EAST LANSING -- Tom Izzo expects Travis Trice to play a significant role on Michigan State's 2012-2013 basketball team.
But nobody can predict with certainty when the sophomore point guard will return from a concussion sustained during the second half of a season-opening loss to UConn.
"Trice actually smiled yesterday which sounds ridiculous, but that poor kid has been through hell," Izzo said. "He's not out of anything yet, but he's definitely better than two days ago and we are starting to see some progress. Your guess as to when he will be back is as good as mine, but they say when you see some [progress] usually good things will follow. I think that he is a very important part of this team right now just because of the stability he gives us."
Michigan State expected between 20-25 minutes per game from Trice. Those plans are on hold for now.
"It sucks," said Trice, who averaged 4.5 points in 17.2 minutes in 32 games as a freshman last year. "When it happened, I didn't have a clue what was going on. It really hit me when we got down to Atlanta and I got out there for the pre-game practice and I was like, 'this sucks'. You are in the Georgia Dome and you are seeing all of this stuff and you go out there for warmups and it is a packed place."
During those same warmups, however, Trice struggled to comprehend basic plays his team was walking through in preparation for Kansas.
"Usually you can watch it and you can pick up on it," said Trice. "If they had asked me a question, I would not have had a clue because I couldn't focus in on it. That is one of the hardest things too, focusing in. I am fine if I am just sitting here talking to somebody. But as soon as you tell me that you want me to read this paragraph or do something like that, I can't do it."
Crowd noise and the sound of the band was a source of minor discomfort for Trice during his team's 69-41 win over Texas Southern on Sunday. But that paled in comparison to the discomfort Trice experienced during his team's plane ride back from Germany.
"That was bad, real bad," Trice said. "I couldn't sleep, because my time zones were all messed up. I couldn't listen to music because it made my headache worse. I just had to sit there."
Trice is still struggling with basic tasks.
"I haven't even been able to drive, I have been getting rides everywhere," Trice said. "I feel like I am in middle school or high school again."
Trice has not attended class since before Michigan State left for Germany.
"I am going to class tomorrow," Trice said. "Tomorrow will be my first day. They want me to try it out and see how I do."
Once he resumes his studies, Trice can begin easing back into basketball. But don't expect to see Trice back on the court in the near future.
"I will probably be out the rest of this week," Trice said. "Tomorrow they want to see if I go to class, how that is going trying to focus. After that, if I am feeling alright, I will come back and get on a bike for a day and see how that does and how that affects me and then move on from there. It is based on how fast I recover, when the process starts."
When he does return to practice, Trice will wear a mask to protect his nose, which was broken on the same shot to the head. The mask is temporary.
"Not the rest of the year, I don't know how long," said Trice. "But they said not the whole year. The way it got broken it just went straight back, not side-to-side."