East Lansing — What seems like a never-ending injury battle continues for Michigan State fifth-year senior Kyle Ahrens.
Ahrens will be out for at least the next couple of weeks, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said on Tuesday, as he deals primarily with a sore Achilles that has affected the ankle he injured in last season’s Big Ten tournament championship game.
“Kyle Ahrens will be out for a while,” Izzo said. “It's just been so hard to have him practice, not practice, have him in the lineup, not in the lineup. Really, it was a decision made by me. I just think he's broken down. It’s been really hard on him during the game. We're trying to put him in and he wants to go, doesn't know if he can go, and it's just been this Achilles-ankle thing.
“The doctors have looked at it, everybody’s look at it, and I think part of it is he's been through so much in his career. So I'd like to give him a couple weeks and see if we can bring him back for second half of the Big Ten. There's no reason why if something happened and he had to play next week, he could probably play some minutes, but I just think it’s for his mental health and goodwill and good feeling — and mine.”
The list of injuries is long for the versatile wing player. Ahrens was recovering from a broken leg suffered in high school when he arrived on camps and has battled various injuries since, missing the entire 2017-18 season after a foot injury suffered in preseason practice. He returned last season and played through a bad back most of the year before suffering the ankle injury in the Big Ten tournament that kept him out for the Spartans’ run to the Final Four.
Ahrens sat out No. 15 Michigan State’s victory over Minnesota on Thursday before playing only 2:27 in Sunday’s loss at Purdue, putting more pressure on sophomores Aaron Henry and Gabe Brown as well as freshman Rocket Watts.
“It kind of happened in a locker room after the game,” Izzo said. “He was just bummed out that he couldn't do more to help and Cassius (Winston) stood up and said, ‘We know what you've given this program.’ So it is hard and at the same time, Kyle feels like it's unfair to Henny and to Gabe and Rocket to maybe not get the reps in practice or wondering when you're coming into the game.
“So we’ve just got to deal with it and I don't know what to say except it sure isn't his fault. … He worked out so hard this summer and was looking forward to a big senior year. It still could happen because when he's in there we're a smoother team.”
The Spartans (13-4, 5-1 Big Ten) return to action when they host Wisconsin at 7 p.m. Friday at the Breslin Center before hitting the road again next week with games at Indiana and Minnesota.
The Spartans will be holding their 25th annual food drive before Friday’s game. The event is chaired by Lupe Izzo, Izzo's wife.
Fans attending the game are encouraged to donate by bringing cans or monetary donations.
All of the proceeds benefit the Greater Lansing and MSU Student Food Banks. Organizers point out they could raise $15,000 if everyone who attends the game contributed just $1.