Kyrie Irving will play "significant minutes," against Arizona, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said, but the Blue Devils' freshman guard will not join the starting lineup in Thursday night's NCAA West Regional semifinal game against Arizona in Anaheim, Calif.
Irving returned from a 31/2-month absence because of a toe injury to play in both Blue Devils tournament games. He scored 14 points in 20 minutes in his return against Hampton, then had 11 points in 21 minutes against Michigan and was on the court at the end of that win.
But No. 1 seed Duke (32-5) has started Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler, Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee and Miles Plumlee for five consecutive games during the postseason.
“We’re good with who we’re starting,” Krzyzewski said Tuesday before boarding the bus to the airport for the trip to California.
“We should have at least eight players feel like they’re starters on this team with Andre (Dawkins) and Ryan (Kelly). We’ve had nine people start on this team, so that’s an advantage. We can’t get caught up in who’s starting. Kyrie will play, and he will play significant minutes against Arizona.”
TOUGH ACT TO FOLLOW
No matter who Tennessee athletics director Mike Hamilton picks as Tennessee’s next men’s coach, he will inherit a program that could be facing scholarship losses or a postseason ban as a result of an NCAA investigation that uncovered 10 alleged major violations during Bruce Pearl’s six-year tenure. He also will be forced to follow an extremely popular coach who led the Vols to six consecutive NCAA tournaments.
Experts expect the school to pursue hot candidates such as Virginia Commonwealth coach and former Florida assistant Shaka Smart, Richmond coach Chris Mooney and Marquette coach Buzz Williams, who will all coach in NCAA regional semifinal games Friday .
Wake Forest granted sophomore Ari Stewart his release from the basketball program. The forward averaged 8.5 points and 4.4 rebounds in 30 games for the Demon Deacons (8-24). Providence hired former Fairfield coach Ed Cooley, who led the Stags to a school-record 25 wins and a MAAC regular-season championship this year, to replace the fired Keno Davis.