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.
It’s hard not to wonder what could have been when looking at Xavier’s roster. Coronavirus concerns aside, this was a team that was never quite the sum of its parts, thanks largely to never really having all of its parts. Injuries to KyKy Tandy and Paul Scruggs drew the most press, but teams run on the guys who don’t make the headlines. In that way, the injury to Bryce Moore hurt Xavier a lot.
At Western Michigan Moore emerged as a defensive stopper, a dead eye three point shooter, and an emergency point guard. For Xavier, he was simply expected to provide a versatile three and d guy off the bench. Built for contact, he seemed like a great fit for the Big East. Moore hit a three in each of Xavier’s first seven games, didn’t against Florida, and then buried three in the next game. Bryce shot 33% behind the arc in the non-conference despite going 0-5 against Florida and UC. His defense was also on point.
Unfortunately, he was also already carrying the injury that would doom his season. Moore’s surgically repaired right knee started to balk just before conference play. After playing double digit minutes in every non-conference game and averaging roughly per contest, Moore played a combined total of 13 in Xavier’s first three Big East tilts. Four straight in double digits followed that, but the lift was gone from the grad transfer’s legs. His three point percentage plunged to 21.4% and after a 3-7 effort against Creighton on January 26th, he only made three the rest of the way.
A three and d specialist makes a living with his legs. Players like Remy Abell and Bryce Moore need to generate lift and also be able to sit, and move at speed, in an on the ball defensive crouch for long periods of time. Outside of the back pain that comes for us all, nothing so quickly limits a player who relies on his legs like injuring a knee. Once Bryce Moore’s knee went, so did his chances of becoming another impact transfer.