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February 24, 2013

Kelly drawing closer to a return

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski has spoken more and more about Ryan Kelly's status of late, even going as far as to say he will be back. Duke's head coach echoed those comments yet again Sunday following Duke's 89-68 victory over Boston College.

"Ryan is going to be back soon," he said. "What does soon mean? I don't know. He's going to be back."

That's great news for Duke fans, who up until the last week did not have much reason to believe the Blue Devils' senior forward would return to the court.

Though the timetable is uncertain for his return, there is certainly hope he will make it back before the NCAA Tournament gets underway and perhaps even the ACC Tourney.

For the first time since Kelly injured his foot, the senior was available to speak with members of the media following the game Sunday.

And he had a lot to say. Unfortunately, none of it included a concrete timeline.

"I'm feeling very good, progressing quickly I think, and just trying to get into a position where I feel good about coming back and can help our team," Kelly said. "There's still no real timeline. Obviously, I want to be ready for the Tournament - that's the biggest thing.

"But it'd certainly be very nice as well to get out there for my Senior Night. I'm working hard every day with the medical staff and my coaches, and I'm feeling really good and I'm progressing."

What does all that exactly mean, though?

It means Kelly is doing a lot of individual work, with no real team contact. According to the Duke big man, he's done a lot of "hip work and strengthening my hips, a lot of lateral slides, which has been good, getting up shots."

Kelly indicated that he has participated in quite a bit of basketball related things, "just nothing live yet."

Conditioning is certainly a point of emphasis as well, not to mention his foot holding up under him when put under the stress of running on the hardwood.

So far, Kelly has only run in the pool, and he says it feels good as of now. In fact, he expects to practice more as the week progresses.

"That'll be the big test obviously," he said of participating in live basketball activities. "I have to go out and play again. I'm confident that that'll happen soon, and that'll go well."

As of now the hope is to simply get back into practicing with the team. From there, the Duke trainers will determine whether or not he's ready to take the floor alongside his teammates.

When he can actually return to game action remains uncertain. The likelihood of him making it back this week against Virginia or Miami is slim, but finding his way back into the lineup for Senior Night (March 5) against Virginia Tech does not seem completely out of the question.

"I haven't practiced at all, so some amazing things would have to happen for that to happen," Kelly said when asked if he could make it back to the floor this week against the Cavaliers or Hurricanes. "Everyday I'm getting better. Obviously I want to be on the court, and I want to get there as soon as possible, so nothing is out of the realm of thought, but I wouldn't count on it this week."



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