Injured Duke guard might be back for NCAA opener

Freshman hasn't played since Dec. 4

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DURHAM, N.C. --- Injured Duke point guard Kyrie Irving could return for the Blue Devils' NCAA Tournament opener, coach Mike Krzyzewski said Tuesday.

Krzyzewski said Irving, a freshman, practiced "a little bit" with the team Tuesday, but he won't know for a few days whether the freshman will be available for the top-seeded Blue Devils' West Regional opener against 16th-seeded Hampton on Friday in Charlotte.

"There is a chance that he would play," Krzyzewski said.

The coach added that if Irving does come back, he won't start, would see only limited minutes and wouldn't be on the court for extended periods of time.

"You don't want to get where he gets hurt and hurts something else because you extend him past" his limits, Krzyzewski said.

Duke will hold its pre-NCAA Tournament open practice Thursday at the arena in Charlotte and "we'll know a heck of a lot more by then," Krzyzewski said.

Speculation about Irving's status intensified during the past week. He performed on-court drills in shorts and sneakers with the training staff before the ACC quarterfinals.

Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils insist a possible return wouldn't threaten the chemistry developed over the past three months without him. Duke (30-4) went 22-4 in his absence, rolling to a third consecutive ACC Tournament title and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row.

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