Injured players might return to basketball
Freshman guard Gary Harris holds his arm in pain while watching from the bench Nov. 20 at Breslin Center. Harris left the game in the first half because of an injury and watched as MSU beat Boise State. Adam Toolin/The State News
After he spent the previous day lamenting his team’s overly giving holiday spirit following a 20-turnover performance against Louisiana-Lafayette, Tom Izzo’s squad decided to give him a gift that even he could appreciate Monday.
Freshman guard Gary Harris and sophomore guard Travis Trice returned to practice and could be available to play as soon as Wednesday, when the No. 13 MSU men’s basketball team (5-1) travels to Miami (3-1) to take on the Hurricanes (7:30 p.m., ESPN) in the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Izzo said it’s tough to pinpoint one area where the team has missed Trice and Harris most.
“The outside shooting is a factor. Being able to take a guy off the dribble is a factor. To use ball screens for more than one person is a factor. I could give a laundry list of things,” Izzo said.
“But we’d probably be missing the biggest one. Gary Harris has to guard the best player on their team. … That’s where there’s a big drop-off. And even Trice is a pretty good defender, believe it or not.”
Harris, who was leading the team in scoring before getting injured against Boise State on Nov. 20, was thought to be out for an extended period of time following the game, with the potential for surgery putting his entire season at risk.
“I lost feeling all the way down to my fingers. I really couldn’t feel anything. I thought it was just a stinger at first, but the feeling really didn’t go away until the game was about over, and I knew something was wrong,” Harris said. “(It was) definitely (scary). I didn’t know what to think. I thought it was going to go away, but it was there longer than I thought it (would be). I was a little worried at first.”
The following day, an MRI revealed the injury merely was a sprain and wouldn’t require surgery, but Harris was expected to be out two to three weeks, which still was disappointingly long
If he is able to play Wednesday, he only will have missed a week, and although he said the decision is up to the doctors, Harris said he’s feeling good, experiencing little to no pain, and wants to play.
“The plan with Gary has been all along that once his pain has improved, once his strength was better, we were going to start letting him get back to practice, and he has done that incredibly well during the week,” Director of Sports Medicine Jeff Kovan said.
Kovan said it’s even more likely Trice returns Wednesday, after suffering a concussion and broken nose during MSU’s season-opening loss to Connecticut on Nov. 9.
Trice passed his concussion test for the first time Monday and was wearing a mask to protect his nose in practice, and is expected to wear it for at least the next two weeks, although Trice said he’s “going to try to get rid of it as fast as (he) can.”
“A bunch of people were saying (the mask is similar to) ‘Phantom of the Opera.’ I’ve never seen that movie before, so I might have to go watch it tonight,” Trice said.