Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski compared senior forward Kyle Singler today to a baseball player in a batting slump.
Singler shot 5-for-14 from the field during Sunday's 79-57 defeat of Georgia Tech and is 20-for-61 over his last five games.
Krzyzewski said that although Singler is struggling to make shots, he is performing well in other phases of the game and playing with enthusiasm.
"We won’t win a really important game unless Kyle is playing with that spirit," Krzyzewski said on the ACC teleconference. "And if he hits his shots, then we’re a lot better. It’s kind of a phase during a season, kind of like a hitter who is a .320 hitter but is hitting .250. We think he will hit .320 and balance out for the season."
Krzyzewski said Singler did let his shooting struggles frustrate him at Virginia on Wednesday, when he tied a career low with two points. Singler fouled four times and committed five turnovers in that game.
But he grabbed nine rebounds Sunday and has had at least seven rebounds in four of his last five games. Krzyzewski said Singler also has defended well, particularly in holding Georgia Tech's Glen Rice Jr. to 4-for-14 from the field.
"He’s really one of the great defenders in the country," Krzyzewski said of Singler. "And he still has the spirit and whatever. I think you just have to work your way out of the shooting thing and just don’t let it affect the other aspects of your game."
David Scott has been with the Observer for 28 years and has written about ACC, SEC and other college sports in the Charlotte region. He covers Wake Forest, South Carolina and college soccer for the Observer and (Raleigh) News & Observer.
J.P. Giglio covers the ACC for the News & Observer, where he has worked since 1997, and the Observer.
Andrew Carter covers the North Carolina Tar Heels for the Observer and News & Observer.
Laura Keeley covers the Duke Blue Devils for the Observer and News & Observer. Follow her on Twitter.
Chip Alexander covers the Carolina Hurricanes and college football for the News & Observer, where he has worked since 1979, and the Observer.
Luke DeCock has worked for The News & Observer since 2000. He covered the Carolina Hurricanes and the NHL before becoming a sports columnist for the Observer and News & Observer in August 2008.
Tim Crothers is an author and former senior writer at Sports Illustrated who is joining the sports staff to write a regular column during the rest of the college basketball season.