Duke’s Kelly out indefinitely with foot injury
Ryan Kelly’s stretch of solid basketball for Duke will be on hold, and the No. 1 Blue Devils will have to find a way to win without him.
Kelly, a 6-10 senior forward and the reigning ACC player of the week, is out indefinitely with an injury to his right foot, Duke announced on Wednesday.
The injury occurred late in the first half of Tuesday night’s 68-40 win over Clemson at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Kelly scored 12 points in the first half but did not play after halftime.
X-rays taken Tuesday night were inconclusive, but a computerized tomography (CT) scan on Wednesday revealed the damage that caused team doctors to sideline Kelly. He is wearing a protective boot and will miss several games, beginning with Saturday’s at No. 20 N.C. State (noon, ESPN).
Duke has not announced a timetable for his return.
“We feel very badly for Ryan,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement. “He is playing the best basketball of his career, and this is a tough setback for him. We’re hoping for a good recovery, and we are optimistic about his return.”
ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas, a former Duke player and assistant coach, said Kelly’s loss is significant for the Blue Devils (15-0, 2-0 ACC).
“Anytime you take a starter out, it does change things,” Bilas said. “They are nowhere near as good. Ryan is one of the best players in the country. You take him off that team, and it makes a big difference. That’s a lot of minutes to replace.”
The former star player at Raleigh’s Ravenscroft High School, Kelly is averaging 13.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.7 blocks per game. He’s made 52.1 percent of his 3-point shots.
Bilas said the term “stretch-4” is overused in college basketball today. That said, he categorized Kelly as a true stretch-4 forward with an NBA future because of his versatility.
“He’s a big man that can operate on the perimeter,” Bilas said. “He can drive it, he can pass it, he can handle it. He can guard multiple positions.”
Kelly needed surgery the same foot last March after he was injured in practice and was out six to eight weeks after that procedure. He missed the ACC Tournament and did not play in Duke’s loss to Lehigh in the NCAA Tournament.
The immediate fear is that Duke will revert to a struggling team without Kelly, just as they did last year. Bilas said sophomore Quinn Cook’s emergence at point guard this season, after he struggled with consistency a year ago, gives Duke a better chance to play well without Kelly.
The Blue Devils could go with a four-guard set around senior center Mason Plumlee. Initially, though, Duke is expected to give junior Josh Hairston additional minutes in place of Kelly. Freshman Amile Jefferson and redshirt freshman Alex Murphy also will be in line for additional playing time.
“There are a lot of different possibilities you can go with,” Bilas said. “But to say they will be as good without Ryan will be laughable.”
Kelly’s recovery from the foot injury will involve rest and frequent checkups to monitor progress.
Dr. Selene Parekh, a Duke orthopedist at Durham’s N.C. Orthopedic Clinic who operates the footdronline.com informational website, said a severe foot injury would require season-ending surgery. While he isn’t treating Kelly and is only going by information that is being reported, Dr. Parekh said the injury sounds like a mid-foot sprain.
Because Kelly’s X-rays showed no broken bones, he said a CT scan is used to determine if bones were displaced and which ligaments were damaged.
“The concerning thing is they are saying he’s out indefinitely,” Dr. Parekh said. “With a bad mid-foot sprain, you immobilize, put in boot and let it calm down. Then you see when he can do weight-bearing again and, in his particular case, jumping and cutting.”
He said recovery from such a sprain can be anywhere from two-to-four weeks up to eight-to-10 weeks.