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Big East media day serves up surprises

Xavier players don’t make an impact on all Big East teams, but the Musketeers may land reinforcements early

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Four Practice Brian Spurlock -USA TODAY Sports

Media day is usually a lot of fun with coaches, players, and media members all in a loud rolling scrum in New York. Interviews are given, polls are released, and the palpable sense is that basketball season is about to start. Guess what? That wasn’t the case this year. The Big East took the very sensible step of making their media day virtual, and from it came some big Xavier news.

Adam Kunkel may play this year

No point in burying the lede, this is the biggest story to come from media day for Xavier fans. Kunkel is an out and out gunner who shot 38% behind the arc, 47% inside it, and 82% from the line. That free throw and three point percentage would have led Xavier easily and the mark inside the arc is near as makes no difference the same as Zach Freemantle. If Xavier’s disease is bad shooting, Adam Kunkel is the antidote.

That said, Kunkel is 6-4, 170. Coach Steele said today that part of the reason Kunkel didn’t initially pursue an exemption to play was to take a season to get his body ready for the Big East. With the NCAA now offering essentially a free year Kunkel finds himself in the position of not having improved the thing he wanted to improve but also wanting to play. Both Adam and Xavier now want him to play, so it rests with the NCAA.

Xavier picked to finish seventh

We’re all Xavier fans here. This is a safe space. It’s almost shocking to see the Musketeers picked that low in the conference, but can you honestly say it feels wrong? There is surely no argument that Xavier is better than Nova or Creighton this year, and UConn also feels like they have a good squad. Seton Hall is solid. Providence and Marquette have success on the vagaries of their coaching, but Xavier also has an unproven head man. The Big East breaks into tiers ths year, and those are pretty easy to see on this poll.

At least we aren’t Georgetown.

Only one Musketeer cracks the all-conference teams

Paul Scruggs was a preseason second team all Big East pick. Scruggs certainly earned his slot. Zach Freemantle and Kyky Tandy may have had arguments here, but their freshman lines of 7.5/4.3/0.6 for Freemantle and 6.7/1.3/0.9 for Tandy evidently didn’t turn the voters heads. Nate Watson was second team all Big East at center but remains the Big East leader in flinching while getting punched on by Jason Carter.

The schedule is out (sort of)!

The Big East plays 23 conference games in the month of December. That sentence alone is exciting. What is even a bit more exciting is that we know some of Xavier’s matchups for this season. The Musketeers take on Providence on the road on Saturday December 12th to start conference play. The full list of the games we know now looks like this:

Dec 12th @ Providence
Dec 15th v. Seton Hall
Dec 18th @ DePaul
Dec 20th v. Marquette
Dec 23rd @ Creighton

There are no easy games in the Big East, but even saying that, this is a tough slate to start with. The Musketeers will find out early what they are made of. In a related schedule note, the Big 10 half of the Gavitt games have been canceled by mutual decision of the conferences. Xavier plays Oklahoma in a game that remains on the schedule so far.

We still don’t know about Ben Stanley

Coach Steele said he expected to hear in the next few days whether Ben Stanley would be suiting up for the Musketeers this year. That means that the NCAAs usual efficiency has left Xavier not knowing whether two assuredly rotation players will be playing this year. In a year where so much has been uncontrollable you would, I guess, have been foolish to think that the NCAA would at least make quick work of what they can control.