Let's talk freshmen (long one)
Edited on 2019-02-08 11:02:58
Though they've shown flashes, our freshmen clearly haven't yet become dependable contributors, at least not on a game-in, game-out basis. Some on this board have questioned whether or not they will ever do so. Others believe that's a silly question, because it generally takes time for freshmen to grow into such roles.
So, I thought it would be worth looking into how some of our recent favorites performed as freshmen.
Demetrius Jackson was pretty darn productive as a freshman. He started 15/30 games, shot well from the charity stripe (78%) and the 3-point line (41.7%), and had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.5.
Pat Connaughton was a very efficient contributor as a freshman. He started 18/34 games, averaged 7 points and 4.4 boards per game, and shot well (54.3% from 2, 34.2% from 3, 75.7% from the line). He got a little better every season and was an absolute stud by his senior year.
Steve Vasturia was on the lower end of the scale. He started 12/27 games, but he didn't shoot very well (40% from 2, 32.9% from 3, 68.4% from the line). After watching his freshman campaign, it was probably hard to imagine him growing into a senior who averaged 13 & 4 with very strong shooting numbers (49.1% from 2, 35.8% from 3, and 91% from the line).
VJ Beachem looked lost. He got one start (played in 27 games), shot very poorly (40% from 2, 26.2% from 3, 70% from the line), and accumulated as many turnovers as assists. Thankfully, he took pretty big leaps the next two years, eventually growing into a really solid player.
As a redshirt freshman (big difference, I know), Jerian Grant was a stud. He started 33/34 games; averaged 12 points, 5 assists (vs. 2 turnovers), and 3 rebounds; and shot free throws (81.9%) and threes (35.4%) very well.
How do these numbers make me feel about our current group of frosh? I've got mixed feelings.
Hubb's shooting (31% from 2, 26.6% from 3, 62.9% from the line) is worse than just about everybody listed above, and that's a big red flag. However, his assist-to-turnover ratio is nearly 2:1 (and would likely be higher if anybody else on the team could shoot), he rebounds well for his size, and he has the athleticism to become a great defender (provided he stops gambling so much). I think he can grow into a very effective, game-managing PG for this team, but if he doesn't either dramatically improve his shot, or stop taking so many of them, he could be a real liability as a shooter.
Dane Goodwin is ahead of where Steve Vasturia was at this point in his career. His shooting numbers are pretty good (42.2% from 2, 37.7% from 3, 72.1% from the line) and he's already averaging 5.3 rebounds per 40 minutes (a higher number than Vasturia ever achieved). I think he'll take a really big leap between this year and next.
Nate Laszewksi is playing pretty well. He's already averaging 14 points & 9 rebounds per 40 minutes (better numbers than Connaughton generated at his peak), he's shooting well from 2 (52.4%), and he's shown enough flashes to believe his 3-point percentage (33% for the season, 25.5% during conference play) will improve quite a bit. I'm not sure he'll ever be much of a play-maker (he's accumulated a grand total of 2 assists in 213 ACC minutes), but I don't think we'll need him play that role for us.
I can't say much about Carmody, as he only played 90 minutes this season. Considering how well he played as a high school senior (well enough to earn offers from Michigan, Louisville, and Syracuse), I continue to have high hopes for him.
The only other thing I'll say is that I originally wanted to grant the current crop of freshmen some leeway because I thought they were being asked to do more than the prior freshmen (Grant, DJ, etc.) were. However, I don't think that's true. Here is a comparison of minutes per game during conference play:
Grant - 38
Vasturia - 28
Connaughton - 22
Jackson - 21
Beachem - 9
Hubb - 33
Goodwin - 28
Laszewski - 21
So where does all of this leave me? Honestly, I'm still feeling pretty good about the freshmen, and I'll be over the moon if Hubb finds a away to fix his shot. As for the rest of the roster, I don't know what to think. TJ & DJ have been very disappointing. Pflueger isn't a very accomplished offensive player. Durham appears to be a pretty fragile. It'd be awfully nice to add a guy like Cole Anthony to help cover up some of the holes we've got.
Also key difference
Is that most of those other previous comparisons were single freshman or the most 2 per season with seasoned veterans leading the way, whereas we know what we have this year. As you stated Gibbs has been mostly disappointing, no more so than last night. Clearly struggles when he's the main guy. I am scared to think how the season would have looked without Mooney stepping up huge.