Sports

Kirkland native continues to grow in first collegiate campaign

Kirkland native Matt Staudacher (right) is a point guard during his first year at Simon Fraser University. - Courtesy of Simon Fraser University
Kirkland native Matt Staudacher (right) is a point guard during his first year at Simon Fraser University.
— image credit: Courtesy of Simon Fraser University

For Simon Fraser University’s Matt Staudacher, an evolution is now underway. And midway through his first season of college basketball, the first stage has been a rather quiet one.

Take a moment to watch Simon Fraser University’s 6’1 freshman point guard during pre-game warm-ups as he knocks down jumper after jumper. There is no swag-talk, no woo-rah, no waste of energy. Staudacher’s release is smooth, accurate and efficient. With each motion as precise as the next, all in a journey toward perfection, he repeatedly rises up and launches away. The results are soundless. All net, all day. Clearly, Staudacher operates in silence.

But this quiet behavior – one of unwavering focus and intensity — does not end there. Watch as Staudacher scans the floor, silently reading the opposition, and then fracturing an entire defensive formation with a crisp and effortless pass.

Notice his subtle hesitation crossover en route to a teardrop off the glass and in. And then recognize his ability to disrupt opposing offenses by sneaking around for a steal. In a sense, and for the time being, Staudacher’s silence is almost advantageous.

“He’s a quiet person at nature,” says SFU head coach James Blake. “But he’s a winner. We always want (to recruit) guys who’ve established themselves in winning programs, and coming out of high school, we really liked his winning attitude.”

By the time Staudacher left Lake Washington High School, he had led the Kangs to two Washington State championship tournaments, and ended his senior year with averages of 15.5 points per game, 5.5 rebounds, and 7.3 assists. “I had a good three years (at Lake Washington),” says Staudacher. “I really learned a lot and really grew as a player. In my last state tournament, I had a good time and that’s what got me noticed.”

Staudacher, however, had more than just “a good time.” He led the 2012 State tournament in points per game (23.0), total assists, and total three pointers made, making him one of the Great Northwestern Athletic Conference’s most coveted young guards.

With his ability to play both ends of the floor, it didn’t take long for coach Blake to see how Staudacher’s skill-set could fit into the Clan’s system. “He’s really talented, and he comes from basketball lineage,” says Blake. “He was recruited by pretty much everybody in the GNAC and the California League for Division II.”

Though Staudacher is averaging a modest 4.8 points per game, 2.2 rebounds, and 2.3 assists for the Clan – neither he or the coaching staff appear to be phased. As the freshman continues to discover exactly how his game translates into the collegiate ranks, Blake sees both the reality and potential for his multi-skilled point guard.

“He can score it a little bit, and I say a little bit because he really hasn’t been able to do it at the college level yet. Part of that is because he’s trying to get everybody involved and part of it’s because he’s still a freshman trying to figure out how to score at this level. I like where he’s at. He’s a guy that’s going to be a solid point guard in this league for a lot of years.”

While consistently improving his individual statistics will be a goal over the next few seasons, Staudacher seems to understand that maintaining a positive attitude is just as important. When asked about his playing time, and whether coming on and off the floor disrupts his rhythm, Staudacher says, “You just have to be ready to go whenever. It’s not in my control, but it’s nice, just (give) all your energy, and then you’ve got a sub coming in right away.”

Blake and his staff are not oblivious to what Staudacher can bring to the table in terms of his character. “Matt works very hard in practice, as well as on his own. He’s only going to continue getting bigger and stronger and that’s going to help him in the GNAC,” says assistant coach Eric Burrell.

“He has tremendous upside.” When asked about Staudacher’s personality, Blake adds, “He’s very coachable, very disciplined. You ask him to do something and he does it.”

But there is, however, an area in which the coaching staff will continue to push Staudacher to improve. “My expectations for him are really high. I’d like to see him become more of a vocal leader for us,” says Blake. “He’s in a really tough predicament because if he was a two-guard or a forward, he wouldn’t have that leadership responsibility. But as a point guard, he is the quarterback of the team.”

As Staudacher becomes more of a focal point in SFU’s offensive and defensive schemes over the next few years, a true leader of the Clan, his own desire to improve must meet the expectations set before him. Only then can a true evolution occur. When asked about what skills he wishes to develop the most during his tenure at SFU, it was as if he had quietly overheard his coach.

“I definitely want to become more of a leader,” Staudacher declares. “I’m definitely looking to step up as a leader and just refine all parts of my game.”

And there it is. Even with his soundless jumper, subtle hesitation move, and sneaky stealing ability, we can hear Matt Staudacher coming. His desire is loud and clear.

The evolution has begun.

 

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