Friday, August 19, 2011

Kelly steps forward for Duke in China

Duke junior forward Ryan Kelly has enjoyed bartering in the market and cruising down the Huang Pu River in the seemingly endless city of Shanghai, whose population numbers about 23 million.

On the Blue Devils’ exhibition trip to China, Kelly also has established himself as one of the most improved players on the team in wins over the Chinese Olympic team.

Kelly scored 14 points with 13 rebounds Wednesday in Kunshan and led Duke with 20 points and added eight rebounds Thursday in Shanghai.

“I think that’s the big thing is playing with confidence,” Kelly said in a teleconference with reporters from North Carolina newspapers this morning. “I’ve had a long summer to work on a lot of areas of my game, and I’ve really taken advantage of the opportunity to be at Duke all summer.”

A returning starter, Kelly averaged 6.6 points and 3.7 rebounds per game for Duke last season. The former Ravenscroft player has improved his game to fill a void for the Blue Devils, who have lost senior stalwarts Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler plus No. 1 overall NBA draft pick Kyrie Irving.

The focus for Kelly this summer has been improving his jump shot, quickness and lateral movement so he could create more shots for himself and others. That has paid off to the tune of 15-for-20 shooting from the field over Duke’s first two exhibition games.

“I knew I had to grow as a knock-down shooter and become more confident in my jump shot,” Kelly said, “and with that also make more plays off the dribble and not only create for myself and other players on the court.”

After playing games on back-to-back days, Duke is preparing to leave Saturday for Beijing. The Blue Devils will go to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City on Sunday and play the Chinese Olympic Team on Monday.

Duke will visit the Great Wall of China on Tuesday.

“Seeing the different cultures is a great experience,” Kelly said, “but we’re also here to play basketball.”

The trip has had its challenges for Duke. The charter flight that was supposed to leave from Raleigh-Durham International Airport was delayed by a day. In two games, the Chinese Olympic Team has shot 72 free throws to 25 for Duke.

But the Blue Devils have persevered, and they’ve avoided the controversy that surrounded another U.S. college team, Georgetown, in China. On Thursday, a brawl broke out between Georgetown and a Chinese team in an exhibition, causing an immediate end to the game in the fourth quarter.

“Obviously it’s an unfortunate situation, and when tempers are flaring you never know what’s going to happen,” Kelly said. “We’re certainly hoping nothing like that would happen to us.”

So far, only good things have happened to Kelly on this trip. He said the exhibition games have been helpful to the team, too, as the Duke coaching staff tries to figure out what roles players will be ready to assume on a team with significant personnel losses.

“Especially our freshmen have an opportunity to play against a high level talent,” Kelly said. “. . .It’s just an incredible opportunity for us to grow as individuals and as a team.”

Ken Tysiac


Anonymous said...

Wow, Kelly played. Judging by the ESPN highlight roll, only Austin Rivers showed up.

Anonymous said...

How does this not violate NCAA rules? Aren't th first practices supposed to be in October?

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon 12:20 Do some research you bandwagon tar hole

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon 12:30. It is a question, not a comment. Also, went to Davidson.

Anonymous said...

Kelly is the most improved dookie, but still the ugliest player on the team by far which is saying a lot. That being said, I'm sure he has no problem picking up dudes.

Anonymous said...

Haha! Ryan Kelly is going to lead Dook this year? What a joke! Kelly is like Kyle Singler minus the talent. Dook will struggle this year and Coach K will end up breaking his other hip and blame the losses on his assistants.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:20, the NCAA allows a school to take a preseason, foreign tour every 4 years. They are allowed to practice before and during this tour and are exempted from the normal NCAA first practice date.

Forget Anon 12:30. He's just some bandwagon Duke fan. Perhaps he is even a UNC-CH alum. Either way - no class.

Anonymous said...

Hey UNCheats, worry about your sordid football disgrace and Roy's vertigo and let Duke worry about its 5th best player (Kelly).

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Host Pay Per Head said...

I was so excited to watch Kelly playing and looking at him through ESPN channel and I think that the commentators misjudged him