After nine long and very trying games for Michigan State, junior guard Branden Dawson has finally returned to the team during practices on Thursday. Since his injury from slamming his hand onto a table while watching film, Dawson has watched his team go 4-5 over the last nine games, including two bitter losses to in-state rival, the Michigan Wolverines.
Though he will wear a brace on his right hand for the rest of the season, which was broken in the incident, Dawson is ultimately happy to be back.
"It feels great to finally have everyone back," Dawson said after practice, according to The Detroit News. "We finally looked like a team. My presence being there gave the guys a lift a little bit on the defensive end and we haven't been playing the best defense. My presence there today ... really gave the guys a lift and brought some energy."
Dawson averaged 10.2 points per game and 8.7 rebounds, the latter of which the Spartans sorely missed after some tough defensive breaks in performances as of late. Lack of toughness has become the top debilitating factor as of late for Michigan State, though Dawson hopes that his return can help to boost the team.
"(Being out) hurt because I wanted to help my teammates out and to see them struggling, I knew I could help a lot," Dawson said. "... Now I'm back trying to encourage my teammates and help the best way I can."
MSU head coach Tom Izzo is looking forward to getting Dawson back in the game alongside big time star Adreian Payne and increasing the amount of time during each outing that he can keep the returning Dawson in the game.
"(Dawson) and A.P. will play together some, and it will also give us some great benefits defensively when we play against bigger guards and we need somebody to defend," Izzo said. "Dawson's minutes will go up each game. If he does start, it wouldn't be early and then we'll just see."
You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.