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Singler, Scheyer Star as Duke Will Be Without Smith
Courtesy: Michael Tomko,
Release: 11/03/2009
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Photo Courtesy: Duke Photography
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DURHAM, N.C. - With Nolan Smith sitting out the first half as he prepares to miss Duke's first two regular season games, Mike Krzyzewski went big. Even bigger than many would have ever imagined.

"We started I think the biggest team in the history of our program," Krzyzewski said.

Jon Scheyer, Lance Thomas, Miles Plumlee, Brian Zoubek and Kyle Singler took the court for the opening tip for the Blue Devils in their final exhibition game of the season against Findlay.

"We wanted to play the first half without Nolan because he is going to miss the first two ball games, and just to get a dry run of how we need to play in those two games," Krzyzewski said. "That was good for us."

Singler ended up soaring the highest for the Blue Devils as the junior scored 20 points, on 8-of-12 shooting, including a pair of threes, nine rebounds and four assists in just 26 minutes in Duke's rout of the defending Division II national champions 84-48.

"I am really just playing basketball," Singler said. "That is the mindset that I am going with."

That approach seemed to suit Singler perfectly, who is usually quiet and soft spoken off the court, but fiery and passionate while playing on the hardwood. He cooly knocked down threes, buried mid-range jump shots and drove the ball into the lane.

Scheyer, who ended with 19 points of his own, along with Singler pushed Duke to a 36-23 halftime lead, before really pulling away in the second half with the insertion of Smith into the lineup.

Smith, who will miss the opening two games of the regular season for playing in unsanctioned summer league games, started the second half and jump started the Blue Devils fast break.

Smith fueled a 23-4 run to open the second half and pull away from Findlay.

"Having Nolan out on the court gives you a different look," Singler said. "He has gotten a lot better. He fuels our transition offense, and he is very good on defense too, so it just adds a different aspect to the team."

His contribution showed in the final box score. Duke was held to zero fast break points in the first half. In the second though, Duke got 13 fast break points as a team, thanks in no small part to Smith.

"Nolan is a great player, and we have great chemistry," Scheyer said. "We did get off to a great start in the second half, but we also have a lot to work on when he is not in there. That is something that we do need to work on. We can't have a big fall off. Obviously, with a player like Nolan, when you lose him it is going to be tough to replace him. We will work on that."

"It was like a B-minus of so," Scheyer added. "We had some good moments and a lot of things we need to work on, all of us, but it was a decent job overall tonight."

Smith finished with seven points and three assists.

The quicker lineup with Smith in the ball game also aided in eight more second half steals resulting in 17 points off turnovers.

"We don't run a structured fast break," Krzyzewski said. "People have to make decisions, and it is different than what we have done in the past."

That is true.

It is now a common sight to watch a 6'8" or taller Blue Devil race down the court looking to receive a pass high above the rim for an acrobatic finish.

And as Duke becomes more accustomed to playing this style, the success rate of scoring near the basket will improve from its already highly efficient numbers (Duke scored 42 points in the paint).

"It has a chance to be a very high powered offense, but not a conventional one," Krzyzewski said. "It is a different team. I like it a lot. It is going to take time."