Michigan State sophomore guard Gary Harris averaged 12.9 points and 2.5 rebounds per game on his way to Big Ten freshman of the year honors this past season, and that’s with him battling through injuries.
About a month and a half ago, another injury has plagued the Spartans shooting guard as he has been sidelined with an ankle injury. Harris expects to be cleared for practice next week, according to ESPN College Basketball Insider Jeff Goodman.
“If there were a game right now, I would play,” Harris told ESPN. “I’m probably about 75 percent.
“I was lucky,” Harris added. “I thought it was worse than it wound up being.”
A healthy Harris coupled with four returning starters is why Michigan State sits within the top 3 of some polls, even bumping Kentucky for the No. 1 spot in several preseason polls. Harris had the chance to be a one-and-done, but elected to return to East Lansing for his sophomore season. According to Diamond Leung of MLive.com, Harris has bulked up a little bit from his freshman year to 210-pounds. The added size will hopefully keep him on the floor because Tom Izzo has big plans for his two-guard in 2013-2014.
“We’re going to use him in 100 different ways,” Izzo said. “He’ll have the ball in his hands more, more pick-and-rolls for him, more pick-and-pops. He’s also really improved his ability to shoot off the dribble and pull up on a dime.”
The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.
The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.
They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.
That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.
So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.
Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:
With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.
At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes
“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:
“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”
“It’s all money.”
Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.
Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .
Want to talk about coaching luxuries?
Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.