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Spartan injury list grows to include McQuaid

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — Michigan State players not in uniform are beginning to become as common as those in uniform.

Shouting all the way, Spartan Kyle Ahrens (0) takes a feed on a breakaway and drives for a quick basket.

The Spartans played without sophomore guard Matt McQuaid in Saturday’s 71-63 victory over Tennessee Tech after taking a shot to the head in practice on Thursday. McQuaid joined freshman Miles Bridges, who missed his third game because of an ankle injury, while forwards Gavin Schilling and Ben Carter have missed the entire season with knee injuries.

“I was looking at the bench and I’m sitting with McQuaid, Miles, Ben and Gavin and I said to my assistant, Dwayne Stephens, ‘All four of those guys would have probably started,’” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “I just have to make sure those guys don’t sit next to me on the bench anymore. When it gets to be four of them it looks like we have more guys on the bench. At least if I put them in suits maybe people would think they are assistant coaches. Maybe I’ll do that.”

The prognosis for Schilling and Carter remains long term while Izzo said the pain continues to subside for Bridges.

As for McQuaid, the Spartans missed his 7.3 points a game after starting eight of the first 10 games.

Freshman Joshua Langford started in place of McQuaid and scored 10 points.

Izzo doesn’t expect McQuaid to miss significant time, but he wasn’t committing to anything.

“If you’re asking me where he’s at, go right to the medical people. I’ll demand that they tell you because I have no idea,” Izzo said. “I know this, they thought his eye socket might have been cracked or a little break, there was none of that. He was pretty good today, he shot around a little bit.

“I can promise you one thing, of all of the injuries that take place, the one I touch the least is that one. That is totally in the hands of our medical people. I would be shocked if he was wasn’t ready to go early next week. I don’t think it was a concussion, I don’t think in any way, but I don’t know that. It’s definitely the one time I’m glad I’m not a doctor. I just do that they tell me.”

Ahrens stars

Sophomore Kyle Ahrens started for the third straight game on Sunday and played a career-high 27 minutes while grabbing a career-best seven rebounds. His nine points matched the most he has scored as a Spartan.

“If this was hockey, I would give him one of the three stars,” Izzo said. “I don’t know if that’s a big compliment because there aren’t any big stars right now, but I thought he improved a lot and I thought he played harder and more aggressive. He went after rebounds, was thrown on the floor, and did the little things you have to do.”

It’s a role Ahrens is happy to have after averaging just 3.3 minutes a game as a freshman last season.

“Bring the energy,” Ahrens said, describing his role. “I’m not really used to that, because in high school I did bring some energy, but not like I can here. I just love bringing energy to the guys, and getting them all pumped up when they make a big play, or someone like Nick (Ward) gets an and-one. Go up and pound his chest or something. That’s why I play, I love getting them all hyped up like that.”

Blue-book time

Michigan State does not play again until next Sunday when it hosts Northeastern. In the meantime, the players will be going through final exams this week.

“It’s hard,” Ahrens said. “We were gone all over November, pretty much. We missed like nine class days, so we had make-up exams that we made up just last week, and now we have finals, so we have to study for almost the whole semester. It’s hard, but you just have to do it.”

It won’t allow for much practice time, but Izzo said they’ll do what they can as they work around each player’s schedule.

“We missed so much school that we are in finals mode,” Izzo said. “We’ve got a lot of guys homing in on their finals, and so I think we are going to try to do more individual work. To be honest with you, there won’t be as much team work because you just can’t get everyone together at the right time.”