Tom Izzoâ€™s Spartans are 11-0 and the #1 team in the nation with a loaded roster. While other teams would falter with the loss of one of their most important big men, Izzo and his Spartans have not. That is why the loss of junior F Gavin Schilling has been disappointing, but not debilitating.
With a loaded roster Izzo is going to be very careful with his big returning from a very panful turf toe. Izzo said of Schillingâ€™s return, â€œYou know, he went through warmups in the pregame (vs Florida), where heâ€™s doing some layups, heâ€™s doing some jumping now. Itâ€™s slow. It is slow. I mean, I do not envision him being ready to play by Saturday. I guess there is a slight possibility. And then youâ€™ve got to weigh, do you want him playing the next day, or do you give him another week that you know heâ€™ll be off, instead of taking a chance?â€
Izzo went on to say of his quagmire that, â€œThe two thoughts of wisdom are if he plays in that game at least he gets a game under his belt before the Big Ten. The other is, he gets another week to make sure that thing on an injury that is strange. Those kinds of injuries, the more rest you can give them the better. Until you get it totally healed so it doesnâ€™t linger. And Iâ€™m leaning toward the second. But then Iâ€™m also, like a fan knows that itâ€™s not gonna happen in the first week or something. So thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m battling. Iâ€™m totally gonna go with what the trainers think as far as this week, and then if itâ€™s like I think itâ€™s gonna be, probably waiting until after Christmas.â€
One of the reasons that this team has been so successful not only last season, but this season is because of the unselfish play of the Spartan. Izzo knows that while other coaches look at injuries and grimace, he misses his star, but it hasnâ€™t been catastrophic. He will have to make room for Schilling and his return.
Izzo elaborated that, â€œLet’s face it guys, this is a good problem to have and as I’ve said often, players earn the right. It won’t be me choosing one guy to play more minutes because I like his girlfriend. I mean, it won’t be me choosing another guy because you know, I’m not going to put Colby (Wollenman) in there because he’s going to operate on me 20 years from now. I’m not going to do those things. I’m going to find out the best guys that perform the best, not only in games but in practice to help us win. I do think the rotation will change a little bit. We might move Javon (Bess) back to the three some. We might move … (Deyonta Davis) might get a few more minutes at the four. Gavin (Schilling), though, in fairness to him, is not going to back after not being able to do anything. I mean, he’s able to ride a bike. He can shoot a few free throws. He can’t shoot a jump shot until recently. He couldn’t do any running until recently. So that process, you can break your hand, you can still work out. If you hurt your shoulder, you can still do some cardiovascular. The way he has been that toe has created him to not be able to shoot, not be able to run and those two things are important when you are an athletic big.â€
Izzo expounded on Schillingâ€™s injury and why getting back to game shape may be a bit easier at his position. â€œThe good news is that he is more like a down lineman than a quarterback or a receiver. It is not as much a skill position. His worth is not predicated on his jump shot. So I think he will come back faster than a perimeter guy or a shooting forward. But it is still not going to be overnight and I think it will play itself out. I think you will be able to see us play differently too. Nothing against the officiating, but it is in the back of everybodyâ€™s mind. Players and coaches and if you have two deep at every position, I mean you know you arenâ€™t two deep with Zel because he is a different kind of player. But other than that we can be two deep at each position for sure. I think he gives more freedom to move DD and maybe play two bigs some. It gives us more options that we really donâ€™t have right now even though I like to do that and have done it in a couple of games. Itâ€™s been more of necessity because I am afraid to play them both together because of foul trouble or conditioning for bigs.â€
I think Schilling baring a setback this week will be ready to play on Saturday in Boston. To me the question is not whether he will be ready to play; it will be if Izzo wants to give him more time or not. A great problem for a coach to have.
The Northeastern game tips at 12:30 PM and can be seen on NBC Sports Network.