There’s only one question before this game, isn’t there? Myles Davis returned to the team yesterday and will, in all probability, return to the court tomorrow against Villanova. The ever reliable Twitter is abuzz with reports that Myles is very fit and has clearly been working out in his time away from the team. That may be true, but anyone who has gone from running or working out to stepping back onto the court knows how different the two endeavors are. Whatever Myles may be right now, he isn’t Big East game fit. That leaves Coach Mack with a variety of issues to sort come tomorrow evening.
How much should Myles play?
Last year Myles averaged 29 minutes per game. That was coming into the season fit and ready to go from the off. Come conference play when rotations settled, that number bumped up slightly from the non-con. That obviously is not going to happen against Villanova. However, no Xavier player this year or last shoots as well from deep in conference play as Myles, or has shot as well against the KenPom top 100 as Myles. Simply put, Myles’ shooting tends to rise to the occasion. Coach Mack has to find a balance between playing a guy who hasn’t seen the floor at all this year and wanting to get someone who is likely his best shooter on the floor. 10-15 minutes seems like a decent amount to start, but it will be telling to see if Myles is on the floor late.
Where should Myles play?
Who was Xavier’s point guard last year? According to Ken Pomeroy’s lineup metric, for the majority of the end of the season, it was Myles Davis. Obviously, this year that has changed. Edmond Sumner is now running the point and, recently, running it very well. As his assist rate approaches 30% (28.1% overall, 37.3% in conference play), Coach Mack is not going to want to move him off the ball. In Xavier’s 10 most common lineups, Ed is on the point for nine of them.
That seems like moving Myles to the two is the easy answer, but that means moving JP, to the three, Trevon to the power forward, and Malcolm out. Bernard isn’t setting the world on fire offensively, but his efficiency is above 100, he’s shooting 41% from deep, and he adds a great deal on the defensive end. Myles would boost the offense, but in that case the defense takes a big hit. For now, I’d expect to see Davis in a backup role to the guards. At some point though, he’s going to want to start and Coach Mack is going to have to figure that out.
How will the team adjust to Myles?
Last year Myles was the unquestioned leader of the team. He yelled, he pulled on people, he led celebrations, he remonstrated with officials, he was everywhere. This year some of that has fallen to JP Macura, and some has distributed within the team. I have no idea how much contact Myles has had with the team and it would be disingenuous to pretend I did. I’d assume that he’s been talking with the guys and staying in touch, but he’s not been at practice, he wasn’t at conditioning, he’s not been in the locker room, and he’s not been on the floor for a game. That changes the dynamic. It’s possible that when Myles comes back there could be some resentment if he instantly resumes what he did last year. It’s equally likely that he’ll be welcomed back with open arms. What is certain is that every interaction Myles has is going to be watched intently.