Jan 23, 2014, 4:50 PM EDT
The hits just keep on coming for No. 3 Michigan State, which can’t seem to stay healthy.
On Thursday it was revealed that forward Branden Dawson will miss four to five weeks after breaking a bone in his right (shooting) hand. And the injury didn’t occur during game action either, as according to the report Dawson slammed his hand down in frustration while watching film with the team this morning.
With Dawson now out the Spartans could be without two starters on Saturday night when they host in-state rival Michigan, who is also undefeated in Big Ten play. Adreian Payne has missed the last four games due to an injured foot and could miss a fifth if his foot isn’t deemed to be 100%.
With this being the situation that head coach Tom Izzo and his players have to deal with, another issue to consider is the team’s on-court chemistry as we move closer to March.
With senior forward Adreian Payne in danger of missing his fifth straight game with a sprained right foot, MSU is as shorthanded as it has been this season, for its biggest game to date.
And considering the uncertainty about the return of both starting players, the Spartans might be hard-pressed to jell as hoped for a March run to the national title. It’s possible Dawson won’t be back until close to the postseason.
Five Spartans have missed at least one game due to injury this season and a sixth, Kenny Kaminsky, has missed time due to suspension. And while Michigan State has managed to win 18 of its 19 games to date, there’s still that chemistry issue to consider with an eye towards tournament time.
But in the immediate future how will Michigan State account for the loss of Dawson? They’ll likely have to go small with there being more available perimeter players than big men at this point in time. And in regards to the remaining front court players, Kaminsky, Matt Costello and even freshman Gavin Schilling will be asked to do more while Dawson and Payne work to return to full strength.
Michigan State’s managed to navigate many of the issues they’ve faced this season, and they’ll need to continue to do so with Dawson sidelined.
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