Aristotle postulated that, as his understanding of things like physics and momentum led him to believe, every moving object in the universe implied the existence of some object that set them all in motion without itself moving. Momentum, he believed couldn’t be (as it were) turtles all the way down. Something had to set it all in motion. Some first cause allows for all other cause and effect to take place.
Trust me, I got a B in Intro to Philosophy when I took it 15 years ago.
For Xavier, Noted Rim Protector Dwon Odom is that entity. At eighth in the team in scoring and second in assisting, he isn’t lighting the box score on fire, but what he is able to do for the team - and this in just his freshman season - allows everything else to click. When he was limited due to coronavirus concerns in the past two games, Xavier suffered hard for it.
The offensive end is where Odom draws the most attention, but his defensive contributions shouldn’t be overlooked. At just 6’1”, he’s the shortest player on the Xavier roster by three inches, but he leads the team in blocks percentage. More importantly than that his ability to erase shots in the air is the fact that he is committing just 2.5 fouls per 40 minutes. His ability to take the opposing team’s primary ballhandler and do so without being either a traffic cone or a walking foul has a domino effect on Xavier’s defense, allowing Coach Steele to be more flexible in how he deploys Paul Scruggs and Nate Johnson. Good defenders make every other matchup on the floor more favorable for their team, and Dwon Odom certainly does for Xavier.
The stats only tell part of the story on offense, but we’ll start with them anyway. His assists per game number of 4.6 is very good, paling only in the comparison to Paul Scruggs’s 6.8. If you prefer tempo-free stats, know Odom’s assist rate of 30.6% is in the top 100 in the nation and his TO% of 19.5% is remarkably low for anyone, not just a freshman.
The numbers don’t do Odom’s impact on the team justice. With Paul Scruggs, Nate Johnson, and Zach Freemantle on the floor, Xavier has three high-level shooters who can space the floor. That kind of firepower begs for someone to get into the middle of the defense, and Odom fits that bill to perfection. Paul Scruggs also has the ability to break down a defense, but when he’s the guy driving, my sources tell me he can’t also be out behind the arc ready to catch and shoot. With Adam Kunkel still finding his feet on shots that aren’t dramatic game-winners and Kyky Tandy getting inconsistent run, Xavier needs to have its best shooters receiving kick outs, and Dwon Odom makes that happen.
When you add it all up, at least according to EvanMiya.com, you’ve got one of the top 10 players in the Big East to this point of the season:
Not only is Odom the only freshman on that list, he’s one of only two underclassmen.
It’s not clear that Xavier would be 10-0 if Dwon Odom had never gotten Covid, but the team definitely ticks over better when he’s holding the reins. What a find this guy was in recruiting; just eight games into his Xavier career, it would appear that the sky is the limit for their talismanic lead guard.