NCAA hoops: Howard cleared for shootaround, but not title game
INDIANAPOLIS — Butler center Matt Howard was cleared to participate in the Bulldogs' afternoon shootaround with a concussion but has not yet been given the OK to play in Monday night's national championship game.
Team spokesman Jim McGrath said team doctors will continue to monitor Howard following the early afternoon workout. Doctors, McGrath said, want to make sure Howard does not have any lingering affects before clearing him to play against Duke.
The 6-foot-8 junior center watched his teammates practice Sunday after taking two blows to the head in Saturday's 52-50 victory over Michigan State. The first blow came when Howard's head hit the floor after a collision with two players. After returning to the game, he took an elbow to the head, team trainer Ryan Galloy said.
Coach Brad Stevens insisted Sunday that Howard, the 2008-09 Horizon League player of the year, would not play Monday night if it there were any risk to Howard's health.
Howard has not been available for interviews since Saturday night.
He is one of three Butler players scoring in double figures (11.6) and is second on the team in rebounds (5.2).
The Bulldogs could use his strong inside against the much bigger Blue Devils squad that has 7-foot-1 Brian Zoubek and three 6-10 players, including the Plumlee brothers, who list Warsaw, Ind., as their hometown.
Butler has had to play without Howard for prolonged periods throughout its NCAA tournament run because of Howard's tendency to pick up fouls. Howard played just 15 minutes in Saturday's game and was replaced in the lineup by 6-8 Avery Jukes, a senior who transferred to Butler from Alabama, and 6-11 Andrew Smith, a freshman.
Jukes made one start this season, while Smith has averaged 5.1 minutes and played in 23 of the Bulldogs 37 games.