Gray won't return for Duke women this season
An MRI exam on Monday confirmed what Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie not only feared, but was already prepared for.
Chelsea Gray's basketball season is over.
The Duke junior guard, who dislocated her knee on Sunday, will require surgery that makes a comeback for next month's NCAA Tournament impossible.
The prognosis was made official on Tuesday morning. Duke (24-1, 14-0 in the ACC) is ranked No. 5 in the country.
Even before the news became certain, McCallie said Monday night the team had no choice but to move forward without its all-American guard.
“As far as Chelsea coming back, you have to get over that,” McCallie said. “She has something to heal. It’s a serious injury.”
Gray, the ACC leader in steals and assists who also averaged 13.1 points per game, dislocated her right knee in No. 5 Duke’s 81-70 win over Wake Forest on Sunday at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
McCallie said not trying to push Gray back into the lineup is the best thing for her long-term health.
“Chelsea has a very upbeat attitude,” McCallie said. “She’d like to come back tomorrow.
“We have to make sure she is well for her career and her lifetime.”
With Gray out, freshman guard Alexis Jones will take more of the minutes at point guard, as will junior Chloe Wells. Junior Tricia Liston, named the ACC player of the week on Monday for her play off the bench against Wake Forest (29 points), also will move back into the starting lineup, McCallie said.
As for a freshman handling such an important job, McCallie is confident Jones can lead Duke.
“Lex has tons of experience and will do a great job,” McCallie said.
Gray’s injury occurred in the first half of Sunday’s game. She landed awkwardly on her knee and fell to the floor, screaming in pain.
Duke’s medical staff tended to her, and McCallie came on the court. McCallie admitted Monday that when she returned to the bench to meet with her team, she was somewhat in shock.
But junior forward Haley Peters helped her snap out of the funk.
“Haley slapped me on the back and said, ‘Here we go, Coach P!’” McCallie said.
By Monday, while obviously saddened by her player’s serious injury, McCallie clearly was moving forward.
“I feel terrible for Chelsea and our team,” McCallie said, “but at same time you have to take the lessons from it as best you can.”