Xavier basketball was rolling to a nerve-wracking end to the season, then a global pandemic hit the brakes so hard I went right into the windshield. We’ve shaken ourselves off a bit here and will continue, somewhat belatedly, with our breakdown of one of the weirdest Xavier seasons on record.
Quentin Goodin got no rest from the time he entered the starting lineup until he walked off the court in an NIT loss to Texas. Xavier never found him the backup guard that would have eased the strain on their guard from Kentucky. Q accumulated minutes, and injuries, that eventually hampered his effectiveness as there was simply no choice but to leave him on the court.
KyKy Tandy was supposed to be the answer to the that. The electric scoring guard also came to Xavier with the reputation of a guy who could keep the ball moving and initiate the offense. He, surely, could spell Q from time to time and keep Xavier’s offense working smoothly.
Things didn’t go that way in 2020. First, and most significantly, KyKy was injured to start the season. Travis Steele and staff decided that not rushing their potential star in his recovery from a foot injury. For the first seven games, Tandy didn’t play at all. It wasn’t until the 5th of January that he played over 20 minutes. In that span, Goodin finally broke down. In mid-January Xavier’s starting point guard missed two games with a knee injury and an accumulation of poor play. He didn’t start again until March.
Would KyKy have been the answer even if healthy? Travis Steele didn’t think so. In the time that Q was missing in action, it was Paul Scruggs that ran the offense. KenPom’s statistical depth chart lists Tandy as a shooting guard and behind both Scruggs and Goodin at the point. Moreover, Tandy didn’t have the numbers you’d expect from someone initiating the offense.
KyKy Tandy had a good year, but his advanced metrics tell the story of an off guard. His assist rate of 9.4% was fifth on the team among regulars and topped only Jason Carter, Bryce Moore, and Zach Freemantle. (Goodin and Scruggs were at 21.2% and 17.6% respectively.) Tandy cared for the ball well, but he wasn’t as good at the line (65%) as you’d hope from a primary ballhandler and didn’t get there particularly often either. His free throw rate of 12.6 was last on the team amongst regular players.
None of that is to say that KyKy wasn’t electric as a freshman. While he didn’t hit his chin on the rim again, he showed confidence and ability shooting the ball. He showed that he could score big in big games, dropping 14 in Xavier’s best win, a road victory over Seton Hall. In that game Tandy posted an offensive rating of 179, a line of 14/2/0, and went 5-7 from the floor.
Tandy had a great freshman year. That he never developed into the guy who could give Q time to rest was partly due to his own injury and then down to Q losing his job as the starter. As the season progressed Tandy developed into what he was advertised to be. That he wasn’t a point guard faded into insignificance when he was playing well.