Souley Boum, 16.4/4.3/4.3
Zach Freemantle, 15.2/8.1/2.9
Colby Jones, 15.0/5.7/4.4
Jack Nunge, 14.2/7.8/2.1
Adam Kunkel, 10.9/2.7/3.0
Jerome Hunter, 7.8/4.4/1.3
There were 7,425 minutes played for Xavier last season; the above players accounted for 6,072 of them. About 10% of the team's minutes and just 6.8% of it's scoring came back, almost all of it in the person of Des Claude.
When Souley, Colby, Jack, and Adam all left at the end of last season, you could still squint at the roster and see the framework of a contending team. When Zach Freemantle and Jerome Hunter were ruled out with season-ending injuries, Xavier was left with Des Claude and a cast of players who had never been in Sean Miller's system before. There were less than two months until the start of the season, and the Muskies needed to replace two starting quality bigs.
When that happened, pretty much every reasonable Xavier fan had to know it was going to be a rough year.
That position is a fairly easy one to stomach in the autumnal glow of late September and early October. Living through it while caught in the clutches of (an admittedly mild) winter in Ohio, with February on your doorstep, is another proposition altogether.
In the novel Blindsight by Peter Watts, one of the characters posits that human beings aren't reasoning creatures that feel, we're feeling creatures with some capacity for reason. You only had to dip into our Twitter mentions after Xavier's gutting loss to Nova for ample illustration of that point. People who, had you asked them three months ago would have given lip service to the idea that Xavier would struggle this year, were spitting venom when that supposition was borne into reality.
I'm not here to preach at you; I also am not enjoying watching my favorite basketball team play .500 ball in a sport where that isn't a good goal. But...
On an intellectual level, I always knew this would be a rough year
On an intellectual level, I know Des going from 4.7/2.5/1.8 with an ORtg of 89.2 on 15% usage to 14.8/3.8/4.7 with an ORtg of 102.0 on 25% is an incredible leap forward
On an intellectual level, I know Sean Miller is one of the best coaches in the game right now and has put together a strong roster for the future
There's a sense in which Xavier is still very much in play for having a meaningful resume on Selection Sunday. Given how improbable the string of results that would get us there seems right now, there's also the reminder that they might be playing their best basketball at MSG and take the auto bid.
In the meantime, the shadow of potentially having another season of missed opportunities and almosts go by the boards is looming. Having been able to predict it doesn't make it any more fun to live through.
At least we won the Shootout.