Krzyzewski: Reintegrating Kelly should be smooth process
Posted February 26, 2013
Durham, N.C. — Although time is running short on the regular season, Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said Tuesday that he's still hopeful that senior forward Ryan Kelly will return in time for postseason play.
Kelly, who has been sidelined by a right foot injury since early January, told reporters Sunday following Duke's win over Boston College that he'd love to play on Senior Night March 5 against Virginia Tech.
Krzyzewski didn't offer more details about a timetable Tuesday, saying only that Kelly has been doing some on-court workouts. Despite that, he won't play in Thursday's game at Virginia or Saturday's showdown with ACC-leading Miami.
"He's getting his basketball muscles ready. He's shot the ball, but he's not really getting off the floor much on his shot," Krzyzewski told Adam Gold and Joe Ovies on 99.9 FM the Fan. "He's doing more with the team, so we're integrating him into the team again. It's a process."
That integration process will take time once Kelly returns, but Krzyzewski said he's not expecting a repeat of 2011, when Duke struggled to reinsert Kyrie Irving after he missed 26 games to a toe injury. Pairing Irving in the back court with Nolan Smith, who had run the team during his absence, did not end well, as the Blue Devils were trounced by Arizona in the Sweet 16.
"We didn't have enough time to develop that," Krzyzewski said. "In Ryan's case, he plays a position where, when he does get the ball, the decision he makes with it is usually the best one. He's a very intelligent player, and he spreads the court."
Mason Plumlee, who has seen countless double teams in Kelly's absence, could be the most noticeable beneficiary of a late-season return. Another player likely to be impacted is freshman Rasheed Sulaimon, who has blossomed in Kelly's absence.
Sulaimon, who scored a career-high 27 points in Sunday's win over Boston College, has averaged 14 points per game since Kelly's injury and has been one of the major reasons the Blue Devils have gone 9-3 without one of their senior leaders.
"He's been very efficient," Krzyzewski said of Sulaimon. "He's had a variety of defensive assignments. He's going to become a great defensive player. He's a pretty good one now."
Krzyzewski said Tuesday the challenge the coaching staff faces is merging Kelly's abilities with what the team is now.
"The transition should be smoother," Krzyzewski said. "Bringing him back will open things up for us, but you can still keep the old. The main thing is just how well Ryan can play after being out for two months. We wouldn't put him out there if we didn't think he could play."
Preparing for a wild NCAA Tournament
As the Blue Devils continue to build a resume that may end up being worthy of a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Krzyzewski said he's expecting a wild close to the regular season.
He also dismissed the notion that college basketball is broken, a talking point many use to explain growing parity across conferences and divisions.
"The regular season has been more exciting nationwide because there haven't been one or two teams that are dominant," he said. "It's different. There are more people who can win. I don't know why that means it's broken. I believe that's good."
Olympic run at an end
In an interview with ESPN Radio's Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg, Krzyzewski confirmed that his time as coach of Team USA has come to an end.
After two gold medals in two Olympiads, Krzyzewski reiterated that his run is done.
"They would never make announcements during the basketball season," he said to explain the fact that a coach has not been named for Team USA.