- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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It's frustrating enough when your star freshman, in the midst of a potential player-of-the-year-type season, gets injured. It's even more frustrating when that injury is so out of left field that it defies diagnosis or understanding. That's where Duke is with Kyrie Irving. Weeks after Duke's win over Butler, when Irving injured his toe performing an otherwise nondescript baseline cut, Duke still doesn't have a go-to explanation for what Irving's injury is, how bad it might be, and when its star freshman might be back. The closest thing is this interview with Duke associate head coach Chris Collins, who spoke with the Fayetteville Observer's Dan Wiederer today. Warning: lengthy blockquote ahead:
“It’s a combination of things,” Collins said. “There’s a ligament and some bone in there that have been damaged. And from what we’ve seen, it’s a very unique injury. It’s a form of turf toe but it’s a little more severe than that. It’s been hard to explain in layman’s terms. But because it’s in the ball of his foot, that’s a really dicey area. That’s where you do all your cutting and your jumping. And that’s where you do all of your pushing off from. That’s what’s made this all the more delicate. I don’t know that the injury has an exact label. If it has a name, I don’t know what it is. But it’s something that we need to make sure gets healed correctly before Kyrie even thinks about playing. Because otherwise he could have more problems down the road.” So what’s the best-case scenario for Irving? “If we can avoid surgery, that’s the best-case scenario,” Collins said. “But what that means as far as a timetable for his return is hard to say. It’s such a delicate thing and it’s not an injury that’s very common and that we’ve seen before. It’s not like where if you break your foot, you can say ‘OK, we know in six-to-eight weeks, he’ll be back.’ This is truly a unique case where you have to go by feel. And that’s made it hard to say, ‘Hey, if all goes perfectly, he’s back in a month or six weeks.’ We just don’t know. That’s why we’re always talking about having the toe reevaluated. Every week we’re checking it out, seeing what the progress is. And the main thing right now is that we’re on a course that’s non-surgical. And as long as we see good progression, we’ll stay with that.”
In other words: No one knows how long Irving will be out. No one knows exactly what to call his injury. (I'm going to with "super-evil turf toe" until someone suggests something better.) No one knows whether he'll need surgery or not. Basically, no one knows.
Help us, Save Kyrie's Toe. You're our only hope.