March 21, 2010 in Sports

Sore Spartans put hopes in swift healing

MSU must contend with Terps’ Vasquez
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Associated Press photo

Michigan State’s Kalin Lucas practiced Saturday at the Arena despite an injured ankle.
(Full-size photo)

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Greivis Vasquez is a hard guard for any able-bodied opponent.

That makes any thought of trying to slow down Maryland’s 6-foot-6 senior point guard and the Atlantic Coast Conference’s player of the year on only one good leg nearly inconceivable.

Yet that is what a couple of Michigan State defenders might be asked to do today, when the fifth-seeded Spartans (25-8) square off against Vasquez and the fourth-seeded Terrapins (24-8) in the second round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at the Arena.

Tipoff is set for 11:40 a.m., and the outcome could well hinge on the well-being of MSU’s all-Big Ten Conference point guard Kalin Lucas and his backcourt cohort Chris Allen, who both suffered foot injuries in Friday night’s 70-67 first-round Midwest Regional win over New Mexico State University.

Lucas, who torched NMSU for a career-high 25 points, aggravated an old ankle injury late in Friday’s game, not long before Allen sprained the arch on his left foot.

Both would normally be expected to assist with the difficult challenge of guarding Vasquez, who is averaging 19.4 points, 6.3 assists and 4.7 rebounds a game for Maryland, which advanced with an 89-77 win over Houston on Friday.

But the status of both remained uncertain on Saturday, when the Spartans went through a brief practice session at the Arena.

Lucas, a 6-1 senior and the 2009 player of the year in the Big Ten, took part in the workout, despite coach Tom Izzo’s offer to give him a bye. And while Lucas declared himself “100 percent” after limping into a postpractice workout, Izzo expressed some doubt on that self evaluation.

“I wouldn’t say he’s 100 percent,” Izzo said. “He’s 100 percent in his (own) mind, because he knows what is on the line … but there’s no doubt he tweaked that ankle again (on Friday).

“But when I told him to take some time off (on Saturday), he said, ‘I’m practicing,’ and I’m liking that. I really am.”

The status of Allen, a 6-3 junior who watched Saturday’s workout from the sidelines, is much murkier.

“That’s not the end of the world,” Izzo said of Allen’s inability to practice. “But he’s really hour-to-hour, and I say that because they’re classifying it as a sprained arch.

“I guess you could look at it as a sprained ankle, but it’s in a spot where we can’t tape it or do the things that you could with an ankle to get by. You just don’t know what will happen in the next 24 hours, and, so, we’re hoping.”

Lucas would normally get the first shot at trying to at least contain Vasquez, but Izzo said Allen provides a better matchup against Maryland’s standout trigger man because of his height.

“If he doesn’t play, that’s definitely going to hamper us some – maybe, a lot,” Izzo said.

Vasquez did not seem overly concerned about whatever matchup scenario might play out.

“I know it’s going to be hard for me to score, and all of that, but I’m not really worried about that,” he said. “If I do a good job of getting everybody else involved, then I’m positive that (the Spartans) are going to get off me a little bit and let me play my game.”


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