One of the most fun things about subscribing to Kenpom every year is using it to notice things that you may not have seen watching the games. Here are a few more of my observations thus far.
Xavier goes as Sumner goes
It should come as no surprise that Xavier plays better when Sumner has a good game, but what is a bit surprising is just how drastic the difference is. Kenpom has a stat called offensive rating, which measures the offensive efficiency of a player, and I would consider an offensive efficiency of 115 to be a solid game for a player of Sumner’s caliber. So far this year Sumner has had 4 games with an offensive rating over 115 and Xavier has won those games by an average of 28.5 points. In other words, Sumner’s 4 best games have been Xavier’s 4 best games. Including last year, Sumner has had 9 games with an offensive rating over 115, and Xavier has won by an average of 18.4 points. On the flip side of that, of Xavier’s 7 losses (not including Nova) going back to last year, Sumner had a poor offensive rating of sub 100 in 5 of them and was sub 110 in all of them. What does this all mean? When Sumner plays great, Xavier looks unbeatable. When he plays well, Xavier still normally finds a way to win. But when he plays poorly Xavier puts themselves in a real position to get beat. There’s a real case to be made that Sumner’s consistency will be the biggest factor in Xavier’s success in the Big East this year.
Kaiser needs to do more offensively
Let me start by saying Kaiser already looks great defensively this year and I’m sure his offensive abilities were hindered by his injury. That said, he needs to find a way to impact the game on the offensive end in more ways than chucking 3s. Brad touched on this earlier, but let me put some stats behind it. So far this year 82.8% of Kaisers FG attempts have come from behind the arc, which is the highest on the team by far. Last year that number was at 58.2%. His Free Throw Attempt rate (FTs attempted divided by FGs attempted) and Assist Rate (% of a team’s assists while a player is on the floor) are both the lowest of anyone getting minutes at 13.8% and 4.7% respectively, both down from last year as well. I have no doubt that Kaiser can be a good 3 point shooter, but Xavier has a lot of good 3 point shooters. What we don’t have is another athletic forward, so I’d like to see him continue to develop his skillset in that area so he can affect the game in more ways than just from beyond the arc.
Myles is a big step up from Malcolm Bernard
I think Bernard was a great pickup for Mack. He’s been solid defensively and I’m not sure where we would be without the additional depth this year. That said, there’s no doubt that getting Myles back will be an immediate upgrade on the offensive end. Let’s start with the basics. Last year Myles shot 42.6% from 2 while Bernard is shooting 32.1%. Myles shot 85.6% from the FT line while Bernard is shooting 32.1%. Myles shot 38.1% from 3 and while Bernard is shooting 38.2%, I think most would agree that Myles is a superior shooter.
Where Myles really shines over Malcolm is ball movement. Myles led the team in assists last year averaging 4.1 per game and assisting on 24.6% of made baskets when he was in the game. Bernard is averaging 1.3 assists per game and assisting on 8% of made baskets when he’s in the game. Furthermore, Myles had a turnover rate of 19.2% while Bernard’s is 23.1%.
Putting this all together, Myles will score more, and score more efficiently, than Bernard from 2, 3, and from the free throw line. He’ll turn the ball over less and help his team mates by dishing out more assists. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say this may look like a totally different offense with Myles in the game. I’m not ready to say XU will return to last year’s form as soon as he returns, but it will definitely be a step in the right direction.