Next up on our player preview series is Ty Berry, who had a roller coaster season for Northwestern a year ago, but showed bursts of potential stardom. Berry will need to play a major part in any trip back to the postseason for Northwestern.
Who he is
Senior; 6-foot-3; from Newton, Kansas; returning starter
34 games (34 starts), 28.3 minutes per game, 8.5 points per game, 4.8 rebounds per game, 1.1 assists per game, 0.1 blocks per game, 1.4 steals per game, 34.2% FG, 29.1% 3P, 81.4% FT
Berry had his ups and downs last season for the ‘Cats. There was the “Ty Berry game” at Nebraska in which he put up 26 points, making six three-pointers. Then there were games like the one against Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament in which he shot 1-for-10 from the field and 1-for-8 from beyond the arc. Overall, Berry scored 8.5 points per game, to go along with 4.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists in an inconsistent offensive year.
Consistently, though, Berry was a strong wing defender with the athleticism to match up with talented Big Ten guards. For a junior in his first year as a clear-cut starter, Berry impressed in that way enough to keep his spot in the rotation. He was also a really solid free throw shooter, converting from the line at a 81.4% clip (up from 66.7% the year before). At the end of the day, however, because of his offensive inconsistency, Berry was overshadowed and outshined by Boo Buie and Chase Audige all year. He was arguably the third best scoring option, but Brooks Barnhizer and Robbie Beran both had some claim to that title as well.
Shooting…. kinda? Berry’s 34.2% field goal percentage from last year doesn’t look great, but it was also the worst of his college career. There’s reason to believe he is at least capable of making shots at a more consistent rate. Berry also possesses the ability to create his own shot, something not a ton of Northwestern’s players can claim. If he can start to cash in a little bit more often, he could become a problem for opposing teams. It’s also worth noting once again that Berry is becoming a very good free throw shooter as he matures. There are a variety of ways he is capable of scoring the basketball.
Berry is also a good defender with quick feet and active hands who knows the defensive system and is accustomed to executing it in big spots. His familiarity with the ‘Cats’ program heading into his fourth season shouldn’t be understated, especially for a team that needs its defensive system to sustain success without its Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. His 4.8 rebounds per game last year is also worth mentioning; Berry makes an impact on the boards.
The output just hasn’t been there yet. His numbers are underwhelming, and while numbers don’t tell the whole story, don’t overthink Berry’s. The guard sometimes simply cannot avoid long stretches of inefficient shooting.
Berry’s approach to continuing to test from deep after misses also isn’t entirely effective. The incoming junior can be a frustrating watch when he’s taking early shot clock threes from NBA distance. As one of Northwestern’s expected primary scorers, he’ll have to continue to work in that department.
Berry’s performances against Penn State in the Big Ten Tourney, and then against UCLA in the NCAA Tournament did not help bolster the Wildcats’ chances. Stepping into an even larger leadership role this year as a senior — and without Audige — he’ll be tasked with showing up in big games.
I’m certainly not bullish on Berry heading into the year, but there’s reason to believe he could iron some things out to become a more complete player. The good news is, even if he doesn’t, he’s still a skilled guard who makes an impact defensively.
I do expect Berry’s numbers to improve. I don’t think he’ll take as many bad shots, and his presumptive role as the starting two guard will help. I am, however, concerned about his ability to step up in big games. To what extent Berry can become a more consistent scorer should determine how well he helps mask the loss of Audige.