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Matching last season: ball distribution

Pass and move, Hoosiers style.

Basically all our assists.
Basically all our assists.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

It's interesting to note that assist rate doesn't correlate extremely strongly to winning basketball. Things like getting to the line and hauling down offensive boards seem to have more to do with how a game ends than what percentage of buckets were assisted.

What it does correlate to is attractive basketball; watching five guys work in concert to get a good look is more fun than 28 seconds of high ball screens. Xavier assisted 62.3% of their buckets last year, good for 14th in the nation and plenty of fun to watch besides.

What are we losing?

Well, our two best assist-creating starters and a sneaky-valuable bench piece in Brandon Randolph. Only Dee (33.5%), Matt (19.6%) and Brandon (20.4%) assisted more than 1 in 5 of their teammates buckets while they were on the floor. Dee was obviously the guard who spent the most time with the ball in his hands, and Matt was a big man through whom you could run the offense at the high or low post without worrying that the ball would never come back out.

It's not entirely clear what Randolph was, I wish him the best in Utah.

Can we replace it?

That may be the biggest question facing this team this year. The highest returning assist rate on the team is Myles Davis's 15.2%. That's not horrible for a player with Myles's kind of game, but it's nowhere near what you want to see out of a point guard. Larry Austin, Jr., for all the good he did in changing the tempo of games, assisted less than 10% of his teammates buckets while on the floor. LAJ, Sumner, and Myles all have some point guard skills; someone is going to have to step up and fill the void that Dee left.

What about the big men? It was a huge luxury to be able to throw the ball to Matt and continue running offense rather than just waiting for him to shoot. Jalen and James each have assist rates below 5%, and Sean O'Mara's is below 10%. Post play - and indeed the entire offense - is going to have a different feel to it this year.