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2020-21 Northwestern women’s basketball player previews: Sydney Wood

The lynchpin of the Blizzard defense will play an integral role for the ‘Cats yet again.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 06 Big Ten Women’s Tournament - Ohio State vs Iowa Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Who she is

Junior; 5-foot-11; All-Big Ten honorable mention; Olney, MD

Stats

29.3 minutes per game; 5.1 points per game; 4.5 rebounds per game; 3.2 assists per game, 1.8 steals per game; 0.6 blocks per game; .459 FG%, .167 3FG%, .574 FT%

2019-2020 Review

Wood stepped up in a starting role last season and consistently contributed in nearly every statistical category. Offensively, she improved as the season went on, averaging just over 5 points per game when she was almost always the last scoring option in a lineup featuring Lindsey Pulliam, Veronica Burton, Abi Scheid and Abbie Wolf. On the other side of the court, however, Wood emerged as one of the most important players in Joe McKeown’s matchup zone defense. In addition to 4.5 rebounds per game, she added 17 blocks, 55 steals and 97 assists, finishing with the third-best assist-to-turnover ratio in the conference.

Strengths

Wood’s defensive prowess will earn her minutes no matter her offensive output. She’s an athletic guard with an unrelenting hustle which benefits her greatly on defense as well as an ability to swipe opponents and impede passing lanes.

Moreover, she developed into an increasingly reliable rebounder, something the ‘Cats struggled with last season and may this year with the graduation of bigs Abbie Wolf and Abi Scheid. The phenomenal assist-to-turnover ratio also suggests that her ball security compliments the relentless pressure she demonstrates on defense. She’s rarely going to try and force anything.

Weaknesses

Wood will never be an offensive focal point for McKeown and company. She has an awkward shooting motion and attempted only 4.5 field goals per game last season with only six three-point shot tries as well.

She primarily relies on scoring points in the paint through driving to the hoop or backdoor cutting. Her lack of a jump shot makes her somewhat one-dimensional, especially if she struggles to create her own shots on the perimeter.

She also shot 57 percent from the free-throw line, a pretty concerning number as well.

Expectations

Wood will once more team up with Veronica Burton to spearhead a Northwestern defense looking to recapture the magic of last season. The junior enters the season as an All-Big Ten honorable mention with two years of experience under her belt. The intangibles and defensive prowess she brings will undoubtedly be key to the success of the Wildcats.

Furthermore, rumors swirl that Wood has spent much of the offseason improving her jump shot and becoming a more potent scoring threat. We saw her ability when she scored 12 points in the second half at Michigan to lift the Wildcats to a 66-60 victory. Her development as a scorer and contributions on the offensive end would lessen the pressure on Burton and Pulliam to carry the ‘Cats every night.