Technical difficulties kept Brad's answers this week from being all they could be, but I'll leave space below to allow him to respond once he gets things sorted. In the meantime, I'll shout into the void and hope to hear your responses in the comments section.
James Farr and the weather
Joel: Snow! I know we have diametrically opposed views on it, but I'm enjoying watching it fall right now. People don't come here for the weather report, though, so let's talk X. James Farr seems like a good place to start. We always knew he could shoot, but it has been his ability and willingness to go and get it that has surprised me and gotten him onto the floor. He has gone after every ball on the glass and altered shots and passes on defense. I think his output will fluctuate depending on how each game is officiated, but as long as he keeps attacking, he's going to be influential.
Brad: I do find snow an annoyance. I think that comes with the difference between getting three inches and getting 18. Anyway, James Farr. I was utterly shocked when I saw his rebounding numbers for that article I wrote. Small sample size applies, but he's still been dominant when he's played.
Joel: I didn't even get any accumulation, but it was nice to watch it falling through the air. A harbinger of beautiful (or annoying, depending on your viewpoint) things to come. Anyway, I was not expecting Farr to become a dominant rebounder maybe ever, to say nothing of so soon. He has looked so much less rigid in everything he's done this season. I'm having to recalibrate my expectations for him for the rest of they year and on into the next two years.
Brad: I like watching it fall, I hate it after that. Except on Christmas Eve, of course. Do you think he really is a dominant rebounder, or that he'll come back to earth at some point? Of course, back to earth could still leave him as a sterling rebounder.
Joel: Apparently America is completely obsessed with the NFL, but we're from Cleveland, which makes avoiding that fairly easy. Instead, Thanksgiving weekend is all about the basketball for me, and X has three games in three days. KenPom gives the Muskies about a 6% chance of winning the whole thing, which frankly seems about right to me. It's also interesting to see that Pomeroy gives Xavier a better than 50% shot of winning their second game if they win their first. This also squares with my observations; I don't know what to make of Villanova just yet, but I think Iowa may well be the second-best team in the pool.
Brad: Buttfumble happened on Thanksgiving, right? Iowa is a good team. I think they are going places in the Big Ten this year, and I think that is going to surprise some people. If we beat them, it changes some things. On the other hand, I thought eating this ice cream at 1245 was a good idea, so maybe what I expect shouldn't carry much weight.
Joel: Obviously, I don't know what you're going to write then when you get things up and running, but I didn't want to write an entire things about the B4A without giving you a chance to respond. Iowa scares me a bit. They force turnovers really well and have the best EFG% defense in the nation. They're also tall, even more so than X. On the other hand, this will be their first road game, and they've played a slate of opponents that all figure to miss every form of postseason. Xavier has more respectable foes in the rearview, and both teams will be away from home for the first time. Should be a really good game. If X wins that one, I see them in the final, which would probably mean Kansas.
Brad: Respectable foes like Abilene Christian? How is that not an NAIA team? I swear we played them in some sort of thing at some point. [ed. note: We didn't. ACU has been NCAA since the 70s] Anyway, we've played Tennessee. Other than that, we're just pounding crappy teams, too. Miami, Morehead, and Gardner Webb aren't going anywhere. Still, that Tennessee win is going to stand up all year. Who knows, maybe we'll add another.
Joel: Two things have really plagued Xavier this year; the first of them is free-throw shooting. Gun to my head, I don't think we're going to be this awful all year. Semaj gets to the line more than anyone on the team, and I believe he'll end the season somewhere around 70-75% from the line. After him, I think all of our guys can be fairly accurate from the stripe, except for Stenger. We're going to get it figured out. If we don't, it's going to cost us games down the road. Speaking of the road, we haven't shot a single FT away from home yet. That kind of worries me.
Brad: What an odd question that would be for someone with a gun to your head to ask. I do agree with your conclusion, only I'm not quite as high on Semaj. I look for him between 65-70% and to cost us a game with his efforts from the stripe. He can assure us that he's got it under control, Coach Mack can talk about him making 95% in practice, but 6-7 in one game isn't convincing me and shouldn't be convincing anyone. I get angry just thinking about it. Make free throws. It's simple.
Joel: Also, we turn the ball over a lot. Sadly, I don't think this is going away. I think Dee's TO% will come down, but, as pressure builds and opponents get better, I can see Myles Davis and especially Brandon Randolph have a little more trouble holding onto the ball. Young guards tend to have young guard issues, and I anticipate this team seeing some of that, especially during the conference season.
Brad: I can't add a lot here. It's probably worth noting that Stenger, Farr, and Reynolds all turn the thing over a bit as well. This team is going to play like they are inexperienced, mostly because most of them are.
Conference play so far
Joel: This has nothing to do with anything right now, but it's worth noting how awesome it is to be in a top conference. The Big East currently has 10 teams in the top 85 of the Pomeroy ratings and nobody else. The Big Ten and ACC are the only other conferences with that kind of quality at the top, but they each have some bottom-feeders just hanging out, waiting to draw your RPI down even when you beat them by 12 on the road. There are currently no nights off in the Big East schedule, and I can't wait for it. For what it's worth, the A-10 is currently 8th in the Pomeroy conference rankings and has 7 teams that are worse than any of the teams in the Big East. If X can win ten games in the conference this year, they're going to the NCAA tournament. You can write that in stone.
Brad: I will. Seton Hall isn't as bad as the 85th in the KenPom that they are currently sporting, and they are the worst team in the conference right now. Not a single triple digit team and four, including us at 35th, in the top 40. I clicked on the American (6th) to see what's going on there and noticed that they feature UCF, Houston, and Rutgers. There's some power schools for you.