MSU freshman Matt Costello took a hard fall in practice this afternoon, and coach Tom Izzo said he might miss Tuesday’s exhibition opener against Northwood (Fla.).
“I mean it just looks like it’s a bone bruise, but it was a nasty one as you saw,” Izzo said. “Whether he’ll play tomorrow, I don’t know. He’s pretty upset but it doesn’t seem to be anything serious, it’s just a bone bruise right in that tailbone and it will be a little sore tomorrow.”
Costello, a 6-foot-9 forward, had ice bags on both his lower back and left wrist when he returned after being undercut by Alex Gauna during a drill.
“I didn’t even see the wrist part of it, I was more worried about the back,” Izzo said. “The wrist will heal. But what they told me was it was 90 percent his back.”
It’s an untimely injury for Costello, who has been battling Gauna for playing time.
“(Costello) is a big guy that LOVES to play. And those guys are almost as illegal as two-guards that can play defense,” Izzo said. “Big guys aren’t supposed to love to play. If you get them to LIKE to play, you’re making progress. But this guy loves the game. He’s in here all the time.”
Speaking of big guys, Izzo said both junior Adreian Payne and senior Derrick Nix likely will start at power forward and center in the low post against Northwood. And sophomore small forward Branden Dawson said he’s at 100 percent health now after rehabbing from his ACL tear and received clearance from MSU’s trainers to play Tuesday without his knee brace.
Tipoff against NAIA opponent Northwood, which is led by legendary former Villanova coach Rollie Massimino, is 7 p.m. at Breslin Center. It’s the first of two exhibition games this week, as the Spartans host Division II St. Cloud State at 8:30 p.m. on Friday before leaving for the season-opener a week later in Germany against Connecticut.
Izzo said the team has practiced “hard, pretty efficient, tough” leading up to their unveiling of an accelerated offensive tempo.
“Our players are going to get to run some stuff against other people, and I’m anxious to see how they compete,” Izzo said. “We’ve gone so hard my biggest concern is now that the coaches are out of it, who’s gonna motivate? The leadership thing is when it now rears its head. The chemistry has been phenomenal with this team.
“The leadership stuff – coaches don’t get to play now, where in practice we get to be on the floor. The zebras don’t let us on the floor tomorrow, so it’s gonna take players to do that. And that’s what I’m really anxious to see, how we respond to that.”
* WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: As Brian Calloway reports, MSU’s women’s team lost freshman Ariel Powers for the season with a torn left Achilles tendon. Coach Suzy Merchant had been impressed with the 6-foot wing player from Detroit Country Day, a former high school teammate of center Madison Williams.