Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Singler, Duke face expecations

CHARLOTTE - The question was inevitable.

Duke forward Kyle Singler was asked at the ACC media tipoff this morning whether this season will be a disappointment if the Blue Devils don't win the NCAA title.

The Blue Devils return Final Four most outstanding player Singler and second-team All-ACC guard Nolan Smith as seniors from last season's NCAA championship team. Two experienced and capable post players, Mason and Miles Plumlee, also are back.

Kyrie Irving, one of the nation's most heralded point guard recruits, joins the team as a freshman. And Seth Curry, the nation's leading freshman scorer in 2008-09, becomes eligible at the start of the season.

In other words, the Blue Devils are loaded, which left Singler facing a loaded question.

Although winning the NCAA title is Duke's goal, Singler said the team can't base the entire season, every step of the way, on winning the championship. He said there is pressure on the Blue Devils, but they try not to put pressure on themselves.

"Every year I've been here, there's been pressure," Singler said.

Singler touched on several other topics:

- Curry's skills complement the other players on the Duke team well. Singler was asked if Curry shoots the ball as well as Stephen Curry, the former Davidson standout who's with the Golden State Warriors.

"On any given night, you never know who's the better shooter in the family," Singler said. "It would be a fun competition."

- Singler began training camp at 230 pounds. He said he started last season at 220, but finished at 230 and played better at that weight.

"I think I carry myself better when I'm 230," he said.

- Although Singler has watched video of the Blue Devils 61-59 win over Butler in the NCAA title game, it's not quite the same watching it.

He said nothing could match the feeling he had as Butler's final, desperate shot barely missed the mark.

"That was probably the most thrilling [moment], and, I don't know what the word is, panicked," Singler said.

- Singler is not shying away from talk that he could be national player of the year, although he puts the team's goals first.

"I do want to be national player of the year, along with as many wins as possible," he said.

As for the most difficult question of the day, though, Singler didn't let himself get boxed in. Will the season be a disappointment if Duke doesn't win it all?

He said he just doesn't know.

"You just have to understand that we have to be ourselves," Singler said, "and things will take care of themselves."

Ken Tysiac