With Payne out, fellow Ohioan steps up
There’s no way No. 4 Michigan State can really replace what it gets from Adreian Payne while Payne rests his sprained foot, a situation for which Michigan State coach Tom Izzo says there is no timetable.
Hot shooting from redshirt freshman Kenny Kaminski can help, though, and it’s so far, so good for the Spartans on that front.
That’s one Ohio guy down, another stepping up.
Payne, a 6’10 senior from Dayton, Ohio, has been battling plantar fasciitis all season, and he didn’t start last week’s overtime win over then-No. 3 Ohio State after the sprained foot diagnosis. He came off the bench to score 18, delivering three putback dunks and showing few signs of injury.
"He looked fine to me," said Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft, Payne’s longtime friend and former AAU teammate. "He dunked on me once and his foot seemed fine."
Payne sat out Michigan State’s overtime win over Minnesota last weekend, and Izzo said Monday that Payne won’t return to the lineup "until he’s 100 percent healthy." Izzo said he’s not sure when that will be, but it seems unlikely Payne will play Wednesday vs. Northwestern.
"I’ve got to look at the big picture for him," Izzo said. "And the big picture for us.
"I do not see this lingering all year…only if I let it. And I’m not gonna let it."
Payne, who chose to put off the NBA and return for his senior season, is averaging 16.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game on the season. Helping to replace the offense he provides vs. Minnesota was Medina, Ohio native Kaminski, who missed all of last year and parts of the early season this year due to injury.
The 6’8 Kaminski hit his first five 3-point attempts vs. Minnesota and has now hit 11-of-16 3-point tries in Big Ten play, including 3-of-4 vs. Ohio State. Offense from Kaminski is a surprise but welcome addition — he’d played 63 minutes total in six non-conference games — and now Izzo is hoping Kaminski can contribute in other ways, too.
"Kaminski did do a good job," Izzo said after Saturday’s game. "Kaminski made some shots and he gives up some shots. But it is good that he makes some. Like we said last year and I’ll still say it, if he continues to improve and tries to get a rebound once in a while and guard somebody once in a while, he can shoot it with anybody. But we do have to do more than just score on one end."
For the Spartans to keep winning in the rugged Big Ten — and especially beyond — they need Payne to get back to health. Izzo seems to know that and will operate accordingly, but help from Kaminski is welcome.
"(Kaminski) definitely gives us instant offense," Izzo said. "He has ice in his veins."