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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Blue Devils head west with more options

    March 23–DURHAM — Working his way back into Duke’s playing rotation, Kyrie Irving looked good at the end of the Blue Devils’ two NCAA Tournament wins this past weekend in Charlotte.

    On Tuesday, as Duke’s players and coaches boarded buses headed for RDU Airport and a flight to California, Coach Mike Krzyzewski wasn’t ready to say that Irving will be on the court at the start of a game this week.

    “”We’re good with who we are starting,”” Krzyzewski said. “”We should have at least eight players feel they are starters on this team with Andre (Dawkins) and Ryan (Kelly).

    “”We’ve had nine people start (games). That’s an advantage. We can’t get caught up in who is starting.””

    The Blue Devils (32-4) will spend today in Anaheim, Calif., in preparation for Thursday night’s West Regional semifinal with Arizona (9:45 p.m., WRAL) at the Honda Center.

    Duke, the top seed in the West, advanced to the Sweet 16 after beating Hampton 87-45 Friday and Michigan 73-71 on Sunday.

    Irving, having been out since Dec. 4 after ligament damage in his right big toe, played 20 minutes in both games as a reserve and was at his best in the final minutes. His bank shot with 30.9 seconds left was a key play in the win over Michigan.

    Krzyzewski said Irving’s role is different now than a week ago, when he only was expected to play limited minutes against Hampton.

    “”Kyrie will play significant minutes, whereas going into Charlotte, we thought he would play limited minutes,”” Krzyzewski said. “”Based on 20 minutes against Hampton, he played significant minutes in his second game, which was kind of ahead of schedule.””

    During the five postseason games (all wins), Duke has started the same lineup: Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler, Miles Plumlee, Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry. Irving, Dawkins and Kelly have received the most minutes off the bench.

    In facing fifth-seeded Arizona (29-7), the Blue Devils realize it will take a total team effort to advance to the West final.

    The Wildcats feature 6-9 sophomore Derrick Williams, who averages 19.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.

    “”He’s one of the most talented players in the country,”” the 6-10 Kelly said. “”He’s a guy that not many people have been able to stop. We’ve been game planning to find ways to defend him well and keep him off the free-throw line.””

    Williams’ penchant for drawing fouls is a key factor in his success, Krzyzewski said, and is an important area of Arizona’s overall offense.

    “”Derrick has got to be a first-team All-American,”” Krzyzewski said. “”He’s shot more than 300 free throws. When he is going to the line, he gets his team to the line. He gets his team into the bonus and double-bonus.

    “”So whatever points he scores, he gets more points that he doesn’t get credit for that he gets his teammates.””

    Perimeter threats such as 6-0 guard Lamont Jones, 6-2 guard Jordin Mayes and 6-6 forward Solomon Hill give Arizona balance.

    “”They led the Pac-10 in 3-point shooting, shooting about 40 percent,”” Krzyzewski said. “”So they are balanced. It’s not like you can just double (team) and just leave people. They are well-rounded, an outstanding offensive team and they play hard defensively.””

    To see more of The Herald-Sun, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.herald-sun.com.

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