There’s nothing really new here but this is the latest on Wendell Moore’s injury.
He had surgery Monday, everything went well, and his fourth metatarsal is repaired and healing, or will be as soon as the swelling goes down.
A few years ago, Coach K had Bob Knight on his radio show and Knight told a story about being with some older coaches. One of them talked about a devastating injury one of his players suffered and how the staff and the team were deeply dispirited. And then, he said, he had to ask “who’s next?”
Because no matter how you look at it, when a player is hurt a coach has to figure out how to adjust.
Moore will be missed.
He offers Duke immense versatility. Basically he can play or guard every position except center and he might be able to do that at least briefly in a pinch. He’s an outstanding defender who can bring some serious ball pressure. He’s a solid ballhandler and he can get to the basket.
No one can replace everything he does, but Duke can do it by committee. Cassius Stanley, Jordan Goldwire and Jack White can pick up his defensive duties. Goldwire is the primary point guard backup already and he can continue in that role offensively and defensively. White has become a very tough-minded defender and he can handle most mid-sized players. Stanley is becoming increasingly valuable. Like just about everyone else on this Duke team, he defends with passion.
We’ve been around long enough to know that Coach K will pitch this as a bad break for Moore (no pun intended) but that there will be no self-pity for the team. And it’ll be pitched as an opportunity for other guys, among them Alex O’Connell, Matthew Hurt and Joey Baker.
When you’re adapting to an injury, it doesn’t mean you have to do everything the way you did before.
This gives those three guys, who are all potentially excellent scorers, a chance to really excel. We’ve seen Hurt progress rapidly as he gains strength and both Baker and O’Connell have demonstrated an ability to score and, just as impressively, to defend. O’Connell is a better athlete who has taken longer to commit to defense but he seems to have done it. Baker isn’t as good an athlete but as we have said before, that guy has the heart of a Ranger. All of them want to be good but we’re not sure anyone wants it as fiercely as does Baker.
So Duke has the means to adjust and when Moore does return, his versatility, not to mention his defense, will allow him to work back into the rotation quickly and where he’s needed. That’ll be deeply useful later in the season and it won't disrupt what works in his absence.
The other good news? It’s his hand. He can still run and condition while he heals.
And as we’ve said before, Duke has a hidden advantage with DUMC, which offers first-class and innovative health care, frequently bleeding edge stuff. We don’t know what the plans are obviously but our guess is that it won’t just be sitting and waiting. Some solid Duke medical technology is going to get applied to Moore’s hand to speed his recovery.