There is no question at this point in Xavier’s season that Trevon Bluiett is the team’s best offensive option. Trevon has led the team in scoring for each of the last two seasons, but he really does more than that. Recently, he’s helped handle the ball when Quentin Goodin gets in trouble, he pulls in nearly six rebounds a game, and he’s essentially become Xavier’s talisman. A team that believes they have no chance to win without him thinks they can win any game when he takes the court.
To the astute fan, that description calls to mind the Miami (Oh) teams of Wally Szczerbiak. In the 1999 tournament, Szczerbiak strapped the Redhawks on his back and pulled off a close win, a massive upset, and nearly another one before his team lost to a UK squad with Jamaal Magloire, Tayshaun Prince, and Scott Padgett. Szczerbiak averaged 24/8/3 that season before going for 30/7.3/3 in the tournament.
Usage rates aren’t available for those seasons, but Szczerbiak’s would have been enormous. Against Washington in the first round, he took 33 of Miami’s 55 shots. That became only 11 of 46 against Utah in that upset, but he dished out five assists and went 10-10 from the line. When UK finally knocked off the Redhawks, Wally took another 16 of Miami’s 44 shots. Even without factoring in assists and turnovers, those are massive usage rates.
That brings us to this year and the Musketeers. Trevon is obviously Xavier’s best offensive threat but, unlike Wally, he’s not almost completely alone. Those Redhawk teams put three other players in double digits in scoring with two of them coming in the game over Utah that wasn’t nearly as competitive. Wally also came into the tournament with some experience carrying the load, getting up over 16 shots per game. Even with the recent burst, Trevon is barely shooting more than 13 times per game. Quite simply, Tre has never shot as much in a game as Wally did to key that run.
Spiritually, though, this might be the chance to increase that. Xavier struggles to score, and Tre is their best scorer. Funneling a couple of shots away from Malcolm Bernard or Quentin Goodin and into Bluiett’s hands wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. If Xavier really needs to get rolling, force feeding the ball to their best player remains one way to make it happen.