Michigan State Spartan big man Adreian Payne has been battling plantar faciitis the entire season. As a result he has missed the last two games against Minnesota and Northwestern. Payne could have played limited minutes in the last two wins for the Spartans but Tom Izzo told Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press that he isn’t interested in playing his future NBA draft pick until he is 100%.
I’ve got to look at the big picture for him,” Izzo said of Payne, an expected first-round pick in June, “and the big picture for us. … I do not see this lingering all year. Only if I let it — and I’m not gonna let it.”
The Spartans have been dealing with injury and illness for the entire season. Matt Costello and Branden Dawson have recently missed time because of mono and guard Keith Appling was hobbled by an ankle injury.
Fortunately it hasn’t adversely effected the Spartans….yet.
The Spartans take a 9 game win streak into Illinois tonight but the Illini are a tough team and playing them on the road will be a tall order without Payne in the line-up.
The Spartans 16-1 start has afforded them the luxury of resting Adreian Payne until he gets better. But resting Payne will only be possible for so long if the Spartans want to realistically compete for the Big Ten regular season title.
With all the injuries, sophomore guard Gary Harris has been given a bigger role in the offense. He has responded by stepping up his game. Harris scored 14 in the win over Northwestern on Wednesday hitting some clutch shots while leading the Spartans to victory.
The Spartans will try to extend their win streak to 10 in Illinois tonight. Tip off is at 8:00 pm and you can catch the game on the Big Ten Network.