It appears that ‘if’ is no longer the correct term to use when discussing the return of Ryan Kelly to the Duke lineup this season.
At this point, it’s a matter of when.
At least that’s what Mike Krzyzewski told USA Today’s Eric Prisbell on Tuesday.
“It would not be this week,” Coach K told Prisbell. “Depending upon on what he is able to do this week will determine if he can play next week or for the ACC tournament. We definitely believe he is going to play before the NCAA tournament.”
The question now is just how good Kelly will be when he gets back on the court. Sitting out for two months while being forced to use crutches and a walking boot is not exactly an ideal way for an athlete to prepare for the NCAA tournament. When Kelly does return, his timing is going to be off. He’s not going to be in game shape. He’s not going to have the kind of strength in his legs that’s he’s used to. How well is he going to be able to shoot the ball? How well is he going to be able to handle the ball?
More importantly, how long is it going to take for him to get back into mid-season form?
With Kelly in the lineup, Duke was arguably the best team in the country. Kelly was such an important piece given his ability to defend multiple positions and stretch the floor for Mason Plumlee in the paint.
If he can get back to that level, the Blue Devils will be a favorite to win the national title.
They’re still a contender if Kelly isn’t the same player, but they won’t be the same team that ran through everyone in their path back in November and December.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
Two of the best guards in the country went absolutely bananas on Tuesday night as Iona senior A.J. English and Davidson junior Jack Gibbs had huge nights.
English dropped 46 points and went 13-for-19 from the 3-point line as the Gaels raced past Fairfield. The Iona star went 15-for-25 from the field and also had eight assists in the win.
Not to be outdone, Gibbs started Davidson’s game against Charlotte by going 14-for-14 from the field. Finishing 14-for-17 for the game, Gibbs had 25 points by halftime and 39 points at the under-12-minute timeout in the second half before deferring to teammates in a blowout win.
The 40-point efforts for both English and Gibbs were the first of their college basketball careers, and given the way both have scored the past two seasons, it’s not out of the question that this could happen again.
Michigan 66, N.C. State 59: Playing without starting point guard Derrick Walton Jr. in the second half, the Wolverines still played well enough to win on the road in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Caris LeVert played a tremendous overall floor game to finish with 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists while Duncan Robinson came off the bench to hit five 3-pointers and finish with 17 points.
A.J. English, Iona: Iona was able to run past Fairfield as the senior guard had 46 points and made 13 3-pointers in the win. English also tallied eight assists as he went 15-for-25 from the field and 13-for-19 from 3-point range.
Jack Gibbs, Davidson: The junior guard had 25 points by halftime and he went 14-for-14 before finally missing a field goal in the second half. Gibbs finished with 41 points in total in the win over Charlotte as he was 14-for-17 from the field.
Robert Hatter, Cornell: The junior guard helped the Big Red to a win over Siena as Hatter had 32 points and six assists to go along with three rebounds and three steals.
D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown: The Hoyas earned an easy home win over Maryland-Eastern Shore as the senior guard went for 30 points on 10-for-16 shooting.
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- Another big game for Wayne Selden Jr. as he had 18 points, six rebounds and four assists to lead No. 4 Kansas to a big win over Loyola (MD). In his debut, Cheick Diallo went 6-for-8 from the field for 13 points, six rebounds and three blocks.
- Abdel Nader had 21 points and Jameel McKay had 15 points and 19 rebounds to lead No. 5 Iowa State past North Dakota State.
- No. 8 Villanova won a road game in Philly as they defeated Saint Joseph’s, 86-72. Kris Jenkins and Josh Hart each finished with 18 points while Ryan Arcidiacono had 17 points.
- Virginia was able to win on the road at Ohio State without London Perrantes as Malcolm Brogdon had 22 points and six rebounds. The Buckeyes have lost four consecutive games.
OTHER NOTABLE RESULTS
- Quality blowout win for Florida as they easily dispatched Richmond. John Egbunu finished with 17 to pace the Gators while Dorian Finney-Smith had nine points, 13 rebounds, six assists and three blocks.
- Northwestern outlasted Virginia Tech in overtime as Bryant McIntosh had 19 points and Tre Demps finished with 17.
- Georgia Tech defeated Wofford at home as Adam Smith led with 16 points for the Yellow Jackets.
- Georgia needed 23 points from J.J. Frazier and 21 points from Yante Maten to outscore Oakland in a close win.
- B.J. Tyson had 15 points and nine rebounds to help lead East Carolina past Florida Atlantic.
- Nice win for William & Mary over Old Dominion as Omar Prewitt had 18 points and seven rebounds.
- Ohio got past Marshall as guard Jaaron Simmons had 25 points, six assists and five rebounds.