Andy Mac: Xavier Basketball Practice Notes - 11/5
By Andy Mac Williams, 11/6/2020

Xavier Basketball TEAM 99 News....Byron Larkin and I attended Muskie practice Monday 11-2. 12 XU scholarship players participated in 90 minute work out preceded by 15-20 minutes of free shooting. Travis Steele began things w/ a review of Saturday's scrimmage using a huge video monitor. He gave players high marks for ball screen defense and overall "D". Full court lay-up drill always opens actual practice.

Most impressive rim runner 6-11 RS Frosh Dieonte Miles(now pushing 7 feet-plus 20 pounds to about 222). His foot speed is elite. Most of practice was devoted to half court defense. First ball scree-later packline slides. The emphasis was on being more physical-fighting through screens and using switching as a last resort. Offensively, they ran some 5 on 0 sets(plays). Very noticeable much better outside shooting, They also worked on out of bounds plays.

Two groups consisted of Dwon Odom-Paul Scruggs-Colby Jones-Jason Carter and Zach Freemantle(Freemantle won Gold Jersey as last week's top practice player). Kyky Tandy-Adam Kunkel-C. J. Wilcher-Ben Stanley and Bryan Griffin. Miles subbed in as 5.

Nate Johnson(Grad Transfer-Gardiner Webb) subbed in at 2G returning from slight injury. Daniel Ramsay did not practice. 3 Frosh PG Odom and Wings Jones and Wicher are BIG EAST ready physically IMHO( long-solid-up to speed w/ drills-confident). Impressive trio!

Freemantle sports a new shorter hair cut. He's been elected a tri-captain as a Sophomore and projects as a PF and 5 man.

Kyky Tandy is sleeker sporting that 48 inch vertical looking like a polished combo guard as a Soph. Colby Jones can play 1 through 3. His skill set is impressive(shooting-ball handling-active defense-rebounding). Jones has run some PG. He's used as trigger man on out of bounds plays.

Scruggs obviously is a Wing starter at 2G or SF. Ideally, Tandy and Odom are prime lead guards w/ Scruggs off the ball. Carter is so solid-always in the right place w/ more defined offensive role this season in a more balanced deeper roster. 5 veterans including Miles who practiced last year. 7 newcomers. 4 of those transfers.

Kunkel and Ben Stanley are waiting for red shirt waivers from NCAA. Both have two seasons of productive D-1 experience.

Nate Johnson was Second Team All Big South. Long 6-4 2G and 40% 3 point shooter w/ strong steal numbers. Griffin is a 6-6 230 pound D-2 Grad Transfer w/ a nose for rebounds. Stanley was First Team BIG South at Hampton(22PPG-9 REBS)(6-6 230). All 12 on the floor can keep up IMHO and compete for minutes. Who starts and who finishes are TBD. A 30 minute scrimmage w/ game clock and refs is set for Saturday.

They go a full 40 minutes under game conditions next Saturday. The opener 11-25 at Cintas vs Oakland is 20 days ahead.

TEAM 99 is deeper-faster-better shooting and should be more offensively gifted and thus more entertaining. Staff continuity is a huge plus. It's Year 3 for all 3 assistant coaches. Support staff Mario Mercurio-Matt Jennings-Dave Fulker-Trey Scotti are vets. 3 walk-ons are Juniors and know their roles. Grad assistants Sam Frayer and Leighton Schrand are solid practice players and coaches in waiting.

OTHER NOTES: Paul Scruggs is one of 20 players on the watch list for Jerry West Award as NCAAs top Shooting Guard. Scruggs is 2nd Team Preseason BIG EAST and Muskie tri-captain. He made BET All Tourney Team in 2018(28 points-11 rebounds-7 assists in 71-67 OT Semi-Final loss to Villanova). Other BIG EAST nominees: James Bouknight-UConn, Mitch Ballock-Creighton, Juston Moore-Villanova. Marquette returned to practice on 11-4 after two weeks off(Covid related).

KenPom's preseason ratings are out w/ Villanova #4, Creighton #13, Marquette #34, UConn #43, Seton Hall #50, Butler #56, PC #63, Xavier #65, St Johns #72, DePaul # 85 and Georgetown # 86. 5 BIG EAST teams currently list non-conference opening games including XU-Oakland on 11-25.

Villanova plays St Joe's in a Philly Big 5 Game on 11-30. Creighton meets South Dakota State on 11-25 in MTE at Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Marquette plays Oklahoma State in a BIG EAST-Big 12 Battle game on 12-1 and PC takes on Indiana in Asheville, NC on 11-30.

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