Saturday, March 20, 2010

Position Evaluation Group: Guards

This is the first of 4 report cards on NU's 2009-2010 team...

Position Evaluation Group: Guards
Players Included: Michael Thompson, Jeremy Nash, Alex Marcotullio, Nick Fruendt
Grade: B+

This group includes the player I would probably give the highest individual grade to, Michael “Juice” Thompson. However, I can’t overall go into the A-range for NU’s guards because this group never found a solid backup for Thompson and Jeremy Nash’s offensive game disappeared down the stretch of the season.

Thompson was consistently solid during the season and I shutter to imagine this team without him. He averaged 14.2 ppg, converted 41.1% of his three (88-of-214) and made a team best 82.9% of his free throws (92-of-111). Thompson also had a very impressive 139-to-59 assist to turnover ratio. Aside from the numbers, anybody who watched the Wildcats this season could no doubt tell Thompson was the team’s emotional leader. It seemed that whenever Northwestern needed a clutch shot, Thompson ended up taking that shot. Part of the reason was because Thompson remains one of the few NU players who can create a shot on his own. Always able to attack in the paint, Thompson got even better this year with converting his floater in the lane. He also has the ability to get smoking hot from distance as he did in NU’s Big Ten Tournament win over Indiana.

As for the other NU guards, nobody comes close to Thompson in terms of offensive production. Early in the year both Jeremy Nash and Alex Marcotullio displayed good three point range, but both failed to maintain the same consistency Thompson showed. Nash’s three point percentage plummeted to 29.1% or 39-of-134. Marcotullio converted a respectable 41-of-111 three point tries, but early in the year he looked like the type of player who can consistently hit 50% of his tries from deep. He might still become that with an offseason to prepare for the physical stress of the college game. Both Nash and Marcotulliuo proved better than average free throw shooters even when they slumped from distance. Nash finished second on the team at 81.4% and Marcotullio recording a 70.8% mark at the line.

While their offensive slumps reduce this group’s score somewhat, Nash and Marcotullio maintain high B-range scores as they were NU’s two best defenders. Nash led the team with 58 steals and was named to the Big Ten’s All-Defensive Team. Marcotullio subbed for Nash at the top of the 1-3-1 when Jeremy went to the bench and got 31 steals of his own. Nash also blocked 22 shots and averaged 3.8 rebounds per game, which is good for a 6-4 guard.

The only other Wildcat guard who saw when games weren’t already decided was Nick Fruendt. In the only extended time he got all year he played well vs Illinois and badly at Minnesota. With Jeff Ryan coming back from injury and a possible recruit at the guard spot, Fruendt will have to work hard this offseason to crack the lineup next year.

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