The 2016-2017 season is a crucial one for the Northwestern Wildcats and head coach Chris Collins. Collins enters his fourth year, and the general consensus is that his program has to show significant signs of progress in order to reach the ultimate goal of making the NCAA tournament by the target year of 2018, when his first recruiting class will all be seniors. Collins has high expectations of a talented bunch of players, and they’ll need to show his expectations are not unfounded. With that, we run through every player on the roster this season. Next up is probably the best three-point shooter on the team: small forward Aaron Falzon.
Who he is:
Sophomore | Small Forward | 6-foot-8 | 215 pounds | Newton, Mass.
The numbers (2015-16 season):
Falzon is a true-blue shooter. Nearly 80 percent of his field goal attempts came from beyond the arc, where he showed proficiency in both corners. As he assumes more offensive responsibility, Falzon will need to improve his mid-range game and ability to finish at the basket. Considering he’ll have the ball in his hands more this season, it wouldn’t be surprising if his efficiency from three took a dip.
With his size, Falzon is a prototypical wing. With seniors Tre Demps and Alex Olah gone, Falzon is now one of Northwestern’s main scoring threats. He’s got a silky jumper, moves well without the ball and has a knack for hitting the offensive glass. His defense leaves a lot to be desired, but with a year of Big Ten play under his belt, he’s bound to improve.
Falzon’s ability to shoot opens up the rest of his game. Whether he’s spotting up or coming off a screen, Falzon must be accounted for by opposing defenses, which means he can affect the game without the ball in his hands. The threat of him getting off a good look forces defenses to stick to his body, opening up driving lanes for Northwestern to attack the basket. Last season, Falzon used these opportunities to sneak into the paint and snag offensive rebounds. He was the team’s second-best offensive rebounder behind Sanjay Lumpkin, and this skill shows Falzon’s feel for the game. He can sense when the defense is focused on the action of the play, allowing him to get extra possessions for Northwestern
Other than shooting, Falzon doesn’t do anything at an above-average rate. Because of this, he’s rather predictable offensively. Opposing defenses aren’t worried about him creating off the dribble or setting up teammates to score. Falzon can be completely taken out of a game if his man doesn’t leave him. Also, due to the majority of his shots coming from the perimeter, Falzon’s overall field goal percentage is quite dismal so diversifying his offensive arsenal should be a goal this season. Defensively, he gets lost fighting through screens and has trouble keeping his man in front of him. Finishing out possessions by crashing the defensive glass should also be on Falzon’s to-do list this year, as he only averaged a little over two of those attempts a night last season.
Heading into his sophomore year, Falzon should be given the freedom to become more than just a shooter. With Bryant McIntosh distributing the ball, Falzon will definitely get his looks, especially from three; it’s just a matter of how efficient he will be. It would not be surprising if Falzon ended up being the team’s leading scorer, as he’ll be hitting plenty of triples this season.