DAYTON, Ohio -- Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski on Tuesday acknowledged publicly for the first time since Kryie Irving injured the big toe on his right foot back on Dec. 18 that the star point guard "could" play in this NCAA tournament.
And now it's time to start ripping up your bracket.
Seriously, this changes everything.
Nobody knows how many minutes Irving could play or how effective he could be over the next three weeks, but Krzyzewski putting this out there like that suggests he plans to use Irving in some form at some point. The final hurdle, it seems, will be whether Irving's father, Drederick Irving, will sign off on letting his son return when the reality is that the freshman from New Jersey did enough in Duke's first eight games to convince professional scouts that he's worthy of being selected in the top three of June's NBA Draft, perhaps as high as first overall. Reasonable minds can differ on the right and wise move. But only Irving and his father are qualified to make that call.
In the meantime, college basketball fans wait.
Kyrie Irving practiced "a little bit" Tuesday, according to his coach. If he practices a little bit more Wednesday, a little bit more Thursday and is back to operating near 100 percent by the time the Blue Devils reach a presumed Sweet 16, watch out. Yes, I suppose there might be chemistry issues for Duke like some suggested upon hearing Krzyzewski's announcement that Irving could return, but I'm betting the positives of having Irving in the lineup far outweight any possible negatives. He's so good with the ball, at probing the defense and either attacking the rim or finding an open shooter. Though Nolan Smith is great and has been named college basketball's National Player of the Year by various media outlets, remember this: Irving was Duke's best player when he was healthy enough to play for Duke.
We all agreed on that three months ago.
If you've forgotten, I suggest you watch tape.