Duke Basketball: Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith Log Big Minutes...What Else Is New?

Mike KlineAnalyst IJanuary 4, 2011

Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith have averaged just over 30 minutes per game so far this season.
Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith have averaged just over 30 minutes per game so far this season.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In what can only be described as a potential ground breaking story the Raleigh News & Observer reported on Monday that Duke's two senior leaders are playing a lot of minutes.

You can read this Woodwardian piece of journalism here: http://blogs.newsobserver.com/accnow/smith-singler-getting-big-minutes

Once again as the Blue Devils head into the meat of their schedule questions are being asked of Mike Krzyzewski regarding the number of minutes his star players are playing.

He has to be wondering if he shouldn't just personally tape his answer to this yearly question and when it is posed, press play and exit the podium stage right.

Every year the question is the same and every year the answer remains the same.

"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," Krzyzewski said in his post game comments following Duke's win Sunday against Miami.

In that game Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler both played all 40 minutes, something they did regularly last year during Duke's march to the National Championship.

Krzyzewski who has won 881 games in his career, knows something about how to manage a game and his players. At least you'd think he would with that win total.

"Guys don’t get worn out with just games.  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," he said.

All of Duke's best players during Krzyzewski's era have logged the most minutes. The best players for most teams typically do.

It isn't as if the Blue Devils are sending out 35 year old men playing an 82 game season and a game in two different cities night in and night out.

Common sense would tell us that 18-21 year-old-men can play 40 minutes on Sunday and then turn around and play another 40 minutes two to three days later.

The big concern about minutes came to a head in the middle of this past decade when Duke failed to win a Championship between 2001 and 2010 and only reached one Final Four between those two championship seasons.

Stars like JJ Redick and Shelden Williams logged lots of minutes, but with fewer supporting stars the tanks on Redick and Williams appeared to run dry down the stretch.

So the question is fair during the first year or two, but every year the same question is asked despite the amount of success Duke has had.

The Blue Devils are currently 13-0 and despite the fact Smith and Singler played all 40 minutes against Miami, they are only averaging 30.7 and 32.4 minutes per game respectively.

Hardly alarming totals.

Duke has five other players averaging 16 or more minutes per game, but none more than 30. The Blue Devils have established a good rotation and so far have been successful with it.

If something requires changing, rest assured Krzyzewski will do it including adding more minutes to Smith and Singler's averages.

As long as the guys are capable of playing hard and effectively expect the big minutes logged to continue and stop treating it as if it were a sign of some huge problem facing a team that had continued to use the same stratgey for the better part of three decades.

"Playing hard for 40 minutes isn’t that big a deal if you manage the rest of the time well, no?" asked Krzyzewski.

Sounds reasonable coming from a Hall of Famer.