WASHINGTON, D.C. — When he fell to the ground with 6:57 remaining in Michigan State’s 80-63 Sweet Sixteen victory over LSU Friday night, Nick Ward was concerned. The impact of the fall was taken mostly by his left hand, the same hand that has scored almost all of the 1,348 points of his career, and the same hand he broke Feb. 17 against Ohio State.
So, the junior forward was in a good mood Saturday afternoon when he reported that the hand was feeling better.
“My hand’s doing good,” Ward said. “It was bruised. I’ll be fine. It’s a day-by-day type of thing. But I’ll be fine.”
The second-seeded Spartans take on No. 1 overall seed Duke at 5:05 p.m. EST Sunday evening at Capital One Arena.
The official diagnosis from team trainer Nick Richey and team doctor Jeff Kovan is a bone bruise, as opposed to the hairline fracture from last month.
“Nothing is going to keep me off the court tomorrow,” Ward said. “Everything looks good. Basically this morning it was sore. But I expected that.”
Ward, as well as fellow MSU big men Kenny Goins and Xavier Tillman, will be tasked with handling Duke freshman phenom Zion Williamson, the heavy favorite to sweep the National Player of the Year awards and the likely No. 1 pick in June’s NBA draft.
“He’s extremely athletic,” Ward said of the 6 foot, 7 inch, 285 lb, 40 inch vertical leap-boasting Williamson. “He rebounds the ball at a high level … all the bigs are very excited to take on this challenge tomorrow, and we’ll do our best to contain him.”
Reddish Unsure of Status
Duke freshman forward Cam Reddish, seen as a likely top-5 pick in the draft in his own right, was a late scratch from the Blue Devils’ 75-73 win over fourth-seeded Virginia Tech Friday night. He has been dealing with left knee tendonitis for a good portion of the season, and said he tweaked it in practice Thursday.
Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski called Reddish a “game-time decision” for tomorrow’s match-up with MSU.
“We’re not going to really do anything physical today: we’ve got to be careful … we’ll see,” Krzyzewski said.
Reddish said he has been doing a lot of massage therapy as well as icing the knee in hopes he will play.
“I’m feeling a lot better,” Reddish said. “I’m just trying to get ready for tomorrow, doing a lot of treatment. Hopefully, I’m ready.”
The Norristown, Pennsylvania native said he was extremely disappointed to miss the Virginia Tech game, and says he’s mentally ready to play Sunday, it’s just a matter of his knee.
“I can’t wait to put that jersey back on and ... fight with my guys,” he said.
If Reddish is unable to go, he will likely be replaced in the starting lineup by sophomore guard Alex O’Connell, who took his place Friday night and scored four points in 35 minutes. O’Connell’s season high came Feb. 23 at Syracuse, when he went 6-for-9 from the three-point line en route to 20 points.