Heading into the 2015 season, Northwestern features one of its deepest teams in years. While head coach Chris Collins has said his preference would be to play only eight or nine players, he acknowledges that he might have to coach this Northwestern team a lot like Iowa's Fran McCaffery has coached in recent years, using a deep bench. At least at the onset, few players -- other than the Wildcats' established starters -- have appeared to separate themselves. Thus, we are going in-depth on each of Northwestern's scholarship players, providing insight into each players' potential role.
Guard Bryant McIntosh is up next:
Stats to know
|Points||Minutes||Assists||Rebounds||Blocks||Off. Rating||FG%||3pt FG%||eFG%||Usage|
Shot chart (via ShotAnalytics.com)
Bryant McIntosh shoots a bunch from midrange and breakaway three pointers, which is typical for a point guard. He is an above average three-point shooter from the left side of the court, but has less success on the right. McIntosh is an average finisher at the rim and slightly above average from midrange.
Bryant McIntosh is entering his second year on the team, this season as the incumbent starting point guard. He started at point as a freshman last season and posted high minutes and usage for Northwestern. Despite his youth, McIntosh had an impressive rookie season. He ran the offense well, made threes consistently, and showed a basketball acuity beyond his years.
McIntosh is a very solid college point guard. At 6-foot-3, he moves quickly, passes the ball effectively and can make threes. McIntosh's assist rate was 32.6 last season, good enough for third in the Big Ten, and he shot a respectable 36.4 percent from three. He is money from the left corner, averaging 62 percent from beyond the arc at that spot. He also has an effective floater and is an above-average scorer from midrange. McIntosh averages a team-high 85.3 percent from the free-throw line. His natural skills and his ability to fit well into Chris Collins' system kept McIntosh on the floor for over 33 minutes per game, and he led the team in minutes percentage.
McIntosh made some typical rookie mistakes last season. He held a 1.90 assist to turnover ratio last season, which was right around average across the NCAA and seventh in the Big Ten. He averaged 2.5 turnovers per game, and if he can improve his ball protection, the entire team will benefit offensively, obviously. McIntosh's three-point shot was poor from the right half of the court, hitting just 25% from the right corner last season. Considering he attempted 110 three-pointers last season, McIntosh could benefit enormously from developing his right corner shot. Athletically, McIntosh was a bit thin, compared to his Big Ten counterparts. He added some muscle this offseason, though, which should help be more consistent over the course of a season. That relative weakness hurts him on the defensive end, and leaves him little room for error when guarding opposing players. McIntosh was not good defensively last season, but he has the quickness to be a decent defender once he utilizes his experience.
McIntosh will be Northwestern's starting point guard once again, barring injury. Last year, the offense struggled when he was off the court and a combination of JerShon Cobb, Dave Sobolewski and Tre Demps played point guard. It left Collins with no choice but to play McIntosh heavy minutes. He may occasionally rotate with freshman guard Jordan Ash, but considering he barely rotated with backup guard Johnnie Vassar last season, McIntosh's usage should remain high.
What to expect
McIntosh was a big surprise last season, and Northwestern will expect big things from him coming into his sophomore year. In order for Northwestern to be competitive this season, McIntosh will need to make an improvement and avoid a "sophomore slump." Although he will may get overshadowed by his frontcourt partner Tre Demps, especially when it comes to scoring, McIntosh is equally, if not more, important to Northwestern's offensive capabilities. Ideally, McIntosh can raise his points per game to around 15 by improving his efficiency from beyond the arc and close to the basket. His skills as a reliable distributor were already well-developed upon arrival, which surprised many observers, but now he will be expected to improve his assist numbers while decreasing turnovers. McIntosh cannot make the same late-game mistakes he committed during crunch time last season.
McIntosh will need to play better defensively in order to improve Northwestern's defense. Collins mentioned that McIntosh and several other players had gotten stronger over the summer, and that, along with an added year of experience, could help him manage his defensive responsibilities better. Ultimately, McIntosh's play will be critical for Northwestern if it hopes to truly contend for an NCAA Tournament berth. It's within reason to expect McIntosh can reach 15 points, 3 boards and 5-to-6 assists per game next year with better defense, which would be huge for this squad.