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Northwestern men’s basketball player previews 2022-23: F Robbie Beran

Beran must aspire toward one thing: consistency.

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Northwestern David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Inconsistency marred Northwestern’s 2021 season. Winning eight of their first ten before dropping eight of their next nine, players’ inability to unwaveringly dominate bogged down the team. Robbie Beran was as much a culprit of inconsistency as anyone. Today, we’ll preview the senior power forward, and dive into the necessary changes that he must make if a winning record is what he hopes for.

Who he is

Senior; forward; 6-foot-9; 215 pounds; from Richmond, Va.; a top-100 recruit coming out of high school, and a McDonald’s All-American nominee

Career Stats

21.9 minutes per game; 6.4 points per game; 4.3 rebounds; 0.6 assists; 0.7 steals per game; 46.8 FG%, 36.6 3P%, 75.0 FT%.

2021-2022 review

Consistency is key. And too often in 2021, Robbie Beran found himself locked out and lost. The now-senior flashed at times, with memories of a 17-point and 15-point outing against Maryland and Minnesota respectively not so distant. Still, the predominant perception of Beran’s junior year performance is that countless careless mistakes and low-effort scoring hindered him from being great.

At his best, the forward earned a reputation for his seal screens — a pick-and-roll, in which the rolling player obstructs his defender and the on-ball defender from keeping up with a driving guard simply by taking up space with his long limbs (see: awesome article by Dan Olinger that dives deeper). That was the type of play from Beran that head coach Chris Collins consistently lauded. Aside from the seal screens, a team-high shooting percentage (63.2%) from inside the arc boosted Beran to the starting role that he now has sole ownership of.

So, yes, Beran has standout qualities. But it’s hard to overlook the fact that he posted five or fewer points in thirteen contests last season. It’s hard to overlook that lapses in defensive judgment enabled opposing players to run pick plays through an often-distracted Beran. There’s potential without a doubt. Hopefully, an offseason of training has mitigated these detriments.



Yes, I’m alluding to the seal screens. We’ve already discussed how potent a move that is. But I’m also referencing his general offensive efficiency. As calculated by KenPom, Beran’s offensive rating, a metric that goes beyond just scoring, is 109.7 — a figure that earns him a spot near the top forty in terms of the most effective offensive players in the Big Ten.

Beran has basketball IQ on the scoring end of the court. Not necessarily when it comes to how to score — we’ve been over this — but in how he passes, rebounds, and positions himself in spots that positively impact the team.


Not to cast a storm when the grass is already damp (i.e. sorry in advance for repeating myself over and over), but man, Beran needs to be more consistent. His ghost-like quality throughout the 2021 campaign was eerie but not fatal. Of course, NU would have benefitted from a more productive Beran, but seniors Elyjah Williams and Pete Nance picked up the slack.

On another note, the 6-foot-9 floor-pusher could benefit from being more assertive around the rim. His in-the-paint scoring has improved year-over-year, but there’s more to gain, especially when considering that Northwestern will roster an otherwise small lineup this season. Establishing himself as a presence around the basket forces opponents to play honest defense, as opposed to hawking the ball on the perimeter if defenders know there’s no threat in the paint.


Per KenPom, Collins played the Richmond, Va. product more than anyone else at the power forward position in the ‘Cats’ last five matchups. Holding the post 42% of the time, Beran split time with Williams (32% play-share at power forward) and Nance (14% play-share at power forward). With the two latter guys having either graduated or transferred, Collins will look to boost his forward’s court time significantly in 2022.

There will be no ready excuses for Beran if he doesn’t make strides in 2022. Frequent zero-point performances are intolerable for another year. Mental lapses on defense have to be met with harsher coaching.

The coaching staff has proven loyalty to their senior forward since he arrived in Evanston, playing him nearly 20 minutes per game as a freshman. Now in his final year, with no one else to lean on when his shots aren’t falling and his man gets open on the other end of the court, Beran must aim to leave a firm mark on the program.