Tag Archives: Kyle Singler

It’s Good to Be a Duke Basketball Player

In an interview with The Chronicle today, sophomores Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler revealed that the entire team got together early Sunday morning to watch the USA take on Spain for the gold medal with a fully catered hot breakfast from Mad Hatters at 2:30 a.m. I’m pretty sure there isn’t another student group on campus that would get that sort of royal food treatment. The highlight of the after-hours feast, they say? French toast.

With Coach K scheduled to arrive at RDU this evening around 5 p.m., the team will be meeting him at his home later tonight to welcome him back to Durham.

—by Meredith Shiner

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D’Antoni’s Duke Connection

Phoenix Suns head coach Mike D’Antoni (or, per SI.com, former Phoenix Suns head coach) works under Mike Krzyzewski on Team USA and had a major influence on this year’s Duke team. After a summer with D’Antoni, Krzyzewski incorporated some of the NBA coach’s innovative offensive techniques to allow Duke to spread the floor and maximize the talent of its wing players, most notably Gerald Henderson and Kyle Singler. As The Charlotte Observer noted yesterday, Krzyzewski learned a good deal from his Team USA assistants and should consider bringing in an outside hire to fill Johnny Dawkins’ place on the bench; we assailed that argument, writing that “Krzyzewksi isn’t looking to add Jim Boeheim, Mike D’Antoni or Nate McMillan to his staff.”

Well, if the reports are correct, then D’Antoni is available now. Would he be more attractive than Nate James, Chris Carrawell, Jason Williams, Chris Spatola or any of the other Duke-affiliated potential coaching suspects? Naturally. He’s a former NBA Coach of the Year and, as SI.com’s Jack McCallum writes, is “the man credited with reinvigorating fast-break basketball in a league gone stale.”

This is all in jest, of course. D’Antoni would never become a college assistant after being one of the best coaches in the professional ranks for years, not even for Krzyzewski. But it doesn’t hurt to aimlessly conjecture. Right?

–by Ben Cohen

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Blue Devils Movin’ On Up

In his latest preseason college basketball rankings (that’s right, this isn’t the first), Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn ranked Duke No. 4 in the country, a step-up from his last poll, in which the Blue Devils were ninth. The only thing they have done in the time between polls is lose Taylor King to Villanova, but Winn writes that his mea culpa had more to do with his reevaluation of the team than anything else.

“It’s hard to argue that they’re not as legitimate of a Final Four contender as a few of the teams that were slotted ahead of them,” he writes. “Sophomore Kyle Singler and junior Gerald Henderson are the nation’s best pair of wings, and while the backcourt duo of Greg Paulus and Jon Scheyer aren’t exactly Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts, they should score about 27 points per game combined and hit better than 40 percent of their threes, which isn’t bad.”

Is Duke correctly ranked at No. 4? Where should the Blue Devils be?

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OVERTIME: Duke-Pitt Live Blog

FINAL Pitt 65, Duke 64. Fields made a step-back 3-pointer over McClure with less than 5 seconds remaining. Scheyer raced up the floor and missed a 3, then got his own tip but missed that too. The Garden explodes as the last shot falls and Pitt wins. What a game.

16.0, Duke 64 Pitt 62: Scheyer loses the ball as he is driving, but Fields turns the ball over again, this time with an offensive foul. On the inbounds, Scheyer was trapped in the corner and threw a cross-court pass up to Henderson, who out-jumped his defender and kicked to Singler, who was fouled. The freshman missed the first and made the second. Pitt called a timeout, and the Panthers have the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead. Expect them to take a quick shot.

56.3, Duke 63 Pitt 62: Wow. Duke has the ball with 56.3 seconds left and 16 seconds on the shot clock with the chance to take a two-possession lead. This comes after the play of the year, a Nelson and-1 where he drove, was fouled, hung, went up-and-under the basket and finished by putting enough backspin on the ball. Just a remarkable play from Duke’s captain, and he topped it off by making the free throw. Duke got a stop on the defensive end when Fields was whistled for a travel after another Pitt offensive rebound. Blair is out (he had 20 rebounds). The new play of the year may still be coming.

4:28, Duke 59 Pitt 58: Duke wins the opening tip and Nelson promptly is fouled on a drive. He makes one of two. On Pitt’s ensuing possession, Cook drove past Scheyer but, going up for the shot, his leg gave out and he traveled. Cook was on the floor for a few minutes before limping off to an ovation.

OVERTIME, Duke 58 Pitt 58: Scheyer got the inbound pass, and quickly found Henderson, who unexpectedly sliced into the lane with about six seconds remaining and babied his short jumper for the win. Singler was there for the putback, which fell just wide off the backboard. We’re headed to overtime–a fitting way to continue this classic. As Dick Vitale, who can’t be here tonight because of throat surgery, would say, we have no place to go, not yet.

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SECOND HALF: Duke-Pitt Live Blog

16.6, Duke 58 Pitt 58: Young makes a 16-footer from the baseline to give Pitt a two-point advantage, which is quickly negated when Henderson makes an NBA-like turnaround fadeaway from the corner to tie the score. Finally, Duke gets a stop when Young misses a 3 off a feed from Fields with little time left on the shot clock. Scheyer grabs the rebound, Paulus dribbles up floor, Duke timeout with 16.6 left. Who gets the last shot? At this point, it looks like a Henderson or Paulus dribble drive and a kick to Paulus, Henderson or Singler. Our call? Henderson for the win.

1:31, Duke 56 Pitt 56: Fields makes two free throws, Henderson drives the lane from the top of the key for an uncontested slam, Young makes a banked jumper, then Henderson finds Singler for a wide-open 3-pointer from the top of the key. The freshman swishes it. Timeout Duke. What a game.

2:34, Duke 51 Pitt 52: If you’re not watching this game, put it on. Right now. And if you don’t have access to a television–well, I apologize, because this blog simply can’t capture in words the last four minutes. The Panthers have taken their first advantage since leading 2-0, but Duke has not gone down easily. Pitt has owned the offensive glass and even though Duke has missed too many shots, Henderson and Singler have stepped up and it’s clear they are not afraid to take clutch shots. Play is getting chippy, and substitutions have been a plenty, but the team’s final lineups seem to be clear. The game is fast-paced, the crowd is feeling the energy and thriving off of it, and the best players on both sides (Henderson, Singler, Paulus for Duke; Fields, Ramon, Blair for Pitt) are taking the key shots when they matter most. Folks, this one is going to come down to the wire. If you don’t have access to ESPN–well, find someone who does. Quickly.

7:49, Duke 48 Pitt 47: The classic game that seemed unlikely in the first half is becoming a reality in front of our eyes. Pitt has embarked on a 10-0 run to cut the deficit to one, and the Panthers had a chance to take the lead on their last possession before Paulus drew an offensive foul. Despite impressive play by Singler, who took an intentional foul, converted both free throws and then finished a tough inside basket with authority on the ensuing Duke possession, Pitt has gotten back into this game doing exactly what it did in the first half: playing more physical than Duke. The Blue Devils have missed their past few shots and Krzyzewski even called a timeout when Fields sunk a 3-pointer to slice the deficit to three. After a steal on the next possession, Blair made a tough layup to almost even the game. There is a buzz in the crowd now that hasn’t been heard since before tip. One thing’s for sure: we look to be primed for a great ending.

11:47, Duke 43 Pitt 35: Apparently, no one told Pitt that the game was over. The Panthers have mounted an impressive run, cutting Duke’s lead down to eight and the Panthers head to the line, shooting two. The momentum clearly lies in their favor right now, especially after King just missed a 3-pointer that would have given the Blue Devils an 11-point lead. Scheyer had a rough sretch, missing three straight shots, but made up for his last miss on a layup to steal a short pass in the backcourt when no one was looking and scored when his layup was illegally goaltended. We’ll see what Duke is made of the rest of this game, especially in this upcoming stretch. This is the team’s first true adversity since the Marquette game, and the Blue Devils clearly overcame that challenge.


15:51, Duke 39 Pitt 26: A rough stretch for the officials did not affect Duke’s double-digit lead. After the Panthers cut the lead to 10, Singler dished a beautiful pass to Thomas down low, after the freshman was double-teamed. He found the open man, and Thomas laid the basket home. A few plays later, Nelson drove the lane and made a layup but was called for a charge; that charge was quickly overturned by the officials and Nelson was credited with an and-1 and made the free throw. The next play, Dave McClure was whistled for a loose-ball foul, but the referees initially charged it to Henderson. It would have been his third foul, and the Duke coaching staff reacted in turn before the correct player was hit with the foul. During the last timeout, Duke legend and Pittsburgh native Dick Groat was serenaded with a nice applause for his career accomplishments. For those of you watching on ESPN, stay tuned as new head football coach David Cutcliffe will be interviewed on the worldwide leader soon, we’re told.

HALFTIME: Some interesting statistics from halftime:

  • Nelson, and not Paulus, leads Duke with six assists.
  • Paulus’ assist-to-turnover ratio is 0-to-4.
  • Duke and Pitt both have 19 rebounds.

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FIRST HALF: Duke-Pitt Live Blog

HALFTIME, Duke 34 Pitt 22: Pitt narrowed the margin at the end of the half, but if you’re a Duke fan, you have to be happy with that first half. Playing a high-quality opponent, a double-digit halftime lead is not something to frown on. Singler and Henderson lead Duke with eight points apiece, a number that’s even more significant for the latter, who was quickly saddled with two fouls. Fields leads the Panthers with nine. We’re off to the press room for some free snacks, but check back in the second half for more updates.

2:35, Duke 31 Pitt 18: All of a sudden, the Blue Devils have broken this game wide-open and have earned the first standing ovation of the night. Paulus hit his favorite type of shot (a 3-pointer fading to the left) before the Duke defense forced three consecutive turnovers. Then Singler sunk a pretty 8-foot, turnaround, fadeaway jumper, and Henderson followed that with a gorgeous fadeaway of his own. The sophomore forward followed that jumper with a steal and fast-break layup to bring the crowd to its feet. Duke fans stayed up when King sunk a deep 3-pointer from the corner, which, we’ve been told, Jay Bilas called “a layup” for him. Dixon called a 30-second timeout and Levance Fields canned a 3-pointer to break Pitt’s dry spell. Still, Duke leads by 13, thanks in part to Pitt’s 14 turnovers. Does anyone else think Singler and Henderson look a little bit too comfortable making NBA-like jumpers in the home of the NBA’s worst franchise?

7:46, Duke 19 Pitt 13: The Blue Devils have come alive, thriving despite Pitt’s physical challenge. The defense has clamped down, resulting in only one Panthers bucket since the last media break, and has forced a bevy of turnovers, as well. Thomas shows no sign of a lingering ankle injury, getting great position in the post two possessions in a row, one resulting in two free throws and the other winding up with an attempt at an old-fashioned three-point play after the forward made a layup and was fouled. Credit Paulus for LT‘s first three throw attempt, as the savvy point guard worked a beautiful pick-and-roll and found Thomas with just three seconds remaining on the shot clock. One more note: Singler just reeks of more offensive confidence, and despite a recent air-ball, he looks as good as he has been since winning MVP honors at the Maui Invitational over Thanksgiving break.

11:35, Duke 14 Pitt 11: Scheyer promptly proceeded to be knocked down on consecutive 3-point attempts, but only the second foul was called. The Scheyer tackles seem to be a part of Pittsburgh’s game plan: play more physical than Duke, and see what happens. Given Duke’s small lineup, it might not be the worst approach. The referees have let a lot of the rough play go so far, much to the chagrin of the Duke coaching staff, especially Krzyzewski, who has been off the bench for a good portion of the first eight minutes. Even though he has been more animated tonight, Krzyzewski looks calm compared to Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon, who has been clapping and pacing the sidelines all half. Henderson is about to check back into the game, even with two fouls.

15:05, Duke 7 Pitt 5: Henderson has already been relegated to the bench with two fouls, one trying to block a dunk attempt and another on a player-control offensive foul. For the first time in a few games, Singler looks to be shouldering the scoring load for Duke. The freshman already has four points, both on tough inside finishes, and the Duke defense has forced a few turnovers with its trademark, tight man-to-man defense. The Panthers have missed two dunks, too, putting them on pace to miss about 20. Good times. Reserves Jon Scheyer and Taylor King are already in the game, giving the Blue Devils a more guard-oriented lineup. We’ll see if King’s sniping ability translates well to a venue other than Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Spotted here in the last 30 seconds: former standout point guard Jason Williams, looking dapper in a dark suit, and reigning Tewaaraton Trophy winner Matt Danowski, in a more casual outfit.

Just saw a sign that says: “Welcome to Cameron Square Garden.” That distinction doesn’t seem like such a stretch, given the decidedly pro-Duke crowd here in New York.

Starting Lineups:

Pittsburgh: Sam Young, Mike Cook, DeJuan Blair, Levance Fields, Ronald Ramon; Duke: Kyle Singler, Lance Thomas, Greg Paulus, Gerald Henderson, DeMarcus Nelson

For all the talk about Thomas being questionable with an injured ankle tonight, it’s interesting to see that the forward from nearby Scotch Plains, N.J. is playing.

Greetings from Madison Square Garden, the World’s Most Famous Arena, for tonight’s marquee matchup between No. 6 Duke and No. 11 Pittsburgh. The reportedly sell-out crowd is slowly filing in, and there is a strong Duke contingent, as expected. My co-writer, Lauren Kobylarz, estimates that for every Pittsburgh fan, there are at least three Duke fans. Lauren also tells me that she learned in Statistics that such a statistic implies that the crowd is 75% Duke, which the rousing cheers the Blue Devils just received for running on to the floor seems to corroborate.

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