Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Morgan needs to sit until fully healthy

Alex Altman

If you haven’t heard or couldn’t tell, MSU forward Raymar Morgan has been reeling the past couple weeks.

The junior has been hampered by a nagging case of the flu since the middle of the month, and it has severely affected his play in each of the past three games.

Morgan’s scoring average has dropped from 15.1 points during the first 16 games of the season to just 4.3 points over the last three. He’s shot just 3-of-9 from the field during the stretch.

Granted, Morgan’s numbers aren’t completely indicative of his decline in production. His playing time has dipped from 27.1 minutes to 23.3 since catching the flu, and he’s very rarely been on the court long enough to get into a rhythm.

But even during short stints on the court, his lack of health has been discernible simply by observing his body language.

“Poor Raymar, he’s just sicker than a dog,” MSU head coach Tom Izzo said Sunday after No. 9 MSU’s 78-67 victory over Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio.

“He just can’t go. I mean it’s three minutes, three minutes, two minutes. The poor kid just can’t get rid of it. It’s been nine days.”

I’m no doctor, and I won’t pretend to be, but based on Izzo’s medical analysis, wouldn’t sitting Morgan until he’s fully recovered be the prudent
course of action?

If Morgan’s presence was indispensable or his stats weren’t suffering, I would feel differently about the matter. In fact, I would say leave him on the court until he coughs up a lung or sneezes off his nose.

But the Spartans are in the fortuitous position of not having to make that difficult decision, and should look no further than Sunday’s game for proof regarding why.

Making his third start of the season, sophomore guard Durrell Summers scored a career-high 26 points against the Buckeyes. Although Summers started in place of Travis Walton, he proved that he would be more than capable of holding down the fort until Morgan recovers.

Summers is not the only player who could ably fill in for Morgan if he were shelved for a couple games. Despite his recent struggles, sophomore guard Chris Allen is a viable interim option. The same goes for senior forward Marquise Gray.

Obviously, Morgan does things on the court that none of the aforementioned players can. His versatility at 6-foot-8 causes matchup problems (even when he’s sick), and he’s blossomed into one of MSU’s best defensive players, as well. But with a pair of winnable games forthcoming — Thursday at Iowa (12-8 overall, 2-5 Big Ten) and Sunday against Penn State (16-5, 5-3) — the Spartans can afford to rest him for what promises to be a grueling month of February.

When senior center Goran Suton was shelved for a month while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, the Spartans proved they had the depth to overcome an injury to one of its best players. Based on what I’ve seen, there’s no doubt that those players, as well as a host of others, could do the same for Morgan.

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