No. 9 Michigan State has been affected by injuries as much as any team in America this season. Branden Dawson’s out with a broken hand, Adreian Payne’s missed time with a foot injury and Keith Appling has a right wrist issue, and those are just three of the injuries that Tom Izzo’s had to account for this season.
On Thursday night the Spartans were without Appling and Dawson, but Panye did return to the court for his first action since a January 7 win over Ohio State. Payne would score 12 points in the 82-67 win over Penn State, with Kenny Kaminski and Denzel Valentine among the standouts for the Spartans.
Kaminski, who’s made multiple visits to Tom Izzo’s doghouse this season, put together his best outing of the season with 19 points in 21 minutes of action. The redshirt freshman connected on seven of his nine shots from the field, shooting 5-for-6 from beyond the arc. And as a team Michigan State made 12 three-pointers, the most they’ve made in a conference game since 2008.
Valentine, known for his versatility and ability to play multiple positions on the floor, tallied 11 points, 11 rebounds and six assists to help Michigan State account for a 5-for-16 night from Gary Harris. With Appling out of the lineup Valentine became a more important piece for Michigan State on Thursday night, and he rose to the challenge. While some may look at the opponent (Penn State) and decide that there isn’t much to be gained from the result, there’s also the need to have players such as Kaminski and Valentine gain the confidence needed to be key figures moving forward.
Outside of Tim Frazier (9-for-14 FG, 22 points) Penn State struggled to get much going against the Michigan State defense, and the Spartans supplemented their solid defensive effort with a 46% night from the field. At some point (hopefully) Michigan State will return to full strength, but they’ll still need contributions from all members of the rotation.
With Appling out of the lineup and Payne looking to regain his form after missing nearly a month of action, other stepped up to help the Spartans take care of Penn State.
Thursday afternoon marked the first time since Friday that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino commented on the controversy that has taken his program by storm. Speaking with Terry Meiners of 840 WHAS in Louisville, Pitino discussed the escort scandal, what could have possibly led former staffer Andre McGee down the path he’s alleged to have taken in Katina Powell’s book and his future at Louisville.
The interview began with Meiners asking Pitino if it changed his thinking as to whether or not he needed to resign, which (as one would expect) Pitino shot down. Also discussed was the statement released by school president Dr. James Ramsey, which expressed support for athletic director Tom Jurich but did not mention Pitino at all.
“Well I can’t answer that, Terry,” Pitino said when asked why he wasn’t mentioned in the statement. “Twenty-six years ago Kentucky brought me in to make the program compliant to NCAA rules. (Then-Kentucky president) Dr. (David) Roselle and (then Kentucky athletic director) C.M. Newton thought I was the guy to come in and change around the images, change around the culture and add a lot of discipline to the program. And I did that.
“And then I came here to the University of Louisville, and if someone was five seconds late or not early consequences would be paid from a disciplinary standpoint,” Pitino continued. “This is obviously not a person being late, this is not about a person (not) working hard. This is about things that are very disgusting, things that turn my stomach, things that keep me up without sleeping.
“But unfortunately, I had no knowledge of any of this and don’t believe in it. It’s sickening to me, the whole thing. But I’m thinking of my 13 players, I’m thinking of our program, and I’m sorry that Dr. Ramsey did not think enough to mention me but that’s something I cannot control.”
Below is audio of the full interview, which ran just over 17 minutes in length.
Expected to be one of the favorites in the Mountain West this season, Boise State’s perimeter ranks have shrunk by one player due to injury. Thursday it was reported by the Idaho Statesman that freshman guard Malek Harwell will redshirt after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Along with fellow freshman Paris Austin, Harwell is expected to be a key part of the Broncos’ future beyond the upcoming season.
Now, instead of competing with an experienced backcourt that includes four redshirt seniors, Harwell will work to get his knee back to full strength for the 2016-17 season.
Among the guards who will play significant minutes this season are Anthony Drmic, who took a medical redshirt last season, Montigo Alford, Mikey Thompson and grad transfer Lonnie Jackson (Boston College). Chandler Hutchison, who started in Boise State’s final 18 games of the 2014-15 season as a freshman, will also compete for playing time.