COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Duke center Marques Bolden has been cleared to return to action after missing all of the ACC Tournament with a knee injury suffered in the regular season finale against North Carolina.
Bolden suffered the injury on a scary fall at the end of a fast break play early in the first half, but in the days that followed the 6-foot-11 junior had encouraging progress and even returned to practice with his teammates earlier this week. Mike Krzyzewski was unsure what kind of minutes Bolden, who has started 21 games for the Blue Devils, would play or what his specific role would be, but he's going to be available and is expected to play against North Dakota State on Friday night.
While getting Bolden back is a big development for Duke, it comes with news that Jack White is dealing with a hamstring injury that could keep him out of NCAA Tournament action. Coach K is "not anticipating" that White will play in the first game of the weekend, but guessed that he might be able to give it a go on Sunday "if we win."
Bolden's absence required Javin DeLaurier to step up, playing what Krzyzewski described as some of the "best basketball of his career" during the ACC Tournament. DeLaurier, earlier in the afternoon, mentioned that Duke's depth issues, particularly down low, force him to be careful on the defensive end and conscious of getting in foul trouble, because of what it could mean for the team's lineups and rotations.
Even with White out, Duke should feel better about its depth at center with Bolden, DeLaurier and Antonio Vrankovic all ready to contribute to a national title run. All three players have shown the ability to step up when their number has been called recently -- even Vrankovic, contributing 10 minutes of energy and defense in the win against North Carolina in Charlotte -- giving Krzyzewski more confidence in his team's depth heading into the NCAA Tournament.