Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Devils expect pressure without Smith

Senior guard Jon Scheyer says Duke is ready.

With junior guard Nolan Smith sitting out a two-game NCAA suspension for playing in unsanctioned summer league games, the Blue Devils are down to two scholarship players in the backcourt.

On Friday and Monday, Duke will play without Smith against UNC Greensboro and Coastal Carolina, respectively. Those teams won't have the size to match up against the Blue Devils, who have their biggest team in coach Mike Krzyzewski's 30-year tenure.

So they're likely to pressure Scheyer, freshman Andre Dawkins, walk-on Jordan Davidson and whoever else handles the ball in the backcourt for Duke. Scheyer says the Blue Devils are ready.

"Obviously we're a better team with Nolan," Scheyer said. "There's no denying that. He gives us a lot, adds a lot, and of course takes pressure off me. So of course for the first two games we have to be ready to just handle the ball.

"I'm sure defenses will try to pressure us a little bit more, and that's something we're prepared to do. And it's something that, we can't have any excuses."

It's unclear exactly how Duke will rotate its backcourt. Without Smith in the first half of an exhibition game against Division II Findlay, the Blue Devils actually started with four forwards on the floor with Scheyer.

Krzyzewski wasn't pleased with the way that lineup played, but Scheyer said the team hasn't abandoned it.

"We didn't take advantage of it like we could have (in the exhibition)," Scheyer said. "We were a little sloppy and didn't go inside as much as we should have. So I think that lineup is really good for us. Just, when it's in there, we've got to go inside, get the ball in there."

Regardless of which lineups are used, playing without Smith should be good practice in overcoming adversity early in the season for Scheyer and the Blue Devils.

Ken Tysiac