As you may recall from last year, Joel and I spend a large portion of our time at work (only breaks and lunches, obviously) messaging one another about our favorite sporting teams. As the nights start coming cooler and earlier, that talk increasingly swings toward Xavier basketball. Each week we'll compile what we have and post it here as the Sunday Conversation. This is just a, mostly, unfiltered glimpse into what we think as fans. We'd love to hear from you as well.
Brad: I'm higher on Myles Davis than you are on Brandon Randolph.
Joel: Davis is 21 and has a skill that plays no matter what. Randolph's biggest attribute right now is quickness and strength off the bounce. It's hard to say how that is going to play at the next level. Guys like that seem to have a wider range of potential outcomes as they adjust to being freshmen.
Brad: Which is a massive jump, even if you aren't an athlete. Am I wrong to think we just jumped back to having an elite backcourt? Christon is already an elite scorer, Davis, first edition, can guard, new Davis can shoot, and Randolph is explosive.
Joel: Any backcourt with Semaj is going to border on elite if you put even serviceable players around him. My boy Dee is, if we're honest, almost the living definition of serviceable. I think having to play so many minutes last year really ground him down after a while; I wouldn't be surprised to see him post better numbers simply on the strength of having someone other than Banners favorite Tim Whelan able to step in. I do think we have a backcourt to fear. Myles Davis, in addition to his shooting prowess, is a thick kid, and Brandon Randolph has a reputation for being tough to redirect. Guys like Tu and Cheeks and even on back to Drew Lavender and Gary Lumpkin had an element of necessary guile in their games at both ends of the court. These two guys have the potential to be physical bullies the like of which we don't always see at the guard position for X. In a sense, we've swapped Lionel Messi for Didier Drogba. Or, if prefer, Greg Maddux for Justin Verlander.
Brad: I don't mind the idea of us being bullies, but I really hope it transfers to the defensive end more than the offensive. I feel like that Coach Mack will see to that, but I'm nervous that this much change won't lead to a tremendous amount of cohesion.
I'm also concerned that having both Christon and Randolph could end up with not enough shots to go around. Semaj has a tendency to bury his head at times, and Randolph's scouting report shows that same thing. If they get into that, the lane collapses, they don't look out, and we lose. If we penetrate and pitch because those two are getting into the lane just enough, we could be deadly. Did you see who made the most threes in practice this week? Martin, Dee, and Philmore were all tight at the top. Throw the other Davis in there, and defenses are suddenly thinner than Dusty Baker's resume.
Joel: One of my favorite things about writing with you is that you find ways to continually antagonize the our fan base with the fortunes of other local teams. Dee, as you mentioned already, can really defend, but he is more of a pest. If you attack him off the bounce, he needs a ref who will properly call block/charge to help him out. Same thing at the other end; VCU slapped him out of the game late because the refs swallowed their whistles and he just isn't that big. He has the proper plumbing for a street fight, but he's realistically 5'10" and skinny. I'd love to see use doling out the beatings when games get physical this year rather than using guile and graft to try to avoid them.
I have two main questions about Randolph. The first is what he does when he can't get plan A to work. He wants to drive onto his right hand. When that is cut off, can he hit a pull up? Drive left? Move the ball? The other is if he can get into the lane looking to finish and adjust to kick out if the defense collapses. Nobody can always finish no matter what. The question will be if he can recognize that and then make a good decision based on rapidly-changing information. If he can adjust to this level quickly, he is a weapon right now.
Brad: Baker is gone, surely most Reds fans realize he was hurting them. Anyway, I think you're right on our guard size, but it will be interesting to see how it plays.
I have the same kind of questions about Myles Davis. If he cannot get a look, can he create his own shot? Redford, God and Dad love him, could not. He either took a three or he rotated the ball, there was nothing to keep teams honest on him. If Davis has the ability to put the ball on the floor, so much the better.
There was a lot of talk at one point of MD becoming a point, but I've not heard a lot on that recently. He is, in my mind, a spot up two, with Christon running the point.
Joel: Reds fans loved Dusty Baker; I was offered not inconsiderable sums for my Dusty Baker bobblehead doll/toothpick holder, but it was already earmarked as a gift for my father-in-law.
I like the idea of Myles Davis being able to run the point in the pinch because, realistically, he'd be our fourth option behind Semaj, Dee, and Randolph. If he is actually on the point, it's because something has gone horribly wrong or we're so far ahead that Dee has already changed shoes. In the meantime, having him playing the two but having the ability and acumen to run the one makes our personnel that much more versatile, which I like.
So where do we stand as a backcourt? Worst-case scenario, we're back where we were last year but with a less-accomplished shooter and a better fourth guard (sorry, Tim Whelan), right?
Brad: Fans may have loved Dusty Baker, but he's ideas on baseball are 60 years old. The guy has been left behind by sabermetrics and rational thought. I like the idea of M. Davis at the point if his body is ready for the beating. He's thick, but that doesn't always mean strong. I'm still hearing (perhaps incorrectly) that there are questions about how tough he may be.
I do think that is worst case scenario. Best case is that we are suddenly four deep in guards who have a well-rounded D1 game. If Dee hold his own, I think this backcourt is both elite and very, very deep.
Joel: It has been three years since M Davis was a senior in high school. If he isn't physically prepared at this point, I question a lot more than his body.