The Edmond Sumner injury, paired with Myles Davis’ departure from the program, has left Xavier paper-thin. The glut of unexciting bigs that Xavier fans spent half of a season complaining about, are now Xavier’s only role players. With someone from this bunch starting, the three remaining big men will compose Xavier’s entire bench.
As Xavier only has eight scholarship players remaining, the most devastating aspect of the injury is how it affects their depth and versatility. With the loss of Sumner, Xavier lost its ability to go small for long stretches during the game. Xavier still starts four guards (Goodin, Malcolm Bernard, JP Macura, and Trevon Bluiett), so whenever any of them rests, Chris Mack will have to slow the tempo to accommodate for having two big men on the floor.
Quentin Goodin replaced Sumner in the starting lineup, and, as the only conventional point guard and best remaining ball-handler on the roster, has inherited all of Sumner’s minutes, playing thirty-five minutes against Seton Hall. Before the injury, Sumner played thirty-three minutes per game, but Goodin ran the point whenever he left the floor. With Sumner’s minutes becoming Goodin’s, the sixteen minutes that Goodin played before the injury are up for grabs. Since Macura can fill the back up point guard role for five to seven minutes per game, someone from the bench has to step up into a sixth-man role.
Kaiser Gates looks like the biggest beneficiary from the available minutes. As one of the best three-point shooters on the team, Gates is capable of playing with another big man without ruining Xavier’s floor spacing. While, say, Tyrique Jones and Sean O’Mara can’t play together, Gates can play with any of Xavier’s bigs. Goodin would be the biggest beneficiary of Gates playing more minutes. Since his playmaking skills are nowhere near as strong as Sumner’s, he will need the extra space that Gates creates to operate. While a big like O’Mara doesn’t spread the floor with his shooting ability, he cannot use the threat of his three point shot to force help defenders out of the lane. However, Gates’ defender has to stick to him, leaving more space for Goodin to dribble and find passing lanes. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Gates start as the five or the four alongside Jones or RaShid Gaston later in the season to help Xavier better space the floor.