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The third wheel

Posted By Chris Girandola On Jan 23 2011 @ 9:41 pm In Duke | No Comments

He isn’t flashy.

He’s not particularly athletic.

He doesn’t take it to the rack with a mission to dunk on someone.

He just gets the job done in a workmanlike fashion.

As much as that description sounds like words directed towards Jon Scheyer of last year’s championship squad, it’s actually intended for Ryan Kelly this season.

Sure, I, like many others, questioned how and why the second-year forward was starting in place of Miles Plumlee at the beginning of the 2010-11 campaign, but it has become apparent that Mike Krzyzewski knew that Kelly was on the verge of becoming a productive player.

Kelly has been the player to step up after the Florida State loss and may be that third scorer to compliment Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith that the Blue Devils need down the stretch.  The 6-foot-10 “Christian Laettner/Danny Ferry” like forward had a nearly perfect week–uggh, a missed free throw in two attempts against the Wolfpack–making all six of his field goal attempts – including four 3-pointers – and all four of his free throws to score a career-high 20 points in Duke’s 83-59 rout of Wake Forest on Saturday after going four-of-four field goal attempts for 11 points in a win Wednesday at N.C. State.

“He’s just been good the whole season,” said Coach K, who stated last season that Kelly would be a very good player once he bulked up to withstand the physical play of the ACC.  “Since ACC play, he’s gotten better every game.  He’s a very reliable player, and he doesn’t get flustered.  He knows where he’s supposed to be all the time, and I think he’s become more aggressive and ready to take his shot.  He’s a really good shooter, and I think now you will see shot fakes and moves to the hole too, because he does have really good balance.  He’s just a really good player, and he was big for us today.”

He may not be as athletically gifted as either of the Plumlee brothers, but he has demonstrated over the past two games he can rebound as well with a combined 14 boards.  While Kelly had two consecutive games towards the end of December in which he had points in the double figures, those were against Elon and UNC Greensboro.

These past two performances on the road in ACC opponents’ confines are a hint that Coach K, his coaching staff of former Blue Devils, and fellow teammates may have found that third wheel so important in winning titles for Duke.

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