AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Michigan State point guard Keith Appling believes his sprained right shoulder will be fine when the Spartans face the Creighton-Duke winner Friday in Indianapolis. After all, he’s already dealt with the injury once this season. It’s Appling’s mind that worries him.
“It causes me to be a little paranoid,” Appling said Saturday. “It takes away some of my aggressiveness.”
Appling missed the final 7:14 of the Spartans’ 70-48 win against Memphis after he injured the shoulder while defending Tigers guard Geron Johnson. “I was closing out and he went to drive,” Appling said. “My arm kind of got caught between his.” Appling’s shoulder took the brunt of the entanglement. “It slid out,” he said. “It slid back in by itself. It’s nothing that serious. I should be fine and ready to play.”
The junior from Detroit suffered the same injury against Minnesota on Feb. 6. After that game, Spartans coach Tom Izzo told reporters Appling was screaming in pain. Appling said familiarity with the injury makes him less concerned this time about long-term effects. That familiarity, however, did not lessen the pain. “I’m not getting used to it,” Appling said. “Since it happened before, I wasn’t as surprised. But it’s still pretty painful.” But not so painful that it would keep Appling off the court in the Sweet 16. “I’m a pretty fast healer,” Appling said. “It’s nothing that ice and a little Ibuprofen won’t take care of.”
Meanwhile, Appling said the Spartans will suffer no lingering mental effects from his towel fight with teammate Derrick Nix during a timeout Saturday. The Tigers had made a brief run, and Nix took out his frustrations on Appling – high school locker room-style -- in the huddle. Izzo had to play referee for the former Pershing High teammates. “Nix threw a towel at his roommate, his best friend, his guy,” Izzo said. “You know, we have a tendency to do that.” Appling said he and Nix have never been shy to express their feelings to one another. “We all want to win so bad,” Appling said. “It was a fiery moment in our huddle. Nothing too serious. At the end of the day, we’re all brothers and we love one another. … We’ve been around one another so long. Stuff like that has happened so many times.”