Charles Smith, who played the role of El Cid against North Carolina State, hopes to return as Charles Smith on Sunday when Georgetown meets Duke in the NCAA East Regional final.
Smith, after missing practice for two days because of fever, played 32 minutes in the Hoyas' 69-61 victory over North Carolina State Friday night, but was used mainly as a decoy. He took only two shots from the field and scored one point."It was like the El Cid story, where they propped him up even though he was dead and went out to fight the battle," Georgetown Coach John Thompson said Saturday. "We just put Charles out there and it makes everyone else feel better even when he can't be as active as he usually is."
Smith, Georgetown's leading scorer with an 18.6 average, had 34 points in a second-round victory over Notre Dame, but he had to help the Hoyas in other ways against the Wolfpack.
Dwayne Bryant and Jaren Jackson took over the outside scoring chores, scoring 21 and 17 points, respectively, and combining for eight 3-pointers.
"My presence on the court made it easier for Dwayne and Jaren," Smith said. "North Carolina State overplayed me and that helped the other guys. But I'm feeling fine and I'm not running a fever now. I should be ready for Duke."
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said that he would prepare his team with the assumption that Smith would be at full strength.
"Our major concern is us; we don't fluctuate too much from game to game," Krzyzewski said. "We run a system that works against everybody. You assume the other team will be 100 percent, individually and collectively.
"I don't want our guys going to the game thinking about injuries - theirs or ours."
But Krzyzewski said he wished Smith would follow the advice of North Carolina State coach Jim Valvano:
"Eat some chicken soup and stay in bed for a couple of days."
Georgetown, 29-4, and Duke, 27-7, which routed Minnesota 87-70 in Friday's other semifinal, are the top two seeds in the East Regional.
Duke will be looking for its third Final Four appearance in four years - the other two came with wins at the Meadowlands - while Georgetown is trying to duplicate the national championship it won in 1984 at Seattle, the site of this year's Final Four.
But the two teams haven't faced each other since 1933, when Duke won 35-30.
"I'm surprised we haven't run into each other in a tournament somewhere along the line," Krzyzewski said.
The game matches two 6-foot-10 freshman centers - Georgetown's Alonzo Mourning and Christian Laettner.
Mourning scored 12 points and matched his nation-leading average with five blocked shots against the Wolfpack. Laettner had 10 points and 11 rebounds against Minnesota, the second time in two games at the Meadowlands in which he had double figures in points and rebounds.
"It won't be Christian against Mourning all the time," Krzyzewski said. "Georgetown runs so much that you can't have one man guarding one man every time down the court."
Led by Mourning, who had 150 blocked shots in 30 regular season games and 15 in three tournament games, Georgetown leads the nation with 9.3 per game.
"They have shot-blocking ability, and we respect that, but we can't let that stop us from taking the shots we usually take," Duke All-America Danny Ferry said. "We can score a lot of points."
In fact, Duke is 25-0 when scoring at least 80 points this season and 2-7 when scoring less than 80.
Just as Duke is concerned with Smith, Thompson said Ferry is just as dangerous for the Blue Devils.
"We have to keep Danny from controlling the game," Thompson said. "He can control a game with more than shooting. He's like a point forward or a point center because he can set up a lot of baskets with passing and defense."