The Michigan State freshmen were the story of the season, but the sophomores did provide a lift throughout the season.
Two of them played out of position and gave the Spartans some quality minutes throughout the season. The other struggled early in the season before hitting his stride down the stretch. Let’s take a look at the grades for MSU’s sophomores.
Matt McQuaid: C-
McQuaid had a very up and down season. Sophomore slump would be the best word to describe the beginning of his season, but down the stretch, he was an important piece for the Spartans. McQuaid finished the 2016-17 season averaging 5.6 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 21 minutes per game. He is best known for his 3-point shooting, but early in the season that range was no where to be found. However, in the final five games of the season, McQuaid shot 40 percent from beyond the arc while grabbing 2.4 rebounds per game. Bridges’ decision is still looming in regards to the NBA, but if he leaves, McQuaid figures to have a big role in 2017-18. Over the offseason, McQuaid needs to work on getting stronger and faster.
Kenny Goins: C
Goins played out of position all season long due to injuries and that affected his play. The 6-foot-6 sophomore from Troy, Mich. was guarding players three to four inches taller than him most of the time so of course he’s going to have his fair share of struggles. He finished the season averaging 3.4 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 58 percent from the field. For his size, Goins actually rebounded well. He grabbed eight against Arizona, eight against Kentucky, nine against Minnesota and 10 against Iowa. All four of those teams had at least five guys standing 6-foot-6 or taller. Goins battled with some of the biggest, most athletic players in the country and didn’t get much credit for it. Goins’ main downfall was turning the ball over and foul trouble. He looked very hesitant in the post and rarely got anything going on the low block. Over the summer Goins will need to work on his defense and low post moves.
Kyle Ahrens: C-
It’s hard to give Ahrens a grade because of his role on the team and the fact that he played out of position all season. But given his role, Ahrens did just about everything Tom Izzo could’ve asked for. He stands 6-foot-5, but spent most of his time playing power forward for the Spartans. On the season he averaged 2.6 points, 1.1 rebounds and 8.2 minutes per game. Ahrens didn’t play inside much, but he still came away with some big rebounds and hit some clutch shots, like the 3-pointer he hit against Ohio State in mid-February to lock up a win. Ahrens shot 43 percent from the field and 33 percent from outside on the season. Ahrens didn’t play a lot of minutes, but when he was in, he was actively rebounding and a threat to score. With two big men coming in for the 2017-18 season, Ahrens will be able to move back to his normal wing position. MSU has a lot of talented guards on its roster and Ahrens might struggle to find a role next season. He needs to work on getting faster and stronger this summer.
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