As I scan Dante's numbers, two things leap out at me: 1) he's an excellent FT shooter, hitting .800 this year and .729 on his career and 2) he doesn't get to the line that much, having attempted only 25 FTs this year and 148 on his 122-game (and counting) career. His inability to get to the line really hampers his ability to take advantage of his skill once he gets there, which is a big reason why Dante has needed 136 shots to get his 136 points on the year. His points per shot (PPS) of exactly one is the worst of the starting guards, trailing Cheek's 1.15 and Tu's 1.64.
In his four years at X, Dante has attempted 586 field goals. Of those, 418 - or about 71% - have come from beyond the arc. For comparison's sake, 41% of Tu's 625 career FGA have come from three, and just over 33% of Cheek's 382 FGA have come from beyond the arc. (As a side note, Cheek's .349 career 3P% is equal to Dante's career mark and superior to Holloway's .323.) Almost certainly as a result of this, Dante doesn't get to the line nearly as often as the other two guards. On their respective careers, Holloway has taken a FT for every 1.5 times he attempts a shot, and it has taken Cheek 2.25 shot attempts to make his way to the line. Dante has taken one FT for every 4 field goals he has attempted during his time at X. This year, with 77% of his shot attempts coming from beyond the arc, he has taken 5.4 shots from the floor for every one he has taken from the line.
This all leads to a greater point, and one that had eluded me for most of the four years of his career: Dante Jackson is a fairly limited offensive player. Because he's big, athletic, and hard-nosed, Dante looks like he should be pretty versatile on the offensive end. He's not. Those of us who were fans back in the 08-09 season clearly remember that he proved that he wasn't a PG; his 1.36 A/TO belied how uncomfortable he looked initiating the offense. Spending a lot of time handling the ball, whether bringing it up to floor or creating his own shot, doesn't play into Dante's skill set very well.
This is not to say that Dante is bad at basketball. On the contrary, it goes to illustrate the things that he does well. He seems to recognize his role in the offense pretty well; according to Ken Pomeroy's %POSS, Dante has never ended (by any event that ends with the other team with the ball) more than 16% of the team's possessions while he's on the floor and never ranked higher than fifth on the team in that category. In other words, he doesn't force himself into a bigger role in the offense. His career A/TO is a very respectable 1.42, and his mark of 1.65 this year is the best in the backcourt.
|Dante rallies the troops.|
While Dante also picks up a steal per game on the defensive end, it's fair to say that a number of his contributions don't show up in the stat sheet. He is Xavier's most versatile on-ball defender and probably their best; his wingspan and aggressive, physical approach allow him to defend a wide range of opponents. He is also one of the emotional leaders of the team, and he follows in the "no excuses" tone that Coach Mack sets when addressing the media. While Dante is struggling to find his stroke this year, he is definitely an important cog in the Muskie machine.