Michigan State loses wing Branden Dawson to torn ACL

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Michigan State’s had better days.

Just hours after losing its regular-season finale to No. 10 Ohio State – and its chance for an outright Big Ten title – the No. 5 Spartans learned wing Branden Dawson tore the ACL in his left knee and will miss the rest of the season.

Dawson, a 6-5 freshman who is Michigan State’s third-leading scorer (8.5 ppg) and second-leading rebounder (4.6), was injured early in the first half and didn’t play again. An MRI confirmed the injury.

The Spartans (24-7, 13-5 in Big Ten) will miss Dawson’s athleticism – he’s great on the break and the offensive glass – and alleviating the defensive responsibilities for senior Draymond Green. MSU doesn’t have any other players with Dawson’s mix of size and athletic ability. He’s an efficient scorer, too, mostly because unlike many freshmen, he doesn’t force shots.

Michigan State could boost playing time for forwards Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix and go big to counteract Dawson’s loss, but I doubt coach Tom Izzo will settle on just one look. He’ll likely use the Big Ten tournament as a way to test the Spartans’ depth and make lineup tweaks and  before the NCAA tournament starts.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Bill Self on Cheick Diallo: ‘It may be a couple of more weeks’

2015 McDonald's All American Game
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Cheick Diallo is currently practicing with Kansas, but his eligibility still remains in question.

On Monday, Kansas head coach Bill Self appeared on “The Border Patrol” on WHB-AM 810 and was asked to update the status of his freshman big man.

“He’s been cleared to practice,” Self told hosts Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty. “(His status) is depending on what they find throughout from the information we submit to them whenever we get it all together.

“A lot of people think, ‘Well, why wouldn’t it all be together?’ Well there’s a lot of reasons why. It’s because they told us recently some things that they just wanted. Instead of just throwing it to them piece by piece, they requested we to just submit it all together, so it may be a couple of more weeks before we’re able to submit everything when you’re talking about getting information from schools in Mali and everything like that.

“But we hope in two weeks, maybe three weeks, before we have a definite answer. But right now, Cheick is like everybody else. He’s practicing.”

Diallo, a 6-foot-9 forward from Mali is allowed to practice with the Jayhawks, but has been waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite enrolling in classes over the summer and earning six credits. Self anticipated this would be a long process, but has remained confident Diallo, the top-5 recruit in Class of 2015, will eventually be cleared to play this season.

For three years, Diallo attended Our Savior New American School in Centereach, New York, which is currently under NCAA review. In September, Pitt freshman Damon Wilson, Diallo’s teammate at OSNA, was cleared to play.

Kansas opens the season on Nov. 13 against Northern Colorado.

Albany’s Peter Hooley accepts Inspiration Award

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Last week, Albany senior Peter Hooley accepted the Inspiration Award at the Coaches vs Cancer Basket Ball in Troy, New York. The Albany athletic department uploaded his entire speech on Monday afternoon.

Hooley had one of the most uplifting moments of March after months and months of heartache.

The junior guard missed three weeks of the season to travel back home to Australia to be with his mother, who was battling colon cancer. She passed away in January. Hooley returned to the team in February and the following month, the Great Danes had a shot at an NCAA tournament berth. In the America East Tournament championship, Hooley sunk a game-winning shot with 1.6 seconds to go.

Hooley, who graduated in May, was selected to give the commencement speech.