Senior guard Nolan Smith found himself in the spotlight after freshmen point guard, Kyrie Irving, went down with a right toe injury in December. Smith has stepped up his increasingly important and vastly growing role by becoming Duke’s go-to man for scoring, defending and distributing. He leads the ACC in scoring averaging at 21.6 points-per-game along with 5.2 assists-per-game, which ranks second in the conference. It was no surprise that Smith was named the ACC player of the year by receiving 73 of 75 votes by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Balloting Association.
The 5 Duke Blue Devils currently sit at 27-4 overall with an ACC record of 13-3. Duke will square off with Maryland or N.C. State this Friday in the ACC tournament. The Blue Devils will look to bounce back from an embarrassing, 81-67, loss to arch rival North Carolina with the ACC regular-season crown for the taking last Sunday. Duke will look to get revenge on their enemy this weekend before the big dance next week. Nolan Smith joined The Dan Patrick Showto discuss how long the film session lasted after the loss to North Carolina, how upset was Coach K after the loss to North Carolina, if there’s any chance Kyrie Irving plays again for Duke this season, who does he think is the player of the year and does he feel more prepared more now for the NBA after he decided to stay in Duke to finish out his degree.
How long did that film session last after the North Carolina game?
“It wasn’t done long at all actually. That was the end of the regular season, so after that game you know we looking forward to the tournament just focusing on us and getting ready for the next thing.”
How upset was Coach K after the loss?
“He was definitely upset just with the way we played as a team and you know it was a championship game and we didn’t put forth a championship effort on that night and we just gotta focus as a team that wants to win a championship. We have to get better.”
Is North Carolina a better team than you guys?
“I wouldn’t say that. We split home-and-home. You know one-and-one. You know I think we’ll hopefully see on Sunday who the better team is on a neutral court.”
Any chance that Kyrie Irving plays the rest of the season?
“I don’t know. He’s been working really hard. You know doing his rehab and everything. You know I think there’s still no call on it. He’s not back running or playing anything yet, so I’m not sure.”
Who do you think is the player of the year?
“Who do I think? I’ve really enjoyed watching Jimmer Fredette, Kemba Walker, Jared Sullinger has been great all year. I like to stick with the guards. You know Kemba has been carrying his team. He definitely doesn’t have that much help and he’s been just outstanding and Jimmer can just score the ball. He’s been carrying his BYU team, so just watching those two teams. Two guys leading their team has just been great to watch.”
You think your more prepared for the NBA now that you stayed at Duke for two more years?
“I’m definitely more prepared you know. I want to go to that next level and be able to step right out on the court and play right away you know. I don’t think there will be much of a learning curve that I will have to learn when I get there [NBA].”