STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Michigan State’s trip to Happy Valley became surprisingly eventful early Wednesday, and not so happy.
Here’s coach Tom Izzo’s statement, released this afternoon.
“A scuffle that began as two players needling each other resulted in a dented wall. We’ll deal with this appropriately, and the players will willingly accept responsibility for paying for any property damage. I’ve spent my entire afternoon meeting with the players involved and they are both sincerely remorseful. What makes matters even more confusing is that they are off-campus roommates. As a result of their actions neither one will start tonight’s game.”
What’s notable here is that both were going to start, with Dawson sliding to small forward. Payne has been coming off the bench since the end of November.
It’ll likely be Alex Gauna and Denzel Valentine in their place. Valentine has been a starter since Payne went to the bench. This would Gauna’s first start.
How long this alters the playing rotation remains to be seen. Izzo’s statement simply says they won’t start, not that they’ll sit an entire half or anything of that magnitude.
What’s more important is who’s on the court when it matters and at the end of games. Here’s guessing that’ll include Payne and Dawson, if this one is at all close.
As for how serious this incident was or what it means about team chemistry, it’s dangerous to read too much into it. It could be the beginning of Armageddon or a nothing scuffle, or somewhere in-between.
I’ve covered a few of these over the years. Rarely is it more than a couple guys sick of each other in the moment.
More at halftime.