2010 Season Preview: The cupboard is not bare at Northern Iowa, featuring Kwadzo Ahelegbe
This is our last season preview post before we get into some new games (get excited!). Next week we will have at least one exhibition post (featuring Kentucky) but would be willing to do more if someone can provide me with other video. Feel free to drop me a line if you have any recording of your team’s exhibition games from next week.
Today’s preview features Northern Iowa’s Kwadzo Ahelegbe who returns to a Panthers team that had an awesome run in the NCAA tournament last season but saw Adam Koch, Ali Farokmanesh and Jordan Eglselder depart.
Ahelegbe is poised for a breakout season as the leader of this team and he will need to have a monster season to help Northern Iowa return back to the dance. Let’s look at his strengths and weaknesses.
Getting to the rim
Ahelegbe is strong enough to fight his way to the rim. This will be crucial for him to score this season, as his jumper was average, at best, last season.
He is not the fastest guard but he is quick enough with the ball to blow by defenders if they are not expecting him to drive.
Here, he shows his strength to get to the rim against a bigger defender and finish while drawing contact.
Unless Ahelegbe can improve his shooting percentage from last season, defenses will tend to sag off of him to keep him from driving to the rim. However, I still think he will be able to get to the rim, as he has the upper body strength to power to the rim.
Only standing 6’2″, Ahelegbe’s 11.2% defensive rebounding percentage is impressive. Again, he uses his strength to his advantage on the defensive glass.
He also shows a desire to rebound as he sags to the rim when a shot goes up. As the opposing guards are usually drifting back to play defense, this allows him to roam free and grab the defensive rebound.
I expect Ahelegbe to be a solid rebounder for his position again this season. Look for him as he floats to the rim as the shot goes up and he goes after the ball.
Ahelegbe really struggled with turnovers last year with 2.9 per game for a turnover rate of 24.6%. With the ball likely to be in his hands even more this year, he will have to cut down on the turnovers for the good of the team.
Watch some of his turnovers from last season. They come in several different scenarios, from driving to the basket to not making the smart play.
He needs to be more careful with the ball. He is sometimes lazy with his passes, which allows the defense to pick them off and go on the break.
Northern Iowa lost 5 times last season. In those 5 games, Ahelegbe had 2, 3, 4, 5 and 5 turnovers. He only had 4+ turnovers in 7 of the other 30 games. This is something he needs to shore up quickly for the benefit of the team.
I think Ahelegbe has the chance to have his best season yet in his senior year. He is likely the best player on the team and the person Northern Iowa will look to in times of need.
We get to see an early test for the Panthers this season when they play Syracuse. Look forward to a post on Ahelegbe and how he is handling the star role and whether he has cut down on his turnovers.