INDIANAPOLIS — INDIANAPOLIS Although the official line is that Darryl Bryant isn't expected to play against Duke today, the West Virginia point guard did participate in the team's brief workout Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Bryant broke the fifth metatarsal in his right foot in practice March 23 and missed the Mountaineers' last two wins over Kentucky and Washington.
He was fitted for a special shoe this week, raising speculation he might return to test Duke (33-5) on Saturday night in the NCAA semifinals.
During Friday's one-hour light public workout, Bryant took a few shots but none of the Mountaineers (31-6) did any concerted running.
The general practice among Final Four teams is to hold a closed morning practice at a location away from the official playing site.
Although Bryant said he was able to get lift on his jump shot, his lateral movement was limited. He sounded pessimistic about his chances of playing Saturday.
"I'm still questionable," he said. "I don't know if I'm going to be able to play. But I'll be here cheering my teammates on, just having a good time and having a great experience."
Bryant also said he did not go to Duke to have a special boot made for his foot. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski apparently mistakenly indicated earlier in the week that Duke sports medicine had treated Bryant.
But Bryant and West Virginia team medical officials said Harvey Johnson of Eno River Orthotics in Hillsborough worked with Bryant on the boot.
A 6-foot-2, 200-pound sophomore from Brooklyn, N.Y., Bryant last played March 21, scoring four points in 16 minutes against Missouri in a second-round game at Buffalo, N.Y. For the season, he's averaging 9.3 points.
Duke guard Jon Scheyer and the Blue Devils are preparing like Bryant is going to play. West Virginia guard Joe Mazzulla, who has played more with Bryant out of the lineup, was encouraged by Bryant's shooting touch.
"But," Mazzulla said, "I have no idea whether he'll play. We don't really see how hard he works behind the scenes. We don't know what his progress is. We'll probably find out for sure around game time."
Another slap? Two years ago Mazzulla hijacked a Blue Devils tradition by slapping the floor at the Verizon Center in Washingtonduring a 73-67 win over Duke in a second-round NCAA tournament game.
He said he got caught up emotionally in a spur-of-the-moment act, but wouldn't rule out doing it again today.
"[It] depends on how the game goes," he said, smiling.
Big draw: The specific crowd projection for today's semifinals isn't known, but Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said there will be at least 71,000 fans in the huge football stadium.
The seating capacity for basketball is listed at 71,300 but the final head count could be slightly more or less than that number.
Again this week, Duke will be playing on a raised court, meaning Mike Krzyzewski is expected to be on his sideline stool again.
It's almost the same situation as last week's South Regional in Houston's Reliant Stadium. Krzyzewski sat on the stool during wins over Purdue and Baylor but doesn't care for the idea.
Hometown fun: Among the happiest people in Indianapolis this week is longtime Horizon League commissioner Jon LeCrone. The league's headquarters are a few blocks from Lucas Oil Stadium, where Butler today will become the first team in the Horizon's 31-year history to play in a Final Four.
LeCrone, in his 16th season, served for several years on the ACC staff under former commissioner Gene Corrigan.
"For a league like ours, this is almost too much to believe," LeCrone said. "I don't think I've slept more than an hour a night for the past week. I'm too excited to."
WVU zone: The 1-3-1 zone defense expected to be used by West Virginia is different from the 2-3 tactics employed by Baylor against Duke in the South title game.
But with the Mountaineers' deep collection of players in the 6-6 to 6-8 range, they remind Duke guard Jon Scheyer of Florida State, primarily a man-to-man team.
"They're both long. Florida State was a great defensive team in general," Scheyer said. "But their length was something that required some getting used to."