INDIANAPOLIS -- Butler forward
Singler never saw Howard, who planted his feet and protected the family jewels just like they tell you to do in all the basketball textbooks. Singler plowed into Howard and crumpled to the floor as Hayward launched his three-point prayer. While wondering who put a Winnebago in the middle of the court, Singler opened his eyes. A terrifying thought struck him.
"To be honest, I thought the shot was going to be good," Singler said. "From my perspective, it just looked right."
Singler, twisting his body to catch a glimpse of the ball as it hit the backboard, waited for the inevitable roar from the decidedly pro-Butler crowd. "It was just one of those things," Singler said, "where you're just wishing, hoping it won't go in."
When the ball bounced off the backboard, then off the rim, then off the floor to preserve Duke's 61-59 win, Singler lifted his head and smiled. Then the former football player got tackled.
"I jumped on him after I saw the shot miss just to make sure he was OK," guard
Singler played the tournament's last four rounds with a shiner on his right eye, compliments of an
Maybe it's the 6-foot-8, 230-pound Singler's feathery shooting touch that makes him seem more fragile than he really is. Maybe it's his ability to slice to the basket and make it look so easy that obscures just how hard Singler works on the court. Despite appearances, the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player is tougher than he looks.
Monday, Singler led Duke with 19 points, none bigger than the two from a jumper that put Duke up 58-55 with 4:47 remaining. Hayward had just made two free throws to slice Duke's lead to one, and the crowd was riled by the fact that -- after a replay review -- officials decided not to call Duke's
Afterward, Butler coach
Big shots on a big stage, when combined with his stellar measurables, make Singler an intriguing prospect for NBA general managers. Sometime soon, he'll have to decide whether he wants to return to Durham to chase a second consecutive title as a senior.
Asked early Tuesday morning what he plans to do next season, Singler said he had "no idea." He said he plans to consult with his family and Duke coach
If Singler's final moment as a college basketball player came on the floor after a crushing pick, he'll probably take it. Because after the pick came the miss, and after the miss came a joyous pile of Duke players with Singler at the bottom -- thanking the stars circling his head that he was wrong about that last shot.