European statistics are sketchy

INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 11: Guard Drew Crawford #1 of the Northwestern Wildcats drives with the ball against the Indiana Hoosiers during the first round of the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 11, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

I was hoping to do per possession statistics for Northwestern's trip to Italy, but I discovered when I looked at the recaps that the box scores don't quite have enough statistical depth to allow for it. No offensive rebounds means no way of calculating possessions and now minutes played means usage rates are impossible to calculate. Instead I'd like to highlight three positives and three negatives that we can find in the sparse data available. 

Note: The caveat with all of these is that I tallied them by hand using the line scores that Northwestern athletics provided on their game recap sites. All stats are obviously unofficial.
Positive #1: Drew Crawford is going to have a big sophomore season. -- Players usually develop between their freshman and sophomore seasons. Crawford looks to be doing exactly what would be expected. He was Northwestern's third leading scorer on the trip, right behind John Shurna and Michael Thompson at 17.5 points per game. 
More important? Crawford shot 60 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free throw line. Both are over a small sample of four games, but both are excellent numbers.
EVANSTON, IL - JANUARY 02: Alex Marcotullio #4 of the Northwestern Wildcats puts up a shot against the Michigan State Spartans on January 2, 2010 at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Illinois. Michigan State defeated Northwestern 91-70. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Positive #2: Alex Marcotullio's shooting percentage. -- Marcotullio shot 53.6 percent from the field during Northwestern's four games in Italy. Since he is someone who shoots a lot of three-point attempts that's a very good number. Three-point shooting is only broken out in two of the box scores, but in those games Marcotullio shot 7-13 from beyond the arc. There is no way he'd shoot that high a percentage during a college season, but a Craig Moore-esque 40 percent isn't out of the question.

Positive #3: Free Throw Shooting -- The Wildcats shot 83.3 percent from the charity stripe during the four game stretch. The only player that didn't shoot a solid percentage from the line was Ivan Peljusic. The Wildcats don't get to the free throw line often and play a lot of close games. That combination dictates that you make your free throws count.
Even though Northwestern went 4-0 in Italy, everything wasn't perfect. Here are three things that Bill Carmody is probably fretting about as the season comes closer.
Negative #1: The center position looks like  a black hole. -- Luka Mirkovic went 3-12 from the floor during the four games. He did fill up the box score. The development of Crawford as a scorer might allow him to just do other things on the court, but it'd be nice if the Wildcats had someone they could throw the ball inside to for an easy bucket. Davide Curletti also appears to have made an impact when he was on the court. He shot 7-14 from the field. One of those two is going to have to step up and make a big impact for Northwestern.
Negative #2: The athleticism isn't in the box score. -- Everyone talks about this being the most athletic Wildcats team ever. That's great, but they're going to need to prove it on the court. Two stats that can often tell you something about a team's athletic ability, with the caveat that defensive aggressiveness plays a big part, are steals and blocks. In the two games where those two stats were in the box score the Wildcats did alright in steals and terrible in blocks. Shurna had two of Northwestern's three blocks. 
Negative #3: No dominant rebounder. -- This is sort of a corollary to the previous note, but the Wildcats really need someone that can dominate the glass. A committee approach to rebounding appears to have been Northwestern's strategy while in Italy, but I don't know how well that will work during the season. The Wildcats were +15 in rebounding in the two games where both teams' totals are available, but it's still worrisome.
I'm sure other people have looked at the box scores. Are there other things you've noticed or things that are worth mentioning? Leave them in the comments.

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  • the amount of points scored by NU was a bit surprising to me, even with a 24 second shot clock. A Bill Carmody coached team scoring 112 points in 45 minutes is pretty shocking.

    Looks like it's gonna be a similar offense to last year, with a ton of threes going up. If Marcotullio shoots like he did in Italy and Cobb provided more scoring than Jeremy Nash did, they might break their own Big Ten 3-point shooting records.

  • In reply to Loretta8:

    I agree that the amount of points scored was pretty shocking, but the Wildcats certainly can light it up when they get open looks. I think this team could have some pretty prolific nights during the non-conference portion of the schedule.

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