We talked last week about how crucial Ryan Kelly’s return is for Duke to achieve ultimate success this postseason, but head coach Mike Krzyzewski knows best, and he seems to be optimistic that the senior will be able to return to the team in time for the madness that tends to take place in March.
“Again, no timetable, but it’s moving,” said coach K following Duke’s blowout of Virginia Tech on Thursday night. Kelly has been out since January 8 with an injury to his right foot, and even though he’s still in a walking boot, his coach seems to think he’ll be able to end his Duke career the right way. “It’s moving in the right direction. Now we believe we’re going to get him back.”
Before getting injured, the 6-foot-11 sharpshooter out of nearby Raleigh, North Carolina, was averaging career highs in scoring (13.4), blocks (1.7), and minutes (28.3), as he was shooting an out of this world (and also career-high) 52-percent from behind the arc.
Undefeated and ranked No. 1 before he went down, the Blue Devils dropped two of their first three games without Kelly. Coach K’s squad has not only missed his deft shooting, but his length on the defensive end, not to mention the 5.4 rebounds per game that he was bringing to the table.
According to Star News Online’s ACC Blog, Kelly has begun walking on an underwater treadmill and doing other physical activities to strengthen his hips, legs and core. Also of note, Kelly is no longer on crutches, and has begun shooting free throws, even though he hasn’t gotten involved in any other real basketball activity.
Without Kelly, we’ve seen the Blue Devils still play their brand of basketball, but there’s no question that he elevates them from a pretty good team to a very good team. With Kelly in their lineup, Duke scored early season wins over Louisville, Ohio State, and Kentucky, and got off to a very impressive 15-0 start. We’ll see if they can remain undefeated with him in the lineup when he returns.
Which, hopefully for coach K, isn’t too far away.
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