Duke Goes as Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer Go

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By Paul M. Banks

INDIANAPOLIS-For Duke, the most polarizing team in this Final Four, success hinges on the play of it’s too stars who are (you guessed it) love ’em or hate ’em guys- Junior Forward Kyle Singler and Senior Point Guard Jon Scheyer.

Duke fans love to talk about how everyone hates them because of their success, and the attention the program receives. Of course, they don’t bring up the “flopping” a lot of players do to draw charging fouls, all the favorable calls the team usually receives, preferential treatment by the World Wide Leader and the “private school” factor that turns off so many casual college basketball fans.

However, I’m at the point where Duke hatred seems like a waste of time, and a very tired cliche. (Or maybe I’ve just moved on to hating their bitter rival North Carolina more than any other team, so why bother having contempt for Duke? Besides Coach K. is extremely charming in person) Nevertheless, let’s move and get to know their star duo. We’ll start by profiling Singler, a projected 2011 second round NBA Draft pick.

The 6-9 forward from Oregon can play the three or the four, and is currently fifth all time at Duke in offensive rebounds. His game has been augmented by the fact he’s played together with the same core of players for several years:

“It’s definitely helped our team this season,”  Singler said. “We’ve won some close games because of the bond that we have. We’ve gone through a lot of experiences together. It’s more of a friendship. You’re willing to do extra to help the team win.”  Scheyer called him “the toughest player I’ve ever played with.”

And Coach Mike Kryzsewki talked about what makes Singler so special, even when he has his ups and downs.kyle singler “I think Kyle is a great player.  He’s not always gonna play great.  You know, a few games before that, Scheyer was 1-11 and we won.  In fact, he still played pretty well.  You can’t give knee-jerk reactions when a kid just doesn’t perform at a top level.  I mean, he’s trying to fight through it,” Coach K. said about Singler’s struggles in the last game.

“Kyle had two fouls in the first five minutes, and you tend not to be as aggressive as far as attacking the basket, going into the post.  You can get into a mode where you’re a little bit more conservative because, you know, on the court you’re a valuable asset even if it’s not at a hundred percent,” Kryzewski continued.

Northbrook, IL native (and potential late second round 2010 NBA Draft pick) Jon Scheyer is greatly unloved in his home area of Chicago for choosing to attend Duke over Illinois. That doesn’t seem like a very controversial decision at first, but when you consider the fact that he made his decision off the heels of Illinois’ best season ever in 2005 and his Head Coach at Glenbrook North, Dave Weber is the brother of Illinois’ leader Bruce Weber, you can see why he’s drawn some ire.

The 6-5 team captain moved over from shooting guard to point guard this season to help fill a void, and responded by having a unanimous all-conference, all-district and Wooden award finalist season. He holds the ACC single season record for minutes played in a season and he’s the second leading free throw shooter in Duke history.

Coach K talked about where Jon Scheyer ranks among the best leaders in Blue Devil history.

“He’s not just been a good leader; he’s been a beautiful young man to coach. I mean, Jon has never had a bad day where he hasn’t tried.  He has a perpetual great attitude.  That’s infectious with his teammates,” Coach K said.

“He’s been a 2,000 point scorer at Duke, while being very unselfish.  He’s been willing to accept any role, which I think is leading by example, whether it be coming off the bench at times as a younger player, or being an off guard, to now where he handles the ball.” Kryzsewski continued.

Scheyer talked about how this Duke team got to the Final Four despite suffering some tough seasons (by Duke standards) early in his career. “Being at this point and being able to look back, I don’t know if we’d be here without those moments, especially my freshman year,” Scheyer said.

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  1. paulmbanks says

    I wonder how much better the Illini would have been with Scheyer

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