Who was Xavier’s third best rebounder last year? If you are at all capable of following context clues and aren’t still hungover from celebrating the Cleveland Indians clinching a trip to the World Series last night, you probably figured out that it was Sean O’Mara. That means that the big man is the leading returning rebounder, by percentage, on the team. A look at the gross numbers shows Sean with only 1.9 boards per game, but there were reasons for that.
One of them was Jalems Farrnolds. Playing time isn’t easy to come by, regardless of how good you are on the glass, when two of the best rebounders in the nation play ahead of you. O’Mara hit the offensive glass at a 9.3% rate, and the defensive glass at 19.2% rate. Those numbers are very good, but they come up short of Farr and Reynolds. That meant only mop up duty for O’Mara.
The second is fouling. Sean loves to foul, it’s been his two season raison d’etre. Even the much penalized Jalen Reynolds wasn’t called for fouls as frequently as O’Mara was. Maybe the great rebounding rates are a product of throwing his body around with abandon, but it has kept the Illinoisan off the court. In order to play more this season, O’Mara has to get his proclivities under control.
Best case scenario:
In a best case scenario, O’Mara does just that and it gives his somewhat underrated offensive game a chance to shine. Sean’s offensive rating for the year was 107.6, but that jumped to 112 against top tier competition. Sean can score against almost anyone if he can keep himself on the court. Could he match the 9.6/6.5/0.7 that Jalen put up last year? It would likely look a lot different, but it’s possible.
Worst case scenario:
The last two seasons all over again. If Sean keeps getting called for 6.6 fouls per 40 minutes played, he’s not going to do a whole lot to help this team. He’ll show up in fits and spurts, occasionally score 10, and spend a lot of games logging about three minutes.
Most likely scenario:
It all hinges on the fouling. Last year, Sean fouled at an even higher rate than he had as a freshman. Until there’s some evidence that he can play 20 minutes without putting himself at risk of fouling out, there’s not a lot of reason to believe that he’ll become a consistent force in the post. If he can’t, Xavier becomes painfully thin down low.