Courtney Shaw saw action in only seven games during the 2018-2019 season, but with a thin frontcourt consisting of Abbie Wolf and Abi Scheid entering the 2019-2020 season, the six-foot forward was a popular pick among our writers to be the team’s breakout player off the bench.
Assistant coach Tangela Smith noted Shaw as the most improved player of the bunch which would eventually win the Big Ten regular season title. Her mobility on the floor combined with her size and aggression made her an intriguing option as a deputy to the two presumed starters down low, going into the campaign.
Shaw ultimately did not break out as the dynamic option off the bench to the extent which many observers believed she could reach, but she managed to eat up minutes in the front court to relieve Scheid and Wolfe. With those two graduating, next season will be crucial for the sophomore to assert herself in the starting lineup as a forward, but before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s review Shaw’s previous campaign.
The following statistics were taken from HerHoopstats.com:
Shaw appeared in all thirty of Northwestern’s contests this past season, generally as the second person off the bench after Jordan Hamilton. The statistic that stands out is her minutes per game. She was on the court for roughly a little over a quarter per game. By comparison, Scheid averaged 34.5 minutes per game while Wolf averaged 26.2, although in Big Ten play Joe McKeown loves to keep his starters in the game, especially with the talent at his disposal to begin games.
The concerning statistic yielded in a review of Shaw’s season is her free throw percentage. She shot a mere 37% from the line. With her lack of playing time, it’s challenging to evaluate exactly where her numbers should be, especially with her uptick in playing time relative to last season.
Shaw shot 63 percent from the field and 68 percent in conference play, a number that actually led the Big Ten, thought she only attempted a total of forty field goals. She attempted a season-high six field goals in eighteen minutes early on in the season against Dartmouth. She averaged 1.6 field goals made per game and 2.6 field goal attempts per game. Out of the seven players who appeared in every contest as well as Hamilton, Shaw shot more than only Byrdy Galernik.
Her points per play when compared to her usage rate stand out. Despite her low usage rate, she was efficient in terms of her scoring, perhaps on account of her lack of playing time. This number next season will certainly change as Shaw gets more playing time.
Primarily a post player, Shaw relied on points in the paint and put backs as her means of scoring. Her outside shot was close to nonexistent, but with Scheid, Burton, Hamilton and Pulliam all capable outside shooters, Shaw’s time on the court directly substituting for Wolf made her the sole interior presence on both sides of the ball.
Highlights from this season include Shaw’s six points, six rebounds and a steal against Duke. Her best performance in Big Ten play came against Minnesota, where she dropped six points and grabbed a season-high eight total boards in Northwestern’s 56-54 win in Minneapolis. Playing 15 minutes in the 69-55 road win over Ohio State, Shaw scored six and had two blocks. Her screen-and-roll and subsequent and-one in that game is emblematic of what her size and mobility can bring to the table as an interior presence.
When McKeown gave Abbie Wolf a bigger load, Shaw barely saw the court. Against some of the Big Ten’s better or decent teams, notably Purdue, Maryland twice, Michigan twice and Nebraska, Shaw played less than ten minutes, especially when the opposition had bigs who could also carry a heavy load of minutes. Her worst shooting performance game in the home game against Michigan, as she went 1-5 in a mere eight minutes.
With a little added experience, Shaw will have to prepare to take on more minutes with Wolf leaving. Working on conditioning as well as solidifying her presence in the post will go a long way in mitigating the senior’s graduation.
The Bottom Line
With both Scheid’s and Wolf’s senior seasons going rather swimmingly, Shaw never had a real chance to assert herself against a major opponent. As the returning player most resembling a true center, Shaw has the inside track to be a starter next season. With Scheid and Wolf graduating, the ‘Cats have a lack of experience in the front court.
While Shaw and Wolf are different players, one can draw parallels between the former’s redshirt freshman season and the latter’s junior season. In her role backing up Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah last season, Wolf averaged just over 14.2 minutes per game and averaged 5.3 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.
Incoming freshman Anna Morris will probably play a similar role to Scheid. Ranked number forty-seven in the class of 2020, according to ESPN, the six-foot-two forward is capable of hitting shots beyond the arc while also being aggressive in the key. Another incoming freshman, Paige Mott, stands at six-foot-one and is stronger in the post but can also play in transition. McKeown certainly has options when constructing his front court.
If Shaw can hold off competition from Mott, she should be slotted in the 5 role with the trifecta of Sydney Wood, Pulliam and Burton starting, with Hamilton, Morris or Laya Hartman inserted at the four. McKeown might emphasize small-ball next season with a guard heavy lineup. If Shaw follows the path of Abbie Wolf, perhaps she can carve out some major minutes in the post next season.