DURHAM - Freshman point guard Kyrie Irving might play Friday in Duke's NCAA tournament opener, coach Mike Krzyzewski said today.
"There is a chance that he would play, but the decision won't be made for a few days," Krzyzewski said during his on-campus news conference to preview Duke's NCAA tournament opener.
Irving, who is recovering from an injury to his right big toe, practiced some with the team today. No. 1 seed Duke (30-4) meets No. 16 seed Hampton at about 3:15 p.m. Friday at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte.
Krzyzewski said Irving will not start and would only play a few minutes at a time if he gets on the court. The coach said Irving's toe is being re-evaluated after tonight's practice, and expects to know a lot more about Irving's status by the time Duke holds its open practice session Thursday afternoon in Charlotte.
Irving's return to the team would be a smooth transition, Krzyzewski said, because he has remained an enthusiastic member of the team even though he has missed the last 26 games because of the injury.
His teammates were enthusiastic about the prospect of Irving returning.
"Personally, I don't think he's missed a beat," senior forward Kyle Singler said after practice. "He's done a great job rehabbing. He's a little bit out of shape, but that's to be expected."
Irving injured his toe when it bent backward on Dec. 4 during a game against Butler. His foot was kept in a cast while damaged tissue between the sesamoid bones in his toe healed.
After Duke's win Sunday over North Carolina in the ACC tournament final, Irving told reporters for the first time that there was a chance he would return. Krzyzewski had repeatedly said he wasn't counting on getting Irving back.
"I'm going day by day," Krzyzewski said today, "because I never expected him to be back where he is today."