At his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Head Coach Tom Izzo said he was hopeful that senior forward Malik Hall would be able to participate in practice Tuesday afternoon. Hall has been out of the lineup ever since he reaggravated his foot injury against Illinois on Jan. 13.
Earlier in the season when sophomore guard Jaden Akins was recovering from an injury, Izzo required him to practice for three consecutive days before it was a possibility for him to come off the bench at all.
For Hall, that’s not the case. Izzo said Akins’s injury was more serious, including the fact that he required surgery.
Izzo said he’s leaving the decision up to the medical staff, and it is uncertain when Hall will return, or if he will return at all this season.
One of the biggest challenges without Hall has been giving other players necessary minutes to rest.
Izzo said that while players like junior guard A.J. Hoggard, senior guard Tyson Walker and graduate student forward Joey Hauser are contributing key minutes, they have their moments down the stretch. Izzo attributes them running out of gas to the lack of subs available to step in and efficiently take over.
With a team like this that lacks experienced players, it’s difficult to have a go-to guy to step in in hopes that he can effectively cover a number of spots.
Izzo said Hall’s experience and ability to guard a variety of positions is what makes him so valuable.
“You can lose a shooter and you gotta make up for it, point guards are harder to make up for, you can lose a center and make up for it,” Izzo said. “But when you lose versatility… and you’ve got a team where he really can play 2, 3, 4, that’s something we’ve had to grind through for six games in 16 days.”
Izzo said the schedule is another factor in Hall’s recovery, especially with what has been MSU’s 2022-23 season schedule.
While Hall has stayed in shape and is taking the necessary steps towards recovery, it’s difficult for any player to find the time to work on their recovery with the amount of games compiled in a single week.
“I don’t think it’s right for the student athlete, I don’t think it’s right for the preparation for any team,” Izzo said.
As Michigan State prepares to host Iowa on Thursday night, followed by a road game at Purdue, Hall’s abilities are crucial in order to take down stellar Big Ten squads.
Injuries will always be a crutch, but on a team like this with little depth, it’s much more difficult to overcome.
“I would like to know, and we’ll never know, what games we would’ve won with Jaden and Malik here,” Izzo said.
Michigan State will take on Iowa at home on Thursday night. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
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