Merry Christmas, everyone. Sometimes we forget that the Xavier Musketeers - in addition to being undefeated and #6 in the nation - are basically a bunch of kids and Jalen Reynolds. There's nothing kids (or anyone, really) loves more than sitting around a Christmas tree and finding something under there especially for them. Everyone wants to know that someone cares; here's what we got the Xavier players this year.
Edmond Sumner: foam ring cushion with jacquard cover
That's right, it's a donut. I was going to get Ed some padded shorts since he goes down like a green screen tester for ragdoll physics about twice a game, but I figured the school provides those. If they don't, they're cool enough that he can go out and buy some with no shame. Not trying to tell stories here, but my dad caught a case of the fractured tailbone a couple of years back, and his donut did wonders for him. Hopefully Sumner finds similar relief.
Remy Abell: Halls Defense Vitamin C Supplement
This works on two levels. First, Remy's calling card has been defense since he arrived at Xavier and he has been a big part of Xavier being one of the toughest defensive teams in the nation this season. A little defensive supplement to keep him in tip-top shape couldn't hurt with Big East play imminent. Secondly, Halls describes their products as "a pep talk in every drop" (or at least they used to) and Remy seems to be at his best when the stakes are highest. In Xavier's 5 toughest games this year, he has shot at a .562/.429/.857 clip, which is well above his averages for the year. I can't help but think a pep talk in every drop might have helped Remy shine against some of Xavier's weaker opponents.
Jalen Reynolds: Making Your Emotions Work for You: Coping with Stress, Avoiding Burnout, Overcoming Fear . . . and More
There is no denying that Reynolds is one of the nation's premier post players when he is on the floor. However, his penchant for fouling early and often has limited his impact this season. Every game when Reynolds has played 20 minutes, he has scored double digits. One aspect of Reynolds character that X fans have become very well acquainted with is that he can occasionally be over excitable. Maybe reading up on how to make his emotions work for him will help Jalen stay on the floor a bit longer the rest of the season.
Larry Austin Jr.: Life Time Calm & Calmer
LAJ seems to really be a fan favorite around Cintas Center, but his play this year has been pretty sporadic. Last time he played 10 or more minutes and didn't turn the ball over more than once was the trouncing of Dayton in Orlando. He started the season well enough, but has fallen out of the rotation a bit as Edmond Sumner has come into his own and Austin has started turning the ball over. One thing that is noticeable in Austin's recent appearances is that he seems to be pressing a bit when his chance comes, which likely is contributing to his streaky play. What he really needs to do is just calm down and let the game come to him out there. An herbal supplement, which sounds like something Dr. Funke's 100% Natural Good-Time Family Band Solution would immortalize in song, may just be LAJ's ticket back into heavier rotation and turnover-free basketball.
Xavier's sophomore post man has been somewhere between solid and a revelation this season, slowly growing from an unplayed afterthought versus Michigan, to being one of the most important players in Xavier's interior decimation of Auburn. Two things seem to hold O'Mara back right now: the fact that James Farr and Jalen Reynolds are preferred to him in the rotation even when they struggle with fouls, and O'Mara's own penchant for hacking. Both issues could be helped by reading up on how to successfully navigate high pressure conversations. Need more burn? No problem! Just hit Coach Mack up with some of your new found negotiation skills. Whistled for a petty foul? Get the ref to see things your way with your abilities to explain your motivations and feelings about his actions. This literally cannot fail.
Makinde London: Piano Finger Strength Training Device
There's about a zero percent chance that "Makinde London can play piano!" doesn't become the new "Matt Stainbrook drives for Uber!" when TV networks need to fill space in a Xavier broadcast. I'm sure Makinde has better things to do on the road than keep his pianoing strength up; now he can sit on the bus or plane or whatever and stay in shape for extemporaneous concerts.
Kaiser Gates: A Year of Daily Calm
Kaiser is making a great impact when he's on the floor in terms of creating more possessions for the Musketeers. Unfortunately, he sometimes bounds around like an excited puppy, crashing into people 40 feet from the basket. What better than a daily journal with readings designed toward promoting tranquility to help him slow down just a bit? If he and Larry room together on the road, they'll be the two calmest dudes on the team. Or people will think they are stoned. This one may require some sorting out.
Big Game James Farr: Silencing the Haters Shirt
This is the LeBron James version of course, because Banners is a Northeast Ohio based enterprise. Before James Farr was Big Game James, he was a freshman who played 42 minutes and seemed to not be entirely sure what was going on around him on the court. A large portion of the fanbase, including,
possibly definitely not, yours truly, pointed that out. James has, to his credit, worked as hard as any Xavier player to become the defensive and rebounding master that he is. James seems a genuinely good guy and hasn't ever gloated about his rise. Maybe the shirt could do the talking for him.
RaShid Gaston: Dressing the Man
Much like Xavier's last big man transfer, Gaston is cooling his heels on the bench for a long while. Unlike Matt Stainbrook, he doesn't make sartorial decisions that your grandpa was always sure were going to come back in style. Dressing the Man will help RaShid win over the Xavier student section and make sure that he gets a couple of camera hits per game as he finds his own special style. Does anyone know if he drives an Uber?
Eddie Ekiyor: Grippo's variety pack
Eddie is joining the team at the semester break from his institution of secondary education in Canada. He's going to need a proper introduction to Cincinnati and - once he's done throwing up Skyline and/or Gold Star - this will serve as a nice sampler of some of the finer tastes of the city that might still fit into a collegiate budget.
JP Macura: Mario Balotelli "Why Always Me?" shirt
For those unfamiliar, Mario Balotelli was a striker at Manchester City with a penchant for winding up opponents and getting the notice of the officials. At the apogee of his notoriety, he scored and then pulled up his jersey to reveal this shirt, ostensibly questioning why he was the subject of so much attention. I suspect he knew why, and I suspect JP does, too. As long as JP is committed to winning friends and influencing people, he may as well be kitted out for it.
Trevon Bluiett: Salsa lessons at Arthur Murray Cincinnati
Trevon has really good footwork into his jumpshot, but why stop there? We'll pony up for some lessons to get Trevon started in his secondary career as a salsa dancer. Ladies love a fella who can cut a little rug, and increasingly quick feet can only help Tre get where he needs to go on the hardwood.
Myles Davis: Wahl Hair and Beard Trimmer
Myles, I love you, we all love you. You've become the heartbeat of the team, you came back from a shot to the head that would have felled lesser men to drive the nails against Wake. Your celebration against Georgetown when you hit the three pointer that capped the comeback is one of my favorite ever, and I love the sign language three you throw up after big shots. I say all this, Myles, because I want you to know I come a from a good place when I tell you this: that beard has to go. Trim it down, cut it off, make it into a whole hair and beard the same length thing, I really don't care, but it just has to go.... Or keep it. What do I know, I'm getting old.
Merry Christmas all, from everyone here at Banners.