With San Diego State’s most productive three-point shooter from a season ago in Aqeel Quinn out of eligibility, rising redshirt junior shooting guard Matt Shrigley was expected to be an important player for the Aztecs in 2015-16. Unfortunately for SDSU they’ll be without Shrigley for a significant portion of the upcoming season, as it was reported by Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Union-Tribune that Shrigley underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee.
Per the report Shrigley suffered the injury in a pickup game, with the procedure taking place Tuesday. While there’s no exact timeframe stated when it comes to how long the Aztecs could be without the 6-foot-6 Shrigley, he’s expected to miss most of (if not all) of the 2015-16 campaign per the report.
Shrigley’s father said the surgery showed no meniscus or cartilage damage and his son is targeting an earlier return, hoping to be in uniform by February for the final half of the conference schedule and postseason.
“He’s always been serious but he was a different person this summer, really putting in the time,” Rich Shrigley said. “He was getting himself up and working out from 6:30 to 9 every morning with (former San Diego Clippper) Jim Brogan, lifting weights, working on his shot. But Matt’s determined to get back as soon as possible and help the team any way he can. He’ll work through it. It’s another hurdle. He’s a young kid and he’ll bounce back quickly.”
By no means was San Diego State a high-level perimeter shooting team last season, as they shot just 32 percent from beyond the arc. But the loss of Shrigley means that sophomore Malik Pope, who made 20 of his 48 attempts from beyond the arc, is SDSU’s best returning shooter as far as percentages go.
Two players to watch in this regard are sophomore Trey Kell and freshman Jeremy Hemsley, especially if the latter proves capable of running the show for head coach Steve Fisher. A productive (from the start) Hemsley would in turn allow Kell, who spent most of his time at the point last season, to move back to his more natural role off the ball.
Both would have been expected to step forward as contributors for San Diego State with a healthy Shrigley on the court. Without him, those two underclassmen become even more important for a team looking to win the Mountain West and play well into the NCAA tournament.
San Diego State lost a key member of its rotation on Friday night as 6-foot-6 sophomore wing Matt Shrigley broke his left elbow and will miss four weeks of action.
According to a report from Mark Zeigler of U-T San Diego, Shrigley has a “small fracture” in his non-shooting elbow. The injury occurred in the Aztecs’ exhibition win over Point Loma Nazarene as Shrigley was taken the floor and landed hard on the elbow after a mid-court steal and two-handed dunk attempt.
Shrigley made both ensuing free throws after a flagrant foul was called and was later pulled for the second half. San Diego State ultimately won the game 74-45.
This is a key loss for San Diego State because Shrigley provided them a valuable floor spacer that they desperately need. The Aztecs were 0-for-8 from the three-point line on Friday and have minimal shooting without Shrigley. As a freshman, the forward only averaged 15.8 minutes per game but he shot 35 percent from three-point range while averaging 5.2 points and 1.6 rebounds per game.
With the Aztecs losing Shrigley’s perimeter spacing, how can San Diego State score with an offense that already has plenty of question marks?
Senior guard Xavier Thames has led the way all season long for No. 10 San Diego State, as he’s been the best scorer and playmaker for a team one win away from the outright Mountain West regular season title. That was once again the case Wednesday night in Las Vegas, but he had help down the stretch in the form of Winston Shepard III as the Aztecs beat UNLV 73-64.
Thames may have shot just 6-for-18 from the field for the game but he was far better in the second half, scoring 15 of his 19 points on 4-for-9 shooting to go along with five rebounds, three assists and no turnovers. Thames and Shepard combined to score San Diego State’s final 12 points, leading the Aztecs on a 14-5 run over the final 4:47 to move back into a tie for first place in the Mountain West with No. 21 New Mexico.
And the points scored by that tandem only tell part of the story. Simply put, Shepard and Thames are better decision-makers than any of UNLV’s primary ball-handlers, and that was evident down the stretch. Neither player committed a turnover on Wednesday night, with UNLV’s Deville Smith accounting for seven turnovers and Bryce Dejean-Jones adding three. Overall the Runnin’ Rebels turned the ball over 16 times, with San Diego State turning those opportunities into 19 points.
Thames and Shepard have been the leaders offensively this season and that’s going to be the case for the remainder of the season. But for San Diego State to make a serious run deep into March (and maybe even April) that tandem will need help, and against UNLV Dwayne Polee Jr. and Matt Shrigley provided it. Polee scored 13 points and Shrigley added 14, with all of his points coming in the second half. Shooting 33.7% from three on the season, Shrigley hit four of his five attempts from beyond the arc in the second half.
The contributions of Polee and Shrigley were needed against UNLV, with Josh Davis failing to score while battling foul trouble for much of the season, putting the Aztecs in position to win the game late. That’s when Thames and Shepard took over, guaranteeing that Saturday’s showdown with New Mexico will be a “winner take all” affair.