East Lansing – Michigan State opens Big Ten play on Tuesday night at Minnesota, but any chance of freshman Miles Bridges joining the Spartans is slim.
The Spartans’ leading scorer and rebounder, who was set to have more tests on Monday, has missed the last five games with an ankle injury, and while there is progress being made, coach Tom Izzo isn’t about to take any chances with his star player.
“I would say doubtful, yet possible,” Izzo said on Monday. “But when I say doubtful, I lean way on the doubtful side only because whenever he’s ready I’m gonna add on another few days just for myself. So I don’t see that happening for sure tomorrow. Very, very, very, very, very doubtful. And this weekend, some of it will depend on what they see today.”
Michigan State (8-5) plays again on Friday when it hosts Northwestern, but until Izzo and Bridges are comfortable, they won’t be pushing anything, making the Jan. 4 home game against Rutgers a more likely date for a return.
“He hasn’t done much, but has been off the leg, the foot, and has been shooting some, riding the bike,” Izzo said, “but there’s been no running yet.”
Izzo said last week if it was up to Bridges he would already be back in the lineup. However, making sure the injury is completely healed is the priority.
“Is it continuously improving?” Izzo said. “Not only any swelling or anything but also how it feels for him and that’s gonna be the bottom line now, because unlike a broken bone that just heals and you can see it, this kind of injury, it's more on his feel. He has been feeling well, we're just a little ginger on how to push forward. We're gonna err on the side of safety a little bit more than normal so it's not a lingering effect.”
Bridges isn’t the only one ailing. Junior guard Tum Tum Nairn, who battled plantar fasciitis most of last season, has been having some pain in his foot again and is, at times, wearing a walking boot.
Izzo said the boot is the medical staff being cautious and that Nairn hasn’t missed any practice time, but it did lead to fewer minutes in the game against Oakland last Wednesday.
“He just had a little stiffness in his foot and they don’t want it to get to anything, so it was totally precautionary,” Izzo said. “He’s practiced every practice and just wears the boot around a little bit more when he’s walking or spending time … but Tum, it’s not at all where it was last year but he has had some pain more in his arch. Last year it was in his heel and I think he’ll be fine, I really do.”