Andy Mac Notebook: Xavier Tunes Up for Season in Blue-White Intrasquad Scrimmage
Andy Mac Williams,
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Muskies staged a 30 minute Blue-White intra-squad scrimmage at Cintas Saturday. Next Saturday they go a full 40. Game clock and 3 refs were employed. Blue won 68-52 in a wide open up-tempo display. Blue featured 5 veterans plus grad transfer Nate Johnson. 6-11 red shirt Frosh Dieonte Miles played for both teams. White comprised of all newcomers. More speed-more attacking the rim-fast breaks-better floor spacing and pinging passing game.
Best match-up PGs Kyky Tandy vs Dwon Odom(Odom's birthday Sunday 11-8). It's not either/or. Both guards will certainly play a lot together. Nate Johnson lived up to billing w/ 3 or 4 steals and nice charge drawn. 4 year Senior Paul Scruggs in unreal shape setting up for strong season of unselfish play. Belmont transfer guard Adam Kunkel a connector and communicator on floor working w/ Frosh Odom displaying deadly 3 point shooting.
Frosh wing C.J. Wilcher tough New Jersey product like Freemantle. 6-5 all court player-much more than just a knock down shooter. Tandy making huge lead frosh to sophomore-explosive streak scorer but court aware and now confident at PG. Freemantle better across the skill set spectrum and he was excellent late last season.
Transfer Ben Stanley deadly lefty low post scorer w/ big impact on rotation. Defense needs work w/ 7 new comers. Packline "D" is a process. Few kills in this scrimmage(3 straight defensive stops). A long way from goal of 7 kills/game. More barking needed!! Talent is there to be strong on "D".
Travis Steele was pleased w/ quick offensive tempo-passing and unselfishness(ball sharing). X piled up 28 assists on about 48 FGs made w/ just 12 turnovers. Both young PGs Dwon Odom and Kyky Tandy pushed the ball effectively.
Fast break should be much more productive w/ Odom and Tandy triggering transition. C. J. Wilcher scooped up 7 rebounds and makes smart passes along w/ his knock down shooting. Newark and Bergen County players (Wilcher, Freemantle, Brian Antoine at Villanova, Scotty Lewis at Florida) play w/ grit and high motor.
Frosh Colby Jones did not play because of slight lower body injury. He should be OK for this Saturday's scrimmage.
Expect line-up flexibility- a lot of PG 1 and 1A(ala Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons)-Depth is a strong point especially if and when Ben Stanley and Adam Kunkel gain eligibility. Depth will be tested early w/ 7 non-conference games packed into 17 days starting w/ three back to back to back vs Oakland-Bradley and Toledo November 25-26 and 27 at Cintas. Transition defense is a work in progress as expected.
Muskies should be able to run, shoot and score better but X must stop the ball going the other way or it devolves into basket trading. 16 days until the Opener and Xavier needs to thread the needle working into great game shape w/o injuries and avoiding Covid exposure.
About 300 students watched wearing masks and social distancing. Strong effort by XU admin to include students. It's their team! XU campus is not Covid free but is among safest areas of Hamilton County re infections. AD Greg Christopher is proud of XU effort but is taking virus week by week-ready to make adjustments if needed.
SIGNING DAY ON WEDNESDAY
Signing Day is this Wednesday November 11. Xavier expected to land two 2021s Caesar Edwards(6-10 South Carolina) and Elijah Tucker(6-7 Atlanta).
PRESEASON TOP 25
College Basketball News...AP has released its Preseason Top 25. Gonzaga is #1. Baylor #2. Villanova(BIG EAST) #3 w/ 11 of 64 #1 votes, Virginia #4. Iowa #5. Kansas #6. Wisconsin #7. Illinois #8. Duke #9. Kentucky #10. Creighton(BIG EAST is #11. BIG EAST teams Providence, UConn and Seton Hall all received votes.
Xavier opens BIG EAST play at Providence Saturday December 12 then open BE action at Cintas Tuesday December 15 vs Seton Hall. Muskies meet #11 Creighton in Omaha Wednesday December 23 to complete their pre Xmas BE schedule.
Jason Kokrak(XU 2007-Xavier HOF) tees off in his first Masters Thursday at Augusta National after winning on PGA Tour at Las Vegas 2 weeks ago( now #4 Fedex Cup and #26 in World Golf Ratings). Pairings come out Wednesday. No spectators unless you're an Augusta member. Weather looks similar to April-low 70s w/ chances of showers all 4 days. Tee times start very early because of sunset just after 5PM EST. TV coverage looks like this: Thursday and Friday ESPN 1 to 5:30PM.