Kentucky’s future and how Duke can regroup
by Nicole Auerbach and Eric Prisbell, USA TODAY Sports
Welcome back to the weekly college basketball mailbag. Seems like we can’t go a night without someone rushing a court, which must be a good sign come March.
USA TODAY Sports’ college basketball reporters Nicole Auerbach and Eric Prisbell are here to help you sort out all the messes and questions you’ve got about college hoops each week. You can send questions for next week’s mailbag to Nicole and Eric on twitter.
Without further ado, let’s dig into this week’s questions:
@JdotKimmy: How far can Duke go without Ryan Kelly?
Auerbach: In light of Duke’s embarrassing blowout loss to Miami Wednesday night, the answer to the question has to be “not very far.” Duke fans are concerned, and rightfully so. The problem with an injury like Kelly’s — besides it being indefinite — is that it happened on a team that has depth issues. We’re seeing this team struggle mightily to replace Kelly in ACC play, and we’ll certainly see that in the NCAA tournament if Kelly isn’t back, of if he’s not fully healthy. The Blue Devils will likely still get a good seed based on their resume and what they did during non-conference play, but I honestly have no idea how far they can go in March/April without such an integral part of their team. It’s been a wacky season with a lot of unexpected results, so who knows?
Prisbell: Good thing Ryan Kelly will be back, because without Kelly Duke can go all the way to the second round of the NCAA tournament. Kelly is not Duke’s best player, but he is an extremely important part of a team that lacks anything resembling depth. Kelly is probably Duke’s third-best player. Not having him on the floor affects everything from scoring to the rotation to expectations for other players who are not totally equipped to fill his shoes right now. Duke’s non-conference resume is strong enough to give the Blue Devils a great shot at getting a very high NCAA tournament seed. But if the Blue Devils are without Ryan Kelly, few games would be guarantee victories. Good thing he is coming back. … [For more on Mailbag: Kentucky's future and how Duke can regroup, click here.]