Monday, February 21, 2011

Duke perplexed by Singler's shooting woes, confident he will start hitting

Duke ascended to the No. 1 spot in the polls again Monday, a move that reflects the carnage of the top at last week and the fact that the Blue Devils have steadied themselves after the loss of Kyrie Irving.

The Devils are continuing to win despite an odd shooting slump by senior star Kyle Singler. Coach Mike Krzyzewski continues to praise Singler for his defense, which you can take as a way of boosting Singler’s confidence, but there’s no doubt Singler’s shooting woes are puzzling.

Singler scored 24 at Wake Forest on Jan. 22, 14 against Boston College Jan. 27, 20 vs. St. John’s Jan. 30 and then 22 at Maryland on Feb. 2. So he was pretty much rolling along to a year worthy of national honors.

Then suddenly, he skidded. Here are his last five games, with shooting from the field and three-point range:

Feb. 5, N.C. State 5-13 (1-2) 14 points
Feb. 9, Carolina 3-17 (1-6) 10 points
Feb. 13, at Miami 6-12 (2-6) 14 points
Feb. 16, at Virginia 1-5 (0-2) 2 points
Feb. 20, Georgia Tech 5-14 (0-1) 15 points.

“I don’t know if there’s any one thing,” Krzyzewski said Monday. “Sometimes you just don’t shoot as well. Sometimes when you don’t shoot as well you don’t play as well. To me what’s remarkable about that kid is every other part of his game is terrific.

“At Virginia, he let that, for one of the few times in his career, affect how he played. And he can’t do that. He’s so important for us, whether he goes 2 for 12 or 8 for 12.
We won’t win a really important game unless Kyle plays with that spirit. And when he hits that shot, he’s a lot better.”

Krzyzewski compared Singler to a .320 hitter who is suddenly hitting .250.

“We think that he will hit .320 and balance out for the season. But I’m proud of him. He’s handling all his other responsibilities well.”

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