Now it finally starts! Whether it should be or not, Xavier’s season starts today.
It’s the 25th. November and the college basketball season begins. The absolute chaos at the end of last season seems far away and strikingly immediate. Some echoes linger, the Ivy League crashes, there are no fans in the seats, the action that appears at the bottom of the screen can sometimes get more attention than the main action. Even so, basketball is back, even though at this point everyone is just moving shadows in the shape they want to see.
Basketball is back! There is almost nothing in the world that can completely distract from it. For a glorious two hours on Wednesday afternoons, there is nothing more important to those of us who are out of work and some of you who are still working than Xavier, who starts his long journey to somewhere in Indiana in March. Yes, that end goal is weird (do you mean we’re not allowed to play a first-round game in Provo this year? Oh no!), But the goal remains what it always was: to throw away the nooses and arrows of the outrageous NCAA happiness, UC hit, make sweet 16. It’s time for basketball.
Oakland will only be among the 68 around Indianapolis in March if they win the Horizon League. Last season they went 13-18 in conference play and then were taken in the boat from Green Bay to take a bow before their season could even be canceled. This has nothing to do with the reputation of coach Greg Kampe, who was three years old since Travis Steele and trains in Oakland.
Kampe has developed further during this time, and that shows in his passing. In 2016 his team was among the top 10 at the adjusted pace. Since then he has been braking like a 15-year-old who is learning to drive. Last season the Golden Grizzlies were 285. in pace and held the ball for almost 19 seconds per possession. The result was one of the three worst shooting teams (29). 4%) in the nation and the 246th. most efficient offense. Oakland were good at getting on the line and moving the ball well, but to no avail.
Defensively, one would think that the team called the Grizzlies could evoke a certain ferocity. One look at the numbers would dissuade you from that notion. Oakland has rained behind the arch for the past few years as the teams swung the ball and shot it away at will. The fact that only 33% of those shots were fired didn’t matter, as only 40 teams in the national team allowed the teams a greater percentage of their shots from deep or from a pass. The Grizzlies were good at not getting teams on the line.
6-2, 185 guard Rashad Williams is a goalscorer. He’s going to shoot pretty badly from anywhere, taking a third of his team’s shots when he’s on the ground. He had games of 37, 34 and 29 last year, but also one where he scored eight points out of 12 shots. Daniel Oladapo is a 6-7 threat that is mostly achieved under its own steam. Additionally, Oakland only returns RPG players. Blake Lampman is a three point shooter who combines 33% of his attempts. Kevin Kangu is a point guard who can’t shoot and turns the ball way too hard. 5-11 Transfer Jalen Moore averaged 19 points for junior college over the past year and has a reputation as a marksman. The Grizzlies have lost 12 players in the past two years. That makes projecting a rotation a guessing game and firing Covid all the more detrimental.
– Who will play for Xavier? Adam Kunkel is still awaiting his eligibility decision, Danny Ramsey is still battling bad knees, and at least five players will make their Division 1 debut in that game. Amazingly, none of this is the biggest news as this is currently being released as three unknown players are currently unavailable for at least two weeks due to the Covid protocol. Coach Steele has to put together a rotation in no time.
– Who stands out as more unshakable? In the Xavier Invitational, the Musketeers need a few players to improve and maintain stability and consistent performance. Kyky Tandy seems explosive, but he has to add more stability to it. Zach Freemantle will use a large chunk of the available minutes after Tyrique Jones leaves. Jason Carter could really add a lot to this team by becoming a pencil and forgetting about the starting XI.
– How on earth is that going to sound? The Cintas with 300 people on Wednesday lunchtime seem to be a poorly attended job fair. Instead, this is the start of the season. The students will be gone, every scream from the coaches will be audible and the players will hear everything the fans scream. The audio spectacle will change dramatically.
– Win First War: Xavier should win all wars in this game, but studying the first four minutes and getting out of the way is of the essence. Once the game starts, some background noise will go away and the competition will take control. This competition doesn’t have to be tight. Dispose of Oakland early.
– Move the Ball: Coach Steele’s new offense involves the ball non-sticking, and Oakland is prone to teams that fit well. It would be an extremely encouraging sign to watch a musketeer team move the ball without it sticking.
– Create a nice distraction: this has nothing to do with basketball. For two and a half hours, Xavier Nation was able to take advantage of a break from a global pandemic, an election campaign that was only now becoming reality, and eight months of uncertainty. That’s a lot for college kids, but it would be a welcome blessing.
Xavier Musketeers, College Basketball, Oakland Golden Grizzlies Men’s Basketball, Bradley Braves Men’s Basketball, Big East Conference, Brian Wardle
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