As the Xavier Musketeers prepare for their overseas trip to Spain next week those of us in the media were lucky enough to be able and watch their practices. I know it's easy to over react to July and August practices when we won't see any real games until November but this team seems to have flipped a switch from what we saw in last years up and down season. Here are some of the highlights from the practices I was fortunate enough to attend.
After last season where Xavier was amongst the worst teams in the country in pace (According to KenPom Xavier was 302nd in the country in adjusted tempo), that looks to be a big deal for the Musketeers this season. Now a lot of that came from having to play two big men for most of last season with Tyrique Jones and Zach Hankins but with Hankins now moving on from his Grad Transfer season and a lot of new additions to the team, the Musketeers look like a team that has plans to out run you. Transition Offense looks to be a huge focus for this team and something they plan to show starting with this Spain trip next week.
Every year teams have to deal with roster turnover in the NCAA whether it's from players graduating, transferring or leaving early for the opportunity to go to the NBA Draft. Recruiting the right guys for your program is a very big deal and Travis Steele and staff look to have done just that.
Kyky Tandy certainly continued to show his athleticism that Xavier fans were drooling over, Dahmir Bishop shows a strong shooting ability, especially having a few impressive baskets he made with a hand in his face, during Saturday's 5 on 5 session Zach Freemantle went on a stretch where it seemed like he couldn't miss and Dieonte Miles, the 6'11 freshman Center from Walton Verona showed stretches that made people believe he is a lot farther along in his development than expected.
Also Xavier brought in Grad Transfers Jason Carter and Bryce Moore. Carter was the best player of the Ohio Bobcats during his tenure and looks to be the favorite to start at the Power Forward position. Carter brings some veteran presence to this team and a strong ability to be in the right place at the right time. Bryce Moore, who many expect to be the first guy off the bench for this team has shown a solid 3 and D ability and also looks to be healed from his ACL injury he suffered during his time at Western Michigan. Moore has the look of a guy who will be on the floor in crunch time for the Muskies.
The Core Four:
Paul Scruggs, Tyrique Jones, Quentin Goodin and Naji Marshall know this is their last run together. After these guys all tested the NBA Draft waters with the new NCAA rules, each player decided to return and the leadership was in full effect. Tyrique and Quentin have taken a huge step in their leadership with the younger guys trying to get them more comfortable and up to speed with the game and the system Xavier runs. Scruggs maybe has the highest upside of the four guys mentioned and he is adding new tricks to his game we haven't seen yet. Paul has been excellent in transition and really has shown a strong ability to create shots in traffic. Naji Marshall has really shown off his work on improving his shooting through practice. Where these 4 go this season, Xavier will go. It's that simple.
My goodness this team already looks like a way better shooting team than last season. Adding guys like Moore, Carter, Freemantle, Bishop and Tandy looks like it'll add to Xavier's 3 point shooting abilities after a really tough year in the 2018-19 season where the team was ranked 236th in the country at 33.1% as a team. Xavier will now have the ability to stretch the floor and finally get some consistent shooters that they have missed since Trevon Bluiett and JP Macura graduated.
Tim Daniel is the Host of 48 Minutes and @ Large Bid here on the 48 Minutes Network. Tim is also the Director of College Basketball content for 48 Minutes. If you wish to discuss this article with Tim, give him a follow!