississippi, his favorite player and keeps track of him on almost a nightly basis. If you catch Hood with headphones on, he is likely playing some track from Lil Boosie, a Louisiana rapper. And whenever he gets a chance, Hood is singing the praises of soul food to his teammates.

"They haven't tried it, being from different places of the country, and they miss out on good food, so I just try to share it with them," Hood said. "They still can't get over the name, but if they tried the food, they'd like it."

Junior guard Quinn Cook has had a plate.

Hood sat out last season as a transfer from Mississippi State, so while the Blue Devils played in the Bahamas over Thanksgiving break, he went home to Meridian, Miss.

Cook and Hood have been roommates the past two seasons and don't exactly cook for themselves often. So Hood brought back to school his leftovers, which included an entree that was foreign to Cook.

"So I ate some chitterlings for the first time in my life," said Cook, a Washington, D.C., native. "It was good. It was good."

Maybe all that food has caught up to Hood.

Before the Eastern Michigan game and again Saturday against Florida State, Hood needed to be replaced in the starting lineup at the last minute because he got sick prior to tipoff.

His father, Ricky, said it hadn't been a problem at any time in Hood's career and that "it's definitely not the competition" getting to him because he has already played in so many big games.

Whatever it is, it's about the only glitch Hood has had this season.

Hood has served up a distinct "Dirty South" flavor to the Blue Devils' lineup, averaging 17.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. He leads the ACC in 3-point percentage, making 44.9 percent of his attempts.

All while, Krzyzewski says, he is still growing into his role.

"As he's become more familiar and more comfortable with playing and the pressures that come with being one of our top players, I think he's become more vocal," Krzyzewski said. "The main thing for Rodney is he shows up every day as an example of how a player should show up to practice."

Duke's highly touted freshman Jabari Parker was expected to come in and do as he's done, leading the team in scoring (18.7) and rebounding (8.0), but many outside the program didn't know what type of impact Hood would have. His teammates did.

They watched Hood often mimic the opponent's best player in practice last season. At times, he seemed like he wasn't just the best player on the scout team.

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