Next up in the Northwestern men’s basketball player reviews is three-year starter Ty Berry, who was expected to take a leap forward in his junior year. Berry did just that and was a key contributor to the Wildcats’ success, but has some untouched potential left in the tank.
The following stats are from sports-reference.com:
Looking at the stats, Berry had a decent offensive season. The guard was Northwestern’s third-leading scorer behind Boo Buie and Chase Audige, and there were some games where he displayed his offensive prowess. This includes February’s matchup in Lincoln against Nebraska, where the junior shot lights out and scored a career high 26 as the Wildcats blew out the Huskers. But, at the same time, Berry disappeared in some crucial matchups, such as the Big Ten Tournament game against Penn State or the NCAA Tournament contest against UCLA, where he made a singular three in each on 14 total attempts.
This brings us to the biggest issue for Berry on the offensive side of the floor: his field goal percentage from three. There’s no doubt that when Berry is hitting, he is the best shooter on the floor. However, the junior guard struggled to find consistency game-to-game, and finished the year shooting 29.1% from deep. This was a major shift in the wrong direction. In the 2021-2022 season, Berry shot 38.8% from three and in the 2020-2021 season, he shot 36.5%. Berry’s percentage from three was a career low by a significant margin.
With this being said, if Berry wants to become a major offensive weapon for the Wildcats next season, it starts from deep. This is his best weapon, and when he is shooting well, he can also ignite his mid-range game and drive to the net more. For Berry, if he’s hot, he’s hot, and this will be key when his senior year comes around.
The following stats are taken from hoop-math.com:
Berry’s numbers here are extremely similar to what the stats show. He took the third-most shots on the team, behind Buie and Audige, but what stands out is his effective field goal percentage, which was the lowest out of any player (besides Roy Dixon III) at 43.2%.
The shot distribution was also predictable, as Berry took 172 threes compared to 106 inside the arc. Overall, it shows the type of player he is on offense: his primary weapon is his shooting, but he can also provide offense from anywhere.
A lot of this review has shown that Berry is an up-and-down player, so let’s show this one more time. When he is shooting well, he can be Northwestern’s best option, especially when Buie and Audige were not. This was the case in Lincoln against Nebraska or the season finale at Rutgers, where Buie and Audige did not produce major numbers but Berry got into double-digits. The bottom line here is Berry has immense offensive potential.
What stood out from the junior this year was his effort on the defensive side of the floor. A lot of Northwestern’s success this year was due to their defensive improvement, and while Audige will get the recognition, Berry was arguably Chris Collins’ second best player on this end. This includes a major increase in steals per game, from 0.8 to 1.4. There were many instances where Berry came up with a key steal or defensive play and it contributed to a positive result.
Next year, his defensive contribution will be expected, and hopefully for Collins and company, his offense will take a leap forward.
It’s been talked about already, but when Berry is cold, he cannot hit a thing. More importantly, a lot of these games where the junior was unable to be found were the biggest games for Northwestern: UCLA, Penn State, Illinois in Champaign and Maryland in College Park, to name a few.
Field goal percentage is the biggest flaw to his game, but another aspect worth mentioning is Berry not driving to the rim much. Sometimes, he opted for a tough contested shot instead of trying to blow by his defender, and he has the potential to do this. A lot of it comes down to confidence and the fact that when he is not hitting shots, don’t expect him to become a key contributor as the game goes on.
All of these elements are fixable, and that is why Berry will be counted on every game next year.
The Bottom Line
Berry was Northwestern’s third offensive option this year and provided both bright and dark moments. With the futures of Buie and Audige unclear, the soon-to-be senior will be counted on in order for Northwestern to replicate the success it found this past season.
If Audige does leave, Berry will also be the key to Northwestern’s defense. His quick hands and ability to guard opponent’s secondary options was crucial this year, and it is sure to be the same next year. Berry’s defense is one of his best aspects.
There’s no doubt how important he is to the Wildcats, not only this past season, but next year as well.