GREENSBORO, N.C. — Duke advanced to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament for the fourth consecutive season, but the story of the evening was the fate of two toes.
For months, there has been speculation about the right big toe of freshman Kyrie Irving. Friday night, for the first time since he injured his toe in a Dec. 4 win against Butler, the point guard warmed up with the team. Irving was in Duke gear and participated in moving and shooting drills with the assistance of team trainer Nick Potter. He went into the locker room with about an hour before tip-off to change into his street clothes before the game.
After the game, however, head coach Mike Krzyzewski was still noncommittal about the status of his freshman phenom.
“There’s no timetable,” Krzyzewski said. “He’s not going to magically appear tomorrow or anything like that. He hasn’t done anything with the team, but it’s come a long way, so we just wanted to take advantage of the gym and the crowd. That keeps his spirits up, too.
“He’s just going through the next phase of his rehabilitation.”
Irving’s presence in warmups created quite the stir at the Greensboro Coliseum, and the Maryland players looked plenty confused to see the point guard on the court.
But confusion turned to despair with 6:48 remaining in the game when senior guard Nolan Smith went down hard. Krzyzewski confirmed that the trainers had also diagnosed Smith’s injury as a toe injury on the second toe of his left foot.
The head coach also had few answers as to whether Smith will be able to suit up tomorrow against the winner of Florida State-Virginia Tech. Smith wasn’t available to the media following the game.
“Not sure on Nolan’s status,” Krzyzewski said. “He wasn’t able to come back in to the ball game so we’re concerned about that…. He’s hurt and we’ll get an X-ray and figure it out.”
Krzyzewski did add a little levity to the situation when a reporter with a British accent asked about the nature of Smith’s injury.
“I think it’s the second toe,” he said. “But I don’t know which side of the road that would be on, so you gotta find out if that’s from the right or the left. It’s the second toe. I’m Polish–I’m just glad I’ve got five toes.”