MSU’s Bridges feels 100 percent, could start Saturday

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — A day after playing his first game in nearly six weeks, Miles Bridges was no worse for wear and looking forward to get back on the floor.

The Michigan State freshman missed seven games with an ankle injury before returning to the lineup in Wednesday night’s 93-65 victory over Rutgers. He scored six points and grabbed six rebounds in 17 minutes of action.

By Thursday, he said he felt like he would after any game, though he did admit to favoring the ankle some during the game, something that he needs to break himself of moving forward.

“I felt great,” Bridges said after practice. “I didn’t feel like there were any limitations. I was favoring my foot a little bit but I just had to get that right mindset.”

It was the perfect return for Bridges and the Spartans, who overcame a sluggish start to pull away for the one-sided victory. Not only did Bridges feel good about the way he played, his impact was clear on the rest of the team.

An early lob dunk got things rolling while the likes of Eron Harris, Matt McQuaid and Kenny Goins all looked more comfortable.

“He gives us another big option,” freshman guard Cassius Winston said. “We’ve got a lot of pieces to the puzzle and he’s a big part of it.

“Now that other people have stepped up their game, like Nick and Josh (Langford), now they’re making the impact they are and when we get Miles back to where he should be we’re gonna be a much better team.”

MSU's Harris, McQuaid take off with return of Bridges

While Bridges didn’t start on Wednesday, he could be back in the starting lineup by Saturday. If he is, that could also lead to four freshmen starting together for the first time as Winston, Langford and Ward have been starting together the last three games. Adding Bridges to that mix would likely include Harris to round out the starting five.

However, that decision hasn’t been made.

“There is a chance he starts,” associate head coach Dwayne Stephens said, “But we’ll make that decision tomorrow.”

Until then, Bridges will continue to work himself back into playing form. He said on Thursday that he feels like he’s 100 percent and not all limited.

And judging by how things have gone this week, it seems his workload will continue to increase.

“He was so excited to be back on the floor,” Stephens said. “It was fun to watch him and how much he inspired the other guys and how happy they were to have him back out there. I saw one of the interviews he did and was proud of how he handled himself.

“They asked if he was upset to have played 16 minutes and he said he knows the coaches have his best interest in mind. He was happy to be back out there and playing with his teammates.”

Learning moment

Izzo said after the game on Wednesday he felt like the Spartans started the game flat and wanted them to provide answers as to why.

Stephens feels the team’s youth had something to do with it.

“They don’t understand that every game is important,” Stephens said. “You’ve got to approach it the same way and you’ve got to come out from the beginning.

“When you play a team in the Big Ten you’re not gonna be able to come back from a huge deficit early. It was a good chance for us to learn something and I hope the guys took that away from the game.”

For junior Tum Tum Nairn, it was a chance for the more inexperienced players to understand how vital it is to be focused from the opening tip.

“Sometimes you have understand that every possession counts, every second counts and just lock in and play the game of basketball the right way,” Nairn said. “We came out a little sluggish and slow and you can’t have that in the Big Ten.

“We don’t need for that to happen for us. We want to continue to improve and not let that happen.”

Twitter: @mattcharboneau