Bridges’ status up in air; ‘more good news than bad’
East Lansing — Things haven’t quite reached the critical stage they did last season for Michigan State when it comes to injuries, but the number of players watching practice is starting to grow.
Already on the sidelines were guard Kyle Ahrens (foot) and forward Kenny Goins (knee), but they were joined by forward Miles Bridges on Monday after he twisted his left ankle in Sunday’s victory over Stony Brook.
Depth was one of the Spartans’ strengths and it’s being tested as No. 4 Michigan State (2-1) gets set to head to Portland, Ore., for the PK80 Classic that begins with a matchup Thursday against DePaul.
“It’s funny, isn’t it,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said after practice. “We were talking about being worried how we would play everybody and, shazam, we’ve got no problems and now, all of a sudden, we’ve got some problems. So, we’re gonna have to adjust.”
How much the Spartans will have to adjust should be determined in the next few days. Bridges did not practice Monday and his status remains up in the air.
“I don’t think he’s down,” Izzo said. “I think he’s just ticked off.”
There were some positive signs, however.
“The latest on Miles is more good news than bad news,” Izzo said. “Of course, we X-rayed him because that’s what you do nowadays, you X-ray hangnails and bloody noses. But the X-rays came back great, absolutely no problems. The swelling did go down a lot, which is encouraging. We probably won’t know for another day, maybe even two, whether he can go.
“He’s tough enough where if he’s healthy he’ll go. If he’s not healthy or there’s any chance, of course, we’re holding him back.”
Michigan State has been down this road with Bridges before. As a freshman, Bridges sprained his left ankle during a loss at Duke. He missed the next seven games as the Spartans played it safe. The same approach will be used this time around, even with a potential matchup with No. 9 North Carolina in the PK80 Championship looming Sunday.
In other words, Bridges won’t be talking himself into the lineup.
“That won’t happen,” Izzo said. “I know him well enough and I know how he moves and I know what our trainers will say, as we did last year. We went an extra week with him last year just because of his future, partially, and because of our future. We don’t need him to sustain (further) injury.
“I mean, it does put us with Kenny out and Kyle out, it puts us short out on the perimeter, really short and that’s disappointing.”
If Bridges can’t play this week, it likely will mean extended minutes for Joshua Langford and Matt McQuaid while it could lead to some key minutes for former walk-on Conner George.
However the rotation works out, the Spartans know they’ll have to pick up their game if they expect to be playing for a championship on Sunday.
“It has its benefits and negatives,” sophomore guard Cassius Winston said. “Of course, he’s a big part of this team, a big part of what we’re trying to do. So, to not have him out there with us it hurts us a little bit. It forces guys to step up and a lot of dudes have to play lot better, including myself. We have to play better and fill in that void for however long he’s out.”
What: A two-tournament men’s college basketball event held in Portland, Ore., honoring Nike Co-Founder Phil Knight for his 80th birthday.
When: Michigan State plays Thursday vs. DePaul (ESPN), Friday vs. Connecticut or Oregon and Sunday vs. an opponent to be determined.
THURSDAY'S FIRST ROUND
Portland vs. North Caorlina, 2:30 p.m.
Arkansas vs. Oklahoma, 5 p.m.
UConn vs. Oregon, 9 p.m.
Michigan State vs. DePaul, 11:30 p.m.
Portland State vs. Duke, 4:30 p.m.
Butler vs. Texas, 7 p.m.
Florida vs. Stanford, 10 p.m.
Ohio State vs. Gonzaga, midnight