After redshirt freshman George Marshall started the first six games of the season, he was replaced in the lineup by sophomore Traevon Jackson. Jackson has now rolled off six straight starts of his own, with a seventh anticipated against Samford on Saturday.
While Bo Ryan seemingly appreciates Trae's more traditional point guard abilities, such as vocal leadership and a bit more dribble penetration, Jackson has not blown away anyone with his audition tape either. As a result, Wisconsin's record sits at a rather unimpressive 8-4.
Thus far, both halves of the schedule have been weighted fairly evenly, with the toughest contests under Marshall's watch, but more consistent competition in the latter six games. Both players guided Wisconsin to a 4-2 record at the helm, though the two most recent losses under Jackson were more unexpected.
Let's see which point guard has fared better as a starter and which has done a better job coming off the bench, shall we?
*All statistics listed are per-game averages, except for free throws (FT)*
Traevon Jackson, 6'2", 213 lb. - Sophomore - #12
George Marshall, 5'11", 185 lb. - Freshman - #3
The switch was as simple as defense-for-offense. Despite being a much worse shooter than Marshall and being shut out twice as a starter, Jackson has the point guard duties firmly in his grasp at this point.
Jackson has not only earned Marshall's old starters minutes, but Marshall has lost some of the minutes previously allotted to the backup point guard (to Zak Showalter primarily). This we knew just by watching.
So ... why?
Basically, we've just quantified much of what we already know: Jackson is a better defensive player than Marshall, which manifests itself in more rebounds, steals, and even blocked shots. That may never change, due to the differences in body type. Jackson is also better at assisting teammates on baskets -- especially as a starter -- while keeping his slightly higher turnover rate in check to some degree. This seems to support my notion that Jackson is better at breaking down the defense and stirring up offense.
The free throws are an interesting statistic though. Jackson went 9-of-11 in the Arkansas game, where you could tell the baton had been taken from Marshall. So neither player is actually very skilled at drawing contact at this juncture. It's my opinion that improvement in this area is Marshall's chance at regaining playing time as well.
On the flip side, while the fouls committed are eerily similar (to my surprise), I'd still argue that many of Jackson's fouls are "dumber" than any other player's on the team. But ultimately, only Ryan's perception of their level of stupidity matters.
Unless the offense suddenly starts flowing more through Sam Dekker and there's an increased need for a complimentary 3-point sniper on the floor, you can settle in for a winter of Traevon Jackson running the show for Wisconsin.
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