Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski made official Thursday afternoon what had been long suspected -- Duke freshman point guard Kyrie Irving will play in the NCAA tournament.
Irving hasn't played since December, when he injured his toe against Butler. Coach K said he would come off the bench and play a limited number of minutes.
Still, I can easily see this becoming one of the biggest storylines of the NCAA tournament. Without Irving, Duke still grabbed a No.1 seed. With a healthy Irving? Well, if he plays like he did in December, let's just say I'd like to rethink my pick of an Ohio State-Kansas final.
Too late now on that, but it was good to see Irving running with the other Blue Devils in Thursday's open practice and it will be good to see him play in Charlotte this weekend. He was a good soldier by all accounts during his absence, and so now we all get to see what he's got.
"To have Kyrie back will be a huge lift," said Nolan Smith, who now won't have to constantly pressure the opposing team's point guard on defense since Irving can do that whenever he's in the game.
Said Coach K of Irving: "This kid will be a great player. He won't be a great player tomorrow (against Hampton, 3:10 p.m. tipoff Friday)."
That's probably true, but by next week? Irving may well be a great player once again, and he may make Duke a very serious contender for its second straight national title.