Tra’Vaughn White came to the team this year with the reputation of an offensively gifted guy. He was one of the most effective junior college players in the country, and despite his smaller stature, it looked like he would have the skills to produce at the Division I level.
And he has. Make no mistake, Tra’Vaughn proved during the non-conference schedule that he’s ready for D-1 ball. He just may not quite be ready for Atlantic 10 ball. If you look at the game-by-game stats, the beginning of the A10 season represents a statistical cliff for White. He’s just not been able to gain any traction.
Perhaps there were shades of things to come in his out-of-conference performances. Certainly, he didn’t play all that well against any of the BCS opponents during that string of games, notably struggling against Penn State. He also had difficulty against RMU.
In six Atlantic 10 games, he’s had 20 points. Compare that to the prior four games, where he scored a total of 54 points.
The unavoidable question leading up to the NJIT game would be how he would play – an indication, perhaps, of whether it’s the quality of opponent in-conference compared to an NJIT or if it’s actually a bad slump. It looks like it’s the latter. White was just 1 – 5 and just couldn’t find any room to create.
So what’s happening with Tra’Vaughn White?
Two Short Guards
Even when he was producing, it was clear that there were some issues with starting two sub-six-foot guards regardless of their skill set. He and Colter weren’t always in sync, but some of the three point issues also stemmed from people shooting over them. That’s not really a deficiency with one slightly undersized guy. With two it becomes an issue. We saw the potential for changing this during the Albany game, when Mason did get the start. But then Mason got hurt, and there was no longer an option. Speaking of which…
The now-healthy Mason has gained recognition as a dangerous three-point threat. He has certainly earned some minutes and the starting job from both a production standpoint and, practically speaking, due the height issue above. This is inevitably going to cut into the time that Tra’ is going to see.
Production vs. Minutes
This has been an issue. My favorite website, StatSheet.com, saved me the trouble of having to make graphs on my own. Let’s take a look here:
Tra’Vaughn already wasn’t showing a threat from beyond the arc. It’s pretty clear to see that his regular field goal shooting percentage has trended downward as the season’s gone on. That certainly hasn’t helped his stock.
Now, the gut reaction might be to say that much of his slump is due to fewer attempts due to lack of minutes, and that a single miss would impact things more.
That’s a good thought, but inaccurate. The drop-off in production really began before he had his minutes cut back.
So what does this mean? In my mind, not that much. Tra’ showed that he can play at the Division I level, and that’s a big step up from JUCO. He has to make a transition again, because the level of play in the A10 is going to be quite a bit different from what the team saw during the non-conference schedule. The VCU game shows that he’s capable.
But the NJIT game shows us that it isn’t just the Atlantic 10 either.
My money is on his coming around as he continues to practice and work with the staff. He’s got the talent; he just needs to put the pieces together.