March 19, 2001
DURHAM, N.C. - Injured Duke center Carlos Boozer was cleared to practice Monday and is expected to play when the Blue Devils take on UCLA in the East Regional semifinals.
How much Boozer plays in the NCAA tournament remains a question mark for the Blue Devils (31-4). But the team has done quite nicely without its third-leading scorer during one of the roughest periods of the schedule.
Top-seeded Duke is 6-0 since the 6-foot-9, 270-pound Boozer, who was averaging 14 points and 6.5 rebounds, broke a bone in his right foot in the second half against Maryland on Feb. 27.
"I don't think you can find too many teams in the last two weeks of the season can add a talent like Carlos," All-American Shane Battier said. "We're all excited to see how he's going to fit in with this team."
Coach Mike Krzyzewski said Boozer would not start Thursday against the No. 4 seeded Bruins in Philadelphia.
"If all of the sudden he comes into practice and tells Shane Battier to go take a hike, and tells Jason (Williams) to quit shooting and `just give me the ball, I'm taking over,' we may re-evaluate that," Krzyzewski said Monday. "I don't think that's going to happen."
Duke has some recent experience with big men going down during the year, and the re-adjustment period that follows.
The program lost Elton Brand for 15 games in the 1997-98 season. Brand returned late in the year and Duke lost the ACC title game to North Carolina and then in the regional finals to Kentucky.
Krzyzewski said Boozer's situation is different.
"What Carlos has to do is re-adjust to us. We shouldn't re-adjust to him," Krzyzewski said. "In Elton's case, he was potentially a dominant player. We did a little more adjusting to him in that setting.
"To do it the way we're going to do it this time is better. Our dominant players are Shane and Jason and Carlos will come in and rebound and play defense and give us low-post scoring, but not to where we're going to change what we've been doing the last three weeks. We've been playing high-level basketball."
When Boozer went down, Krzyzewski inserted freshman guard Chris Duhon and slender 6-11 Casey Sanders into the starting lineup, giving his team a more up-tempo pace.
The moves proved successful as Duke won at North Carolina, took three games in the ACC tournament and its first two games in the NCAAs.
Boozer, a sophomore, admitted Monday his foot was a little sore after running last week. And he is not in great basketball shape.
"I've watched them practice and seen them play in the games and I'm just going to adjust to how we're playing," Boozer said. "If I can play for 15 or 20 minutes - great - or however long I can play with that pace that's fine with me. I just have to throw myself into it. I have to let nature take its course."
By DAVID DROSCHAK
AP Sports Writer