'He is going to play': Tyson Walker ready for Michigan State's NCAA Tournament opener
Greenville, S.C. — Tyson Walker was dancing on Thursday, and that can’t be a bad sign.
Of course, Michigan State hopes Walker’s moves translate into him putting the ball in the basket on Friday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against Davidson. If so, it will signify an impressive recovery after Walker injured his left ankle on Saturday in the Big Ten tournament semifinals.
Walker was held out of practice through Monday and has slowly worked his way back. He’ll be on the court when the seventh-seeded Spartans take on No. 10 Davidson at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
“He's on crutches and a boot and I think he got a cast from head to toe, but we think miraculously he is going to play,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo joked. “He did practice a little bit (Wednesday) and then he’ll practice today.
“He’s definitely better. It will be heavily taped, but he is going to play. For how long or at what level — I was marvelously excited that yesterday, after first day of no practice, second day not much, third day he did practice some. Then today we went through a little practice at a high school, and he participated in most of that. Hopefully it doesn't swell up or anything. He's not going to be 100%, but he's not 50 either.”
Walker had been playing well late in the season, especially in the Big Ten tournament. He hit late shots in wins over Maryland and Wisconsin that were critical in the Spartans advancing.
But just minutes into the game with Purdue, Walker stepped on a defender and rolled his left ankle. He tried to return to the game but lasted less than a minute before sitting out the entire second half.
Since then, the entire focus has been getting Walker ready for Friday night.
“Tyson has been practicing this week and he’s been doing a good job of getting back,” said A.J. Hoggard, who logged 34 minutes against Purdue. “I'm ready to do whatever it takes to continue down this road and have us not go home early. Anything I need to do, play 25 minutes, 40 minutes straight, anything I need to do, I'm going to do.”
All eyes on Foster
Not surprisingly, there was plenty of attention on Foster Loyer on Thursday.
The former Spartan who is now the captain and starting point guard at Davidson got most of the questions at the Wildcats’ media session. However, he was doing his best to downplay his role in the matchup.
“This isn't Foster vs. Michigan State,” Loyer said. “This isn't Foster vs. Coach Izzo or anything like that. This is Davidson vs. Michigan State. We're both approaching that from the standpoint of going in and trying to win a basketball game.
“I know I'm just going to do everything in my power to prepare myself and help prepare our team and make sure our team's ready to go.”
Loyer is averaging 16.4 points and 3.2 assists a game and earned second-team All-Atlantic 10 honors. Loyer, a former Mr. Basketball from Clarkston, played three seasons at Michigan State before opting to enter the transfer portal last spring. He ended up at Davidson and has been key part of the Wildcats’ run to the A-10 regular-season championship.
“In terms of Foster, I think he answered it very clearly and very eloquently,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. “This is Davidson against Michigan State. He's got a tremendous relationship with the Michigan State program. He's got such fond and treasured memories of his experience there. Tom Izzo has been sensational from the first time I spoke with Tom about Foster, throughout this whole year. So I don't think that that's much more of an issue for anyone, but it's certainly a talking point for the media.”