After the loss of Veronica Burton, it was clear the Wildcats were in for a rebuilding campaign in 2022-23. That rebuild is still fully in effect, as evidenced by the team’s 9-21 record this year. However, it wasn’t all bad for Northwestern, and Joe McKeown’s team did finish the season strong, especially after the youth movement was truly established in the back half of the year. It’s time to take a look at the impact each member of the team had this season, and we continue that with graduate student Courtney Shaw.
Many expected Shaw to continue her strong play from the 2021-22 season, in which she averaged 8.1 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. That stretch included eight performances in which Shaw put up a double-double, as well as 10 multi-block games. Shaw was second on that 2022 team in minutes behind only Veronica Burton, but this year dealt with a much-reduced role.
Shaw’s minutes dropped from 897 (or 30.9 minutes per game) to just 451 (or 16.7 minutes per game). The result of this was a massive drop in production: Shaw’s points, rebounds, blocks, and free throws all hit their lowest points since 2019-20. Despite this, Shaw remained a valuable contributor to the team and provided much-needed defense and rebounding.
Despite her time on the court being nearly halved, Shaw played more than enough minutes to make it clear that she was one of the best rebounders and defenders on this team. She led the squad in offensive rebounds per game at 2.1, and finished in a tie for third in total rebounds at 4.4 per game despite playing nearly seven minutes per game less than the other three players who averaged 4.4 rebounds or more.
Per cbbanalytics.com, Shaw finished second on the team in defensive rebound percentage at 14.8%, behind only Caileigh Walsh at 17.4%. One of the reasons Shaw’s rebounding total was so low was because her minutes were so low — had she played as many minutes as Walsh, Shaw would have finished with 102 defensive rebounds, 40 more than she actually grabbed over the course of the season.
The offensive rebounding is even more skewed. Shaw led the team in offensive rebounds despite playing over 250 minutes fewer than second-place finisher Paige Mott. The main reason for that is Shaw’s aggression: she crashes the boards harder than almost anyone else in the nation, as evidenced by her 13% offensive rebounding percentage.
This one’s pretty simple. Every single one of Shaw’s 117 field goal attempts were from inside the three-point arc, but she hit only 47% of them, a career low. However, even this off shooting year from Shaw didn’t damage her standing among the rest of the team, as she finished third in field goal percentage.
However, the open shots got easier for Shaw this year, as evidenced by her improvement from the free throw line. After shooting just 36% from the line in 2019-20, her first real season of action, Shaw worked hard to improve. That work clearly paid off, as she converted 39 of her 69 attempts this year for a career-best 57% mark. It was not a fantastic year shooting the ball for Shaw, but there were still clear signs of both talent and improvement.
Aside from the rebounding, which has already undergone a deep dive, the rest of Shaw’s post presence was also a strong positive force for this team. She did average only 0.4 blocks per game, but her presence was also a useful deterrent in the post even when opponents weren’t challenging her. Shaw also remained a positive force for the team despite going from a day one starter to receiving barely 10 minutes a game at times. She kept up her leadership role even when the minutes on the court weren’t befitting of someone who’s played over 100 games for the Wildcats, but she remained a positive presence.
Given that Shaw still produced at a relatively high level with limited minutes, it’s difficult to say anything specific that she did badly. However, the scoring inconsistency does stand out when looking at the stat sheet. There was a five-game stretch in December where Shaw failed to score more than six, a four-game stretch in January where she failed to score more than four and a five-game stretch to close the season where she scored a total of just 14 points. Shaw also struggled in the passing game, committing five more turnovers (28) than assists (23).
The Bottom Line
It was a very disappointing fifth year for Shaw, especially considering there seems to be no obvious cause for it. She wasn’t injured enough to miss extended time, appearing in all but three games, and the rebounding talent clearly wasn’t diminished. However, Shaw also didn’t fit the program’s timeline in what was clearly a rebuilding year. This was a year for the younger players, and that category definitely didn’t fit Shaw. However, she still proved that she was one of the better rebounders in the Big Ten (even in a smaller role) and closed her final season as a clear part of the rotation.