It’ll be a ‘long time’ before Irving returns for Duke

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Mike Krzyzewski says it’ll be a “long time” before Kyrie Irving’s returns to Duke’s lineup.

It’s an ominous statement for Blue Devils fans, but nebulous for the rest of us. What does “a long time” mean, exactly? Weeks? Months? The rest of the season? My guess would be by Jan. 12, just in time for a trip to Florida State. (And if you can take anything from Irving’s tweets, he sounds more and more optimistic every day.)

Coach K refused to elaborate any further when he appeared on his HM Radio show Wednesday, mostly because a number of specialists are still meeting and planning Irving’s rehabilitation and recovery, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.

So we’ll wait. No. 1 Duke (10-0) will continue to play without the freshman point guard, who was averaging 17.4 points a game before injuring the big toe on his right foot.

And despite any concerns about winning back-to-back NCAA tournament titles, the Devils insist they won’t rush Irving back into action.

“He’s 18 years old,” assistant coach Chris Collins told the paper. “He’s going to play basketball for a long, long time. We have to think about his health and what’s going to be best for him in the long term.”

Want more? I’m also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: