Duke senior forward Ryan Kelly had watched the previous 13 games prior to Saturday night’s showdown against Miami with his foot in a walking boot and crutches at his side. He watched as Duke went from National Title Contender to just another team this season. He watched wondering when, or if, he would get the chance to come back and make his senior season memorable. After practicing for just 20 minutes before the game against the Hurricanes, Kelly made his return and it sent shock waves through all of college basketball. His coach, Mike Krzyzewski, called it a “performance for the ages.” Given the circumstances, he was right. Kelly scored a career-high 36 points and carried the Devils to a win over fifth-ranked Miami. More importantly, he let the rest of college basketball know that when he is in the lineup, Duke is a different team. They are the favorites to cut the nets down in March once again. Ryan Kelly joined The Dan Patrick Show to talk about how surprised he was with his performance against Miami, on Mike Krzyzewski saying it was a performance for the ages, whether he thought his career was over when he was dealing with the foot injury, who came up with his nickname, and why he thinks Coach K was so mad last week about Virginia rushing the court.
How surprised were you with your performance?
“I was pretty happy about it to say the least, especially with the win obviously. I didn’t really know when I was going to play. I decided the day before. Really only got one 20 minute practice in the day before and just said I was going to go for it. Thank goodness the ball went in the basket.”
On Coach Krzyzewski saying it was a performance for the ages:
“Pretty amazing thing to hear from your coach. I don’t have words for it. Honestly it was an unbelievable experience and there were times where I didn’t know if I was going to come back through my injury. I’m glad I was able to come back and be with my teammates and get a couple of more chances to play in Cameron in front of the crazies.”
Did you think your career was over?
“Obviously not my basketball career but I didn’t know. With feet you just don’t know how long it’s going to take. Obviously I was hoping and praying and doing everything I could to put myself in a position, with the help of my training staff, to get back on the court. I just didn’t know. The bottom line was at some point I just had to go out there and play. See if I could take it and obviously I could.”
On who came up with his nickname:
The White Raven? Honestly I don’t know. It’s stuck I guess. (Host: But what does it mean Ryan?) I went to Ravenscroft High School and we were the Ravens. I’d assume that’s where that came from. Then obviously I’m white.”
If Coach K is alright with him having a beard:
“Once Brian Zoubek grew one and we won a National Championship I guess it was okay. I did ask permission though. (Host: Coach K said what?) he said it’s alright as long as I played well.”
Why he thinks Coach K was so mad when Virginia rushed the court after the win:
“In that game I wasn’t playing so I was on the bench and their staff, their security, did a really good job of keeping people away from the bench. But first off, when you’re on the court, there is certainly fear that you don’t know what will happen. Just uncontrollable. The bigger issue is kind of for us in that game was kind of in the corner where we had to get out, there was no pathway for us to get off the court. They took care of it as fast as they could but there’s no question that there’s some safety issues. That’s not saying that storming the court is something that I don’t appreciate or understand, like I said earlier, it’s something that us at Duke, we understand that teams want to do that against us, fans want to do that against us because we have tradition and we’re always a top program. (Host: But why was Coach K so angry if this happens to you guys a lot? Something had to be said.) I don’t know exactly what happened to be honest with you. There was something that happened in the corner when we were trying to get out. Think we just couldn’t get off quick enough and fans were pouring out and there was no way for us to get off the court.”