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Does Xavier have a point guard problem?

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The historical record further confuses an already muddled view of the position this year.

NCAA Basketball: Marquette at Xavier
Even Q doesn’t know.
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Before I did any research, I knew where I was going with this post. “Xavier has a point guard problem,” I was going to say, “in that they don’t have a point guard.” I’ve been a huge Quentin Goodin fan since before he walked onto campus, but his performance this season hasn’t left me with much to say in his support.

Only, as it turns out, the truth is a bit more complicated than that. Here’s a chart of Xavier point guards in the KenPom era, tracking their ORtg, EFG%, assist rate, and turnover rate:

ORtg EFG% Assist rate TO rate
2002 Lionel Chalmers 99.6 50.0% 25.1% 26.7%
2003 Lionel Chalmers 109.0 55.4% 23.8% 24.5%
2004 Dedrick Finn 105.9 52.7% 21.7% 22.3%
2005 Dedrick Finn 95.2 42.9% 24.8% 25.5%
2006 Dedrick Finn 87.6 46.7% 25.9% 34.8%
2007 Drew Lavender 122.7 55.3% 30.3% 16.7%
2008 Drew Lavender 118.9 52.4% 28.2% 17.3%
2009 Dante Jackson 97.3 47.4% 18.7% 27.0%
2010 Tu Holloway 113.0 47.0% 22.1% 17.6%
2011 Tu Holloway 114.1 50.0% 30.4% 19.5%
2012 Tu Holloway 111.8 48.7% 27.5% 19.0%
2013 Dee Davis 96.8 49.2% 23.7% 28.0%
2014 Dee Davis 108.2 49.7% 26.9% 23.5%
2015 Dee Davis 104.3 46.7% 33.5% 22.6%
2016 Ed Sumner 104.3 44.5% 25.1% 19.0%
2017 Quentin Goodin 86.2 38.2% 25.2% 26.5%
2018 Quentin Goodin 105.8 48.5% 26.9% 23.3%
2019 Quentin Goodin 98.2 44.6% 27.5% 20.8%
Averages 104.4 48.3% 26.0% 23.0%

There are a few quibbles in there - when did Dedrick Finn transition into being a point with Lionel Chalmers as a combo guard? who was the PG in 2009? - but the selections are, at the very least, defensible. Also, I know the potential pitfalls of averaging the percentages, but we’re at least in the neighborhood.

And so is Q. In the two primary functions of a point guard - distribution and ball security - Goodin is outpacing Xavier’s averages during the period from which data is available. Dee Davis never avoided turnovers as well as Q is this season; only once did Tu Holloway assist more of his teammate’s buckets than Q is, and that earned him All-American honors.

So where does our vexation with Q come from? I think there are a couple of sources.

First, the composition of the roster makes it so, rightly or wrongly, Goodin is taking a lot more shots. In each of his first two seasons, he took less than 16% of the team’s shots when he was on the floor. This year, he is taking 22.4%. He’s hitting on 43.6% of his two-pointers, 30.7% of his threes, and 69.1% of his FT. His career numbers in those departments are 44.2%, 29.1%, and 69.4%.

In other words, he’s basically shooting exactly how we would expect, just a lot more. When he had JP, Tre, Kaiser, Kerem, and Big Sean to set up for baskets, he was able to let the strengths of his skill set shine. He’s leaning into his weaknesses right now, and the results are unsurprisingly disappointing.

Second - and I know this isn’t clearing the generally high bar we set for objectivity here - he just hasn’t quite looked himself all year. He started the season injured, then his first game was cut short after he dropped 14 points in 15 minutes because he bonked an opponent in the face with the ball well after the whistle had blown play dead. His defense has been what I can most graciously describe as listless at times.

These things haven’t escaped the noticed of a Xavier fanbase that isn’t getting the high-level results it has come to expect. Quentin has become something of a bullet sponge for the frustrated vitriol that pours out in comments sections, forums, and tweets.

Some of his problems are of his own device: fans love to see effort, and we’ve spent enough time on his shot selection issues that they don’t need further expounded on here.

The dude didn’t ask to be injured, though, nor did he put together the roster that has him feeling obligated to shoot 10 times a game when he is better suited to setting up his teammates.

I don’t think Q is right physically this year, and I think after a while that wears on your mental state. We’re probably not going to see him at his best this year. With talented guards Kyky Tandy and Dahmir Bishop coming in next year and Xavier still in on potential 2019 perimeter studs Harlond Beverly and Zach Harvey, there’s a portion of the Xavier supporters succumbing to the temptation to look ahead and wonder if Goodin’s best days are memories.

I’m leaning the opposite way. I’m not ready to punt on Q for the rest of this season, and I have every hope that Travis Steele’s first full recruiting class and an offseason to get right has Goodin back on all-league track at this time next year.

Feel free to tweet this article back at me in 2020 if that doesn’t turn out to be the case.