Men’s Basketball: Drew Crawford, by the numbers
April 2, 2014
Senior forward Drew Crawford earned yet another accolade Tuesday, being chosen to compete in the 2014 Reese’s Division I College All-Star Game. The accolade puts Crawford in the company of some of the best seniors from around the country.
But just how good was Crawford this year? He was the unquestioned leader and a key veteran presence for a team in transition this season, and taking a look at his statistical contributions only further illuminates his importance.
According to kenpom.com, Crawford played 88 percent of all potential minutes this season, good for 70th in the country. By comparison, Creighton’s Doug McDermott, the nation’s leading scorer, played a lesser 84.4 percent of minutes. It’s a testament to McDermott’s skill, but also to Crawford’s usage.
Crawford got to the foul line 146 times during the year, an easy first on the team in front of two sophomores, guard Tre Demps and center Alex Olah, who both tied for second with 97. He made 114 of those attempts, good for a squad-best 78.1 free-throw percentage.
Surprisingly, Crawford also led the Wildcats in 3-point shots, besting the trigger-happy Demps. He unfortunately posted a career-low 32.7 percent shooting percentage on those attempts, but his offensive output generated a healthy 1.20 points per shot, second for NU behind Olah’s very efficient 1.36.
In another statistical oddity, Crawford was second on the team in assists with 71, barely trailing Demps’ 73. That outcome is in part based on junior guard Dave Sobolewski’s limited playing time this season, but it also shows Crawford was a big part of the offense even when he wasn’t shooting the ball.
Defensively, despite being just the third-tallest regular starter Crawford came down with 19.1 percent of the team’s rebounds and was second on the team with 25 blocks.
Perhaps the only criticism that can be leveled against Crawford’s game is his occasional tendency to disappear in big contests, such as his 6-point night in a loss against Michigan State on Jan. 15 or his dismal 1-for-15 shooting performance in a defeat versus Minnesota on Feb. 16.
But, more likely, he was just having the off days even great players are bound to have. He was nothing but clutch when he dropped 30 points to lead the Cats to their signature win, an upset road victory over Wisconsin on Jan. 29.
He also had 15 points in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament to help NU secure a win over NCAA tournament-bound Iowa and had a team-high 21 in the Cats final game of the season, a rematch against the Spartans.
Did Crawford benefit from being the best player on a not-so-great team? Definitely. But give him credit for putting up great numbers in the first year of coach Chris Collins’ new system.
His presence will be sorely missed as NU continues to work toward its goal of cracking the NCAA Tournament field. In other words, top-100 recruit Vic Law, a 6-foot-7 small forward in the mold of Crawford, will have some big shoes to fill next year.