Xavier is either on a 7-1 tear and looking really good to start the year or locked in the throes of a one-game losing streak and searching for answers to some very real questions, depending on what kind of person you are. Judging from our Twitter mentions over the past couple of days, I can guess what kind of person most of you are.
Speaking of people, let’s take nine complex, nuanced human beings and boil their very essences down to a single number. This sounds less fun when I frame it like that, but I’ve already set the type in the press and I’m not going back and changing it now.
9. Tyrique Jones
I was really tempted to put RaShid Gaston here; we’ll get to that in a moment though. Jones is certainly a better rim protector and more or less Gaston’s equal as a rebounder, but he fouls a lot more and posts an EFG% of 43.5%. Like all of Xavier’s bigs right now, Tyrique has some holes in his game.
8. RaShid Gaston
RaShid is an elite offensive rebounder, but he’s shooting 27% on putbacks. He draws more fouls per 40 minutes than anyone on the team, but he’s 14-24 from the line. He’s leading qualifying players on the team in block%, but he’s also committing almost 7 fouls per 40 minutes in the proce6. ss. RaShid’s strengths are lining up pretty frustratingly with his weaknesses right now, leaving not much of a positive influence on the floor.
7. Quentin Goodin
I apparently trust Quentin a lot more than Coach Mack does right now. He got eight minutes against Baylor despite Ed looking at more than one point like a breather wouldn’t have killed him. Hopefully Q finds his legs before Wednesday.
6. Sean O’Mara
Not every team is going to have a rim protector like Jo Lual-Acuil, but Baylor did and O’Mara looked overmatched. Sean has to score to be effective, and he will probably score plenty for most of the games for the rest of the year. Xavier’s lack of a complete big man is looking like an issue right now.
5. Malcolm Bernard
I can’t recall the last time I saw someone post an ORtg of 0 in 25 minutes of play, but Malcolm did just that on Saturday. He’s now sporting an ORtg of 88.5 on the year, which isn’t good. He boards well and defends and allows Xavier to start Tre at the 4, but I’m not sure how long a team can carry his slow offensive start.
4. Kaiser Gates
Kaiser plainly and understandably doesn’t have his legs all the way back under him, but Xavier needs that to change as soon as possible. His athleticism and shooting add an element that would have been keen against a team jamming Xavier up with a long zone.
3. Edmond Sumner
The amount of free throws you remember him missing probably seems high, but that’s made more defensible in light of the fact that he is getting to line six times a game so far this year. You’d like to see a few more assists and a few fewer turnovers, but a team that 162nd in the nation in EFG% isn’t going to provide as many assists as you’d hope. Ed hasn’t been the whole solution, but he certainly isn’t the problem.
Also, we’re 7-1.
2. JP Macura
Everything that you thought about JP on Friday is still true after his 2-16 against Baylor on Saturday. Some of what he did looked like frustrated desperation, but it wasn’t that much different than what he does in tie game or in games Xavier’s up 20. A different dude might have stopped shooting, but he’s not a different dude. JP gonna JP.
1. Trevon Bluiett
He leads the team in usage rate, shots%, and ORtg. In other words, Xavier’s most efficient offensive player is also the one doing the largest share of the lifting. He’s shooting 17-36/11-24/9-10 since Xavier came back from Orlando, and he has averaged a game line of 18.0/6.7/3.0 in that time. He’s the best... around!