Edmond Sumner is done for the year, and possibly his Xavier career, with a torn ACL. That’s obviously awful for a young man who seems to bring a great deal of joy to whatever it is he does, but it also leaves the Musketeers in a serious bind. When Myles Davis left shortly after returning it left Xavier without a lot of backcourt depth. With the injury to Sumner, there is now no backcourt depth. Xavier has 10 conference games remaining and exactly one guard with which to negotiate them.
That guard is freshman Quentin Goodin. After taking some time to adjust to the pace of division one basketball, Goodin has looked excellent in his last two games. Against UC he played 15 minutes and dished out six assists. When Sumner went down against SJU, he stepped in and scored eight points in the final six minutes on his way to 16/0/2 on 4-5 from the floor and 7-9 from the line. Goodin now becomes the de facto starting point guard, there’s simply no other choice. He’s looked good in the end of the pool where he can put his feet down if need be, now he’s getting chucked into the ocean.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume that Goodin can run the point well for 20-25 minutes per game. Even that may be a stretch for a freshman in the Big East, it’s essentially what Sumner did last year with Myles, Remy Abell, and LAJ there for backcourt support. Goodin will now attempt it as the only pure guard on the roster. Someone is going to have to help share the load, and here are the options.
This is probably the least likely of all the possible scenarios. Gates has the length to see over defenses in something of the LeBron type role. Kaiser isn’t a bad ballhandler and has a very low turnover rate as well as being a threat from behind the arc. The drawback, of course, is that not being a bad ballhandler doesn’t make you ready for the full court or high ball pressure that Xavier is likely to start seeing every game. Kaiser also has posted assist rates of 2.7% and 4.3% in his two seasons thus far. That doesn’t suggest a keen eye for passing.
There’s rarely anything wrong with having your best scorer touching the ball more. Trevon also doesn’t turn the ball over much (13.7%), has a solid assist rate for a forward (12.7%), and is dependable from the line. Bluiett is a good ballhandler and can frequently find his way past his man when guarded by a three or four, but it remains to be seen if he can put the ball on the deck safely around players like Shamorie Ponds or Kamar Baldwin. Trevon could easily take either of those guys deep in the post and make them work, but that’s not a beneficial place to have the guy who keys your offense. This to say nothing of forcing a guy who seems comfortable getting the ball later in the the possession to start bringing it up the floor.
JP is probably the closest thing Xavier has to another actual guard on the roster. He’s solid if unspectactular when handling the ball even against other guards. What he isn’t right now is making good decisions. JP’s in conference turnover rate is 18.9% this year. That’s a higher number than he’s posted since the non-conference portion of his freshman year. JP does seem to have the tools to do at least spot duty as the primary ballhandler, but you wonder about someone who has such a high turnover rate when off the ball.
46% of you on Twitter think that Bernard is the way to go to solve Xavier’s backup point guard problems. Bernard has indeed played the point before at Florida A&M, where his assist rate 31.8%, a glittering number by any measure. The problem with Bernard is that he’s turnover prone. In his four year career, his lowest turnover rate is that 22.1% at FAMU. This year playing mostly as Xavier’s four his turnover rate is 23.3%. That’s off the ball, mostly hanging on the outside and waiting for someone else to create. FAMU, and Charleston Southern, may be a wonderful program, but it isn’t the Big East. The jump has been so great that Bernard hasn’t been able to take care of the ball when he touches it rarely (13.1% usage rate), that’s not going to get better if suddenly he has it all the time.
Those are Xavier’s options, and none of them are very good. A season that started with the promise of further guard depth joining the team at the midway point has instead degenerated into a freshman on the ball and patchwork behind him.