Last night at Welsh-Ryan Arena was all about Michael Thompson, and with good reason, the senior has done everything he possibly could for the Wildcats during his four seasons, but it was another player, Davide Curletti, that caught my eye. The junior 6'9 forward went up against one of the tallest teams in the country and held his own. He kept Northwestern in the game early and ended up finishing with 12 points.
All of a sudden it appears that Curletti gets it. He scored 18 points in 28 minutes against Wisconsin and then followed it up with 12 points in 21 minutes against Minnesota, even while he dealt with a bit of foul trouble.
Before those two games Curletti had only scored in double-figures once this season, on Dec. 23 against Mount St. Mary's. He hadn't played more than 20 minutes in back-to-back games all season.
Now he's a key cog in Bill Carmody's rotation and Northwestern seems to be better for it.
So what are Curletti's strengths and weaknesses?
- Free throw shooting - He's shooting 76.2% from the line this season.
- Gets to the line - Curletti's FTR of 48.3% is the highest on the team amongst regulars.
- Is a big body that can set high screens for three-point shooters.
- Can step out and hit the three himself - 37.5% this season, third on the team.
- Doesn't turn the ball over - 13.2% turnover rate
- Foul prone - 7 fouls per 40 minutes
- Weak interior defender - But I'd argue he's probably better than Luka Mirkovic
I would've also included: "Is too passive offensively," before the past two games, but it appears that he's changed his thinking and is now looking to make things happen offensively.
"We have such great guards and forwards and they kind of got into a rut where they weren't shooting so well and we lost a couple games," Curletti said after the win over Minnesota. "Luka and I decided it was time to step up and start getting some points inside and I think we didn't win at Wisconsin, but we fought them pretty tough and today we got the win."
After a usage peak around late December, Curletti is finally starting to take shots again. Northwestern would still be better off if he took even more, but this is a start. Here's a look at a graph of his possessions per 40 minutes on a game-by-game basis.
Hopefully it continues moving forward.