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Season Review: Drew Crawford

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Drew Crawford's performance as a sophomore was certainly a bit disappointing. While his scoring average went up slightly (from 10 to 12 points per game), his shooting percentage declined significantly and he rarely showed the flashes of brilliance that propelled him to Big Ten co-freshman of the year, failing to record 20 points in any Big Ten game.

The biggest change in Crawford's offensive approach was a dramatic increase in 2-point attempts. His 3 point production remained steady (53 for 162 from 3 as a sophomore, 51 for 142 as a freshman), but he took nearly double the number of 2-pointers (207 as a sophomore against just 117 as a freshman). Unfortunately, the higher shot volume led to a substantial decline in his accuracy, as Crawford hit just 49% of this twos last year, well down from the team high 58% he posted as a freshman. But despite the increase in attempts, Crawford somehow saw his free throw attempts go down last year, attempting just 63 free throws after taking 81 as a freshman.

The decline in percentage wasn't because he got worse at shooting; it can largely be traced to his shot selection. Crawford took a ton of off-balance jump shots in the 14 to 18 foot range, something he rarely did as a freshman, and he didn't make very many of them. He also got a lot more touches while isolated on the wing, and in non-conference play showed off an impressive pull-up jumper (particularly against St. Francis when he had a season-high 25 points), but in Big Ten play it became clear to opposing defenses that Crawford didn't like to attack the basket off the dribble and he had difficulty getting that shot off*.

* Either that, or Crawford's old school flat-top was the key to his success. He shaved off the flat-top early in Big Ten play and his scoring average declined, seems like more than coincidence to me.

One thing Crawford did well was rebound; he was NU's 2nd best per-minute rebounder behind Luka Mirkovic, and he had several extremely athletic put-backs on the offensive glass, showing the type of athleticism rarely seen in a Northwestern basketball player. He also improved on the defensive end of the floor, proving himself proficient as a weak side help defender and improving his one on one defense from suspect as a freshman to competent as a sophomore. He's still yet to reach his potential on that end of the floor though; he certainly possesses the athleticism to become an above average wing defender.

With Michael Thompson lost to graduation, it will be important for Crawford to become more efficient, and the good news is he has the potential to do just that. If he can stop taking so many off-balance mid-range jumpers, attack the basket more, and improve to a 35+% three point shooter (all within the realm of possibility), Crawford could develop into one of the best scoring wings in the conference.