With the men’s NCAA Tournament underway and Northwestern’s season officially over, it’s time to break down the 9-15 rollercoaster season from the Wildcats and the performances of each individual player. Next up is freshman guard Ty Berry.
Berry stepped into Evanston as Northwestern’s top recruit. The four-star prospect, per 247Sports, was one of Kansas’ top high school players and was anticipated to be a key contributor off the bench for Chris Collins’ squad.
Known to be a strong shooter, his spacing in the second unit was his primary role. For a freshman in one of the top conferences in the nation, Berry was able to hold his own. He laid the foundation for a more prominent role in his sophomore season and should be a valuable addition to the ‘Cats for years to come.
The following numbers are from KenPom.com.
Berry’s primary role is to shoot. It’s what he excels at and is why he was recruited. The ‘Cats put a much greater emphasis on the three-ball this season, and Berry’s presence is part of the reason. In his first year as a Wildcat, the 6-foot-2 point guard took more than twice as many threes as twos. In those 59 three-point attempts, Berry connected on 34% of them. This is a commendable total, but his 24% clip against Tier A opponents says otherwise.
While a small sample size, his free-throw shooting was an area to improve upon. His 65% conversion rate from the charity stripe is not a stat that is consistent with that of most shooters, but with time and confidence, this number should improve.
Outside of shooting, Berry did not bring much else to the table. His 11% assist rate is relatively low for a point guard, and his rebounding rates are expected of a guard. Defensively, his 3.3% steal rate was the highest on the team. In his limited minutes, Berry was a scrappy defender who showed consistent effort on both ends.
The following numbers are from Hoop-math.com.
As expected, the vast majority of Berry’s shots came from beyond the arc. His 68% of shots from three was above and beyond the highest of the team. Even as a point guard, Berry acted primarily as a spot-up shooter. He would be in a back-court duo with either Chase Audige or Boo Buie, who would act as the first ball-handler. As a result, 87% of Berry’s three-point shots and 78% of his at-the-rim shots came off of an assist.
If Berry is to expand his role on the team, he must work through developing the other aspects of his offensive game. His 15% of shots from the mid-range and 16% from the rim are lowly. While his role was predominantly to shoot from deep, this reliance made him one-dimensional as a player and predictable for defenses. In order to expand his offensive game, Berry must emphasize learning to score in other areas of the court.
For a freshman, Berry showed tremendous poise early in the season. Through the first five games of the season, he shot 57% from three-point land. This three-point success did not sustain, but the efficiency from within the arc did. In his limited takes, Berry shot 52% on two-pointers. He should look to expand this aspect of his game seeing the stroke he was able to maintain from that area of the court.
Berry was an admirable defender while consistently going against top-tier talent. His 3.3% steal rate showed the grit and tenacity of his defense. While was not always perfect, he gave 100% effort on defense. The most a coach can ask out of a player is to give their all, and Berry earned his stripes in that regard.
While Berry may have started red hot from three, once conference play came into full swing he went stone cold. During Northwestern’s 13-game skid, Berry went through major growing pains. He shot a dismal 27% from beyond the arc during that stretch. To develop into more of a consistent contributor for the ‘Cats, Berry must continue to work on seizing his opportunities off the bench.
For Berry to become more effective as a player, he needs to refine the other parts of his game. The one-dimensionality of being a three-point shooter makes it easy for defenses to hone in and shut him down. By working on his scoring from the other two levels of the floor, Berry makes himself a greater threat to defenses. If Berry works on being aggressive and driving to the paint more, it will open up more open opportunities from deep.
Additionally, he must work on his playmaking abilities. It’s hard as a freshman to have the ball in his hands to consistently create, but if he is able to work toward upping his assist numbers, it will transform his game and make things easier for players around him. Adding a third ball handler behind Audige and Buie would make Northwestern a much more dangerous team.
The Bottom Line
For a freshman in one of the nation’s top conferences, Berry held his own. He was far from perfect, but it’s difficult for one to find their footing under the bright lights of the Big Ten. He showed flashes of what he could become later in his career, and his sometimes lights-out shooting resembled that of Bryant McIntosh. He needs to work on diversifying his game and consistency, but Berry has a lot of room to grow.