PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Duquesne basketball fans can let out a big sigh of relief. Junior Tarin Smith’s injury sustained during Monday’s loss to Cornell was nothing more than a low ankle sprain.
Not a re-injuring of his surgically repaired right knee as initially feared.
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“It was actually my ankle, not my knee,” Smith said. “Everybody thought it was my knee. I guess they said I was grabbing my knee. I didn’t notice it. I just rolled my ankle pretty bad.”
Smith practiced Wednesday with his teammates during an open session for the media but still moved gingerly, walking with a noticeable limp. He fully anticipates he’ll be ready for Friday’s matchup against Pitt in the annual City Game.
“I thought it was a lot worse, because when it first happened it felt bad,” Smith said. “But I’ll be ready to go Friday.”
Smith, who had surgery on his knee during the offseason, will receive treatment the next two days leading up to the game at PPG Paints Arena.
“It beats the alternative,” head coach Keith Dambrot said of Smith being able to suit up Friday.
Already limited with injuries to guard Eric James and forwards Chas Brown and Marko Krivacevic, the Dukes would have been left with only seven healthy players had their starting point guard not been able to go against Pitt. Smith is averaging more than 12 points a game and leads Duquesne with 10 assists.
In other injury-related news, Brown was in practice gear and participating with the Dukes. He’s missed all of the preseason and the team’s first four games due to a foot injury. The 6-foot-8 graduate transfer from Coppin State spent nearly all of October and November in a walking boot.
Dambrot said there’s an outside chance Brown could play Friday, but more than likely he’ll be available next week for games against Maryland Eastern Shore, Stetson, and Delaware State. The first-year coach did emphasize the coaching staff does not want to rush Brown back.
“We’re going to be very, very careful with Chas,” Dambrot said. “So it might mean four or five minutes one game, seven to eight minutes the next; almost like a pitcher with Tommy John. We have to resist getting him out there too quick. It’s not in his best interest or certainly isn’t in ours if he gets hurt again.”
Brown averaged 12 points and seven rebounds for Coppin State last year and is the inside presence the Dukes are sorely lacking.
“He moves pretty good, he’s a good athlete, and he’s strong as an ox,” Dambrot said of Brown. “Just getting another big body that plays hard, that can’t hurt you. He’s just a man and allows those young kids to be just what they are, which is young kids.”
Krivacevic remains a couple weeks out but expects to be cleared to resume basketball activities soon. Dambrot said James might be able to play Friday but has not practiced yet since sustaining his injury against VMI on Nov. 14.
“I wouldn’t count on him probably playing much,” Dambrot said of James. “If I can get him for five, six, eight minutes, it helps me. Just trying to keep guys fresh so they can make a play when it matters.”
Duquesne is seeking to make it two straight wins against its in-city rivals after knocking off the Panthers, 64-55, last year. It was the Duke’s first win in the series since 2000.