Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Kyrie Irving will play Friday in the Blue Devils’ NCAA tournament opener against Hampton in Charlotte, N.C.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Krzyzewski said Irving will not start and will play “limited minutes” when the No. 1 seeded Blue Devils meet the 16th-seeded Pirates.
The West Orange, N.J. native has been out since Dec. 4 with an injured big toe on his right foot.
Irving said he’s 95 percent healthy and “the other 5 percent will come when I actually play out there.”
The return of Irving certainly boosts Duke’s chances of repeating as NCAA champs and will allow Coach K to play Nolan Smith off the ball and Irving at the point.
Butler was the last team to play against Irving more than three months ago at the Izod Center and Bulldogs coach Brad Stevens said his return would have a significant impact.
“I can’t quantify the loss of time,” Stevens said after No. 8 Butler escaped with a 60-58 victory over No. 9 Old Dominion in a West Regional second-round game on Matt Howard’s last-second layup.
“That’s the one problem. If he’s with no rust, he’s probably the top point guard chosen in the NBA Draft if he wants to go. So he obviously makes that team, who’s already really loaded, like super-loaded.
“They were unbelievable with him.”
**Garden State guards plentiful in NCAA Tournament
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.