Andy Mac: Observations on Exhibition Win Over Ferris State
Andy Mac Williams,
Observations in the wake of Xavier TEAM 100's Exhibition Game 100-59 win over D-2 Ferris State. Two heads ups 1st!! Don't forget to fall back tonight! We move from EDT to EST! Also, Tuesday's Cintas Opener vs Niagara is a 7:30 EST Tip, not 7pm. Our Duff's Pregame Show begins at 6:50. Bottom line: It was beyond terrific to have several thousand fans at Cintas. Student section was packed and raucous. Pep Band has grown in numbers and decibels. New video board seems larger than life. Travis Steele was pleased w/ the effort-saying excellent execution will follow. Muskies are very much what I've seen in practiceL Deeper, Faster, Longer, Harder to play against, Better shooting, More vocal, More connected. XU drubbed Ferris about as badly as Michigan State had last week (Spartans +34, Muskies +41). Both MSU and X doubled Bulldogs on the glass.
Steele liked the fast pace on offense and the relentless pressure applied by the defense. The ball moved and seldom stuck on one side. X attacked off the dribble w/ plenty of speed lay-ups plus 10 dunks and 25 fast break points. Muskies shot 26-31 FTs(84%). Travis wants to play what he terms "paintball" w/ copious post touches. Mission accomplished w/ 45 paint points-tons of free throws and 57 rebounds. 80+ PPG is the goal while creating more possessions w/ nasty defense(steals-stops-blocks-deflections).
Super Senior guards Paul Scruggs and Nate Johnson are "the known" on the roster. Scruggs set the mood defensively-getting down in his stance-snarling-foaming at the mouth-being relentless-leading by example-filling the stat sheet(8 points-4 assists-1 turnover-4 steals-6 rebounds). Steele needs Scruggs(5th year) to be the best lead guard in BIG EAST(overall 94 foot impact).
The two SOPHS Colby Jones and Dwon Odom have made huge leaps. You can add consistency and efficiency to their effort level and potential now. Colby posted a strong double-double(18 points-11 rebounds plus toss in 3 assists) on 7-12 shooting and 3-4 FTs. He's confident now to call his own number and make shots(off the bounce and spotting up from"3". Reminds me of recent Villanova star Josh Hart(now in NBA playing w/ Naji Marshall at New Orleans). Solid 6-5 w/ nose for the ball-rebounds non-stop-takes great shots-never rests on defense-handles like a guard-can defend any position 1-4.
Odom just has a 6th gear and drives the pace. He can get to the rim anytime and his defender knows it. His mid-range pull-up jumper and floater are now border line elite. He'll be wide open when he launches "3s" now. It's a blow by scenario if you pressure him. One man press break! Off the bench vs Ferris he was super good(20 points on 5-7FG plus 10-10 FTS-4 boards-3 assists). And Dwon delivers withering ball pressure on the bad guy's PG. Muskies may not have many 20 point individual performances, but expect scoring balance.
Adam Kunkel dropped 21 vs Ferris w/ a hot streak after taking a technical foul. Deep Shooter(4 made "3s") a nd fearless to the rim. IU transfer Jerome Hunter started and showed his skills (9 points-7 boards). Great hops on a straight line drive and dunk. At 6-8+ he's hard to guard from outside the arc. He has a lot to prove after injuries slowed him at Indiana for two seasons. Ben Stanley's game is not pretty, but he digs out tough rebounds(9 boards in 13 minutes) and does the dirty floor work.
Three guys saw time at Center-5-traditional BIG-pick your own label. Dieonte Miles seems ready to blossom in his 3rd Muskie season) long-lefty-speed rim runner. Iowa transfer 7 footer Jack Nunge is a polished low post w/ Big Ten credentials. Frosh Cesare Edwards may be a project not far from earning early PT.
Best news off the court - Zach Freemantle is out of the boot and walking on his surgically repaired left foot. Doctors say he is healing fast just over two weeks post surgery. Maybe Dec 1 return or thereabouts is possible? Hopefully the Center 3 some can be productive enough to let Freemantle play some power forward. Don't discount Colby Jones at the "4" plus Freemantle and 3 guards or Jerome Hunter at the "4" in that same kind of line-up.
I liked what I saw versus Ferris more importantly so did Travis and hopefully you if you were in the house. Tuesday vs Niagara is on 55KRC Radio and FS1.