Freshman guard stays positive despite injury
Kyrie Irving made an immediate and virtually unprecedented splash in his first eight games in a Duke uniform. The young phenom was averaging 17.4 PPG while shooting a blistering 53% (45% from 3-point range) and 90% from the charity stripe. He was dishing out over five dimes per game and averaging 1.81 points per shot (for comparison’s sake, UConn standout Kemba Walker has averaged 1.38 PPS this year, Nolan Smith is at 1.48 PPS). He was probably Duke’s best player on a team with a pair of senior All-America candidates who have national championship rings. He dropped 31 points on Michigan State in just his seventh college game.
Then, in an instant, just as he had surged into the mix as one of the top players in college hoops and climbed to the top of NBA mock drafts, he was sidelined with a complicated toe injury indefinitely. The injury still doesn’t have a definitive timetable, forcing the freshman to hurry up and wait while his teammates take the court without him.
It would be human nature for a young freshman in this unfortunate situation to feel down, lack energy and spirit, and struggle to stay steady. However, Kyrie has done just the opposite, staying focused on getting healthy while being a great teammate. During games, he brings as much enthusiasm as any player on the bench and no one in the gym celebrates a big Duke play more than Kyrie. He also frequently seeks out fellow guard Nolan Smith, giving the senior tips about what he’s seeing from the bench. As incredible as the New Jersey native was on the court, he has been equally impressive in a different way dealing with his injury.
Kyrie’s coaches and teammates have helped as well, encouraging and supporting the injured Blue Devil. Meanwhile, our trainers Jose Fonseca and Nick Potter have spent hours tapping into Duke’s world-class medical resources and doing whatever they can to get Kyrie back to 100 percent ASAP. And, some Crazies went above and beyond to support the point guard’s toe.
As of now, Kyrie’s toe continues to make some progress as his medical team has opted for a non-surgical approach. A recent article from the Durham Herald-Sun notes that Kyrie’s cast may come off February 4th and then extensive rehab would be required to rebuild some of the strength in his leg, calf and foot, while making sure the toe and the surrounding ligaments are strong enough for running, cutting and jumping. Kyrie also would have to get back into playing shape, which he could do at first using our underwater treadmill, stationary bike and arm bike before the foot is ready for full running on a court or treadmill. Since the injury is pretty rare, it’s still debatable when and if the freshman will return this season. What’s not up for debate is that Kyrie has been an amazing teammate in a really tough spot. Check out some of these pictures of K1 doing his thing from the bench…