What Does Kyrie Irving’s Injury Mean for Duke?

December 10, 2010 – 12:11 am by TheRiot

You didn’t really think Duke was going to go undefeated or something this year, did you? Surely, you know better than that.

But, naturally, as one of the most talented teams in the country with Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler and freshman sensation Kyrie Irving, mixed in with a very down ACC this season, some people have kicked around the idea of Duke being undefeated this year heading into the NCAA Tournament.

Well, at least there was mention made of the possibility on Pardon the Interruption on Thursday.

Anyway, that idea is completely shot in light of Irving’s toe injury. Not that it will derail any of Duke’s realistic goals for the season.

Duke and the Irvings are trying to figure out the best course of action after the freshman point guard suffered ligament damage to his right big toe. There’s been some speculation that he could miss the rest of the season.

Meanwhile, basketball people are trying to figure out exactly how losing one of the most talented freshmen in the country would affect the Blue Devils.

The answer? Well, it’s not that simple.

Duke would still be one of the most talented teams in the country with Singler and Smith, not to mention Andrew Dawkins and Seth Curry. But as ESPN’s Andy Katz points out, Irving is Duke’s bets penetrating ball handler and playmaker.

That’s not easily replaced, as it often opens up shots for shooters like Dawkins and Curry.

So what does it mean? It could derail a national championship run during the NCAA tournament, probably in the Sweet 16 or later. That’s about it. The ACC isn’t any good; Duke is still the best team by a wide margin.

Irving would be a substantial loss, but not one that Coach K can’t coach around until he faces a team that’s just flat out more talented in a one-and-done scenario.

And that doesn’t come until March.

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