IOWA CITY, Iowa — I don’t know the extent of Gary Harris’ shoulder injuries, especially the left shoulder which popped out again during the first half of Thursday night’s game at Iowa.
But I’ve covered enough college basketball players who’ve suffered dislocated shoulders to know this: If it keeps happening (and if this was a dislocation or partial dislocation), it usually eventually requires surgery. And, every time it pops out of its socket, it’s more susceptible to happening again.
Harris said afterward that it was no big deal and that the only ramification was that he’d probably have to wear the brace from now on.
But I get the sense that if Harris lost his foot in the game, he’d say he really only needed one foot anyway.
This is the pressing issue of MSU’s season now — before it can move forward with anything else. Because, with Harris, the Spartans have a chance to have a ceiling that includes games deep into March. Without him, they don’t. It’s that simple.
Coach Tom Izzo knows it. When asked Thursday night about the ramifications of Harris’ shoulder problems as it pertains to the rest of the season, Izzo quickly moved on — perhaps not wanting to picture a Harris-less future — only saying, “No idea, no idea.”
Injuries like this, from what I know, need a couple of months to strengthen without trauma to the shoulder. What happened Thursday to Harris would qualify as trauma.
If I were Izzo and Co. — and the injury is as it seems — I’d consider shutting Harris down for at least a week, until after next Wednesday’s date at Penn State. As brutal as the Big Ten is, its bottom two teams (Penn State and Nebraska) are really bad, and those are MSU’s next two opponents, perhaps the only two close to certain victories, even without Harris.
If Harris’ shoulder keeps popping out of place, he won’t finish the season. And MSU’s season will end earlier than it hopes.
He is an essential piece of any lofty goals the Spartans have — a Big Ten title or the NCAA tournament’s second or third weekend.
Harris is among MSU’s best players right now, maybe its best offensively, even at less than 100 percent.
But, no matter what Harris says, you need shoulders to shoot a basketball.