San Diego State’s fierce four: Matt Shrigley

Credit/Ernie Anderson/

The knock has always been shooting.  There have been other things - lack of size, shot selection - maybe the national media will begin citing Viejas Arena as an unfair advantage for the home team.  There's always a reason to doubt this team.  This year the skeptics are still focusing on the outside shooting ability and scoring. Defense wins championships, but if your offense isn't sexy, you're not good enough.  Xavier Thames is one of the most underrated guards in America, but the Aztecs might not be able to find enough buckets.  The Mountain West Conference is having a down year, but if you're trying to make a case for someone you're more in favor of, you'll talk up non-conference games said team might have played against UNLV, Boise State, or New Mexico.  Seeing people talk themselves in circles is really making me dizzy. All this craziness hasn't phased Matt Shrigley this season.  Remember: He's a redshirt freshman.  He had a terrific career at La Costa Canyon High School, but I don't think anybody would have labeled him as a dead eye spot up shooter as he headed down the I-5 South to SDSU. Shrigley's decision to redshirt last season was very impressive, and makes fans even happier seeing how much it's paying off now.  Steve Fisher has been honest, saying playing time would have been there for him last season, but not much.  Now he's averaging over 16 minutes per game for a top 10 program in his first year of eligibility.  Pretty sweet deal. I would have told you he had a quick release in high school, but he's refined and perfected his shooting stroke in his time as an Aztec.  I can't recall even one shot attempt to date for which Shrigley did not have a solid base.  He always catches and gets into his shot with one quick, smooth motion while remaining balanced.  It's a thing of beauty to watch.  Chances are he was more known for his thunderous breakaway slams in the halls of LCC.  Fast forward less than two years and he's known more on the Mesa for that sweet release.

Credit/Ernie Anderson/

Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Shrigley is a great athlete, something that not all fans get to see now.  Roles become more defined and structured with the elite programs.  Coach Fisher’s motto this season in interviews has been, “If you guard hard, you’ll play.”  Aztec All fans know the Aztecs on the floor are going to play tough defense.  But on the other end, Shrigley has clearly been given not just the green light – he’s encouraged to fire any open look he gets without hesitating.  And that’s got to be something new to him.  Offense wasn’t that simple for him, or any guy on this team at the high school level.  These guys were all prep stars.

The slightest hesitation in basketball is the difference between a steal with an easy lay in the other way and looking silly, giving up a backdoor pass for two.  Between gliding through the lane for a dunk and getting your shot sent into the bleachers.  So it was probably even harder for the redshirt gunner to react quickly to what he saw when his team had the ball.  One situation might have led him to cut backdoor for a lob, but now he’s spending most of his time spotting up to stretch the defense and open up lanes for his teammates.  He might have taken a defender off the dribble after a weak close out back then, but now he’s been assured he only needs the smallest of windows to get off a very clean look off after the catch.

I’m not saying this guy is combating constant basketball impulses.  My point is actually the exact opposite.  This guy has filled the shoes of his role so beautifully and immediately that it is almost hard to appreciate how well he has done in that capacity.  My hope with my last point was to remind fans that much of basketball is about instincts or habits, whichever you prefer to reference.  But one thing is clear: Matt Shrigley was a star for years at the previous level.  Now he’s an ace three point shooter (38% through 17 games) that has rarely been hesitant.  He’s made at least two 3s in seven games and scored in double figures 6 times.

Shrigley hasn’t completely changed his basketball DNA; he has adapted.  But he has done it seamlessly.  Shrigley is one of the reasons outside shooting is no longer hard to come by for the Aztecs and for him the best is yet to come.  Beginning your career as a feared outside threat is a pretty good start.  Add a shot fake and become a sure bet to hit one dribble pull ups?  That’s really tough to guard in a ball screen offense like this.  Take that shot fake and a dribble followed by a crossover or hesitation move before gliding to the rim where you can take put your massive vertical leap to good use?  Watch out now.  That’s beginning to sound like a potential all-conference guard.  And Matt Shrigley’s got all the skills necessary to become that and more.  He’s growing right before your eyes, San Diego.  Enjoy it.

Written by Benjamin Dull. You can find him on Twitter or read his blog.

2 Comments on San Diego State’s fierce four: Matt Shrigley

  1. Matt Shrigley is a smart player and a natural ‘leader’. Excellent speaker on the radio or the podium representing SDSU. A lot of great things ahead! Love to watch! Thanks for a good article!

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