EAST LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – With Rutgers on the clock this week for Michigan State’s basketball team Tom Izzo couldn’t have been more adamant on his Zoom call Tuesday afternoon. Thursday night’s game in Piscataway, NJ against the Scarlet Knights is ‘a go’ and both parties have agreed, despite two more positive COVID-19 tests in the Spartans’ program.
“We did have another positive test at the end of last week with Gabe Brown,” said Izzo. “It was the same situation where it was negative, and then we had to get it retested, and when we did it was positive. We also had one with one of our assistant coaches yesterday (Monday).”
The assistant coach is Dane Fife, and per Big Ten protocols, he will have to be away from the team for 10 days. As far as Brown, Izzo expects him to be back by early February.
The Spartans have now had 13 of their 15 players test positive for the virus, along with at least four staff members, which of course includes Izzo himself.
“If there’s one thing that we have gone through, it’s that we’ve had a large number of players now who have had it throughout the school year,” said Izzo. “We’re prepared to play on Thursday. Everything is a go for us on Thursday. Rutgers is prepared to play Thursday and hopefully we’ll get some people back as time marches on.”
One player who will be making the trip to Rutgers, and will be eligible to play, is freshman Mady Sissoko after sitting out the Big Ten-mandated 17 days. The 6-foot-9 forward also has completed the required cardiac testing, however whether he ends up getting in the game is to be determined.
“You have to remember, when you’ve been out for 14 days, at least, and then you start edging your way back, there’s going to be a curve of getting back in shape,” said Izzo.
Izzo also said it’s possible that senior Joshua Langford will be available for Thursday. Langford tested positive for the virus on Jan. 13 and has completed his isolation period, along with his cardiac test. The same can be said for Steven Izzo who tested positive on Jan. 12
When Michigan State (8-4, 2-4) tips-off against Rutgers (8-6, 4-6) at 7 p.m. it will be the Spartans’ first game in 20 days.