DePaul's Freeland is seeing the game slow down

Thumbnail image for Tony Freeland control a rebound on the end line
If you want to know how DePaul did in a game, check out the point total of Tony Freeland. The sophomore forward has scored 14 or more points in every victory and 10 or fewer points in every defeat. Earlier this season he put up a career-high in the victory over Northern Illinois, but he scored just four points in DePaul's overtime loss to Ball State last week.
When Freeland's game is working he gives the Blue Demons a low-post threat that can also drive from the wing and has shown a knack for drawing fouls, all very valuable skills. 
He's made a big impact as a sixth man for the Blue Demons, but whether coming off the bench - like he did on Tuesday - or starting, Freeland's just trying to make an impact on the court.
"It doesn't matter," he said. "I just have to come out and have the team feed off my energy and get everybody going. I think that's the biggest thing, just coming out with energy."
That energy is also important on the defensive end, where Freeland is averaging .7 steals per game and 4.6 rebounds per game - second on the team. But it's at the offensive end where he's made the most improvement.

Freeland's offensive rating has jumped from 95.4 to 110.6 from his freshman to sophomore season. That's the difference between a below average player and a very solid contributor. He's using more possessions now too and doing a good job at making them count.

Part of that is because the game has slowed down for him during his sophomore season.
"Last year I used to rush and try to speed up so I'd get a charge or a turnover, but now I'm calm and collected," he said. "I look over my shoulder, check middle and then make my move."
And while Freeland's turnover rate has risen a bit in Oliver Purnell's more wide-open system, a year of experience has made a world of difference for the 6'6 forward. Considering he's a bit undersized to play the four position, it might be tougher come Big East play, but thus far Freeland's been able to use his post-up game to shoot 52.8 percent from the field and almost triple his scoring average from last season from 3.4 to 11.3 points per game.
One of the biggest reasons that average has risen is Freeland unique ability to get to the free throw line. Last season he had a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 67.6 percent, which wasn't amongst the national leaders only because of a lack of minutes. This season he hasn't slowed down, as he's attempted 55 free throws and 72 field goals, a 76.4 percent rate. He ranked 63rd in the country in the statistic through Sunday's games according to Kenpom.
Of course those free throw attempts don't matter if they're not going in. Last season that was the case as Freeland shot 43.8 percent from the line. This season, he's improved to a more respectable 67.3 percent and even made 13 of 16 attempts against Northern Illinois.
"I used to fall back on my free throws last year," Freeland said. "Since coach [Ron] Bradley came he's taught me to dribble, cock it and shoot it and now it goes in most of the time."
No matter who the competition, those free throw skills should continue to translate, making the Blue Demons' barometer a valuable offensive weapon as the season goes along.

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