As Xavier wraps up its non-conference slate today against TCU, Christmas is fast approaching. Let’s see which Musketeers are on the naughty and nice list based on their play this year.
- Zach Freemantle: Not much was really expected from the freshman forward from N.J. While he’s contributed an efficient 7 ppg and 3.7 rpg, it’s been his hustle and infectious energy that have Xavier fans excited for the next three years.
- Paul Scruggs: He joins Freemantle as the only other Musketeer with a true shooting percentage over 53.1%, a figure that is below average. In short, he’s been the only one of Xavier’s top options that has put the ball in the basket at a solid rate. He turns the ball over a little too much for as little as he handles it, but his solid defense more than makes up for it.
- Naji Marshall: The junior forward hasn’t been as efficient as the other two but he does a bit of everything and has been the only one to show up for several big games. If he could just shoot a little better, he’d be a serious contender for Big East POY.
- Tyrique Jones: With six double-doubles on the season, Jones has been his usual imposing self down-low. It’d be nice he could hit a few more of his free throws and stay out of foul trouble a bit better, but it’s been a solid start to his senior season.
- Bryce Moore: While his three-point percentage has lowered to 32.5% over the last few games, Moore has been the three-and-D guard that was advertised when he transferred from Western Michigan.
- Quentin Goodin: The senior guard was on his best behavior Wednesday against Western Carolina and it probably allowed him to slip his name onto the “nice” list. While he’s only averaging 8.4 ppg, he’s actually been Xavier’s best three-point shooter at 36.4%. Marshall might be stepping on his toes as a point-forward, but Q brings solid defense and good ball-handling.
- Leighton Schrand: He started two games to start the season. What more could you want?
- Jason Carter: There were high expectations from the grad transfer from Ohio but he’s mostly failed to live up to them. While he made a late run to make the nice list with his best game of the season against WCU, he’s still only shooting 30% from deep and is turning the ball over too much (1.7 TOPG) for a guy who doesn’t handle it all that much.
- All of the (non-Freemantle) freshman: Kyky Tandy probably has the best excuse given the injury that delayed the start of his season, but he’s failed to materialize into the deep threat that this team sorely lacks. Dahmir Bishop seemed to get off to a good start but has failed to earn much playing time as of late. Daniel Ramsey dealt with an injury to begin the campaign as well and has yet to make an impact.
- Dontarius James: The sophomore has failed to make an impact, averaging 1.4 ppg in just seven appearances.
Maybe Santa is being a bit generous listing seven Musketeers on the nice list after a lackluster start to the year, but each of those players has generally contributed in ways other than shooting. Xavier needs a few shooters to emerge or this team will struggle to live up to its potential all season.
Meet the Horned Frogs
Record: 8-2 (85th in NET, 60th in Kenpom)
Head Coach: Jamie Dixon, 4th season (76-43 at TCU, 404-166 overall including 13 seasons at Pitt)
TCU Player stats per game
Jamie Dixon surprised many when he left a solid PITT program to take over his alma mater. The Horned Frogs hadn’t had 20 wins in 11 seasons when he arrived, but he’s rewarded Horned Frogs fans with three straight 20-win seasons and their first NCAA Tournament berth in two decades. Like Xavier, TCU needs to pick up the pace if they want to make it this year but they’ll get plenty of chances when conference play begins next week.
This year’s TCU team has plenty of shooting, highlighted by senior guard Desmond Bane. Bane does a bit of everything, all while shooting 39% from deep. Sophomore guard RJ Nemhardt also is a complete player, though he’s at only 23.9% from deep and still keeps firing.
Down-low, Tyrique Jones will have his hands full with 6’11” center Kevin Samuel. The big man has been imposing on both ends but is shooting a horrific 26.9% from the foul line.
Time/Place: 5 p.m. at Schollmaier Arena
Line: TCU -2
After flopping last weekend on the road against a power conference team, Xavier is well aware that they need to take advantage of their last non-conference opportunity. With Naji Marshall over the stomach bug that left him out of the WCU game, expect Xavier to come out firing. NET’s 64th best shows up and wraps up the Big East’s domination of the Big East-Big 12 Challenge.
Xavier: 68, TCU 62