Cross off chemistry issues as a Duke pitfall

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If you’re still not sold on Duke this season, here’s another reason to slot the Devils as the team to beat in 2011: Chemistry won’t be an issue between backcourt mates Nolan Smith and Kyrie Irving.

That’s not a small thing, either.

Smith’s a junior senior who was instrumental in Duke’s title run, yet the offense is being entrusted to the freshman Irving. That situation might derail other teams, no matter how much talent’s on the roster. But Smith and Irving have nothing but love for one another.

“I think the main thing is, Kyrie and myself have a great relationship off the court,” Smith told Mike DeCourcy. “We’re just learning how to play with each other now, but our chemistry starts off the court, and we’re very comfortable with each other.”

Irving’s even more profuse in his praise of Smith.

“Nolan made my transition to college a lot better,” Irving told DeCourcy. “Coming into college, I was really nervous. I knew what my role was going to be, but I didn’t know how to come in and assume my role. We’ve talked, and we know what our relationship can be. Having a relationship on and off the court is really important.”

That’s the kind of relationship that leads to titles.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.