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January 13, 2014

Update: Dawson questionable with virus

STORY UPDATED (7:04 p.m.): Junior forward Branden Dawson sat out Monday's practice.

MSU's basketball sports information director Matt Larson informed media after practice that Dawson is out with a virus. He said Dawson is questionable for Wednesday's game at Northwestern.

EAST LANSING (2:11 p.m.) - Tom Izzo thought he was seeing the same old problems from during stretches of Saturday's game against Minnesota.

In actuality, he may have been seeing the latest in a season-long problem for his team - another illness.

Izzo said during his press conference on Monday that the team has conducted health tests on Dawson. Michigan State's Matt Costello was lost for more than two weeks in December due to mononucleosis, and is still recovering from that illness.

Izzo said Dawson was tested at 9 a.m. on Monday. Izzo said as of noon, the results of the tests had not been received. The Spartans will practice at 4 p.m. today (Monday).

Izzo was angry with Dawson during the Minnesota game, for the upteenth time in the junior's career, this time for failing to get out on 3-point shooters on two occasions, among other things.

Izzo did not start Dawson in the second half of Michigan State's victory over Minnesota. After re-entering the game, five minutes into the second half, Dawson played better in terms of defense, rebounding and off-ball energy against the Gophers. But he didn't feel better.

After hearing Dawson's explanation about potential sickness, Izzo backed off on his criticism of the player.

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"I almost feel for him," Izzo said on Monday. "I mean, he was pretty upset after that game and just didn't feel like he had any energy. I felt that way about him, but I've felt that way about him before."

This time it seemed different.

"He was the one that came to me in my office after the game," Izzo said.

They talked about Dawson's health and energy level.

"So they were able to run some tests and we got him looked at yesterday (Sunday)," Izzo said. "We're running through tests today and I don't know what that will bring and I don't know what that will do because I don't know what they are. I feel like he's an important part of this whole thing and if we're going to get better, he's going to have to play better too."

Izzo on Dawson:

Izzo Giving Payne More Time Off

Izzo said the Spartans will not rush Adreian Payne back into the lineup, in preparation for Wednesday's game at Northwestern.

Payne missed Saturday's game with continued complications stemming from plantar fasciitis.

"We're going to make it so it's 100 percent (before he comes back,)," Izzo said. "If we don't have to play him, we're going to do it like Gary Harris; he doesn't play this week or next week. We've got to get him to 100 percent. I've got to look at the big picture for him and the big picture for us."

Izzo wants to guard against a situation in which Payne's injury could linger deep into the season.

"There's no question he showed that he can play with pain," Izzo said. "If it's going to linger because of playing, which I don't know if that's the case or not yet, we're going to definitely err on the side of getting him healthy."

Izzo saw cerebral development in Payne while the senior center sat on the bench in civilian clothes on Saturday.

"He was a really good assistant coach on the bench and really had a lot of good things to say and I know how badly he wanted to be out there," Izzo said. "That was a big positive for me.

"I mean we are sitting there on the bench and he knows the scouting report better. Last year, I don't even know if he saw one."

Izzo has learned a lot about Payne in the last seven days.

"I didn't know he'd do what he did against Ohio State and learning that gives me a whole other perspective," Izzo said.

Payne battled through severe soreness to score 18 points in 32 minutes of play during a 72-68 overtime victory over Ohio State on Jan. 7. Izzo says he was "98 percent sure" that Payne would have to sit out that game with the foot injury. But Payne made the decision himself to fight through the pain and suit up.

"So here I am in his last year, learning even more about him and that was a positive thing," Izzo said. "I was impressed that Adreian Payne came back last week and played in a game. It put any doubts in my mind that he isn't tough enough or things like that. That was a plus."

Now, Izzo is encouraging Payne to wait longer.

"We're kind of holding him down a bit, telling him we're going to get him 100 percent healthy," Izzo said. "But I do not see this lingering on all year. Only if I let it and I'm not gonna let it."

Is Payne questionable or doubtful for the Northwestern game?

"You know, I'm not a medical guy," Izzo said. "It all depends how these days go. If he starts becoming pain free and he really starts improving then I'd say he's questionable, if not then he's 98 percent more than doubtful."

Appling Delivering Better Communication

When Ohio State gained a crucial offensive rebound after a missed free throw, and scored on an in-bound pass off a Spartan player's backside, Izzo said he held Keith Appling accountable for both errors - even though he wasn't directly involved with either. Izzo said Appling needed to be the player communicating to teammates about the potential for problems in both cases.

"Those things win games for you and I jump one guy for that, Appling," Izzo said. "And I told him. And then this last game (against Minnesota), I watched him walk into the line on the free throws and he's pointing at every guy. I watched him yelling at guys on the out of bounds plays."

Again, it's a case of Izzo seeing development in a senior.

"I feel my relationship with him has grown immensely," Izzo said. "We still lack a little leadership. Keith is getting better but I don't know what else I can ask Keith to do."

State of the Team

Izzo on various players and progress:

  • "I am seeing Matt Costello and Gary Harris getting in better shape and being able to do a few more things.

    "When you look at Gary's Big Ten stats they are a lot better than his overall stats so I think he is making some progress."

  • "Keith Appling by far has been the most consistent player on both ends of the court and has done an unbelievable job running this team with sometimes strange lineups in there. He has been a definite bright spot."

  • "Kenny Kaminski has come in and shown us he can shoot the ball. That is another plus that having some injuries you can find out some more."

  • "With Denzel Valentine, if you look at him defensively and the rebounding - he has done a lot of great things. I think offensively he has worked so hard on his offense, but he can improve in that area."

  • "Travis Trice was in for a little walk through we had this morning and he is at least feeling a lot lot better.Starting to look a lot better. Now he has to start gaining some of the weight back that he has lost.It's now getting back in to shape from the 10 or 11 days that he really didn't do much.That in encouraging.

    "Trice just being on the floor, he played 18 minutes when the day before he was just out of it, I think is a positive thing. He didn't make any shots he normally makes; just because you see a body out there doesn't mean he's back to normal."

  • Overall: "I look at us as a team that has some question marks. We haven't played our best basketball yet, butwe are getting some depth under fire because of the injuries and what Dawson will be able to do this week, what Payne will be able to do is still a question mark.

    "I love the upside of this team. I've said that from day one. And yet, we've got to understand that you've got to find a way to keep getting better every day, and that's easier said from a coach's standpoint when players are playing with different people.

    "I went through the (Minnesota film) with three or four guys this morning, and there were 20 things in that game we could have done better without any effort. We just have to continually focus on improving, not making the same mistakes, getting better each game, each practice, each day, and I say that and all the sudden there's two new people that haven't practiced out there playing for us.

    "I think it's an incredible feat to be 15-1, especially when we played some pretty good teams. When I see some teams around that I have a lot of respect for not being able to sustain right now, there is some positive - The glass isn't half full, the glass is three quarters full if you looked at it that way."

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