Let’s jump right in, shall we? All caveats about the sample size and the difficulty of the opposition do apply.
The offense looks much better
Other than turning the ball over on 19.9% of their possessions, Xavier’s offense looks a significantly different prospect than last year. The Musketeers are in the top 100 in all three shooting categories are shooting an unholy 46.4% behind the arc, and are 12th in the nation in effective field goal percentage. Last season X ended 240th in free throw percentage and 250th in three point percentage. It has only been two games, but it’s nice to watch the ball go in the basket.
Zach Freemantle has been at his best
32 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists 13-19 from the floor for the big man is a great return for just two games, especially given it has taken only 56 minutes to accomplish that. Perhaps most encouraging, Freemantle has just played. There hasn’t been the apathy or antics that accompanied him every time he took the floor last season. He also hasn’t taken any threes.
Souley Boum is off to a great start
Will he shoot 71.4% all year behind the arc? Probably not. Still, Boum is averaging 15/1.5/3.5. That production all year would be incredible for Xavier. Boum has been patient in letting the game come to him, taking more shots from the line than he has from inside or outside the arc. His turnover rate of 23.3% is high, but that’s so far above his career line so as to likely be an outlier.
A word of caution
The last time Xavier’s margin of victory was so high after two games was two years ago. That team pounded Oklahoma by 22 before the year turned and then ended as Travis Steele’s worst, never sniffing the tournament after an 8-0 start. Last year Xavier capped a three game winning streak at the start of the year by beating Ohio State. That season ended with Xavier in the NIT and the coach being fired before the team was even done playing.
Two good games is a lot of fun. Zach Freemantle and Souley Boum have both added value and look excellent so far, as does the rest of the offense. Keep in mind though, that this is just November. Be optimistic, but don’t lose sight of the fact the road only gets tougher from here.