EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.—Things haven’t been easy for Seth Curry this season, even if he made it look that way in Duke’s 90-67 victory against Temple.
The senior guard from Charlotte has faced adversity since even before the season started. Curry has been battling a lower leg injury that has kept him out of practice for most of the season, and he suffered a new injury—to his left ankle—in the second half of Duke’s 73-68 victory against Ohio State. The new injury kept him on the sidelines when the Blue Devils hosted Delaware last Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“[Seth is] a terrific scorer, he’s learned to be a really good defender, and he can handle,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “It’s just sad that he’s had to manage this injury the way he has.”
More than anything, the injuries seem to be affecting Curry’s consistency and durability on the court. During Duke’s first Battle 4 Atlantis game against Minnesota, Curry wowed the Blue Devil faithful with 25 points in 33 minutes of action, knocking down 8-of-11 shots from the field, including a perfect 3-of-3 from beyond the arc.
Curry’s play declined over the next two days, however, when Duke matched up with Virginia Commonwealth and then-No. 2 Louisville. In those two games Curry made just 6-of-20 field goals and 2-of-12 from deep. His fatigue carried over into the Ohio State game, where he connected on just 1-of-6 attempts, scoring only four points—his lowest point total since the 2011 NCAA tournament loss to Arizona, in which he scored three points in nine minutes.
“[Seth] usually has his shot,” Krzyzewski said. “I have ultimate confidence in Seth. He doesn’t practice much so you don’t know if he’s going to be sharp.”
The only cure for Curry’s woes seems to be time off, and that’s exactly what Curry got by resting during the Delaware game last Saturday and having a full week without a game before Duke’s tilt with Temple.
“The ankle feels good. I got some rest and it did me real well, and both my shin and my ankle kind of got refueled a little,” Curry said.
Refueled they were, as Curry lit up the Owl defense, en route to a 23-point explosion highlighted by 5-of-9 shooting on 3-pointers.
“Seth really gave us a spark,” senior forward Mason Plumlee said. “He was hitting shots and playing well.”
Curry got off to a good start in the first half, but really showed his dominance during a 1:12 stretch late in the second half. With Duke’s lead at only 14, Curry got to the free throw line and connected with a pair of free throws. He then buried consecutive shots—including one of his five three-pointers—on the Blue Devils’ next two possessions, going on his own 7-0 run to push Duke’s lead to 20.
He topped off the run by drawing a charge on the next possession.
“Once he gets going you have to keep calling stuff for him,” Krzyzewski said. “We just went exclusively to him.”
With final exams on the way, the Blue Devils have another long layoff before playing their next game.
“That’s going to be good for me personally, to get some rest and try to stay sharp,” Curry said.
Weirder, perhaps, than the long layoffs, is the fact that when Duke does return to game action they will be hosting Cornell and Elon on back-to-back days, December 19 and 20. Given the tenuous nature of Curry’s injury, the scheduling may prove to be a problem.
“I’m planning on [playing both games of the back-to-back],” Curry said. “I’m taking it day by day. You never know how I’ll feel after that first game, [but] I’m planning on playing every game.”
The Blue Devils have capable backups should Curry miss time, as freshmen Amile Jefferson and Alex Murphy have shown the past two games, but Curry’s play cannot be replaced. Second on the team in scoring—trailing Plumlee—with 16.1 points per game, this Duke team can only go as far as Curry’s legs can carry it.
“I think he’s really as good as any so-called two-guard,” Krzyzewski said. “A huge thing for us [all season] will be managing Seth’s injury.”