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Player Preview: Matt Stainbrook

Matt Stainbrook is in the best shape of his career and already a fan favorite at Xavier. If his passing ability and his new body hold out, he could be the best offensive post Xavier has had in quite some time.

Will Coach Mack be able to get more from Matt Stainbrook than Coach Hawkins could?
Will Coach Mack be able to get more from Matt Stainbrook than Coach Hawkins could?
Gregory Shamus

If you paid any attention to Xavier basketball last season, you probably already know who Matt Stainbrook is. Frequently clad in the kind of garments that your old history advisor would find too outdated to wear to a basketball game, the 6-10 center cut quite a figure at the end of the bench. Already a favorite of the Banners staff owing to being a Bay Village native and a Cleveland Indians fan, Stainbrook quickly became a favorite of any fan who appreciates the nerve it takes to wear a bowtie in public. Even more noteworthy was the significant amount of weight Stainbrook lost as the season went on. Determined to shake his reputation as an effective player only when he could be bothered to run, Matt returns this season in the best shape of his career.

When he is on his game, Stainbrook can be a devastating inside scorer. In his last season at Western Michigan the big man averaged 11.4/6.8/1.9, with a block per game thrown in for good measure. In that season Stainbrook scored over 30 once, was over 20 on three occasions, and scored in double figures in 22 games. Throw in five double-doubles and you get a clear picture of the kind of force Stainbrook can bring to a game. A shooting line of .580/.300/.616 also speaks to efficiency with which those numbers can be put up.

It's not all rosy with Stainbrook though. For starters, the body that he has spent so much time recently working has let him down in the past. Matt averaged only 26 minutes for the Broncos in 2011-12 and only 23 the year before that. His career high in minutes (36) came in an overtime game in his freshman year. In addition to trouble staying on the court because of a lack of conditioning, Stainbrook has had issues with losing his temper on the court in the past. That has led to fouls, benchings, and the usual host of labels that come with being hot tempered. All of that takes a bit of the shine off the numbers at times.

Best case scenario: Matt Stainbrook is smaller, equipped with a new attitude, and in a new setting. He's clearly talented, and he's working on a team that will focus mostly on him for post offense. Those are all reasons to believe that this could be the best season from a post that Xavier has seen in awhile. And have I yet mentioned that Stainbrook is a great passer? For all his sartorial nuance, Stainbrook is a fighter on the court. The best case is so good it almost seems absurd to type. 16/9/3. There it is, and it's possible.

Worst case scenario: A lot of people have attitude issues when they are 18-19, most people sort those out. Some people, however, don't. Stainbrook hasn't been in a competitive game in over a year now, and the last time he was he was still chased by the scepter of an rage not fully under control. Add to that a knee surgery (albeit a minor meniscus one) and the fact that Matt is yet to see if his body, reconstructed or not, can play more than 30 minutes per game and there are still plenty of questions. If any of those issues crop up, things could go sideways quickly and lead to a frustrating 7/5/2 line with plenty of turnovers to go with it.

Most likely scenario: 16/9/3 is an awesome thought, but isn't likely in the new Big East. Still, Stainbrook can play, his body should allow him to stay in games now, he passes well enough to keep the guards engaged, he plays with a good deal of effort, and he genuinely seems to enjoy being at Xavier. All of that should add up to a very serviceable year for a guy who won't be the focal piece of the offense. 11/7/2 would be nice to see.