Don’t be surprised if Duke star freshman Kyrie Irving doesn’t take the court for the next month.
The Blue Devils announced their point guard is out indefinitely on Wednesday morning, but sources indicate that Irving’s toe injury is more serious than first anticipated and could put him on the shelf for the next 3-4 weeks or maybe even longer.
The good news for Duke is that the schedule is such that Irving, who has already been ruled out on Wednesday night’s game against Bradley, will only miss three more games until the ACC opener at home against Miami on Jan. 2.
All three – at home Saturday against Saint Louis, in Durham against Elon on Dec. 20 and at UNC Greensboro on Dec. 29 – should be easy wins even without Irving.
However, there is significant concern that the injury could keep Irving, who is currently in a walking boot, out of the lineup beyond a month. Duke has already consulted with multiple foot specialists and while surgery appears unlikely at this point, one of the doctors did recommend that course of action.
The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Irving, who is averaging 17.4 points, 5.1 assists, 3.8 rebounds and is shooting 45 percent from long distance, has emerged as a legitimate National Player of the Year candidate for the top-ranked Blue Devils.
He’s also the key to Duke’s chances of hanging consecutive banners in Durham.
Irving scored 32 points in a victory against Michigan State last week and had 21 in the win over Butler in New Jersey. He suffered the injury late in the game against the Bulldogs.
“Kyrie is going to miss an undetermined amount of time with the toe injury,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement. “Our medical staff will continue to monitor the recovery process and he will return to action once it has sufficiently healed. Kyrie is an outstanding player and we are confident that he will bounce back from this setback.”
With Irving out of the lineup, look for senior Nolan Smith – who has excelled playing primarily off the ball – to move back to running the team. That experiment didn’t fare well as a sophomore. Another option is using Stephen Curry’s younger brother, Seth, at point guard.