Duke Blue Devils Basketball: One Single(r) Decision, One Large Effect
Kyle Singler has chosen to remain at Duke, and fans far and wide are rejoicing if not counting the proverbial eggs.
Singler's one decision will send ripples over the college basketball landscape.
While the rest of the basketball world will feel only minimal effects, his choice to stay will be felt most strongly at its place of origin.
Singler, who was voted the Most Outstanding Player earlier this month at the Final Four, stated the experience of being a senior was far too valuable for him to pass up.
One can read in between the lines on that, but one thing is for sure, the effect of this one decision will be felt by teammates, and his team in general, in several ways.
Duke is losing senior leaders Jon Scheyer, Lance Thomas, and Brian Zoubek to graduation. But they are now gaining two senior leaders in Nolan Smith and Singler.
Without Singler, Smith would have been the elder statesman on next year's team. Now he can share the duties with one third of this past season's "Big Three."
If this year's Blue Devil team proved anything, it is that you can never underestimate the power of experience.
Whereas Duke teams in recent history had faltered down the stretch in tournament play, this year’s team, with strong senior leadership, found a way to win.
That same formula will work next year, although the dynamics and skill set of that team should prove to be very different. For a change it will benefit the young Devils to have some wily veterans to look up to and learn from.
While some, even among Duke fans, are feeling Singler's decision may impede the development of certain players; I can't help but think the opposite.
Ryan Kelly will surely benefit the most. While he is often pegged as a being a true post player, I see him more of a cross between Mike Dunleavy and Singler himself. Who better to learn from than the man you most resemble?
He may not play as much due to Singler's decision, but he will play more than he did this season, especially with a season already under his belt and a summer in the weight room.
Don't expect him to be a banger, that isn't his game, but he has the skill set to be a very nice high post player and shooter, which Duke can always use.
Andre Dawkins is another player who may not see as much playing time, but then again he may. It is debatable if Krzyzewski will play Singler solely at the three or play him some at the power forward position as well.
If he does play power forward, Dawkins, who showed glimpses of his ability to attack the basket, may see some time at the three or off guard positions. If he can improve his defensive prowess he will see more time on the court, regardless of Singler's presence.
Carrick Felix, an incoming junior college player who was slated to step into the three role, will still find plenty of playing time, even if it is not as much as he would have gotten. If he is as good defensively and athletically as advertised, Krzyzewski will find a way for him to get on the floor.
Miles and Mason Plumlee should also be jumping for joy. While their expected playing time was never really in doubt, the added attention Singler is likely to draw on the offensive end should allow them to contribute more in the low post.
In fact, Singler being such a versatile player will make it hard for opposing teams to decide who to focus on defensively.
They don't come any tougher than Singler. There wasn't a game this past season that didn't seem to have Singler featuring a black eye, a bruise, stitches, or a heavily wrapped right wrist.
Yet game-in and game-out, there he was, continuing to play and not making excuses. That kind of toughness can drive a team and motivate a player to work that much harder.
You can expect the young fresh-faced newbies to receive no quarter, and none will be asked in return as far as Singler is concerned in practice. They all will learn from a guy who really has been as tough as nails.
Whether or not Krzyzewski uses Singler's decision is unknown. I would certainly try to show incoming recruits that here is a guy that could have gone pro and would have been drafted. However, he liked it so much here that he chose to stay.
Now there will be some that say he wasn't going to be a high pick, and that Duke doesn't produce high quality NBA talent, but what else is new?
The fact is, if you want to go to a place and stay for a year, maybe Duke isn't the place for you. However, if you want to go to a place and improve your game and learn from one of the best coaches ever, then Duke may be where you want to be.
It has been for Singler, who may be setting himself up as one of the greatest players in Duke's long history—a four-year starter who brings everything you could ever want to your team.
So what may seem like a small decision will probably have a huge impact on a team, and perhaps the college basketball scene at large.
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