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Michigan State Basketball: Are you surprised Cassius Winston wasn’t named captain?

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NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round- Michigan State Spartans vs Syracuse Orange Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan State Spartans basketball program started practice last week, and shortly afterward head coach Tom Izzo named junior Joshua Langford and senior Matt McQuaid as captains for the 2018-2019 season.

The players voted on the captains, and Langford and McQuaid are noted leaders in the locker room. Here is what Izzo had to say about their selections, via MSUSpartans.com:

“Josh and Matt are great leaders for our team and two guys who have a tremendous amount of experience,” Izzo said. ”They were selected in a vote by the players and I think that is a reflection of what the guys in the locker room think about them. They are two of our hardest-working players and I think they will take this role seriously and be great leaders for our team.”

I want to be clear when I say that McQuaid and Langford have earned this, and it’s obvious the players respect them, so they certainly deserve the honor, but personally I was a little bit shocked that junior point guard Cassius Winston was not voted a captain.

Even with Miles Bridges on the team last year, Winston was an unsung leader of last year’s team and often the catalyst for the Spartans. Remember the game at Northwestern last season? Winston almost single-handily willed the Spartans back from a 27-point deficit, on his way to a near triple double.

The point guard — and I am not a huge fan of the comparison, but it has merit — is looked at as the “quarterback” for basketball teams, and is in charge of calling out the sets and facilitating the offense. Similar to the quarterback on a football team, the point guard position is looked at as the natural leader of the squad. The position is often a captain for Izzo’s teams.

Winston is now in his third year with the program, and his second year as the full-time starter. Although, Izzo did say he wants Cash to be more of a vocal leader. Perhaps Winston needs to become a better motivator for his teammates and that is why he did not get the captain designation.

Winston’s on-the-court play is obviously much more efficient and productive than Langford or McQuaid. Let’s compare their career numbers (per game basis):

Winston: 24.4 minutes, 9.7 points, 6.0 assists, 2.6 rebounds, .474% FG, .845% FT, .459% three-point
Langford: 24 minutes, 9.3 points, 1.3 assists, 2.7 rebounds, .453% FG, .798% FT, .409% three-point
McQuaid: 19.1 minutes, 5.0 points, 1.4 assists, 1.5 rebounds, .381% FG, .773% FT, .379% three-point

Of course, on the court metrics aren’t all that matter here (Tum Tum Nairn is a great example of that). McQuaid is streaky (both hot and cold) and wasn’t a full-time starter throughout his career, and Langford has had his noted in-game struggles as a Spartan. But I think there are intangible things to look at for captainship, such as leadership both on and off the hardwood, work ethic and camaraderie with teammates. So that is why Langford and McQuaid were voted captains by their peers, and it makes sense. Still, though, those are traits that I believe Winston to have as well.

Also, let’s be crystal clear here — this isn’t a big deal or Connor Cook-esque story. Winston will undoubtedly be a captain as a senior next year (so long as he returns to East Lansing). It’s just something I was a little bit surprised about and wanted to get a conversation going in the comments. So, please feel free to carry on this discussion there. Were you as surprised as I was about Winston not being named a captain? Or did you expect this? Let me know.

PS: I love football season more than anything, but I am ready for some hoops as well!

Poll

Are you surprised Winston was not named a captain?

This poll is closed

  • 67%
    Yes
    (208 votes)
  • 32%
    No
    (100 votes)
308 votes total Vote Now