MSU’s Miles Bridges sheds walking boot
East Lansing — As Michigan State went through a second day of practice on Tuesday, getting pushed up and down the court by coach Tom Izzo, there was something noticeable happening off to the side.
For a team coming off a home loss to Northeastern and holding together a lineup depleted by injuries, it was freshman Miles Bridges, doing some light work, taking a few free throws and working up a sweat. What was more important, however, was the fact Bridges was without the walking boot he’s had on his left foot to protect an injury that has kept him out the last four games.
It wasn’t a sign that Bridges would be back in the lineup tonight when Michigan State hosts Oakland in its final nonconference game of the regular season, but it was at least light at the end of the injury tunnel for the Spartans.
“He is progressing, which means now that he'll be able to start doing some stuff, and then there will be more tests,” Izzo said after practice. “The more tests will be how does it feel, how does it feel when you start running on it? Then I think they'll do another MRI or something next week right when he gets back from Christmas. We'll know a lot then.”
Bridges last played in Michigan State’s loss at Duke on Nov. 29. The next day his foot was checked out and he’s been on the shelf ever since. In the meantime, the Spartans (7-5) have won three of four but have struggled to find much consistency and the loss on Sunday night was the culmination of a frustrating stretch.
How quickly Bridges gets back remains the biggest question. Izzo originally said it was a 2-3 week injury and Tuesday marked three weeks since the Duke game.
It’s clear it will keep him out a bit longer than that with the Big Ten opener at Minnesota on Dec. 27 still up in the air.
“He just got out of the boot, so chances of playing right away after Christmas I'd say are slim, but I don't know that,” Izzo said. “If it's up to him, he's going to play tomorrow night, so I gotta watch for that, too. I have to make sure I do what's right for him in the long run, not him in the short run.”
There’s no doubt Michigan State could use its leading scorer and rebounder back in the lineup, and not just for the conference opener but against an Oakland team that has made a history of pushing the Spartans to the limit.
The Golden Grizzlies have never beaten the Spartans but coach Greg Kampe came as close as he has in a 99-93 Michigan State win in overtime last year at the Palace. Michigan State understand it will get that same type of effort tonight from Oakland.
“Every game is a big game for us, but Oakland every year has been a big game for us,” senior guard Eron Harris said. “Last year it was competitive and went to overtime. We’re not trying to have that type of game this year but they got a pretty talented team and so do we. It will definitely be a battle, but we’ve got to focus on ourselves right now.”
The Spartans will feel a lot better if Harris plays like he did in the last meeting when he scored 27 points. That consistency, however, has been lacking and Izzo has put the pressure on not only Harris, but sophomore forward Kenny Goins to pick up their play.
Oakland at Michigan State
Tip-off: 7 Wednesday, Breslin Center, East Lansing
TV/radio: Big Ten Network/WJR 760
Records: Oakland 9-2; Michigan State 7-5
Outlook: Oakland is playing on back-to-back nights, hosting Northeastern on Tuesday before heading to East Lansing. Northeastern played at Michigan State on Sunday. … Oakland coach Greg Kampe is 0-14 against Tom Izzo. … Oakland entered Tuesday’s game against Northeastern at 9-1, its best start in the Division I era. A victory would make the Golden Grizzlies 10-1 and match the best start in program history.