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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Toronto

    A pet theory: Jack White has hit/is recovering from the "freshman wall"

    Early on this year, this board was over the moon about the performance of Jack White and how he was essentially acting as a "sixth starter" in his role off the bench. Many of us saw glimpses of potential in Jack, but very few expected him to go from a garbage time player his first two years on campus to one of the best sixth-men/glue-guys in the nation so quickly. We called him the "x-factor" on this team, the key to giving this team necessary depth, etc. Now, over the past few weeks (and especially following our loss to Syracuse) people have seemingly completely soured on Jack, his potential, and his role on this team.

    I have a pet theory as to what's going on with Jack and I think it's something that has gone a bit under the radar in the discussions of him, and it's this: Jack White is hitting the equivalent of the "freshman wall". Yes, he's a junior, we all know that. But let's consider the facts: Jack averaged 6.1 mpg as a freshman and 5.7 as a sophomore. This year, he's averaging 24.1 mpg, including 30 or more minutes six times (in many of our most important early season games). Over the past five games, though, Jack hasn't played more than 15 minutes, and Javin has started to take the role as "first man off the bench" instead of Jack. What might account for this sudden swing in court time? I think it is highly unlikely, given his stellar leadership and hustle (indeed, I think Jack does as good a job as anyone in recent memory of influencing the game positively in ways that might not show up on the box score) that he's found his way into Coach K's doghouse. While Marques has obviously stepped up big and earned starter's minutes, it isn't as if Javin's play has skyrocketed and forced K's hand into giving him some more minutes.

    However, unlike Jack, Javin was a rotation player for this team last year, averaging 12.7 mpg (not to mention playing more as a freshman with 7.1 mpg). There's also this factor that likely comes into play: while I don't know about Jack's high school career in great detail, I highly doubt he played as strenuous a high school schedule in Australia as the top recruits do in America (between high school teams, AAU teams, various camps, etc.). Plus, we all know that all the practice in the world can never quite mimic the intensity of big-game minutes. Combine all of those extraneous factors with the fact that an increase of nearly 20 mpg over the course of the year is extremely rare and it leads me to the conclusion that Jack is having his January/February "freshman wall" moment come with a two year delay.

    I'm curious what others on the board think of this pet theory of mine and how it might factor into things going forward. Personally, I think we need to afford Jack the benefit of the doubt that we have in the past when star freshman inevitably hit a down period for a few weeks when conference play hits the dog days. I think just like those freshmen typically do, Jack is going to bounce back... maybe not to the level of 30 mpg, but back to the contributing sixth-man we saw early in the season.
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Mechanicsburg, PA
    Itís as good a theory as any other except for possibly dealing with some personal issue/injury. If this team had White playing even 80% of his early season level, it would be nearly unbeatable...

  3. #3
    I have a sneaky feeling that Jack will be one of those players that makes a huge play or hits a big shot for us in the tournament. Probably in a very important game hopefully late into the tournament.

    He has had his slump now and seems to be slowly playing his way back I into the rotation starting with solid defence and rebounding.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Nashville
    Quote Originally Posted by scottdude8 View Post
    Early on this year, this board was over the moon about the performance of Jack White and how he was essentially acting as a "sixth starter" in his role off the bench. Many of us saw glimpses of potential in Jack, but very few expected him to go from a garbage time player his first two years on campus to one of the best sixth-men/glue-guys in the nation so quickly. We called him the "x-factor" on this team, the key to giving this team necessary depth, etc. Now, over the past few weeks (and especially following our loss to Syracuse) people have seemingly completely soured on Jack, his potential, and his role on this team.

    I have a pet theory as to what's going on with Jack and I think it's something that has gone a bit under the radar in the discussions of him, and it's this: Jack White is hitting the equivalent of the "freshman wall". Yes, he's a junior, we all know that. But let's consider the facts: Jack averaged 6.1 mpg as a freshman and 5.7 as a sophomore. This year, he's averaging 24.1 mpg, including 30 or more minutes six times (in many of our most important early season games). Over the past five games, though, Jack hasn't played more than 15 minutes, and Javin has started to take the role as "first man off the bench" instead of Jack. What might account for this sudden swing in court time? I think it is highly unlikely, given his stellar leadership and hustle (indeed, I think Jack does as good a job as anyone in recent memory of influencing the game positively in ways that might not show up on the box score) that he's found his way into Coach K's doghouse. While Marques has obviously stepped up big and earned starter's minutes, it isn't as if Javin's play has skyrocketed and forced K's hand into giving him some more minutes.

    However, unlike Jack, Javin was a rotation player for this team last year, averaging 12.7 mpg (not to mention playing more as a freshman with 7.1 mpg). There's also this factor that likely comes into play: while I don't know about Jack's high school career in great detail, I highly doubt he played as strenuous a high school schedule in Australia as the top recruits do in America (between high school teams, AAU teams, various camps, etc.). Plus, we all know that all the practice in the world can never quite mimic the intensity of big-game minutes. Combine all of those extraneous factors with the fact that an increase of nearly 20 mpg over the course of the year is extremely rare and it leads me to the conclusion that Jack is having his January/February "freshman wall" moment come with a two year delay.

    I'm curious what others on the board think of this pet theory of mine and how it might factor into things going forward. Personally, I think we need to afford Jack the benefit of the doubt that we have in the past when star freshman inevitably hit a down period for a few weeks when conference play hits the dog days. I think just like those freshmen typically do, Jack is going to bounce back... maybe not to the level of 30 mpg, but back to the contributing sixth-man we saw early in the season.
    I think a lot of Jack's slump is due in large part to small sample size since he is such a low-usage player. His offensive game is limited by design to wide open threes and wide open layups/dunks. Even when he's playing lots of minutes, he just doesn't have many opportunities to score, so if he misses a few in a row, his 0-fer streak can span a couple games. If you take out the Syracuse game when he was forced into a high-usage role and he went 0-10 in big minutese, he's only taken 18 total threes in conference play (making 5), 6 twos (making 4), along with going 2-2 on free throws. That is such a small sample that two more makes would have him at 39% 3pt in games in which he plays is normal role (i.e. NOT the Syracuse game). We'd all be totally happy with Jack as a 39% shooter. He MIGHT actually be a 39% shooter, but he has just gotten a bit unlucky. Basically, I'm not too worried about his shooting percentages if only because I don't think we really know who he is as a shooter.

    I did think his defense took a little bit of a dip after the Syracuse game, too, but he seems to have righted the ship, at least to my eyes. I think that the perception that Jack's entire game has been in a slump is largely just because he was playing so well earlier in the season AND Cam was really struggling with his offense and staying out of foul trouble. Cam has improved in both categories so we've all gotten to see just how much of a game-changer he can be on both ends of the court, so Jack's yeoman's work on defense looks a lot less impressive by comparison . . . and then throw in a shooting slump plus the high-profile 0-10 in an L against Cuse and it looks really bad. I hope his defense, rebounding, and shooting can get all the way back to where they were earlier in the season, but I also don't think he's in quite as bad of a slump as it might seem, the Syracuse game excepted.
    Who needs a moral victory when you can have a real one?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Madison, WI
    I really just think he's struggling with confidence in his shot. It's just something that happens, even to the very best players (see Reddish, Cam) If he can get just have a few games game where he knocks down a couple of shots, it could get him rolling again. I don't think he's in Coach K's "doghouse," or any failed to do anything on his part, it's just that he's not as effective as Javin if he's not at least looking to shoot the ball. Opposing teams are just leaving him open as of late, which is not where we want to be. He's gotta be able to pull his man away from the paint to help this team, otherwise, Javin is just a more effective glue guy, due to his length.

    Javin and Jack are similar players, they are both textbook glue guys, only Javin is longer and more athletic, while Jack is supposed to be the better standstill shooter. He's a pretty good passer as well. If and when Jack gets his mojo back, I believe he will go back to playing more minutes. This team obviously needs as much shooting as it can get, and if Jack can hit a corner 3, he's such a perfect fit with those high usage freshmen. Just gotta hope he finds his shot again.
    Last edited by kAzE; 02-11-2019 at 02:42 PM.

  6. #6

    Interesting theory

    That's an interesting notion, and it may be correct, or at least somewhat. I mean, he appears to have hit a wall of some type. And there are several definitions out there of what "a freshman wall" is anyway.

    That said, I've always thought the players' age had a lot to do with the freshman wall, in addition to a newer level of practice and competition. Jack is older than a freshman, and he has already been through the grind of practice and travel for two full seasons...factors often equated with the frosh wall. Moreover, a lot of times the freshman wall applies to star players, and that wouldn't fit Jack, even at his peak this season.

    My theory would more be along the lines of PTSD from the oh for ten game...and that is affecting his shooting but also somewhat leaking in to other parts of his game. Whether it's PTSD or freshman wall or merely a confidence wall...(and all can be true to a degree), it's possible he breaks through it, and I think we all agree that could be key to us down the road.

    Nice theory...I've always been a fan out OTB thinking...
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Mount Kisco, NY
    Quote Originally Posted by COYS View Post
    I think that the perception that Jack's entire game has been in a slump is largely just because he was playing so well earlier in the season AND Cam was really struggling with his offense and staying out of foul trouble. Cam has improved in both categories so we've all gotten to see just how much of a game-changer he can be on both ends of the court, so Jack's yeoman's work on defense looks a lot less impressive by comparison . . . and then throw in a shooting slump plus the high-profile 0-10 in an L against Cuse and it looks really bad. I hope his defense, rebounding, and shooting can get all the way back to where they were earlier in the season, but I also don't think he's in quite as bad of a slump as it might seem, the Syracuse game excepted.
    I'll add to this something you didn't explicitly state...Cam has gotten more minutes due to a combo of great play and staying out of foul trouble so there are less minutes for the non-freshmen. Tre's return coincided with Cam jumping to 32-36 mpg range. All the frosh are playing 30+ mpg in recent games, many times they are all 35+ mpg.

    Quote Originally Posted by kAzE View Post
    Javin is just a more effective glue guy, due to his length. Javin and Jack are similar players, they are both textbook glue guys, only Javin is longer and more athletic, while Jack is supposed to be the better standstill shooter. He's a pretty good passer as well. If and when Jack gets his mojo back, I believe he will go back to playing more minutes. This team obviously needs as much shooting as it can get, and if Jack can hit a corner 3, he's such a perfect fit with those high usage freshmen. Just gotta hope he finds his shot again.
    I agree with the idea that absent of Jack providing on offense, the 4 frosh can fill it up and the defense is aided by the length of Bolden and Javin. Jack's played well in his limited recent minutes, our 7 man rotation is solid, he's just further down the food chain.

    As for a freshman wall, I think he hit it because of the Syracuse and Virginia games alone where he went 42 then 40 mpg. Forget it, he's got nothing left in the tank.

    NBC's Rob Dauster talked about White today in his "Monday Overreactions" column
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