Last summer we were looking ahead to a Covid season and speculating how the newcomers would slot into Xavier’s roster. The transfers were always gonna be a big part of this team and each one has contributed in his own way already this year. These guys have stepped up under some of the strangest circumstances imaginable and have been delivering so far. To get into their contributions we’ll take a quick look at each guy and see what he’s done for the Musketeers.
Johnson was brought in as a guy who is solid on defense and a deadeye from 3 on offense. So far this season he has lived up to that billing and then some. Despite his recent struggles from beyond the arc, Johnson is still shooting 51% from 3 and not forcing his way into the offense. His shooting from inside the arc is less than stellar to say the least but his role lies on the perimeter. Importantly, Johnson understands his role on the team. He doesn’t hunt his shot, but knocks it down when he gets it. He is reliable on defense and rebounds decently for a guard. Not to mention he buried the EKU game, ran Oklahoma ragged with his shooting and dunked against UC. Johnson has performed well and proven to be a key addition to this team.
Bryan Griffin came in from Division II with the reputation of a guy who gobbles up rebounds and was physical in the paint. This season Griffin has performed well in limited minutes. Griffin doesn’t have the offensive ability of Freemantle or the defensive versatility of Carter, but he has shown his ablity to rebound at a high level. On offense Griffin mostly operates close to the bucket but has stepped out and hit some mid range jumpers. Griffin adds valuable depth to the frontcourt with his rebounding ability and brings enough offense to keep the wheels turning.
Adam Kunkel was another guy brought in to solve the offensive problems from last season. Kunkel also played his first game as a Musketeer in the Crosstown Shootout where he hit a couple big 3s. Obviously the Marquette game is the crown jewel of Kunkel’s Xavier career and with good reason. He put up 22 points on just 9 shots and hit the game winner at the buzzer. That moment alone endeared Kunkel to Xavier Nation but he has added quality in multiple ways. His shooting ability adds space to the offense, his TOrate is low and his defense has been solid. Kunkel has added value in more ways than one and has shown that he has ice in his veins.
It’s hard to draw many conclusions on Stanley since he has only played 3 games but he has already laid the groundwork for what he can bring. Stanley plays as a forward but isn’t the tallest guy. What he is is incredibly strong and talented at getting into the lane and finishing. Stanley has shown his physicality and ability to score against both Creighton and Seton Hall while also showing his high energy in all his appearances. Stanley will continue to get up to speed defensively and improve his rebounding, but he has already shown that he can be an offensive force and add another dimension to the team.
All of these guys adds value to the team in one way or another. Johnson and Kunkel have both already come up big in clutch situations for Xavier. Stanley and Griffin both look like guys who can step up when called upon and add toughness in the lane all the time. Whatever happens next for this team, these guys will be big parts of it and major factors moving forward.