Michigan State’s Nick Ward has surgery on hand making return uncertain

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State’s Nick Ward had surgery on his left hand Sunday night, coach Tom Izzo said Monday, but there remains no definitive timetable for the star forward’s return.

“We’re gonna have to adjust as a team. … There’s no doubt our margin for error has shrunk,” Izzo said. “Nick won’t be replaced by one guy, it’ll be a group.”

That group to replace the size in the post, Izzo said, will come from freshmen Thomas Kithier, Marcus Bingham Jr. and walk-on Braden Burke, who played his freshman year at Robert Morris in Pittsburgh in 2016-17.

“You know what? We’re gonna use the whole damn team,” Izzo said. “And we’re gonna have some fun.”

Ward, a 6-foot-9 junior forward, suffered the hairline fracture on his left hand during the first half of the Spartans’ 62-44 victory over Ohio State, Izzo said.

“It’s a traditional small hairline fracture, either done on a hit on the hand or a hit on the rim or both, I guess,” Izzo said. “I don’t have much else to tell you about that. … I’ve talked to people that have had three weeks (recovery), four weeks, five weeks. Different people have done different things depending on how they react.

“For the most part, Nick has not been a guy who has not been injured much, other than a rolled ankle or two. Hopefully if things go well for Nick, we’ll get him back in the end (of the season).”

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Michigan State released the news a few hours after the comeback win, in which Ward did not play the final 13:25 and only played two stints in the second half totaling 3:30 with a green wrap on his hand.

“Sometimes through adversity, some of the greatest moments in your life take place,” Izzo said. “Nick was out for most of that game, and yet we found a way to win and get even stronger in the second half.” 

Ward has averaged 15.1 points and 6.7 rebounds during 26 games this season.

The Spartans (21-5, 12-3) are tied with Michigan atop the Big Ten standings. Michigan State hosts Rutgers on Wednesday, then travels to Ann Arbor to face the Wolverines on Sunday.

“With three weeks left, at least we’re in the position we wanted to be in. And that’s the position to compete for a championship,” Izzo said. “I hope everybody here feels bad for Nick, but I don’t want anybody to feel bad for us.” 

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