X-Men Blow Out Ball St. in Final Tuneup before Shootout
Andy Mac Williams,
Xavier's final tune-up before Saturday's Crosstown Shootout vs UC did not start well! Muskies trailed Ball State 7-2 going into the TV time-out. Travis Steele was not pleased. "It was a rough start. Our energy wasn't right. The nice thing is we have depth(and he used it). The other guys were ready to play." Steele subbed in Zach Freemantle along w/ Dwon Odom and Adam Kunkel to go w/ Paul Scruggs and Jack Nunge who'd just replaced starting BIG Dieonte Miles. X took off on an 11-0 run and kept the pedal to the medal clobbering BSU(MAC) 96-50. Travis was happy about almost everything: "Our ball moved. We played at a good pace. We had 37 minutes of strong defense, but 18 turnovers is ridiculous!!"
Best news heading into the Cincinnati game, Freemantle is starting to play like himself after 4 months of inaction-foot surgery-rehab-less than two weeks of practice-7 tentative minutes vs Central Michigan and 19 much better minutes at Oklahoma State. Pretty good production( 20+ minutes-24 points on 9-11 FG-6 for 6 FTs-7 rebounds-4 assists and 2 steals).
Zach ran the floor well-rebounded and defended in traffic drew fouls and smiled a lot. He and Nunge played together smoothly. What's not to like about two skilled BIGS who work well-pass it-shoot it-rebound it and protect the rim. B
all State struggled to get shots off(30%FG-23% from "3-just two 10 point scorers-20 turnovers forced). They average 78PPG and scored 50. X shared the ball-shot 53%FG and knocked down 12 of 25 "3s". Muskies crushed Cardinals on the glass 51-26.
The 9-man rotation worked well. The fast break netted 31 points. The bench went for 54 points. Soph PG Dwon Odom seemed shot out of a cannon. thriving up tempo(7 points-6 assists-5 rebounds). Colby Jones played just 23 minutes and just missed another double-double(14 points-8 boards-5 assists). Nate Johnson swished 4 "3s". Paul Scruggs won the Junkyard Dog Hustle Award(9 rebounds).
Steele on his fifth year captain:
"He says all the right things in huddles and practices. More importantly, he does all the right things on the floor."
Scruggs becomes the first Xavier player ever to play in 4 wins over the Bearcats if Muskies win Saturday at Cintas(8:30PM-FS1). He was MVP in last season's 77-69 XU win in Clifton(20 points-5 rebounds-5 assists).
Xavier improves to 8-1. UC (7-2) has no mid-week game. Skyline has pulled the plug on the Shootout Party and joint coaches' press conference citing Covid. The build up seems somewhat muted IMHO. We'll try to energize things here over the next couple days.
Wes Miller is a lot harder to dislike than Huggs or Cronin. We barely knew Andy Kennedy and Jon Brannen seemed awfully bland. Miller did refer to Xavier as Eggs-avier a couple times in an interview and he talked about bussing over from Clifton to Norwood. X is actually in Evanston. Nobody is perfect.
I wore my red sweater to my first meeting w/ Bob Staak after we closed Xavier's first local TV deal w/ Channel 19. He went bonkers.
Miller seems like a decent sort. He has Bearcats playing hard and together. We'll flush out his flaws though and get the bile flowing certainly by Friday. All sorts of fun pregame content is percolating and we'll share it starting Friday.