Xavier has lost twice - twice! - in the first seventeen games of the season, making joy forfeit and mutual despair the cold comfort of the fanbase. We’re not quite to the point of having a parade in protest, but you could be forgiven for thinking so if you just read Xavier twitter and the various message boards over the past 48 hours.
In the meantime, X will continue on with the season mostly on the strength of the same ten dudes who brought them here. Let’s rank ‘em:
10. Elias Harden
You and I and Elias have made equal on-court contributions for X in Big East play this year. That’s probably not good.
9. Paul Scruggs
The ink was hardly dry on the piece I wrote praising him when Paul Scruggs backed one out against Providence that was so putrid KenPom didn’t even bother giving him an ORtg in the box score. On the Big East season, Paul has an ORtg of 68.8. He’s 3-3 from inside the arc and boasting an assist rate of 30.9%, but his turnover rate of 40.5% and his 0-6 mark from deep are really dragging him down. If he stops passing to the other team and stops missing threes - which will probably just entail not shooting them - he’ll be serviceable again.
8. Naji Marshall
I love Naji, but he’s slumping right now. The transition to conference play has not been kind to Xavier’s freshmen, with both of them ORtgs 30 points lower than any of their teammates in conference play. I’m sure they’ll come around, but their contributions are not that difficult to replace right now.
7. Sean O’Mara
Sean missed 3 free throws in the non-conference season. He has missed 3 so far in Big East play. That’s not a disaster, just an observation. Xavier’s execution on the little things hasn’t been brilliant of late, and the line is certainly an illustration of that. Other than that, Sean keeps getting buckets and being an okay rebounder.
6. Kaiser Gates
Kaiser shoots so rarely that sometimes it’s easy to forget that he’s on the floor for two thirds of every game. That’s not a knock; he just knows his role. He’s in a bit of a shooting slump, but by and large he has continued to be himself lately. A couple big threes are coming his way this week. I can’t prove it, but I can say it.
5. Tyrique Jones
I think it’s a testament to the depth of the post guys that Tyrique find himself here. Jones is still a monster in the paint, but if he has to miss a game so he can study for a big exam, Big Sean or Kerem can jump right in without missing a beat. You think there’s a big statistical step down? Read on...
4. Kerem Kanter
Who is Xavier’s leader in OReb% and DReb%? Who leads Xavier’s bigs in fouls drawn per 40 minutes? Who leads the entire team points and rebounds per 40 minutes? All roads lead to Kerem here, and he’s shooting .545/.370/.804 on the year. His consistency still leaves a bit to be desired - 0 points in 8 minutes against Butler, 24 and 12 in 20 minutes against Providence - but he’s been a force for X this year.
3. Trevon Bluiett
Xavier’s best player is in a month-long slump. He’s shooting .351/.292/.833 in Big East play, which isn’t ideal for a guy who rises and falls on his jumper. I’m dying for a vintage Tre game and some of that rich boy swagger.
2. JP Macura
JP’s playmaking sets him apart here. His assist rate of 18.9% is a career high, and he’s turning the ball over less than twice every 40 minutes in conference play. Throw in 7 steals and 3 blocks in Big East play, not to mention that .435/.350/.889 shooting line, and you have a guy who’s beasting early on in the league.
1. Quentin Goodin
Q leads the team in conference ORtg at 120.3. His backup brings up the rear with an ORtg 51.5 points lower. The team just looks different with Goodin out there, and that’s largely because he’s playing some really good ball right now. These rankings are based on who would be most difficult to replace, so go ahead and close your eyes to help yourself envision what this team looks like if Q leaves to pursue his lifelong passion of ranching cattle. Not pretty, is it?