Ummm, I think I'm going to go ahead and worry about this just a little bit, OK?

Joe Rexrode has an update on how the offseason's going for the MSU basketball team in today's LSJ.  Everything is very upbeat--until you look at the sidebar.

Apparently, Korie Lucious' recovery from surgery on the foot he broke in the national championshp game is not going as well as Chris Allen's has. Additional surgery is a possibility, with the goal of getting him back on the court in October.  Particularly anxiety-inducing text:

"I think he’s got the same issue that the kid from Carolina did," Izzo said, referring to Marcus Ginyard, who missed last season for the Tar Heels with a foot injury. "On 10 percent of the kids, they just don’t heal as quickly. With Korie now, the negative would be he lost the whole summer. There’s no question he will not play a day in the whole summer. And that is disappointing. "

Analysis/panic after the jump.

At minimum, this is unfortunate in terms of the missed opportunity for Lucious to further develop as an offensive playmaker.  But the fact that the medical issue bears similarity to Marcus Ginyard's situation raises the specter that Lucious could miss the beginning of the basketball season.  That would mean the team would basically have to play without a true back-up point guard.  Kalin Lucas will no doubt play at least 30 minutes in competitve games next season and could probably play 35 minutes per game over a short stretch if needed.

But those 5-10 minutes he's not on the court could have a major impact on the team's performance.  Playing without a competent back-up at point guard is different than not having, say, a center to bring off the bench, since the point guard sets the table for the entire offense.

Looking over the roster, I really only see two candidates to step into the back-up point guard role, neither of whom is an ideal fit:

  • Chris Allen: Allen has the athleticism to play the position.  He's a good dribbler and has shown flashes of passing acumen.  But he also has a history of questionable decision making on offense.  And trying to learn the point guard position would distract from his main goal: Developing a more consistent perimeter shot.
  • Austin Thornton: Thornton is a smart, hard-working player, and--given that he doesn't have an established role in the playing rotation--he could devote himself full-time to learning the point guard position.  The question is whether he has the quickness to compete against Division 1 point guards.  He looked somewhat overwhelemed at times last season when he saw the court against major-conference competition.

The other potential option is walk-on Mike Kebler.  It's hard to judge a guy when he's only playing in garbage time, but my sense is that his athleticism is probalby a notch down from Thornton's.

Tom Izzo has dealt with missing point guards before (Mateen Cleaves' injury in 1999, Marcus Taylor's early depature in 2002) but in both cases there was a decently-equipped player available to step up (Charlie Bell, Alan Anderson).  We can only hope I'm underestimating the ability of Allen and/or Thornton to do the same--or that Korie Lucious' left foot is, in fact, good to go two months from now.

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