February only has 28 days. Joel pointed out that August should share that fate as it, too, is a miserable culmination of the worst the season it occupies has to offer. Love suffocating heat and humidity, no sporting events with much drama, and going back to school? Boy, do I have a month for you!
However, much as February is a gateway to the best month of the year, August brings with it the promise of September and football, both real and American, seasonal flavors, and some of the best weather on the calendar. It also means we can start to cast an eye ahead to college basketball. As we do, here are some storylines worth watching.
What about Sean Miller? Well, pretty much everything. Miller hasn't coached a game in over 18 months. All other questions (and we will get to them) aside, that's a long time to not toss on the suit and tie and make in game moves. Miller also last coached for a different program than the one he is taking over now. Things will be drastically different for Sean when he steps on to the court again at the Cintas.
And when that will be is still unknown. Xavier's season starts officially on November 7th. Miller might be coaching then, he might not be. Thanks to all the usual transparency in the NCAA's investigation, no one really knows much of anything about whether Miller will be suspended, how long the suspension will be, what the terms of it might be, and whether it should be expected before this season or next. There just isn't any communication. Three months from the start of the season no one can be certain who will be in the first seat on Xavier's bench.
Is the roster complete? The likely answer is yes. Xavier still has an offer out on power forward Kalifa Sakho, but that seems to be the last piece of the puzzle should he accept. The roster remains loaded with talent at the two and three spots and still holds questions down low. There is one scholarship open, but it's getting late in the day to add someone.
Chief among those questions down low is Zach Freemantle. If he returns to being the paint bully he was as a freshman and sophomore he would lock down the spot next to Jack Nunge and solidify Xavier's front court. If he continues playing like a wheedling bully who the hero of the movie stood up to, it will be another season of frustration with him for Xavier fans.
Who plays point guard?
Everyone wanted the answer to this question to be Dwon Odom. Unfortunately the stocky guard with the deadly 15 foot jumper and incredible jumping ability has decamped to Georgia State with Jonas Hayes. His loyalty is commendable, but I'd much rather he were a bit more mercernary.
For guards that leaves Xavier Kam Craft and Desmond Claude as incoming freshman. Neither is a pure point and neither has played a game at the college level, so neither is probably an option. (Claude could be as the season progresses.) Colby Jones can handle the ball and pass reasonably well, but he's also Xavier's most effective rebounder, so moving him away from the paint seems less than ideal.
That essentially whittles the competiton down to Adam Kunkel and Souley Boum. Kunk takes care of the ball well and hasn't had a turnover rate higher than 14% in his career. He's not had a turnover rate higher than his assist rate since his freshman season. That all sounds good, but Kunkel's highest assist rate is 16.2% back as a sophomore at Belmont. He's an intiator and is relentlessly aggressive, but he hunts his shot a lot and is prone to occasionally dribbling into trouble. He's also a solid shooter who thrives on finding spce. None of that fits for a point man.
Souley Boum spent time on the point for UTEP, but he also thrives off the ball. Like Kunkel, he uses the ball a lot and safely, but isn't necessarily someone to intiate offense. Could he be a stopgap until Claude is up to speed? He's probably the best option. Xavier could also use a rotating cast of players to bring the ball up or play without a pure point guard.