Duke’s Coach K on Jack White: ‘Trust your work’
Each miss, one stacked on top of another all the way up to 28, affected Jack White like little has in his athletic career.
“It was obviously pretty frustrating,” White said. “I haven’t gone through a stretch like that before in my life.”
One of Duke’s team captains, the junior forward went from the second half of a game at Florida State on Jan. 12 until the first half of Saturday’s 87-57 wipeout win over Miami without making a 3-pointer.
It wasn’t for a lack of trying. He attempted 28 of them over 13 games, missing them all.
He’d been a solid 3-point shooter for the Blue Devils, having made 4 of 6 in Duke’s 87-68 win over Clemson in the team’s ACC opener on Jan. 5. He’d had six other games with two made 3-pointers before that.
Still the streak stretched on until Saturday when, with 12:36 left in the first half against Miami at Cameron Indoor Stadium, White took a Tre Jones pass in the left corner, rose and sank a 3-pointer.
The drought was over.
“Toward the latter end of it, it was more surprising than anything when I’d miss,” White said. “I felt good. I was just kind of like, `Why?’ But my teammates have been really supportive and my coaches helped.”
The Cameron crowd erupted with a cheer so loud one would have thought the opponent was fierce rival North Carolina. Nearly everyone stood and cheered for White in celebration. The Cameron Crazies in the student section chanted “Jack is back!”
“I was just more relieved than any other emotion,” White said. “I didn’t really know how to react. I kind of just felt like as soon as it went I was back to myself. I shouldn’t have to smile after hitting a 3. This is what I do. But, in hindsight looking back, it was pretty nuts with everyone reacting that way. It was just a great feeling.”
The last 3-pointer White made carried far more importance in terms of Duke winning and losing.
With 6:43 to play that day at Tallahassee, Florida, Duke and Florida State were tied at 66 when White took a pass from Cam Reddish and sank a 3-pointer.
With one second left in that game, Reddish sank a 3-pointer that delivered an 80-78 Blue Devils win.
By then, White had missed two 3-pointers in a row, his final two shots of that game.
He missed 10 more 3-pointers two nights later when the Blue Devils lost 95-91 in overtime to Syracuse at Cameron.
And on and on and on the streak went.
There were five more missed 3-pointers when UNC beat the Blue Devils 88-72 on Feb. 20 at Cameron.
When Duke played its next game, on Feb. 23 at Syracuse, White didn’t play despite being healthy and available.
Last Tuesday, White played 16 minutes, missing two more 3-pointers to run his streak of misses to an agonizing 28, as Duke lost 77-72 at Virginia Tech.
“I’m a bit of a perfectionist so it’s hard not to put pressure on myself,” White said. “But I understood if I would do that it would make things hard for me. But my teammates and my coaches and all the support staff for the team really had my back and made sure I was in good spirits.”
White kept working with Duke’s coaches, assistant Nate James in particular, on his shot. They all knew better results were in there somewhere.
“What we tell our guys all the time, trust your work,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “So if you’re working, doing the things you’re supposed to do, when you get to a game, trust what you’ve been working at.”
That trust and work finally paid off as White made all three of his 3-point attempts against Miami.
The old streak is finally dead.
“I’m just kind of happy its over,” White said.
The new streak lives on.