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Can Harris shoulder Gophers' load?

Published Oct. 1, 2005

X-rays on Minnesota junior point guard Eric Harris' injured right shoulder were negative, but he was held out of Friday's practice and was listed as day-to-day.

Coach Clem Haskins said Harris, the starter all season and one of the top defensive guards in the nation, is 50-50 to play today.

"There is no way to replace a player like Eric Harris," he said. "We need him to advance to the Final Four."

"Right now, my shoulder is real sore," said Harris, who couldn't dribble or shoot. "But this is the NCAA Tournament, it's do or die. I'm going to do anything I can to get ready to play. But at the same time, I don't want to do anything to hurt the team."

Harris suffered the sprained shoulder and muscle bruise near his collarbone when he ran into a screen set by 6-foot-7, 235-pound Clemson forward Iker Iturbe with 7:10 left in regulation. Harris spent the rest of game at the end of the bench with an ice bag draped over his shoulder.

"It affects the whole team," Jackson said. "Eric's the leader on the court. Everybody would have to step up and do the job."

If he can't play, senior star Bobby Jackson, more comfortable as the shooting guard, will take over the point and sophomore Charles Thomas will start in Jackson's spot. But Thomas is nursing a bad back and how long he can go is a concern.

+ In case you didn't stay up until 1:15 a.m. Friday to watch the end of the UCLA-Iowa State game, the Cyclones had a chance after Cameron Dollar's drive with 1.9 seconds left. During a timeout, they decided to have Klay Edwards run the baseline on the inbounds play and try to entice a Bruin to blindly run into Dedric Willoughby.

"Dedric was told to tell the official he was going to take a charge, which he did," coach Tim Floyd said.

"We diagrammed the charge play, which is the oldest trick in the book," UCLA coach Steve Lavin said, who went against conventional wisdom by inserting Jelani McCoy, out for most of the second half, to use his height to prevent a long bullet pass like the one Grant Hill threw to Christian Laettner in Duke's stunning regional final win against Kentucky in 1992.

Yet despite Lavin's instructions and warnings from his teammates, McCoy still appeared to bump into Willoughby.

"I was terrified," Toby Bailey said.

The official didn't rule it a foul, instead signaling a five-second call, giving the ball back to UCLA and sealing the win.

"That was the quickest five seconds I've ever seen," Iowa State senior guard Jacy Holloway said.

Floyd didn't comment, he said, "because I'll get in trouble."

Southeast Regional

It's likely this is the last year the semifinals will be played in Birmingham.

The Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center seats 17,500 and the NCAA has been leaning toward domes with more seating for the later rounds. The Civic Center has hosted regionals in 1982, 1985, 1988 and 1995. First- and second-round games have been here in 1984 and 1987.