It only took one day for Gary Harris’ fortunes to change dramatically.
After the Big Ten announced Harris was the recipient of the conference’s freshman of the week honors on Monday, he suffered a left shoulder injury 30 seconds into the MSU men’s basketball team’s (3-1) 74-70 victory over Boise State (3-1) Tuesday night at Breslin Center and is expected to be out of the lineup for an extended period of time.
Harris’ shoulder was popped out when he was hit hard on a moving screen that MSU head coach Tom Izzo said was illegal and will result in an MRI Wednesday morning.
“Harris is not good,” Izzo said. “Don’t know what it is yet. He’ll have an MRI (today), but he’ll be out for a while.
Izzo said he’s “99.999 percent sure” Harris won’t be able to play this week and added the prognosis could be a lot worse.
“The best case scenario is he sprained it and he’s out a couple weeks,” Izzo said. “The worst case scenario is there’s more and he’s out a lot, lot, lot, lot, lot longer.”
Harris wasn’t available to the media following the game, but freshman guard Denzel Valentine, who is roommates with Harris, said he spoke to him after the game and said Harris won’t know a diagnosis of the injury until after the MRI.
Harris entered Tuesday’s game as the Spartans’ leading scorer, averaging 16 points per game, and Valentine said with his roommate out of the lineup, other players, himself included, will have to step up.
“Gary being out, that’s 16 points gone right then and there, so we had to pick it up somehow and we did at times but we didn’t do it throughout the whole game and it kind of hurt us,” Valentine said.
“Gary started and he was a big part, he played 30 some minutes a game, so the rest of those guys who aren’t playing as many minutes, they’re going to play more minutes and I’m going to have to play more minutes and we’re just going to have to step up.”
Junior guard Keith Appling said it took the team time to adjust to life without Harris because of the numerous attributes he brings to the table.
“It was different not having him out there because I’m used to kicking Gary the ball and seeing him knocking down shots and running his lanes and getting us easy baskets in transition,” Appling said.
“So that really hurt us in the early going, but I feel like we have a good enough team to where if one guy goes down there’s another guy that can step up and help us come out with the win.”
The Spartans struggled to find consistently high energy throughout Tuesday’s game and Izzo attributed that, in part, to the emotions that come from losing a player who has quickly become an integral member of the rotation.
Izzo said Harris’ early season accolades and praise haven’t rubbed his teammates the wrong way because they know it’s been earned through the freshman guard’s consistent hard work.
“When Gary went out I think it was a downer for everybody,” Izzo said.
“Gary is a guy that everybody loves. They don’t like him, they love him because he’s unselfish, he plays defense, passes the ball, works his tail off. Nobody’s jealous of a freshman and his success because they appreciate who he is and what he is and what he stands for.”