In the coming weeks, we'll talk at incredible length about the year we just experienced and what we'll be looking at going forward. For right now, I'm sitting in a silent living room staring at a blank television. The last thing my wife - who is from Kansas - said to me was, "We'll leave you alone for a bit."
I have two brothers who are still too young to drive. One changed his Facebook status to "I could cry for days." The other just switched his profile picture from "Let's March" to the cover of an album he enjoys. I'm just sitting here trying not to think about Edmond's face as the camera caught him in the handshake line.
Despite how Sumner's season finished, he's as good a choice as any in terms of a place to start when we talk about why not to drink ourselves into the darkness tonight. He's a 6'5" point guard who led the team in assist rate. He had times where he was just about unstoppable, and he made Xavier better almost every time he stepped onto the court. He'll be back and better next year.
Speaking of super talented freshmen, you have to believe that the sky is the limit for Kaiser Gates. He can spend the summer deciding if he wants to be a defensive destroyer, a stretch four, or a massive wing mismatch. Maybe he'll be all three. He certainly was at different times this season.
Trevon Bluiett and Myles Davis made over 140 threes between them this season. They will both be back to continue raining from beyond the arc next year. Myles was the beating heart of this team; Trevon was its silent dagger. Their combined leadership by word and example will once again be on the floor for X next season.
Let's talk about JP Macura while we're here. He's sand in the opponents' eyes, but he also happens to be a darn good basketball player in the meantime. For a wiry 6'5", he's an incredibly inventive and effective finisher at the rim. His three-point shooting came around in conference, and his basketball IQ allowed him to be the third-most efficient offensive player in the Big East.
Of course, JP's defensive shortcomings could have hamstrung the team if not for Coach Mack's ability to roll with the guys he's got. In his time at Xavier, we've watched the team grow from all man defense (with hard hedges on ball screens) and a lot of ball screen action on offense to a fluent 1-3-1/man mix on the defensive end and a high-octane spread attack on offense. I'm not sure what kept him from getting votes as the conference's coach of the year, but that same bias didn't happen on the national level. The man who took a team from "others receiving votes" to the top 5 in the nation has already won a couple of national coach of the year awards and is shortlisted for a handful more.
Even Picasso needed paint though, and Coach Mack is dependent on bringing in and developing good players. How about four-star PG Quentin Goodin, he of the quadruple-double and the Gatorade Player of the Year in Kentucky? How about Eddie Ekiyor, a four-star 6'8" traditional big man out of Canada who has spent the second half of this season on campus learning the system? How about ESPN100 PF Tyrique Jones, a monster from the northeast who just can't stop dunking everything he gets his hands on?
How about the fact that none of those guys needs to come in and carry the load right away? Even if Jalen joins James in departing, Xavier has Norfolk State transfer big man RaShid Gaston to step into the front court and challenge Sean O'Mara, Makinde London, Trevon Bluiett, and Kaiser Gates for minutes in the paint. Quentin Goodin will get to understudy behind Myles Davis and Edmond Sumner and alongside JP Macura and Larry Austin, Jr in the back court.
Xavier lost tonight. It was a painful and premature end to a wonderful season. Despite that, the future has never been brighter for the Musketeers.