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Northwestern Basketball Player Capsules: Dave Sobolewski

The college basketball offseason is a dark place. From April to November, teams across the country revert into a hoops hibernation, shielded from media spotlight and mostly unavailable to the public eye in the same way as, say, football players are during spring practice. Things ramp up again over the summer, and a recent NCAA rule pushing the start of official practice back two weeks ensures teams will begin formal preseason preparations even earlier this season.

Those extra two weeks are a welcome development, but the college basketball season remains a distant entity, microscopically positioned in the most forward-looking reaches of our winter sports imaginations. We’re here to help you bridge the gap with some refresher-type player capsules. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be rolling out quick little offseason snapshots of each player, how they performed last season and what you can probably expect as the Wildcats prepare for new coach Chris Collins’ first season. So if you’re ever missing basketball, if you find yourself pining for what’s to come on the hardwood this winter, you have brief individual player breakdowns to hold you over.

There is a lot of time to fill during a college hoops offseason, and convenient exercises like these can expedite the process.

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Dave Sobolewski

Stats to know (from 2012-13 unless indicated otherwise) 

PPG: 10.8

MPG: 34.5

FG%: 0.384

3pt%: 0.343

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Offensive Rating: 97.9

Effective Field Goal %: 47.5

Usage Rate: 19.5

% Shots: 18.0

Past history

One of the most overlooked stats in basketball at any level – AAU, high school, college, professional, you name it – is minutes played. Dave Sobolewski knows this better than anyone. Over the past two seasons, not only has Sobolewski played at least 86 percent of available minutes, he’s been among the top-100 minutes guys in the country.

If you want to get really scientific about it, the percentage of minutes Sobolewski played did, technically, decline last season (87.1 percent to 86.8), but his sizable jumps in both usage rate (15.1 percent to 19.5) and percentage of shots (13.3 to 18.0) made up the difference in the transfer. When you mash it all together, and tease out all the specious numerical trends, what you get is a durable floor leader whose offensive load and shot-creating responsibility shot through the roof last year thanks to a litany of devastating injuries. 

Where he fits

Unless new coach Chris Collins decides to radically shake up the rotation, Sobolewski will enter his third season as the tacitly ordained starting point guard. Last season forced Sobolewski to stretch the limits of his offensive repertoire – he regularly admitted former coach Bill Carmody implored him to be more aggressive on the offensive end to account for the glaring lack of scoring firepower available.

Those same scoring responsibilities will shift in part to backcourt returnee JerShon, who should form an interesting guard duo with Sobolewski. The specifics of Collins’ lineup configurations and rotations remains a mystery; Sobolewski’s ownership of the starting point guard position is less debatable. In fact, it’s probably one of the only sure things we know about the Wildcats in Collins’ first season.

What to expect

Conservative point guard play has been Sobolewski’s trademark over the past two seasons, and there’s little reason to expect any revolutionary tweaks in his third year back. The returns of Drew Crawford and JerShon Cobb should relieve Sobolewski of some of the isolation work he was forced to wrestle with last season and allow him to settle into a more traditional facilitative point guard type. 

His minutes should hover around the 85 percent range yet again, and his assist rate – which quietly registered a more than respectable 26.8 percent last season – will improve with a more potent arsenal of scorers around him. He will have fewer responsibilities with which to expend his energy, which should allow him to better focus on the simple things: passing, limiting turnovers, defense and the like. Sobolewski’s job will be simpler, with a more narrowly defined focus.