Kyle Singler

College Hoops Week in Review: Five Thoughts

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Could an injury to Moser actually be a blessing in disguise for UNLV?: Before I get to my line of thinking, I want to emphasize something: this is no way, shape or form a good thing. Miker Moser dislocated his elbow — according to head coach Dave Rice, it was “very dislocated” — in a win at Cal on Sunday night, an injury that didn’t cause a fracture but will force Moser out of the lineup for an extended period of time. Maybe even the rest of the season. Considering this kid’s talent and the fact that he passed up on a chance to enter the NBA Draft after a breakout sophomore campaign, the pain from popping an elbow out of place isn’t the only reason this injury hurts. No one wants to see him sitting on the bench. No one.

But this will make Rice’s decisions easier to make in the near future. You see, Moser is a natural four in today’s college basketball. He’s 6-foot-8, he can rebound and defend in the paint, but he can also step out and knock down a three. Spread the floor offensively and protect the rim defensively. It’s ideal. It’s also a position that is currently being manned by Anthony Bennett, whose 25 points and 13 boards pushed his freshman year averages up to 18.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Khem Birch returns next week, and if he’s as good as the hype says he is — I know we always hear a transfer being forced to sit out is the best player in practice, but sometimes that turns out to be the case — than that means Moser would be forced to the small forward spot.

Because you don’t sit a talent like Mike Moser, even if it means playing him out of position.

With Moser out of the lineup, however, that means that the Chuck Brothers — Bryce Dejean-Jones and Katin Reinhardt — can take up residence on the perimeter with Anthony Marshall manning the point, and while I don’t love that trio being tasked with distributing the ball when the front court is where UNLV’s strength lies, it may end up being a better option that using an out-of-position Moser.

Kansas is on track to become one of the nation’s elite: The thinking about Kansas throughout the preseason was that this would be an elite defensive team that will slowly develop into a very good offensive team as Elijah Johnson learns to be a point guard and Ben McLemore becomes more comfortable in a feature role offensively. Well, the former is true, as Withey has become the nation’s premiere defensive force in the paint, anchoring a defense that currently ranks sixth in defensive efficiency, according to Kenpom. And McLemore? He’s averaging 16.0 points with an offensive efficiency rating of 116.0 (a really good number) and a usage rate of 25.6% (meaning he’s the focal point offensively). As he becomes a more consistent three-point shooter (he’s currently at 31.4%), those numbers will only improve.

The only thing Kansas is really waiting on is Johnson, or Naadir Tharpe, to learn how to protect the ball offensively. Kansas is going to be right there in the mix all season long, and a 36 point shellacking of Colorado on Saturday is only further evidence of that.

How many teams constitute ‘the nation’s elite’?: Here’s the way I see it right now: Duke and Indiana are the nation’s top two teams as of this moment. It doesn’t really matter how you rank them — I still have IU in the top spot, but if you want to put Duke there because of who they have beaten this season, I have no qualms with that — but those two need to be No. 1 and No. 2. I think Michigan is the third best team in the country, followed very closely by Syracuse at No. 4. The next tier is made up of Louisville, Kansas and Florida.

I consider those seven teams the ‘nation’s elite’. Arizona, Cincinnati, Ohio State, Gonzaga, Missouri, Illinois, Creighton, anyone from the Mountain West — they’re not on that same level.

What does the loss to Illinois tell us about Gonzaga?: I’m torn over this. Illinois was quite impressive in winning at Gonzaga on Saturday night, but just what does a win at Gonzaga mean right now? The Zags have one of the biggest and most versatile front lines in the country, and their back court is loaded with talent and athleticism, but there are two major concerns I have with this group:

  • Kevin Pangos is a terrific player, but he’s not a point guard; he’s a scoring guard that can handle the ball. The only point guard on Gonzaga’s roster is David Stockton, and he turns the ball over far too often and is a defensive liability, especially when he shares the floor with Pangos. And while Pangos is struggling a bit early on this year, he still needs to be on the floor for this team.
  • The Zags are going to have an advantage in the paint in every game, and they certainly had one against a much smaller Illinois team. But they couldn’t get the ball to Elias Harris, Kelly Olynyk or Prmezek Karnowski in the second half against the Illini. Some of that was due to a zone that Illinois was in, but there was also an issue with perimeter players hunting shots. Is this going to be a consistent issue? Because if it is, Gonzaga won’t be playing to their strength.

It’s too early to write off the Zags, but this loss was a worrisome development given the way the past couple of seasons have gone.

Brandon Triche, the nation’s most prolific starter?: Here’s a cool stat for you: Brandon Triche has started all 115 games of his college career. He’s never missed one and never come off of the bench for one. The record for most starts in a college career was set by Kyle Singler, who started 147 games. Singler came off the bench once as a sophomore, however, which is why former VCU Ram Bradford Burgess holds to current NCAA record for most consecutive starts with 146. Syracuse has played eight games this season, which means that if they can make it to the finals of both the Big East tournament and the NCAA tournament without coming off the bench or missing a game, he’ll be able to break Burgess’ record and tie Singler’s record while setting his record for most career starts without missing a game or coming off the bench in a career.

No other senior in the country has started every single game in his career. The closest is Drew Crawford or Northwestern. He’s currently at 110 career starts, but he came off the bench once as a sophomore. Ohio’s DJ Cooper has started 114 games in his career, but he’s come off of the bench four times. Kenny Boynton has 112 career starts, coming off the bench once in each of his first three seasons. Elias Harris has 108 starts, but he missed a game as a freshman and as a sophomore and came off the bench once as a sophomore.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Singler comes to terms with Pistons after Euro vacation


It’s easy to forget the lockout casualties when you think about the NBA’s rookie class. We just watched the draft after all, haven’t we seen all of the new guys?

Not really. Duke’s Kyle Singler, who fled the shortened NBA season to play in Spain, will be returning to U.S. shores, ready to start his NBA career after getting some professional seasoning under his belt after agreeing to terms with the Detroit Pistons. He could have come home and played last season, but opted instead to take advantage of the large dose of playing time he was getting with Real Madrid.

“The opportunity to play a lot more was here, but the bottom line was I was happy and felt no pressure to leave and go back to the NBA,” Singler, who was the 33rd overall pick in last year’s draft, told the Associated Press recently. “Deep down, I knew it was the best decision for me to stay. I’ll have another chance to play in the NBA, there was no real rush.”

This is why Duke kids drive fans of other teams crazy. They play hard, keep their noses clean, and they’re smart enough to justify the smugness that attends a Dookie hoopster. It’s hard to fault Singler’s decision in any way. The Pistons finished last in their division last season, and he still probably wouldn’t have seen much playing time. This way, the mop-haired Swiss Army knife of a player once again demonstrated his maturity and skills, and probably came out with more of a guaranteed future than he did as a second-round pick.

As another former Blue Devil, Shane Battier, just proved, a smart, tough player can hang around long enough to get a ring in the NBA. It’s a deal Singler would likely take.

Irving passes first (easy) test for Duke

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Kyrie Irving’s skills are no secret. Scouts rave about the freshman point guard’s skills. Coach K’s already handed him the reins to the offense. His new teammates at Duke feel the same way.

Jim R. Bounds/AP

“[Coach] isn’t saying anything about Kyrie that we don’t know,” senior Kyle Singler told the Raleigh News & Observer.

What we know is that the 6-2 guard can play. He showed as much during Saturday’s exhibition win against D-II St. Augustine’s. It’s wasn’t an ACC foe, but it gave Irving a chance to showcase his skills in a game for the first time.

Coach K was a happy man.

In 20 minutes of play, Irving scored 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting, had one turnover, dished seven assists had no trouble creating scoring chances for himself and his teammates. Singler scored 31. Nolan Smith scored 15. And the Devils breezed.

“He’s definitely ready,” Smith told the paper. “He’s easy to play with and he makes the game fun.”

How Irving handles tougher foes and the rigors of the long college hoops season remains to be seen. But I’d say he’s off to a solid start (especially when he gets to play with Singler and Smith).

“I felt really comfortable out there,” Irving told the paper. “It was fun to get out there and play. Everyone really played well.”

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

Seniors rule our preseason All-America team


Who says everyone jumps early to the NBA? Our 2010-11 college basketball preseason All-America team is filled with upperclassmen.

Among the five teams (25 spots), there are 10 seniors – four of whom are on the first team – and eight juniors. What can I say? I’m a believer in experienced players.

Who on it? Click here to see the spiffy slideshow.

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

It's amazing that knee surgery isn't a big deal

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Jeff Zelevansky/Getty

How routine is arthroscopic knee surgery? So routine that Kyle Singler can have it on Friday – six weeks before Midnight Madness – and nobody really notices.

Considering the Duke forward was the Most Outstanding Player at the 2010 Final Four and the likely front-runner for 2011 national player of the year, you’d think it would raise a few eyebrows.

Nah. It’s just minor surgery.

The school sent out a press release, which didn’t even include a quote from Mike Krzyzewski (he’s busy in Turkey). Most news sites simply had it as part of their routine coverage.

Maybe the timing of it is what’s messing with me. Then again, Singler’s busy summer probably had something to do with the timing – and necessity. Diamond Leung has a rundown of his busy summer, which included stops at four different camps, time training against the Team USA pros and hosting his youth basketball tournament in Oregon.

Still, if he seems a step slow to start the season, I think we’ll know the reason why.

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

U.S. Select team gets defensive

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The U.S. Select Team just got a little more select. Kind of.

Twenty college players were in Las Vegas last month to train against the 2010 U.S. men’s team. Ten of those players will return for a repeat session Aug. 9-13 in New York to play against the finalists for the U.S. squad. Anything to help Team USA win at the Worlds.

The new roster, as released from USA Basketball earlier Tuesday:

Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith (Duke); Chris Singleton (Florida State); JaJuan Johnson (Purdue); Jon Leuer (Wisconsin); Shelvin Mack (Butler);; Howard Thompkins (Georgia); Mike Tisdale (Illinois); Kemba Walker (Connecticut); and Chris Wright (Dayton). Villanova head coach Jay Wright will also return to direct the 2010 USA Select Team in New York.

“One of the great developments of our Las Vegas camp was the USA Select Team which consisted of juniors and seniors out of the college ranks that we brought in to scrimmage against the USA National Team,” USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said in a prepared statement. ” Lorenzo Romar and Jay Wright did a terrific job of coaching the select players in Las Vegas. It worked so well we’ve decided to bring to New York a smaller group of players from that Select Team to do the same thing. They were very valuable to us and it’s a great experience for them.”

So who won’t be in New York that was in Vegas? Temple’s Lavoy Allen, Ohio State’s William Buford, Baylor’s LaceDarius Dunn, BYU’s Jimmer Fredette, Tennessee’s Scotty Hopson, Syracuse’s Scoop Jardine, Kansas’ Marcus Morris, Northwestern’s John Shurma, North Carolina’s Tyler Zeller and Kansas State’s Jacob Pullen.

Does this mean the 10 players heading to New York are better than the 10 who aren’t? Not really given that guys like Pullen, Dunn and Morris were tagged as three of the best from the earlier roster. Most have previous commitments, usually related to their teams.

And besides, this is a group assembled to improve an opposing team, not play together. You’ll notice many of the guys – Johnson, Thompkins, Tisdale, Wright and Singleton, for example – are long-armed and mobile players who’ll make many of Team USA’s stars work on every possession. Meanwhile, they’ll have to chase Smith, Mack and Walker all over the court.

Yeesh. Good luck to the pros.

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