By Adam Biggers
An outright Big Ten Conference championship wasn't the only thing the Michigan State Spartans lost Sunday, they also lost a key contributor in freshman Branden Dawson.
Dawson fell with an apparent knee injury about 10 minutes into the Spartans' 72-70 loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes, a loss which created a three-way tie with Michigan and Ohio State for Big Ten regular-season bragging rights. Not to return to the game, it was later reported that Dawson, a 6-foot-5 physical scorer, suffered an ACL injury and would be lost for the remainder of the year.
Former Spartans standout Delvon Roe was at the Breslin Center on Sunday for Senior Day, celebrating his injury-shortened career with the class he entered East Lansing with. Somewhat of an expert on knee injuries, Roe says he immediately knew Dawson was in trouble as he writhed in pain on the floor.
"I knew exactly what it was when I saw it," said Roe, who "retired" from college basketball due to chronic knee issues. "I'm very familiar with that. I had a pretty good idea what it was when he went (down)."
Dawson scored four points in seven minutes played Sunday. His scoring ability, although erratic at times, will be sorely missed as the Spartans head into the NCAA Tournament. He scored in double-figures 12 times this season, including a 10-point showing in his collegiate debut in a 67-55 loss to then top-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels aboard the USS Carl Vinson near San Diego.
Spartans senior Draymond Green remembers his team's run to the 2010 Final Four without Kalin Lucas, who was the team's leader. Although Dawson is talented and a vital piece to the rotation, his absence likely won't hit the Spartans as hard as Lucas' did. If the Spartans were able to make it without one of their best players, they should be able to do so without Dawson in the fold.
"In 2010, we lost our best player (Kalin Lucas) and were able to reach the Final Four while losing our best player in the second round," said Green, who had 19 point and 12 rebounds Sunday. "So it wouldn't be the end of the world. It would be a tough loss for us. If somebody goes down, that's someone else's opportunity to step up."