Michigan State’s frontcourt just went from thin to thinner.
Starting center Gavin Schilling suffered a non-contact injury to his right knee and will undergo surgery, the Spartans announced Wednesday.
There is no timetable for his return
“This is certainly an unfortunate setback for Gavin, as he had been practicing very well,” coach Tom Izzo said in a statement. “He had an incredible summer and was in excellent shape as he was ready to make his senior season his best one yet.”
The injury to Schilling is significant enough by itself, but when added to the loss of forward Ben Carter, who underwent knee surgery last month and is expected to miss “an extended period,” it’s impact is exacerbated greatly. The Spartans now have just four available forwards, half of which are freshmen.
Still, one of those freshmen is five-star recruit Miles Bridges, who was already expected to play major minutes at power forward and now Izzo will be presented with an option to play the 6-foot-7 Flint native at center in an extreme small-ball lineup. Nick Ward, a 6-foot-8 freshman from Ohio, will also likely be pushed into action immediately.
The Spartans will have almost zero time to experiment with lineups as they open the season in Hawaii against Arizona in the Armed Forces Classic and then play Kentucky at Madison Square Garden in the Champions Classic four days later. Following that is the always-competitive Battle 4 Atlantis and a trip to Durham to face Duke in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
And that’s just Michigan State’s November schedule.
The injuries are certainly a blow for the Spartans, but Izzo’s teams are famous for fighting through early-season adversity to emerge among the country’s best come March. As long as Schilling and Carter return eventually, the Spartans still should be a Final Four threat, even if they drop a couple of high-profile games early adjusting to their forced small-ball reality.