Star rating: N/A
Who is he?
Alex Olah is both a dominating presence and maddeningly inconsistent. He's a talented low post scorer and yet often looks out of place on offense. He's a gifted passer who often passes the ball too quickly. He's an underrated shot-blocker who struggles to rebound. He's a fierce competitor who lets his emotions overtake his game. His coach calls him a "beast" although, at times, he appears to cower against stiff opposition.
Through his first two seasons, the Romanian center has shown flashes of greatness along with moments of puzzlement. Like, for example, when he, the team's most efficient offensive player, leaves his spot in the post and ventures outside to shoot threes.
He makes his money in the post, where, when he takes his time, he is a threat to score when single-covered and has the court vision to find his teammates when double-teamed. Last season, was a major improvement for Olah and if that's any indication, 2014-2015 could be a breakout season for the junior.
What are his expectations heading into this year?
During a four-game stretch to close out the Big Ten regular season last year, Olah put up the following stats (via KenPom):
|TEAM||OPPOSING BIG MAN||ORtg||PTS||REBS||BLKS|
|Penn St.||Jordan Dickerson||101||14||5||1|
Although the sample size isn't as big as one would hope, the average numbers compiled over the four-game stretch could be a high-end goal for Olah this season. While it remains to be seen how much more often head coach Chris Collins will go to Olah in the post this season, it would be reasonable for the center to boost his points per game from 9.1 to about 12 even as projection models such as Sports Illustrated's predict him to score 8.2 points per game. Also, Olah's rebounding is going to have to improve. Grabbing just over five rebounds per contest as a seven-footer won't get it done during the physical Big Ten season.
Northwestern will spend the early part of the season looking for a go-to player on offense. Tre Demps and JerShon Cobb are looking to make major impacts on the outside, as well as freshman Vic Law. But don't sleep on Olah. He was Northwestern's most efficient option last season and look for his influence to grow in his second season under Collins.