Thanksgiving has meant three games in four days for Xavier fans over the recent past, but the holiday tournament this year was a week earlier than we’ve become accustomed to. The Muskies instead got to spend the holiday practicing at Cintas in preparation for rolling an overmatched mid-major in Lipscomb. Now that they’ve got a couple more teams from that tier on deck for this week, let’s take the moment to check out my almost entirely arbitrary ranking of the guys on the roster, now with infinitely more Kyky Tandy and Daniel Ramsey!
NR. Kyky Tandy and Daniel Ramsey
I’m not going to rank these guys yet on the basis of their 17 total minutes of playing time on the season. They both showed some good things and both looked like they need to get up to speed on the floor. It’s hard to transition to game speed, but I’ll bet Tandy and Ramsey are happy to have gotten their feet underneath them in college play and looking forward to a couple more games this week.
9. Dontarius James
Coach Steele said it was James’s effort level in practice that forced Steele to put DJ in the game against Lipscomb, further proving the axiom that hustle pays the bills. James responded with 2 points, 4 offensive rebounds, and an ORtg of 100 on the nose. He also looked solid on defense and showed a high level of comfort putting the ball on the deck on the offensive end. He’s an interesting piece on this team that I’d be interested in seeing a lot more of.
8. Dahmir Bishop
I don’t think Dah is feeling his jump shot right now, judging by drilling a three off the side of the rim really hard and having a couple of free throws go begging. That’s a shame, because he is kind of clicking on all other fronts, ripping down 3 defensive boards, grabbing a couple of steals, and dishing out 4 assists to just 1 turnover against Lipscomb. I’m not ready to cut bait on him as being the next JP just yet, even if he’s off to a bit of a rough start. Also, he leads the team in DReb%, which is fun to me.
7. Jason Carter
If Dontarius James can defend consistently, he’s going to eat into Carter’s minutes. On the other hand, if Zach Freemantle continues to be capable of fouling out in 15 minutes, there’s going to be time on the floor to be had for Carter. The fact that he’s 18-19 from the line to this point is key; having a big man you can leave on the floor during closing time is a bonus that can hardly be overstated. His finishing has let him down a bit, but it’s his 4-21 on two-point jumpers that really needs to improve to boost his efficiency.
6. Zach Freemantle
Far and away the team’s leader in fouls per 40 minutes. It’s not ideal. He’s shooting 55.6% from inside the arc and is a monster on the glass, especially on the offensive end. He’s also 17-21 from the line; he and Jason Carter combine for 35-40 on free throws. If Xavier needs to run a couple bigs while the opposition is fouling, they’re an incredible duo. Other than the fouling thing, I heart everything about Zach’s game.
5. Bryce Moore
His three-point shooting is starting to catch up to my hopes for it, which puts a smile on my face. He has a bit of a concern with fouling (4.6 per 40 minutes, second-highest on the team) which isn’t ideal for your primary perimeter defender. He’s asked to do a lot on that end, though, so I’m cutting him some slack. He’s fun to watch, and his stroke looks super smooth right now.
4. Quentin Goodin
Second-best three-point shooter on the team. He has always shot it with a ton of confidence, almost all of which was inside of him rather than generated by the fanbase. If he can shoot 33% from deep all year, I’m happy with that. His 29.6% from inside the arc is... concerning, to say the least. His assist numbers are coming up and his turnover numbers are coming down; I think he’s settling into the composition of the roster a bit, which is obviously good news.
3. Tyrique Jones
He changes the game when he’s in there, even when he doesn’t have everything working. He’s a really strong presence on the defensive glass that Xavier doesn’t have with any of their other forwards (or anyone other than Dahmir Bishop); he has a huge amount of gravity in the paint on both ends. He’s drawing fouls at an elite rate and is avoiding the whistle better than he has in his entire career. If you throw out that 7-15 from the line against UConn, he’s making two-thirds of his free throws, which is better than fine.
2. Naji Marshall
Elephant in the room: he’s 8-39 from behind the arc. He leads the team in assist rate with reasonable turnover numbers and is a really good defensive rebounder for a wing, though not quite in the Dahmir Bishop range. If he takes his chances on catch-and-shoot threes in good positions, that’s a pill Xavier fans will swallow, and he obviously has the two biggest threes of the season so far. Like everyone, he shoots better in the flow of the offense than he does working on his own. His float game is still airtight and he’s converting more than 75% of his FT. The more relentless he is in not settling for long jumpers, the better he leans into the strengths of his game.
1. Paul Scruggs
Rum Tum Scruggernuts is the best on the team in getting his own shot at all three levels. He has been bullying smaller guards in the post; it’ll be interesting to see how that holds against the Big East. He’s passing well, defending well, and generally breaking hearts on the other sideline on a regular basis. I hope he frickin’ feeds it to Jarron Cumberland this weekend.