Bolden back, White sidelined as Duke preps for NCAA tournament

Marques Bolden nearing return for Duke

Duke junior center Marques Bolden, who has missed the last three games with a sprained left knee, is back at practice and getting ready to play for Duke in the NCAA tournament. Here he discusses his rehabilitation.
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Duke junior center Marques Bolden, who has missed the last three games with a sprained left knee, is back at practice and getting ready to play for Duke in the NCAA tournament. Here he discusses his rehabilitation.

No. 1 Duke is getting healthier as its NCAA tournament run is about to begin.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski said Thursday that junior center Marques Bolden should be able to play in Friday night’s first-round game with No. 16 seed North Dakota State.

A 6-11 junior center, Bolden missed Duke’s three ACC tournament games last week with the sprained left knee he suffered early in Duke’s 79-70 loss at North Carolina on March 9.

“Marques will be ready to play,” Krzyzewski said. “I don’t know how many minutes but he’ll be ready to play.”

Watch as Duke takes the floor to practice in Columbia, S.C. Thursday, March 21, 2019. The Blue Devils will face North Dakota State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Bolden wore a brace on his left knee while participating in Duke’s open practice Thursday at the University of South Carolina’s Colonial Life Arena. Krzyzewski said he doesn’t plan to start Bolden against North Dakota State.

“I’m doing good,” Bolden said. “Just looking forward to getting back and competing.”

While Bolden will return to Duke, the Blue Devils anticipate being without reserve forward Jack White on Friday night. The junior from Australia suffered a hamstring strain during Duke’s 73-63 ACC tournament championship game win over Florida State last Saturday night in Charlotte. As Bolden returned to practice this week, White hasn’t been a full participant. White worked with Duke’s training staff during Thursday’s open practice while the team went through any full-court drills. White did participate in shooting drills in half-court sets.

Krzyzewski said White could be available on Sunday for the second round against Central Florida or Virginia Commonwealth if the Blue Devils beat North Dakota State and advance.

“There’s a good chance he won’t play,” Krzyzewski said. “He’s close but I don’t anticipate him playing in the first game. Maybe in the second if we win and if we can continue to win, hopefully going forward.”

Duke’s Marques Bolden (20) shoots during Duke’s practice before the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in Columbia, S.C., Thursday, March 21, 2019. Ethan Hyman

Bolden’s return bolsters Duke’s interior defense. Despite missing the last three games, he leads Duke with 55 blocked shots. While starting 21 of Duke’s first 31 games, Bolden has averaged 5.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.

He’s glad to have missed just the three games after he had to be helped off the court following his injury at the Smith Center nearly two weeks ago.

“When I fell it was a very scary moment,” Bolden said. “I thought the injury was way worse than what it actually is. I’ve been working with our trainers and coaches and looking forward to getting back.”

Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski talks about increased playing time for players previously on the bench due to injuries to Jack White and Marqeues Bolden heading into the first game of the NCAA Tournament.

Javin DeLaurier, a 6-10 junior, stepped into Duke’s starting lineup during the ACC tournament. He played 22 minutes per game in Duke’s run to the ACC title after playing 15.8 minutes per game in the regular season.

Krzyzewski said DeLaurier’s play against Florida State, when he had six points, seven rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot in 23 minutes, was particularly impressive.

“I thought Javin played his best basketball of his career, and maybe his best game against Florida State,” Krzyzewski said. “But that whole tournament, he played well.”

White, a Duke team captain along with Javin DeLaurier, has played in 33 of Duke’s 34 games. His 21.5 minutes per game are fifth behind only Duke’s four freshmen starters -- RJ Barrett (34.9). Tre Jones (33.8), Cam Reddish (29.5) and Zion Williamson (29.1).

He suffered through a deep shooting slump from mid-January until the first weekend of March that saw him miss 28 3-pointers in a row. For the season, White averages 4.4 points and 3.1 rebounds. He has made 27.5 percent of his 3-pointers.

Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski talks with reporters about his group of freshmen and the special bond between Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett. Krzyzewski was taking questions at a press conference before their NCAA Tournament practice session.

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An Illinois native, Steve Wiseman has covered Duke athletics since 2010 for the Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News & Observer. Prior to his arrival in Durham, he worked for newspapers in Columbia and Spartanburg, S.C., Biloxi, Miss., and Charlotte covering beats including the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, University of South Carolina athletics and the S.C. General Assembly.