Duke basketball: Giant hurdles awaiting fully healthy Blue Devils

Duke basketball (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

Surprisingly, there are zero reports of lingering Duke basketball injuries.

It feels like that at this juncture across the first 40 Duke basketball seasons under Mike Krzyzewski, there’s almost always been at least one Blue Devil out of action due to a sprain, break, tear, bruise, or another unspecified boo-boo. Apparently, though, as of this Jan. 18, all is well with the roster.

ALSO READ: Ranking the first 40 Duke teams under Coach K

Despite some recent absences between freshman combo forward Jalen Johnson (foot), senior big man Patrick Tapé (back), freshman power forward Henry Coleman (illness), and the head coach himself, Krzyzewski suggested to the media on Monday that now-unranked Duke (5-3, 3-1 ACC) boasts an injury report that is completely blank:

“[Johnson has] practiced every day. We even, yesterday, got Patrick back. Patrick practiced for the first time…It’s been a while, but I think everybody who is eligible to play can play. And Jalen has had good practices. So let’s see. Again, he’s got to get that court experience, game experience.”

Johnson is averaging 9.6 rebounds and 6.6 blocks in five appearances this season. Tapé, meanwhile, has played only three times, averaging only 1.3 points and 1.3 rebounds in 5.3 minutes per outing. As for Coleman, the bruiser was on the court in a total of four contests before missing the last one but has tallied only four points and three boards in 12 combined minutes.

Coach K also noted that there is no telling how roles will shake out with the returns of Johnson, Tapé, and Coleman. That said, the 73-year-old Hall of Famer now looks to be thrilled by the thought of seeing Johnson — a projected one-and-done lottery pick — and the rest of the gang focus on some much-needed complete team-building in the coming games:

“It’s not like [Johnson] is coming back to a place he’s been before or we’ve been before. We’re trying to develop a team…Now that he’s there, that gives us an opportunity to move forward and try to get to a better place with our entire unit…It’s good to finally get to a spot where we have everybody.”

Danger ahead on upcoming Duke basketball schedule

The Blue Devils return to the floor at 9 p.m. Tuesday against Pitt (7-2, 3-1 ACC) for what will be the second game of the group’s current three-game road slate. Then at 4 p.m. Saturday, Duke will be in the KFC Yum! Center — for the first time since the 2018-19 squad’s epic comeback win — when it faces Louisville (9-2, 4-1 ACC).

Fortunately for Mike Krzyzewski and his staff, all of their guys will now be sufficiently healthy and available. Knock on wood.

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