Well, shoot: Ag­gres­sive ap­proach pays off for Mc­Quaid, Spar­tans

The Detroit News - - SPORTS - BY MATT CHAR­BONEAU The Detroit News

East Lans­ing — Less than six min­utes into Michi­gan State’s game against Min­nesota on Sat­ur­day, it was clear Matt Mc­Quaid was go­ing to do things dif­fer­ently.

No longer was the Spar­tans se­nior go­ing to fo­cus solely on de­fense and maybe take a few shots here and there. Michi­gan State needs Mc­Quaid to be much more than that. It needs him to be a com­plete player, es­pe­cially with Joshua Lang­ford out for the sea­son.

So, with the ninth-ranked Spar­tans des­per­ate for a spark, one that would al­low them to end a three-game los­ing streak and re­main in the thick of the Big Ten race, Mc­Quaid made the choice to be that guy, scor­ing 18 points and hand­ing out eight as­sists in Michi­gan State’s 79-55 vic­tory over Min­nesota at the Bres­lin Cen­ter.

“I just gotta stay ag­gres­sive,” Mc­Quaid said. “We’ve been em­pha­siz­ing that all week. … I’ve got to con­tinue to do that.”

There’s lit­tle doubt Michi­gan State (19-5, 10-3 Big Ten) will need Mc­Quaid to con­tinue to be the player he was on Sat­ur­day.

Get­ting it con­sis­tently will be the key.

In the pre­vi­ous two games — losses at home to In­di­ana and at Illi­nois — Mc­Quaid took a to­tal of seven shots, go­ing 1for-3 against the Hoosiers and 2-for-4 against the Fight­ing Illini. That came af­ter three games when Mc­Quaid took 10, 12 and 12 shots. Only five times has he taken more than 10 shots in a game, but it’s the vol­ume Michi­gan State needs from its se­nior cap­tain.

On Sat­ur­day, with it feel­ing like Michi­gan State could ill af­ford its first four-game skid in 12 years, Mc­Quaid took his first shot less than three min­utes into the game, was 3-for-4 at half­time and fin­ished the game 6-for-9, in­clud­ing 4-for-6 from 3-point range.

True to his per­son­al­ity, Mc­Quaid, who ended up two points short of match­ing his ca­reer high, de­flected any of the praise com­ing his way, in­stead fo­cus­ing on how the team turned things around.

“It felt good,” Mc­Quaid said. “We got back to what we do, which is de­fend, re­bound and run. We haven’t been do­ing that the pre­vi­ous games, and tonight I felt we did a re­ally good job at do­ing all three. We helped each other out and played Michi­gan State de­fense. We can al­ways get bet­ter and im­prove, and it starts on the de­fen­sive end. We have to build off this win.”

The resur­gence for Mc­Quaid came with help — his dad.

“Matt’s dad came up and came to prac­tice yes­ter­day,” Michi­gan State coach Tom Izzo said af­ter the win over Min­nesota. “Matt shot the lights out at prac­tice, so I’m gonna see if he’ll get an apart­ment for a month or some­thing. It made a big dif­fer­ence.

“Matt shot re­ally well yes­ter­day, and he shot even bet­ter to­day. Got a lit­tle crazy there a cou­ple times. I guess I don’t blame him, he’s been in a lit­tle bit of a slump. … Matt was great.”

Whether Rob Mc­Quaid for­goes the warmth of the Dal­las sub­urbs to hang out in Michi­gan the next cou­ple of months seems like a stretch. So it will be up to Mc­Quaid to get it done on his own.

Of course, the Spar­tans won’t re­main a cham­pi­onship con­tender with Mc­Quaid alone. In Sat­ur­day’s vic­tory, Mc­Quaid and ju­nior Cas­sius Win­ston com­bined for 17 as­sists and no turnovers, quite a turn­around from the loss at Illi­nois ear­lier in the week when Michi­gan State handed the ball away 24 times. The Spar­tans also got a big game from ju­nior cen­ter Nick Ward, who had 22 points and nine re­bounds af­ter fin­ish­ing with one re­bound against Illi­nois.

It was the sort of per­for­mance that led to a tough cou­ple of days of prac­tice, two days







Ohio State







Penn State















Sat­ur­day’s games

Michi­gan 61, Wis­con­sin 52 Michi­gan State 79, Min­nesota 55 Illi­nois 99, Rut­gers 94

Pur­due 81, Ne­braska 62 Sun­day’s games

Ohio State 55, In­di­ana 52

Iowa 80, North­west­ern 79 Tues­day’s games

Pur­due at Mary­land, 6:30 Michi­gan State at Wis­con­sin, 7 Michi­gan at Penn State, 8:30

that paid off in one of Michi­gan State’s most com­plete games of the sea­son.

“It was tough,” Mc­Quaid said of the last cou­ple of weeks. “We were on a three-game los­ing streak and our backs were against the wall. Coach chal­lenged us ev­ery day and we needed it and I feel like we an­swered the bell, but we gotta con­tinue to build off this.”

It won’t take Michi­gan State long to fig­ure out if they’ve turned the cor­ner or not. The Spar­tans turn around quickly and hit the road to take on Wis­con­sin on Tues­day at the Kohl Cen­ter, a build­ing they won at last sea­son but had lost at the pre­vi­ous three trips.

The Badgers (17-7, 9-4) are scram­bling to stay in the ti­tle hunt, as well, af­ter los­ing at Michi­gan on Sat­ur­day. But they’ve won six of the last seven and will be tough to beat.

The Spar­tans will be fine if they get a sim­i­lar per­for­mance from Mc­Quaid and avoid what led to their three-game skid in the first place.

“It was just look at the sit­u­a­tion and go back to your roots,” Izzo said. “At times I try to for­get where I came from, but I mean that sin­cerely, you for­get what got you to where you are. I think when you have suc­cess over and over, and this is what is so much harder. It has been so long since I gave my so­cial me­dia com­mer­cial, but you hear so many good things (on so­cial me­dia) and I thought we got a lit­tle fat and sassy. I re­ally did. I just did not think we did the things we needed to do. I think they un­der­stood that, too.”

Car­los Oso­rio / As­so­ci­ated Press

Matt Mc­Quaid

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