There has only been one game since we did this last, but that was pretty much the week’s work and X is heading into a stretch at Maui that should be fairly challenging, so this isn’t a bad time to update. As always, all opinions are my own and based on some sort of moving target of what is impressing me right now.
10. Dontarius James
Nothing has changed from last week, as he did not play this week. If Coach Steele couldn’t find a way to get him in against Wisconsin, I don’t think the matchups in Maui are going to favor him, either.
T8. Keonte Kennedy and Elias Harden
A couple of guys billed as elite shooters coming out of high school; neither of them missed a shot against Wisconsin! Neither did Michael Flatley, though, and I don’t see him playing a big part in Xavier’s immediate plans.
7. Tyrique Jones
6. Zach Hankins
This is rough, because each of these guys is a key part of Xavier’s game plan this year. Between the two of them, though, they basically function as one big man. Hankins is a little better defensively, Jones is a little better on offense. Xavier almost always needs one of them to have a good game, but... it could be either one. As long as one or the other performs, X is right there.
5. Kyle Castlin
The guy averaging 6 and 5 on a team with 6 dudes averaging doubles is arguably underrated here. Castlin has provided some timely buckets, but mostly he pops up in the right places when Xavier really needs someone there. “Kyle Castlin makes winning plays” is getting close to evergreen status on Twitter.
4. Paul Scruggs
Scruggs might be Xavier’s most gifted scorer. He has the size and strength to be absolute wrecking crew when he gets going downhill into the teeth of a defense. Weirdly, he has shot just three mid-range jumpers this year, but he is 5-11 from deep. If he works off the catch from outside or goes all the way to the rim, he’s a menace. Jumpers off the bounce apparently aren’t his thing.
3. Ryan Welage
Xavier isn’t shooting well from deep and are downright awful from the line. While I expect the FT numbers to improve across the board, I don’t anticipate anyone other than Ryan Welage being a consistent threat from deep in high volume. Xavier needs him to play well to beat good teams. If he’s 1-7 from behind the arc against anyone in the top 100, it probably ends poorly for X.
2. Naji Marshall
It was good to see Naj looking more like himself against Wisconsin. It took Xavier way too long to figure out that he is really tough to stop if he can hit the middle of the defense with a little downhill momentum, but once they did, the offense took off. Get the ball in this guy’s hands on the move.
1. Quentin Goodin
He probably shouldn’t be leading the team in shots percentage, but X doesn’t have another guy who can get on the ball and manage the game like Q does. He leads the team in assist rate and is still holding a clean sheet in the turnover department. It’s hard to say that there’s another Muskie who can roll quite like that.