Michigan State’s summer leaves Izzo relieved
by Chris Solari, USA TODAY Sports
The biggest event of the summer for Tom Izzo might be that it’s been an uneventful summer.
Izzo said Wednesday that the Spartans have experienced their first healthy summer as a team in a few years and that all of the players who have been injured should be 100 percent ready when fall practices begin.
Sophomore Gary Harris and senior Keith Appling’s shoulder injuries appear to be in the past, Izzo said. Branden Dawson’s confidence is returning after recovering from knee surgery last offseason. Even oft-hurt Russell Byrd made it through unscathed and without further foot problems.
“Knock on wood — no injuries with a week left to go in the workouts. Probably the best summer collectively we could have,” Izzo said. “If you believe in the theory that players are made in the summer and teams are made in the winter, then I look back at last year and say, ‘Wow,’ because we a couple guys that didn’t do anything and they were in our top seven.”
Starting guards Appling and Harris endured problems with their shoulders for much of the Big Ten season and into the NCAA tournament, yet Harris missed just two games and Appling none. The duo opted for rehab rather than undergo surgery.
“I think Keith is 100 percent recovered, and I’m thinking Gary is, too,” Izzo said. “But I think Gary had to do more work to get there than Keith did.”
Dawson, a junior guard who returned in about seven months from ACL surgery and played the entire 2012-13 season, missed all of last summer. He averaged 8.9 points and 5.9 rebounds while readjusting his body to game speed.
“What I’ve seen in the last couple weeks is he’s finishing so much better,” Izzo said of Dawson. “When he got hurt, he wasn’t the dynamic, fierce dunker like a Shannon Brown and guys like that, where he did it with strength and power. …
“I think he was healthy physically, but I’m not sure he was healthy mentally, even though he’s a tough kid, I think his subconscious was getting to him a lot of times.”
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