Report: Duke's Kyrie Irving May Miss Rest of Season With Injury, So What Now?

Mike KlineAnalyst IDecember 9, 2010

It could be a while before Duke's Kyrie Irving suits up again as a toe injury has him sidelined, potentially for the season.
It could be a while before Duke's Kyrie Irving suits up again as a toe injury has him sidelined, potentially for the season.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

As everyone by now knows, Kyrie Irving is out indefinitely with an unspecified toe injury.

And as it turns out it may be more serious than previously thought, with some reports indicating it could be season-ending and involve ligament damage.

Mike Krzyzewski has indicated the injury, while not yet defined, is serious and that the staff will make the best decision based on "his best interest and his career."

He went on to say that Duke would not make a decision to "save him for any period of time or whatever" and that "he could be out or a long time."

Not words you want to hear if you are a fan of the Blue Devils.

If you hadn't heard about his injured toe before Duke's 83-48 drubbing of Bradley on Wednesday night, you surely heard ESPN announcer Mike Patrick utter the words or a variant of them about 1,000 times.

To hear Patrick and his cohort Len Elmore talk about it during the game, you would have thought Irving's career was over and Duke would be lucky to know which direction to go in with their offense.

Thoughts like this, especially as they apply to Duke as a team, are entirely short-sighted and a bit lazy for Elmore who is a smart guy and knows basketball.

Did the Blue Devils struggle without Irving running the offense? Sure, but only initially. They found their groove, pulling away from the Bradley Braves in the second half after only holding a 14-point margin at halftime.

Apparently, 14-point margins are a reason for Duke fans to be concerned or so says the brain trust at ESPN.

Ultimately, Patrick is correct, the toe injury sidelining Irving has no official diagnosis and no return date has been set.

And given Krzyzewski's comments, more speculation and concern surrounding his status is bound to be made. Krzyzewski generally doesn't make too much about injuries and time tables, so given the seriousness of his tone it is definitely an issue.

I expect Krzyzewski will quickly be bombarded with questions about Irving's status at every opportunity by those media types with nothing better to do.

This isn't to say that Irving's injury isn't newsworthy, but for the time being, considering Duke will not play another team this calendar year who has a winning record, it isn't a crisis. The Blue Devils will still be ranked No. 1 when the New Year rings in.

The Blue Devils will have to adjust, but they have time.

After a sloppy first half Wednesday night in which it was clear they were struggling without Irving' play making ability, they made some adjustments.

Nolan Smith primarily handled the point guard duties, which he is likely to do in Irving's absence. Andre Dawkins got his first start and only managed to score a career high 28 points.

Irving's injury and the level of Duke's opponent afforded more playing time for reserves Tyler Thornton and Josh Hairston.

Miles Plumlee got the start after struggling recently and responded with a solid 14 points and four rebounds. Seth Curry saw more action and played better.

Plus they still have Kyle Singler, the preseason favorite for Player of the Year.

In the short term, even without Irving, Duke will be fine regardless of the hysterics of Mike Patrick or anyone else for that matter.

In the event that Irving doesn't make it back, the Blue Devils and Krzyzewski will still have plenty of time to make more adjustments.

Last season Brian Zoubek was inserted into the staring lineup as a midseason adjustment and that worked out well.

Still it will be a different team. They will play a different brand of basketball without Irving's play making and speed.

They also will not be the odds on favorite to win the National Title or as some have suggested run the table. That being said Duke is still going to be good and they are a contender even without him.

Unlike a team like Kentucky last year that would have probably been lost without John Wall, Duke has plenty of experience, depth and a Hall of Fame coach to absorb some of the loss.

Is Duke better with Irving? Yes, they absolutely are, but are they going to fall apart without him?

Absolutely not.