Keith Dambrot said Tuesday he would be “shocked” if Duquesne point guard Sincere Carry doesn’t recover from Feb. 26 arthroscopic knee surgery in time to play in the Atlantic 10 Tournament next week.
But the Dukes coach would rather be shocked than put Carry into a game too soon and place his career in jeopardy.
Carry had two bone fragments floating in his left knee for several weeks, playing through pain until 10 days before surgery became necessary. He has missed four games.
“It was amazing he played as long as he did with those two things floating around,” said Dambrot, who saw the fragments after they were removed.
Carry, who leads the team in scoring in A-10 games (13.7 points) and the conference in assists (5.8), won’t play in the Dukes’ last two regular-season games: Wednesday at Saint Louis and Saturday at home against Dayton.
Dambrot said after that the decision will be Carry’s to make.
“He know how it feels. He knows how it’s felt in the past,” the coach said. “He knew he was in trouble this last time. We have to put it on him.
“With what he’s been through psychologically, he has to make sure he feels good. We can’t afford to let that big bone have another big problem, or his career is on the line.”
Dambrot said he won’t let Carry risk further injury but knows the freshman from Solon, Ohio, will try to play.
“He’s not going to back down,” Dambrot said. “He’s one of the best competitors I’ve ever had. If he can be in reasonably good shape, he’ll compete so hard that he’ll make us better.”
Duquesne is 2-2 without Carry, including an 80-73 victory against UMass on Saturday in which Tavian Dunn-Martin stepped into the void and scored 30 points.
Meanwhile, Duquesne (19-10 overall) has its best record after 29 games since 1981. The Dukes remain in contention for one of four double byes in the conference tournament that opens March 13 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
VCU (14-2) needs one more victory or a loss by Davidson (12-4) to clinch the top seed. After that, only one game separates Dayton (11-5), St. Bonaventure (11-5), Duquesne (10-6) and George Mason (10-6).
“If we play well (this week),” he said, “it will be a good gauge as to whether we can have a shot at this tournament.
“We have a lot to be proud of, but we certainly aren’t where we want to be.”