Duke Foward Josh Hairston is considered doubtful for Duke’s match-up with North Carolina State on Thursday, February 7th, after suffering an infection in his right arm, a result of a cut he suffered during Duke’s 75-70 win over Wake Forest on January 30th.
This is another tough break for a Duke team that has been crushed by the injury bug all throughout the season. Hairston wouldn’t normally be a huge loss, as he has struggled to make an impact since taking over an increased role at the beginning of the season, but with Ryan Kelly already out until late February, the loss of Hairston leaves Duke even more thin at the power forward position.
Hairston, who has averaged 2.1ppg, 2.1rpg, and 0.3apg on the year, had been on the floor for 10+ minutes in 12 of Duke’s last 15 games. His loss may mean an even bigger playing-time boost for Amile Jefferson, which wouldn’t be wise, considering he has already seen a drastic increase in minutes over the last couple weeks, or an increased role for Redshirt-Freshman Alex Murphy, a 6’8 wing-player who has only played double-digit minutes in four contests this season. I’m not too fond of seeing Murphy taking Hairston’s minutes, either, simply because he doesn’t fit into the role that Hairston and Jefferson and Kelly play. If Murphy enters the game in a PF role, the Blue Devils are going to get murdered on the boards and in the paint. One other option is to give Marshall Plumlee a bigger role, but Coach K has hesitated to play him for an extended amount all throughout the year.
Mike Krzyzewski has already performed a ton of magic just to get the Kelly-less squad to perform at the level they are. Can he do it one more time without a backup PF? We’ll find out tomorrow.