Tom Izzo explains Tyson Walker's limitation in practice

On3 imageby:Thomas Goldkamp02/10/24
Michigan State Spartans head coach Tom Izzo highlights Tyson Walker's development

Michigan State‘s fortunes of late have hung on the injury status of star guard Tyson Walker, who has been dealing with a nagging groin injury for most of early February.

Walker had to exit the team’s 59-56 loss to Minnesota at a key juncture on Tuesday, and though he returned to the game later he still clearly wasn’t at 100%.

To that end, Michigan State has limited Walker in practice ahead of Saturday’s game against No. 10 Illinois.

“Yeah, limited in practice,” coach Tom Izzo said. “Nah, he wanted to practice. They let him practice a little bit early going through some stuff, and I just kept him out. I think he knows his stuff, he’s going to play enough minutes. So that all falls on me, not him. He wanted to go, I said he’s not going.”

Tyson Walker has been electric this season, scoring 19.0 points per game while also dishing out 3.0 assists and snagging 2.6 rebounds per contest. He also averages 2.0 steals per game.

Currently Walker ranks fifth in the conference in scoring. Michigan State needs him.

So Walker resting in practice is more about load management than any major concern that the groin injury could sideline him for an extended period.

“Not because I’m worried about, just because his frickin schedule he needs a day,” Izzo said.

One thing Izzo wants to avoid is adding to the already normal wear and tear Tyson Walker faces as one of the league’s elite scorers. Walker gets an abnormal amount of attention from opponents when it comes to the scouting report.

For good reason, too. He can change games.

“I mean he is tough. He’s got great toughness and I think he’s grown in that,” Izzo said. “I don’t think he was very tough when he got here. My opinion, you can ask him. But I think he’s gotten tougher, I think he’s gotten better. He gets beat up. I mean he does get beat up. Not just because he’s small, but smaller and the best player and best shooter. Got people hanging on him, bumping him, grinding him. He gets frustrated a little bit too when that happens a lot. A lot.”

Tyson Walker and the Spartans will return to action on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET against Illinois. The game will tip off at 2 p.m. ET on CBS.