Tom Izzo Thinking 'Next Man Up' For Injury-Ridden Michigan State

By Matthew Sturgeon

The hits just keep on coming for Michigan State.

They just keep seeing injury after injury after injury, and today was no exception. The Spartans, who are already without Wooden Award candidate Adreian Payne for an indefinite amount of time, will now have to deal with the loss of another talented contributer in junior forward Branden Dawson.

Dawson reportedly broke his hand after slamming it against a table out of frustration during a team film session on Thursday; he is expected to miss the next four to five weeks. This is a major blow to not only the team’s chances at a Big 10 Championship, but more importantly, a national championship.

Tom Izzo is a big proponent of building cohesion as the regular season progresses. He recently stated that he still does not even have his set rotation down, and he still mixes and matches up to 10 or even 11 players. Izzo’s teams are known for making tremendous improvements from the first game of the season to the deep parts of March. That cohesion and overall chemistry on the court took a huge step back today with the news of Dawson’s injury.

So, who’s the next man up?

Kenny Kaminski, the sharp shooting three-point specialist, appears to be the logical choice to take over Dawson’s spot in the starting lineup. Izzo could also choose to go small and insert Alvin Ellis III as the three, with Denzel Valentine moving to the four. This also qualifies as the appropriate time for a center on the roster to finally step up. Matt Costello, Alex Gauna and Gavin Schilling, I’m talking to you. They are all talented players, but none have seemed to figure it out just yet.

Izzo is the epitome of toughness. He’s not going to sulk over the fact that he doesn’t have one of the nation’s top players in Payne, and he certainly doesn’t want anyone feeling sorry for him or MSU, no matter how incredibly dumb Dawson’s injury might seem. The man is arguably the best coach in all of college basketball, and perhaps one of the best in all of sports.

Next man up, Spartans.

In Izzo, I trust.

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