Marques Bolden nearing return for Duke
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.