1. The Big Three
Trevon Bluiett, JP Macura, and Edmond Sumner have been ridiculously good throughout preseason practice so far. Macura and Bluiett theoretically put on a show for their teammates and coaches at Trevecca University. I'm just looking forward to watching those three unleashed together in live action for the first time this year. I don't expect them to show any mercy for their Division II opponent.
2. Post Play
I don't think Xavier's center position is nearly the question mark that many outside media members do, but RaShid Gaston and Sean O'Mara still have to prove they're ready for big time college basketball. According to stats obtained by MusketeerReport from the scrimmage against Georgia, Xavier out-rebounded the Bulldogs 35-24 overall and 16-5 on the offensive glass. The Musketeers didn't allow an offensive board until the final four-minute war of the game. Continuing to dominate the glass should be the main focus for XU's bigs, but I'm also curious to see how they fit in offensively, especially against inferior competition.
The Musketeers made playing in transition and shooting threes a habit last season on offense. Expect them to only ramp that up with less of a post scoring presence on this year's roster. They scored 58 points in the second half against Georgia and shot 26 threes, and that was with the Bulldogs playing a ton of 2-3 zone. I'm looking forward to covering a trigger-happy team that plays fast and moves the ball well.
4. Bernard's Presence
If there would have been a stat-sheet from a hypothetical scrimmage between Xavier and Georgia, sources tell me Malcolm Bernard would have stuffed it with 13 points (4-7 FG, 0-2 3PT, 5-10 FT), six assists, four rebounds, two steals, and two turnovers in 31 minutes. That's a good sign that his playmaking skills he's shown in practice translated against a high-major opponent. It's important he keeps that momentum going for the Musketeers. He's quickly gone from added depth to a crucial piece on this year's roster.
5. Merely Freshmen
This is the last chance for Quentin Goodin and Tyrique Jones to make a real impression on the coaches against live competition before games start. Goodin is going to get minutes no matter what out of necessity once the regular season starts, but for Jones, this should be an extended opportunity to make his case for why he can be trusted in the rotation. Also, both of these guys have seemingly picked the system up quickly on offense and defense, so it will be interesting to see if that translates to game action. If so, they should be able to play fast and free without thinking about where they need to be on the court.