Originally posted April 14, 2016 HERE
Impact Izzone will be handing out performance reviews for each Spartan in the following weeks. The series will start with the freshmen and move up the classes. Stay tuned for the rest of our grades! Check out Deyonta Davis’ performance review here.
Matt McQuaid 2015-16 stats: 15.8 mins, 3.5 PPG, 0.8 RPG, 1.6 APG, 38.9% FG, 40.9% 3-PT
Matt McQuaid came to East Lansing with significantly lower expectations than his freshman counterpart Deyonta Davis. McQuaid looked like the 12-year-old brother of the actual recruit Michigan State signed. But the babyfaced assassin played like a grown man when he got his chance.
With the lack of depth at the point guard position, the sharpshooter was forced to slide over to the point and run the offense, something he was not accustomed to. And he ran the offense admirably with a 2-to-1 assist/turnover ratio. As a shooter, McQuaid delivered on expectations, shooting 40 percent from long distance. But like most freshmen, he was incredibly streaky. McQuaid had five games with at least eight points and 10 games with zero points.
But where Matt surprised people was his big-time defense. In the second game of the year, the biggest game of his life up to that point, in the United Center against Kansas, McQuaid made a series of defensive stops at the end of the game that propelled MSU to victory. The image of the seemingly quiet McQuaid screaming after a block and screaming again after burying a three stands out as his shining moment.
Although Steph Curry has coined the nickname “The Baby Faced Assassin”, Matt McQuaid could be a close second at the college level. When I saw him on campus for the first time, I thought to myself, “Who let a freshman high school recruit on campus?” But his play didn’t reflect his looks, starting off at the Champions Classic and his clutch shot against Kansas.
I was at that game in Chicago, and it’s safe to say I lost my mind, along with McQuaid himself, when that corner three hit nylon, and after he recorded a crucial block on the defensive end. That was McQuaid’s statement to begin the season, and Coach Izzo took notice.
McQuaid isn’t a natural point guard, but he played the 1 for most of the season (especially when Tum Tum Nairn’s foot injury became a real problem). Although he was put in a rather difficult situation, he thrived, in my opinion, and his shot was smooth as silk all season. His season statistics, as shown above, are rather solid for a freshman under Tom Izzo, and I expect much more out of McQuaid next season, with one year at MSU under his belt.
P.S. — I wrote this and didn’t see Blake’s baby faced assassin reference, I swear on Kevin Harvick’s life.
There’s a reason why “Everything is bigger in Texas” is a popular saying. The Duncanville native reflects this motto with his sky high potential of possibly emerging into one of the best shooters in Michigan State Basketball history. His smooth shooting and prudent shot selection are the two main keys that will enhance his scoring and transform him into an offensive juggernaut in the foreseeable future.
The sensational 6-foot-5 shooting guard arrived in East Lansing with anything but soaring expectations, as his Freshman counterpart Deyonta Davis stole the spotlight. McQuaid, however, flourished with hardly any attention for a good portion of his Spartan debut. One of his best moments came early in the season against Kansas in the State Farm Champions Classic. He came off the bench late in the second half in a tight contest and delivered with two clutch threes to put the game out of reach. He finished the night a perfect 3 of 3 from beyond the arc. Ever since his coming out party, he has stepped up time and time again. The sharp shooter excelled from three point land, draining 41 percent of those shots.
The lethal scoring threat does have some shortcomings. He was inconsistent throughout conference play, as he only averaged nearly four points per game. This stat suggests that Money McQuaid was either hot as fire or cold as ice. His inability to drive the basketball has made him a one-dimensional guard, as the majority of his shots came from long range. His current skillset strongly reminds me of Nik Stauskas’ freshman year at Michigan. Stauskas was able to develop his ball handling skills and his vision of reading defenses his sophomore year, which revolutionized him into a multi-dimensional scoring machine. Hopefully those improved skills translate to McQuaid. Improving his 73 percent free throw shooting couldn’t hurt either.
Despite the growing pains he might experience during his transition towards becoming a complete guard, McQuaid has a very bright future. His quickness and ability to get open on fast breaks will result in him stretching the floor, especially if he becomes a force driving to the hoop. His defensive game was a very pleasant surprise as he was often glued to his opponent, in large part due to unleashing his inner energizer bunny after a made shot. After his promising first impression, I wouldn’t be surprised if he finished his career as one of the top scorers in MSU basketball.
On a team loaded with guards, Matt McQuaid did a nice job of playing his way into Tom Izzo’s rotation in 2015-16. The 6-foot-5 wing man out of Duncanville, Texas, was expected to play this season, but I think he outperformed his expectations. While his stats weren’t eye-popping, he played a key role in Michigan State’s stellar regular season.
The biggest key to McQuaid’s season was his competence at the backup point guard position. By nature he is a shooting guard and has been for his entire life. But when he came to East Lansing, Izzo (by necessity) switched the lanky shooter’s position to the point, due to the lack of a backup behind Tum Tum Nairn. For playing a position he has never played in his life, I thought McQuaid held his own in his minutes. He improved his ball-handling skills throughout the season so that he was no longer a liability against the full-court press.
On top of that, I was a big fan of his shot selection. For a freshman, McQuaid showed veteran-like reserve in his shot selection (albeit sometimes a bit too much reserve). Bad shot selection can lead to low shooting percentages, and McQuaid’s 41 percent rate from three-point range was impressive for a first-year player. Compare that rate to the freshman season of one of the better shooters in Michigan State history, Denzel Valentine, who shot only 30 percent from long range in his first year in East Lansing. Obviously, I’m not saying that McQuaid will end up a better player than Valentine, but his range–and ability to use that range controllably–are strengths to his game.
McQuaid didn’t offer astounding defense, but at times he made big defensive plays to fire up the team. He forced a crucial jump ball against Maryland, and his performance down the stretch against Kansas (multiple clutch threes and a block) endeared himself to Spartan fans for the rest of the season. His driving game could definitely use work, although I was pleasantly surprised with some of his moves considering he was labeled a shooter coming in.
As far as his future goes, I fully expect McQuaid to move back to the shooting guard position this offseason, thanks to the arrival of a second true point guard in Cassius Winston. This will allow McQuaid to play more comfortably and will offer him more shooting opportunities. But for this year, the freshman did a nice job of carving out a role and set himself up for a solid Spartan career.