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Butler's center might miss final

INDIANAPOLIS — Butler center Matt Howard was held out of Sunday's practice and could miss tonight's championship game with a concussion.

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Team trainer Ryan Galloy said Howard took two blows in Saturday's 52-50 victory over Michigan State, first banging his head on the floor after a collision with two other players then taking an elbow to the head after he returned to the game. After the second shot, he again left the floor and did not come back.

Galloy described the injury as the "mildest of mild concussions."

"He was woozy, kind of out of it, lethargic, he had a headache," Galloy said. "After the game, he was fine. He wasn't feeling sick, he ate."

Howard is scheduled to be re-evaluated this morning.

Coach Brad Stevens said Howard's status would be a game-time decision.

"His health is of numero uno priority, and if he can't play, he can't play," Stevens said. "It will have to be the next man up."

Howard is the Bulldogs' No. 3 scorer, second-leading rebounder and strongest post player. Senior Avery Jukes played 18 minutes Saturday while Howard was out.

W.Va's BUTLER HAS ACL TEAR: West Virginia senior forward Da'Sean Butler tore the ACL in his left knee in a hard collision during Saturday's loss to Duke.

Sports information director Bryan Messerly said an MRI exam also revealed a sprain of the medial cruciate ligament and two bone bruises.

Butler, the Mountaineers' leading scorer, drew a foul after driving into Duke's Brian Zoubek under the basket with 8:59 left in the second half.

GRADUATION RATES: Count Georgetown coach John Thompson III among those who disagree with a proposal by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to bar teams from postseason play if they fail to graduate 40 percent of their players.

Thompson, speaking on CNN's State of the Union, said he agrees that schools should be held accountable, but a "blanket number" doesn't account for variables at each school.

"I agree that it's my responsibility as a coach, it's the institution's responsibility to ensure that your student athletes are progressing toward a degree," he said. "But the circumstances under which a young man playing for Georgetown can get that may be significantly different than at school X. We may have more resources. We may have the ability to help that young man once he gets to our institution.

"And also, a large part of the kids' inspiration, a large part of their reason for doing well in school and staying in it is because they have that carrot, the opportunity to participate in the NCAA Tournament."

IMPRESSIVE LIST: He has already beaten Jim Boeheim and Tom Izzo in this tournament. Now Butler's Stevens gets to match wits with Mike Krzyzewski. "The best way I can put it is they write books, and I get to read them," Stevens, 33, cracked. Countered Coach K: "I've already put in a preorder for his book."

FEAR THE BEARD: Butler F Gordon Hayward hasn't shaved since before the West Region final against Kansas State on March 27.

So how's the beard coming?

Not so well.

The baby-faced sophomore who looks more like a high school sophomore still doesn't have much noticeable growth.

"There's a little scruff there," he said, rubbing his chin. "It's better to look young than old, I guess."

Double it: A Duke win would bring consecutive NCAA titles to the North Carolina Triangle area for the first time in 17 years. The last time Duke and rival North Carolina claimed back-to-back championships was in 1992 and '93 when the Tar Heels followed Duke's second straight title with their second under Dean Smith.

Butler's center might miss final 04/04/10 [Last modified: Sunday, April 4, 2010 9:38pm]
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