In terms of getting things back on track at Xavier and getting back to the NCAA tournament, Travis Steele probably had things at the top of his list that didn’t involve Zach Freemantle missing significant time. Freemantle averaged 16.1/8.9/1.4 last year and was the unquestionable main threat on Xavier’s offense after Nate Johnson fell injured. As we’ve mentioned before, Freemantle’s overall output ticked up after that injury even if his efficiency fell. It was clear that he shouldered a lot of the burden to score for the team.
This week, good news for both Xavier fans and Travis Steele has come out. Sort of. In an interview published by the Enquirer Steele said, ““It was supposedly reported the other day that (Freemantle) may not be back until Big East play. I’d say that’s on the very, very safe end. I think it could be before that as well.” That timeline could have Freemantle returning by the 29th of November. That would be before the Central Michigan tuneup on the 1st of December and with enough time that Freemantle would be something approaching game fit come time for the Big East.
However, foot injuries are fickle. Freemantle can’t even practice during this time. That means that when he comes back he’s not coming back as the Big East dominating forward that he was, he’s coming back to a basketball season already in full swing that he has sat idly by, watching. To that end Steele appended this helpful quote, “It’s tricky, you can’t bring him back too early because then all of a sudden he’ll be out a long time and not just a short period of time.”
What does that mean? Nothing. And everything. Zach Freemantle could be back soon, or we might not see him until Big East play. He might miss four warmup games and OSU, or he might miss over a month of the season. The more updates come out, the more opaque the situation becomes. If this is how the season starts, nothing will be easy for Xavier this year.