Hello and welcome to another edition of: I Guess We’ll Take Anything As A Win! Brought to you today by concussions, injuries, and terrible shooting! Let’s kick it over to Brad for the breakdown.
Xavier isn’t as deep as we thought:
JP used his head to make sure the floor at the Cintas was properly secured, Kaiser Gates was similarly handicapped, and Naji Marshall tweaked his back but, thankfully, returned. That left Elias Harden and Paul Scruggs to play a lot more minutes than they usually do. Neither was impressive. Scruggs came with at least a four star ranking and the rep of someone who could handle the reins on occasion and get his almost at will. He has almost categorically failed to live up the that billing, having not looked good in a game since November 13th against Rider. Harden arrived as the point guard in waiting with a pretty stroke. He’s averaging 8.1 minutes, has a TO rate of 36%, and is 3-11 from the floor. Someone is going to need to provide guard length before this is all over.
Trevon has finally cooled off, but Kanter is coming on:
In the two games against ETSU and Marshall, Bluiett has exactly equaled what he did scoring wise against UC. It likely wasn’t fair to expect him to score 25 per game the whole way out, but the recent 6-18 from deep and 5-17 from inside the arc while playing 77 of 80 minutes suggest Tre may be getting a little leggy.
Kerem Kanter, on the other hand, has been piling it on as he finds his place with Xavier. After breaking out against UC, Kanter has had a 20 point game (Kent), a 13 rebound game (tonight), knocked in four three pointers, including the equaliser against ETSU, and shot a cool 17-18 from the free throw line. He’s second to only Tyrique Jones in both rebounding rates and is sporting an offensive efficiency of 126.2. Not a bad transfer pickup.
Is is Christmas yet?:
While we’re all eager to see what is under the tree, Xavier looks more than anything like they need a chance to recalibrate. The rest of finals week left them looking rusty, which turned into a game in which three players largely missed out due to injury. The explosive offense that was second in the nation is down to eighth now after two games that should have been milk runs. Maybe it’s mental fatigue, maybe it’s physical fatigue, maybe it’s just playing down to the competition, but hopefully it’s nothing that seeing what Santa brought can’t cure.