Branden Dawson went down in a heap Sunday against Nebraska and instantly Déjà vu spread throughout the Breslin; Dawson had surely torn his acl again. In a press conference Monday Tom Izzo gave his thoughts, “I mean, I looked at his face, I don’t know how many of you could see his face. To me, it was 99% blown again, when I looked at his face.” Branden himself feared the worse as he lay on the hardwood of the Breslin, where you could hear a pin drop.
As I watched Dawson slowly walk off the court and into the locker room, I also feared the worse. Why him? Why did this have to happen to BJ again? Was the season over, or would he be able to return before the tournament? Would we even make the tournament without him? A few minutes later a group came to the tunnel, because I was on the bleachers where the players would head to the locker room I had a perfect view. Dawson was coming back; I snapped a quick picture and took in the cheers directed toward him. The cheers were so loud that Izzo compared them to the cheers directed at Mateen Cleaves when he returned from an ankle injury in the 2000 national title game.
Dawson finished the game and has practiced this week as he is expected to start Wednesday at Penn State. As you know from our weekly power poll (See here) the B1G bloggers do not think highly of Penn State, ranking them dead last. The Nittany Lions lost their best player in Tim Frazier earlier in the year and have gone 0-4 in the B1G. The Spartans should walk out of the Bryce Jordan Center victorious Wednesday, but the schedule gets much tougher.
Saturday the Spartans host 11 ranked Ohio State fresh off of their home victory over the Wolverines. Tom Izzo and co. then travel to Madison to take on the Badgers, a place Michigan State had not won in 11 years prior to last season. That’s only the beginning of this treacherous stretch know as the Big Ten, the Spartans face off with three straight ranked opponents in #2 Indiana, #23 Illinois and #9 Minnesota.
Safe to say that Izzo and fans alike will know how good or how bad this team really is following this stretch of games. The depth of a 7/8-man bench surely cannot last all year and someone must step up. We have all been looking toward freshman Matt Costello who could be the answer. To do so the Spartans would have to play Dawson more at Small Forward, while playing two true big men. Will Izzo pull the trigger on this move? We will find out in the coming weeks.