Impact on Duke after Zion Williamson injury

Whitley Bras, Staff Writer

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Zion Williamson, forward for the men’s basketball team at Duke University went down due to a mild knee sprain during the game versus University of North Carolina (UNC) and is still out of play until further notice.

UNC and Duke are classic rivals and the games are always extremely anticipated by sports fans. At the time of the game UNC was ranked number 8 and Duke was sitting at the top of the board at number 1. Now UNC is currently ranked number 2 and Duke is right behind them at third within the division. Duke had high hopes for the game with their stand-out star, Williamson who was dominating the stats of college basketball.

Zion Williamson is a freshman forward from Spartanburg, S.C. and has been a powerhouse for Duke throughout his first season of collegiate playing. Williamson was predicted to be a hit for the blue devils at the immediate start of the season. CBS sports wrote in an article published in November in which they described his playing ability, stating that, “Williamson has already, predictably, taken the college sports world by storm with his freakish athleticism and brand of basketball.”

Before the first minute of the anticipated game went by fans were shocked when Zion Williamson slid to the ground gripping his knee as the shoe on his left foot fell to pieces. Williamson was taken out the game, limping but still walking and remained out of play for the rest of the game.

Once Williamson left the game, it put Duke in a scrabble to fill the gap that was created by the injury of their star forward. Mike Krzyzewski who is the coach for the men’s basketball program at Duke said, “obviously, you lose a national player of the year candidate, there are going to be gaps of what you have to do”. Duke attempted to stay put together, but it was visibly seen that they were not expecting to lose one of their starting players within the first 30 seconds of play. ESPN described the energy of the game after the removal of injured Williamson by stating, “Duke looked lost without Williamson. Meanwhile, North Carolina took advantage of the Zion-sized hole in the lane, scoring 32 of its first 34 points in the paint and finishing with a 62-28 scoring advantage there.” UNC won the game 88-72 and many believe that the loss that Duke experienced was a product of Williamson not being able to play in the game.

Duke played Syracuse without Williamson a few days after the loss to UNC, and also lost to Virginia Tech 77-72 that same week. That will make it Williamson’s second game out from the season. Although Duke was able to hold their own against Syracuse and come out with a win of 75-65, the team is still feeling the impact of their star player.

It is unknown when Williamson will return to play. His injury was classified as a mild sprain, but Duke is still unsure of how much time he will miss on the rest of the season. Duke only has a handful of regular season games left before they enter into an ACC tournament and later on March Madness.

Zion Williamson is being seen as having a bright future and is expected to be a good prospect for the NBA after his collegiate career playing for Duke. Although Williamson is out of play now, the injury is minimal and he will be back to playing in a short amount of time when looking at the big picture of his career. ESPN discusses the situation by stating, “the result of the game seems secondary to Williamson's health, given how much he means to the Blue Devils and their national title hopes.” For now the Blue Devils will be able to hold their own but if Williamson is out for any important games in the remainder of the season, Duke will feel the pressure of his absence.

Overall, Williamson is a key player for the Duke Blue Devils and his return, as well as the UNC v. Duke rematch will be highly anticipated.

Sources: ESPN, CBS Sports, Duke men’s basketball