Injuries in the past, MSU is free to play

With everybody healthy, no excuses are left for the Spartans and that is just how it should be.

Stuck in a scrum on the court, Keith Appling got up with his right wrist hanging.

The same wrist that kept the Michigan State point guard out for three games and has hampered his play since. He shook it the whole way to the bench.

But after the Spartans' 67-51 win, he offered up a simple comment on when he was checking out his wrist: "I can't recall."

But what about the ailing wrist that hurt so badly for a stretch?

"What injury?" he said with a smile.

Exactly. The Spartans are free to play again – free of excuses.

"It was kind of an excuse for us all year, but that excuse is gone," Gary Harris said. "Everybody is healthy.

"It's time to play."

Saturday marks two weeks since Tom Izzo got his whole roster back at his disposal. The injuries that afflicted six of his top players – from Keith Appling to Adreian Payne and the in between – are long gone. The thought that this team was suffering from injuries bordering on Biblical (see: Trice, Travis and blisters inside blisters) has been erased.

"That's a thing of the past," Payne said.

It has been a long time coming for the Spartans. Weekly injury updates from Izzo and lineups changing from game to game were commonplace for almost all of January and February.

Izzo had grown frustrated and understandably. But it's gone now. The only lingering physical indication that this team had any bumps and bruises is Branden Dawson's brace on his right hand.

Free of the burdens of health, Friday's night win against Northwestern brought flashes that had not been seen since the turn of the New Year – spare a win at Indiana on Jan 4.

Crashing the boards. Pushing the ball in transition. Playing physical defense. Appling, Dawson and Harris with steals, slams and synergy up and down the court.

The won in the paint, on the break and on the offensive glass.

And it looked like they were having fun with basketball again.

"I feel like that's when we are all at our best in when we're out there having fun and all pulling for each other," Harris said. "It was just good vibes out there the whole time."

Well, not quite, but the minor speed bumps against the Wildcats paled in comparison to the obstacles throughout the regular season. But in the postseason, or as Denzel Valentine said "the new season," things are different.

"Like I said on senior day, we are done with the excuses," Payne said. "We are full go and everybody is healthy and we are on a roll right now."

Will it be too late? Will it be enough? Time will tell.

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