Another week, another road loss/home win cycle. At some point in time, you'd think that will break; I'm just hoping it's a road win instead of a home loss. At any rate, Xavier is still on course for a perfect .500 record in the Big East, and here are the guys who are making it all possible.
14. Playing the best practicers
I practiced my hind end off for four years to hold down a walk-on spot when I was in college. Every year, more talented guys who worked less diligently got to play more because they were better. I was okay with that because all I wanted to do was win ball games. I hope Coach Mack comes to the same conclusion.
13. and 12. Edmond Sumner and Makinde London
London is technically 12 here because he is more prominent in most bench reaction shots. You're on notice, Ed: step up your bench guy game. Put your weight on the balls of your feet and make sure you've got a good grip on the towel; when a big play happens, you'll be ready to bounce into the air, and the towel helps you be more visually arresting. Take it from a career bench guy.
11. Sean O'Mara
Sean did not play last week, which makes it hard for me to do much with him. He's not helped by the fact that we had at least two big men playing well in both games last week.
10. Brandon Randolph
Randolph was a DNP: CD for the Villanova game and then managed to log just four minutes and zero stats in a Marquette game that saw Dee Davis turn the ball over five times. (Side note: did you realize Marquette currently leads the Big East in defensive efficiency?) That doesn't speak very well of his status in the eyes of the coaching staff right now.
9. Larry Austin, Jr.
I want to remind everyone once again that I bear no ill will toward any of the players and honestly want to see them all play really well and be happy doing it. I just throw that out there because I'm about to ask this question: is it possible to start, play 20 minutes, and have no impact on a game? Austin did basically that against Villanova, with a 0/0/3 line and 2 turnovers. An ankle injury kept him out of the game on the weekend.
8. JP Macura
Macura started twice last week to mixed results. He was a little too loose with the ball for Coach Mack's liking in the first half against Marquette - though how Mack picked him out of the crowd of players fitting that description is anyone's guess. In the Nova game he had 14/4/1 on 5-10/4-8/0-0 shooting and looked as up for it as anyone for Xavier. He's a very promising freshman.
7. James Farr
James only played a total of 30 minutes on the week but he managed to grab 13 rebounds in that time. He seems to be forging a new identity around doing the dirty work on the glass and taking the jumpers the defense dares him to. I'll be honest, I'm fine with that from him going forward.
6. Dee Davis
First of all, the good news: Dee had 15 assists against 6 turnovers on the week, and even the profligate showing against Marquette can't dampen that ratio. The bad news is that he had 14 missed field goals in those two games. I don't know that I want Dee shooting 14 times total in two games, to say nothing of shooting enough to miss 14 times. I have never been shy on here about my love for Dee, but he's at his best this year when he's letting any of the six rotation players with a better EFG% than his take the shots.
5. Myles Davis
Still hits big three-pointers, still can't defend a lick off the ball and not much better on the ball. From the bottom of my heart though Myles: thank you for that second half on Saturday.
4. Trevon Bluiett
Bluiett is averaging nine points per game since Christmas. He isn't an asset on the defensive end, but his assist numbers have been solid all season and he works very, very hard on the glass at both ends. He's also gotten sneaky good at not getting called for fouls when positioning for offensive rebounds. A very promising freshman.
3. Jalen Reynolds
Two fouls in 39 minutes during the week. Knowing that, it's probably not a surprise that he went for 18/13/0 on 9-12 shooting. The only thing between Jalen and being a star is his propensity for foul trouble. Games where he avoids that are potential outbursts for him.
2. Matt Stainbrook
You could argue that Stainbrook gets a little overlooked on offense, especially when you consider how dominant he was in the middle against Villanova. If shooters on this team want shots, their best bet is still to throw the ball in to Matt and let him do work. Xavier's commitment to feeding him in the middle of the Marquette zone in the second half Saturday led to the wide open shots on the perimeter that fueled the comeback.
1. Remy Abell
THE BEST PLAYER ON THE TEAM.