Monday, January 3, 2011

Smith, Singler getting big minutes for Duke

DURHAM - The question was inevitable after seniors Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler played 40 minutes each in Duke's 74-63 defeat of Miami in its ACC opener Sunday night.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski was asked if it should be expected that Smith and Singler will play 40 minutes on a lot of nights.

"Yeah," Krzyzewski said. "They want to. There’s not a player who doesn’t want to play. You know what I mean? There’s a lot of timeouts, and I pretty much know what to do with guys in practice."

The amount of minutes Krzyzewski gives his top players has been an issue for years with Duke fans. They wondered whether J.J. Redick's shooting numbers dropped in the NCAA tournament because he was tired.

Last season, the amount of minutes Singler, Smith and Jon Scheyer played was a constant topic of discussion. Each of them averaged more than 35 minutes per game. The only other ACC players to do so were Wake Forest's Ish Smith and Virginia Tech's Malcolm Delaney.

Yet Duke still won the NCAA title. Can a player get tired late in the season if he's already playing 40 minutes in the first conference game of the season? Sure.

But Singler played 40 minutes in Duke's ACC opener last season against Clemson and still was fresh enough to earn most outstanding player honors at the Final Four.

"Guys don’t get worn out with just games," Krzyzewski said. "They get worn out by playing the games you play sometimes between games. And you’ve just got to be careful with what they’re doing. Dawkins and Amaker and all those guys, they played a lot of minutes."

Ken Tysiac