If you missed our post-season grade report on the guards, be sure to read it here. But now we move on to the forwards, a group that was greatly affected when Vic Law was lost for the season. The injury did give a few of these players more opportunities for minutes, but not everyone took full advantage. So here are our grades for the forwards of the Northwestern Wildcats.
Aaron Falzon – C
When the team announced that Law would miss the entire season, Falzon’s value to the team immediately skyrocketed. Not only did he take his place in the starting lineup, the freshman had a lot more weight on his shoulders in terms of the scoring load. And while Falzon, scouted as a great three-point shooter, took the second most threes on the team, he only shot 35% from behind the arc. It may not be entirely fair to be so tough on a freshman, but when Collins made him a starter and played him starter’s minutes, the bar immediately got higher. His best game came on January 9th versus Minnesota. He hit a season high six three pointers and scored 20 points. But high scoring games like that didn’t happen often enough. At 6’8”, 216lbs, Falzon didn’t get into the paint enough, waiting out on the perimeter for passes to come this way. He’ll need to work on his post game, so as his shooting becomes more consistent, he’ll be much more of a threat next year when he’ll no doubt be looked to as one of the team’s top three scorers.
Nathan Taphorn – D+
Taphorn should have been a perfect fit for Collins’ offense as a stretch four who could score from behind the arc, but deficiencies in rebounding and on defense caused him to play only 24 games, with a number of healthy scratches. He played his best game late in the season, on February 27th against Rutgers, when he scored 13 points in only 12 minutes on 5-7 shooting. But Taphorn will need to work on his body in the off-season and be more of a force in the lane, or he’ll continue to lose minutes to Gavin Skelly, whose hustle, defense and rebounding seemed to be valued more by Collins than Taphorn’s 40% three point percentage.
Gavin Skelly – B-
You wouldn’t necessarily know it by the box score, but Skelly was often one of the most impactful players on the floor when he played. He was an energy guy off the bench who dove on the floor for loose balls, fought for rebounds and hustled back on defense. He rarely looked to score and at times showed flashes as a distributor. His best game this season came early in the year in a November battle against New Orleans, when he scored 10 points to go along with eight rebounds and provided a spark when the team struggled at times. It’ll be interesting to see if his offensive game develops in the off-season or if he just continues to be an energy guy. Either way, he’ll continue to be a fan favorite and one of the most exciting Wildcats to watch. That alone was enough for me to bump up his grade a bit.
Charlie Hall – “Incomplete”
Hall gets the one “Incomplete” grade this year, as he only played garbage time minutes in eight games and didn’t record any stats. But Hall’s name was chanted at the end of every single blowout, and when he did find his way onto the court, fans went wild begging him to shoot. Unfortunately for those fans, they’ll have to wait another year for Hall, the son of actor/comedian Julia Louis-Dreyfus, to make his way onto the box score.