Duke Basketball: Coach K Says Kyrie Irving Could Play Friday for the Blue Devils

James PattersonContributor IMarch 15, 2011

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski announced in a press conference Tuesday that freshman point guard Kyrie Irving practiced with the team and may play Friday in the Blue Devils' opening-round matchup against Hampton in Charlotte.

"There is a chance [Irving] would play" Friday, Kryzewski said in a press conference following a Blue Devils practice.

Just two days ago, after Duke's victory in the ACC Championship game against North Carolina, Krzyzewski urged caution on Irving's status, saying, "We're far away from that decision."

The shift in tone is a good sign for Duke fans hoping to see the exciting freshman in action this weekend.

It would be the first appearance from Irving in game action since he injured his right big toe against Butler on December 4 at Madison Square Garden.

Irving had averaged 17.4 points and 5.1 assists per game in eight games for Duke.

Without Irving, the Blue Devils lost only four games all season, all of them on the road in hostile environments on their way to a No. 1 seed in the West region.

With Irving, Duke could potentially turn into one of the most potent offenses in the tournament field. Nolan Smith has been playing out of his natural shooting guard position.

With Irving potentially running the point during the tournament, Smith would be free to roam the wings and continue to punish opposing defenses. Smith has averaged over 21 points per game this season and is in contention for national player of the year.

Irving is also known as a lock-down defender, adding another wrinkle to an already stingy Duke defense.

In November against Kansas State, Irving guarded preseason All-American Jacob Pullen, holding him to four points on one-for-12 shooting from the floor.

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