Men's basketball close to full health as practices begin
Head coach Tom Izzo is within reach of a completely healthy team entering the upcoming season.
Injuries tormented last season’s roster, with Ben Carter and Gavin Schilling headlining what was an injury-plagued season for MSU after they both suffered knee injuries that forced them to miss the entirety of last season.
But on Friday, as MSU began official practices, Izzo said his team is approaching a fully healthy roster as Carter, Schilling and Kyle Ahrens, who is battling a foot injury, are closing in on becoming completely rehabbed from their injuries.
“Ben is coming pretty good,” Izzo said on Friday. “Even today, they say no contact, but he can get a little more involved in just about every bit of practice except, maybe, the scrimmage work. Kyle Ahrens had the little foot (injury), and he’s maybe, a week or two away. Other than that, I feel like we’re as healthy as we’ve been.”
Carter transferred to MSU last season as a grad student from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, but in October, he suffered a knee injury at practice that required surgery.
Almost a year since the incident, Carter has been granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA and is closing in on a complete recovery.
“He’s a good player,” Izzo said. “He would have helped us last year. So, been very impressed. When you see our team, we actually look like a basketball team instead of a soccer team like last year. And that’s no insult to soccer, just a little different-sized people. We’ve got some size, we’ve got some depth, and right now, we have a pretty healthy team.”
Izzo said on Friday that Schilling is ahead of Carter in the recovery process and has been scrimmaging with the team.
“Gavin is 99.99 percent,” he said. “He’s been doing everything full. He’s been scrimmaging. He’s been playing the war game. The only thing we have to do with Gavin now is make sure as he gets tired, as you have 2.5-hour practices, maybe at the beginning, we might be pulling him for a few things just from a conditioning (standpoint). But we just had our big test, and everybody tested out real good, and Gavin was real, real good, so that’s encouraging.”
With the Spartans relatively healthy, Miles Bridges returning for another season and two highly-touted recruits joining the roster, the Spartans have set expectations to be a contender for the national title.
“There have been a couple years where we were unranked or ranked real low and expectations are low — that’s no fun because our program’s to the point where you should, we should and our fans should expect that we’re going to be knocking on the door to do some important things,” Izzo said. “This year, I couldn’t even hide behind that, and I haven’t hid behind that. I know what kind of team we have. Now, we have to stay healthy. We have to stay distraction-less within reason."