Matt Stainbrook and a Year Off

A picture of Coach Mack, because apparently the AP doesn't send a lot of photographers to Western Michigan's basketball games.

Matt Stainbrook, you may have noticed, is not Alex Oriakhi. There are some easy ways to tell the difference: Stainbrook doesn't have any visible tattoos, Oriakhi wears his hair shorter (though there are reports circulating that Stainbrook recently got a trim), Stainbrook chooses Rec Specs over less obtrusive ways to correct his vision. The most pertinent differences are twofold: Stainbrook is not eligible to compete this year, and Oriakhi is not in possession of a scholarship from Xavier.

When Griffin McKenzie announced that he was taking his game to a level more suited to his talents, Xavier fans were ready for Coach Mack to use that scholarship on Oriakhi. He was on the market, immediately eligible, and filled a need for Xavier. Instead, he went to Missouri and the Muskies ended up with Matt Stainbrook, a relative unknown who had been playing his ball at Western Michigan.

Stainbrook's talents have been detailed elsewhere, but two things jumped out at the internet crowd right away. The first is that Stainbrook looks goofy. Believe it or not, not only does he already know this, but he actively embraces it. Speaking on the subject of his Rec Specs, he said that he prefers the look precisely because it is so un-sporty. The more he can get opponents to underestimate him, the more advantage he'll have when he unleashes his whirlwind of post moves on them.

The other is that he's carrying a bit of extra timber. The Bay Village, OH native was listed at 290 last year, which opens speculation that his real weight may be the other side of three bills. Compared to Oriakhi, who looks like he was carved out of granite, this is somewhat disconcerting to some fans. I think Stainbrook knows this, too, though. If you follow him on Twitter (and if you're on Twitter, you should), you'll notice that he is apparently already working to change his body. Yesterday, he tweeted "I hate these long runs, but I hate losing even more." A couple of weeks back, he informed us all that he had just knocked out a two-mile run. His feed in between was littered with references to hitting the gym and getting shots up.

After his sophomore year, Kenny Frease went through what he dubbed "the summer of transformation" to change his body from one that literally couldn't keep up in the Kansas State game to one that allowed him to log 25-30 minutes a night. Stainbrook was already getting those kind of minutes last year, though it's worth noting that WMU played at a slightly slower tempo than X. The point is that Stainbrook is already a talented big man with a refined set of post moves. If he sticks to his training, it's not out of the realm of possibility that he is in the 250-260 range by the time he suits up for Xavier after his redshirt year.

Right now, Stainbrook's fighting the good fight. Get on Twitter and let him know you're pulling for him. In a couple years' time, it may well be his broad shoulders that are carrying Xavier to the Sweet 16 and beyond.

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