According to Bart Torvik, Xavier’s non-conference schedule this year includes games against three top 50 teams: Ohio State, one from Va Tech, and Memphis and Oklahoma State. A house, a neutral one, a street. Add in some buy games and the shootout and Xavier has very solid planning for the Big East season. The basis for the tournament resume is laid on OSU, VaTech / Memphis and (other) OSU. If we talk about something else in March, something very bad or very surprising has happened.
Oklahoma State will be Xavier’s only real street game in the non-con. The Cowboys had a good year last year, setting a 20-8 record on Selection Sunday and landing a 4 seed. They won a game from Liberty in the first round but found themselves at the wrong end of a 44-30 half-time deficit against Oregon State in the second round. They rallied valiantly, but the Beavers showed a bloodless 32-35 performance from the line to end their season.
Mike Boynton is the head of OSU and is entering his fifth year in the business. His defense was the figurehead of his teams; If they don’t get stops, they lose. Each of his last three seasons ended up in the top 50 in Block%, which is worth it. They tend to take a lot of threesomes but with a low success rate and are just a tad above average on the two-point defense. They reliably enforce sales without making it their identity and are usually barely mediocre on the defensive glass.
On the offensive, his fingerprint is a little harder to recognize. His teams often flip the ball and shoot it poorly, prior to the arrival of Cade Cunningham last year. They tend to play slowly and get to the glass well. Boynton’s teams generally don’t shoot the three often or with great success.
Cade Cunningham is arguably the top name here. Both Mike Boynton and Fran Fraschilla will miss his 20.1 / 6.2 / 3.5 line of play. He led the team in minutes and effort, was a solid defender and posed an offensive threat on all three levels. He’s pretty much the only core player to leave Stillwater this off-season.
Every body else!
Avery Anderson III is a 6’3 “SG who averaged 12.2 / 4.0 / 2.0 as the most slasher. He also led the team in steals percent and was cash off the line. Isaac Likekele joins him in the back room. He averaging 9.1 / 6.6 / 3.6 and is also not a significant threat from depth as he shot very well but with only 18. In the first two years he led the team in the assist rate, went but a little off the ball to meet Cunningham. At 6’5 “, 215, he’s a challenging matchup if he’s on the point.
OSU is also returning the Boone brothers; we should talk about it. Kalib is a 6’9 “center that crushes the glass at both ends, shoots 64% of the bow and ranks in the top 50 nationwide in block percentage. Keylan – a 6’8” PF – bounces back a little better, shoots a little worse and doesn’t block shots nearly as efficiently. He also shot 16-59 (27.1%) from depth, while Kalib shot 0-0 (0.0%).
Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe, whose parents make different decisions than me, is a 6’7-inch striker who picked 9 and 5 as a freshman last year) and free throws (54.7%). He started in 14 games last season, quite an impressive performance for a newcomer.
Bryce Williams is a 6’2 “guard enjoying his final year of his eligibility. He was delivering 7/2/2 per game, but his efficiency was paired by sales problems and poor shooting. He is an excellent defender who posts solid blocks and numbers steals Rondel Walker is a 6’4 “guard who averaged 7/3/1 as a freshman last year. His offensive efficiency was solid with relatively low stakes, hitting 32-97 from depth (33%), and he offered a good defense with no fouling. He could be a breakout candidate for this team.
Moussa Cisse is a 6’10 “center transferred from Memphis. He dominates the glass at both ends and blocks a weird amount of shots. Plus, 44 of his 80 baskets made last year were dunks. He fouls a lot and is’ Not great off the line but he’s a color beast. Bryce Thompson is a 6’5 “guard who joins over Kansas where he averaged about 4 PPG in limited action.
Academic All-Big 12 Big Man Tyreek Smith comes from Texas Tech, where he averaged 2.6 and 2.4 in 8 minutes per game, and the Syracuse escape Woody Newton, who got 38.9% from depth in very limited Action shot rounds off the incoming talent.
I think it depends on who Mike Boynton is. He’s 51-49 in his career as head coach without Cade Cunningham, and it’s probably worth noting that he hired Cunningham’s brother to be his staff before signing. There is a lot of talent in this roster but there is no doubt that Cunningham was the linchpin that was what it was all about last year. Since he’s gone, there is a vacuum that Boynton has to fill. If he can do that, this is a tournament team. If not, his seat needs to be warm.