05/12/2010 3:15 PM ET
Krzyzewski says Irving will transform Duke
Incoming freshman will have lasting impact
By Adam Zagoria / SNY.tv
McDonald's All-American Kyrie Irving joins a Duke team that brings back leading scorer Kyle Singler. (AP)

NEW YORK -- After winning the NCAA championship last month in Indianapolis, you wouldn't think Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski would want to change too much.

But Krzyzewski says the addition of a single player to the 2010-11 version of the Blue Devils will transform the team's entire offense.

"We'll change our whole offense, the way we play because of Kyrie," Krzyzewski said Wednesday at the New York Athletic Club, referring to incoming freshman point guard Kyrie Irving of Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick High School.

"Just like we did when we had Jason Williams, he'll make a big impact right away. He's going to be very, very good."

The way legendary basketball guru Howard Garfinkel sees it, Kyrie Irving gives Duke a solid chance at winning back-to-back NCAA titles in 2011.

"He can pass the ball with either hand brilliantly," Garfinkel said. "He's got great moves to the basket. He's very unselfish. He's an outstanding 3-point shooter. And he's lightning quick. What's left?

"Irving could make them back-to-back champions, he's that good."

A McDonald's All-American and The Newark Star-Ledger New Jersey Player of the Year, the 6-foot-2 Irving averaged 24.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 4.5 steals and 2.0 blocks a game for the Celtics, who finished No. 7 nationally USA Today's rankings.

Irving's high school season ended in somewhat disappointing season when the Celtics were banned from the New Jersey state tournament after a private investigator determined that head coach Kevin Boyle held illegal out-of-season workouts last fall.

"It was very difficult," Irving told SNY.tv last month. "It was heartbreaking to find out that we weren't going to be in the state tournament. We wanted to defend our crown.

"But we didn't harp on it. During that week I went down to North Carolina versus Duke at Cameron, so it was a great experience to go down there. I loved it. But not being in states, it's not really weighing me down now. I'm ready to move on to the next level."

Irving went on to win co-MVP honors last month at the Jordan Brand Classic at Madison Square Garden along with his close friend, North Carolina-bound wing Harrison Barnes.

"This is like a bittersweet ending," Irving said after the game. "I'm happy to win MVP, but also I'm sad that I'm going to be leaving him. I call him my big brother and him going to North Carolina and I'm going to be at Duke, our friendship is going to continue."

Duke has already been installed by some media outlets as a preseason No. 1 after junior wing Kyle Singler, Duke's leading scorer, decided to return to campus for his senior season instead of heading to the NBA.

Krzyzewski said Irving will benefit from the return of Singler and junior guard Nolan Smith to a core that also includes big men Miles and Mason Plumlee and guard Seth Curry.

"We'll run a lot more, we'll press and he's fortunate to have Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler on the perimeter with him and the Plumlees," Krzyzewski said. "He'll have good weapons with him."

Irving will get a chance to showcase his new position when Duke battles a Gordon Hayward-less Butler team in a rematch of the national title game Dec. 4 at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J.

"As soon as we knew we had an opportunity to do that, we wanted to do that and we better have the same result," Krzyzewski joked.

Where Irving stands in the annals of New Jersey high school guards is a subject of much debate.

Dajuan Wagner is New Jersey's all-time leading scorer with 3,462 points from 1998-2001. Irving, who spent his first two seasons at Montclair Kimberley Academy, ended with more than 2,100 points.

Yet Boyle has long made the case that Irving may be the most complete guard ever to emerge from the Garden State.

"I think you can argue that few guards in New Jersey have been better in their career," Boyle told The Star-Ledger. "Shaheen [Holloway of St. Patrick], Dajuan Wagner [Camden], Bobby Hurley [St. Anthony], Jason Williams [St. Joseph of Metuchen] and Kyrie should be there, too.

"And, as great as Dajuan was, Kyrie might be better because of his overall versatility," he said. "Wagner was more of a scoring guard. Kyrie is about as complete a guard as we've seen."

Krzyzewski, who coached both Williams and Hurley, also compares Irving favorably to New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul.

"I haven't had a guard like him since [Chris] Duhon and Jason Williams," he said. "He's gonna be a great player. He still has thinks to learn obviously but he went to a great program at St. Patrick. His dad [Drederick] is an amazing guy. They're a basketball family and we'll have a different system with Kyrie.

"He reminds me a lot of Chris Paul and his ability to maneuver with the dribble and keep his feet under him while he's going."

Garfinkel also compared Irving to Kentucky guard John Wall, the likely No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.

With Wall leading the attack, Kentucky missed its first 20 3-point attempts in an Elite Eight loss to West Virginia and finished 4-for-32 from beyond the arc.

"He is not as explosive as John Wall, and nobody is, but I'll tell you one thing," Garfinkel said of Irving. "There's no way any team he's ever on, from now until he retires from the game, will shoot 0 for 20 from 3."

Adam Zagoria is a regular contributor to SNY.tv. Read his blog at ZagsBlog.com and follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AdamZagoria.
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