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Coach K, Duke expect Ryan Kelly to return

Feb 22, 2013, 5:49 PM EST

Ryan Kelly

Duke has played 15 games with Ryan Kelly and 11 without him. Following an 88-56 win at Virginia Tech on Thursday, the sixth-ranked Blue Devils are now 8-3 with Kelly in street clothes.

Even though Kelly has been sidelined with a right foot injury since Jan. 9, and is still seen in a walking boot, Mike Krzyzewski is confident he’ll have his senior forward back soon.

“We’re more optimistic,” Krzyzewski said after Thursday’s win. “Again, no timetable, but it’s moving. It’s moving in the right direction. Now we believe we’re going to get him back.”

Coach K went on to tell reporters that the 6-foot-11 Kelly has already begun physical activities, but has yet to get involved in any basketball-related workouts besides shooting free throws. Duke has five regular season games remaining to plug Kelly back into the lineup. Before the injury suffered during the Jan. 8 win over Clemson, Kelly was averaging 13.4 points and was the second-leading rebounder with 5.4 per game.

In a lineup with Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry, two candidates to be ACC Player of the Year, Kelly was arguably the most valuable player to Duke prior to his injury. He is a versatile defender and offensively adds another shooter on the perimeter, which in return opens up more for Plumlee down low.

Kelly had sustained an injury to the same foot in the latter part of last season, causing him to miss the ACC and NCAA tournaments. The Blue Devils lost two of the last three games that year without Kelly on the floor.

Duke is set to host Boston College on Sunday afternoon.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne