McQuaid brings new mentality to the floor in win over U-M
It’s been a subpar month and a half for Matt McQuaid, but if McQuaid’s performance on Sunday was any indication of things to come what's next could be a stretch to remember for the sophomore guard.
A single play was a microcosm of McQuaid’s performance in MSU’s 70-62 win over the University of Michigan. It started with freshman forward Miles Bridges stealing the ball from U-M’s Derrick Walton Jr., driving up the lane through double coverage. With no man on McQuaid, Bridges fired a no-look pass to the right elbow, where McQuaid seamlessly drained his third shot of the game from downtown.
McQuaid finished the game with nine points, shooting 3-for-5 from the field and a perfect 3-for-3 from the perimeter, along with one assist and two steals.
“It was big for us to see him hit that shot because, you know, he’s been kind of in a slump lately,” Bridges said. “Once he hit that shot, that’s when he started going on defense and offense, and he’s a great player for us.”
McQuaid’s shooting slump has been evident since the team’s loss to Northeastern on Dec. 18. In that span, McQuaid has only found the net on 28.6 percent of all shots, including 6-for-26 shots from 3-point range. McQuaid’s three triples against the Wolverines gave him his first three-triple game since the team’s win over Youngstown State on Dec. 6, when he shot 3-for-8 from deep range.
Primarily a perimeter shooter for the Spartans, McQuaid entered Sunday’s contest against U-M shooting 32.9 percent from beyond the arc on the season — a rate that ranks seventh of nine on the team among shooters to take a shot from 3-point range and last on the team among players with 30 or more attempted shots on the deep ball.
McQuaid missed time in the offseason after he underwent double hernia surgery, but head coach Tom
“You have to get some confidence somehow and confidence is earned and not given,” Izzo said in his postgame press conference. “The kid has worked hard at it. I think what I liked most was the way that the team felt about it for him. … it seems like nothing to most of you but you should have seen the team reaction to him in the locker room there, they are all so happy for him.”
Putting the rivalry’s quarrels aside, MSU’s win over U-M on Sunday boosted the psyche of not only
Despite MSU’s scoring effort being headlined by the team's freshmen, while three of the four finished in double figures, McQuaid’s scores were still big. After the game, McQuaid said his focus was to simply let the game come to him.
“I played with a different mentality today,” McQuaid said. “Every time I get the opportunity, I’m going to take it. Every time I come off the screen, I’m going to take it. I feel like I did that. My teammates gave me some great passes. I was just given the opportunities and I just knocked them down.”
Improving McQuaid’s shooting mentality has been a collective effort of the entire team, Bridges said. Because if McQuaid is able to find the net with more opportunities, offensive schemes involving the shooting guards could become more of a commonplace on the floor.
“We’ve been on Matt a lot about his confidence because he’s a great shooter,” Bridges said. “There are off the court issues and on the court issues that we have to fix to get someone’s confidence up. We just have to stay on him for a long time. We need Matt McQuaid, he’s a big part for us and we need him.”
Up next for the Spartans will be another two-game road trip, starting with Nebraska on Thursday and U-M again the following Tuesday — both of which have losing records in conference play. Taking on the Cornhuskers will give the Spartans a chance to improve on the team’s 1-3 record in Big Ten games played away from the Breslin.
“We’re really focusing on the road games, hitting our gaps, and other day-one stuff," McQuaid said. "We’re just trying to get back on track with that type of stuff and playing with passion. We’re slapping the floor and we need to keep that consistent.”