Xavier basketball off to hot start

Men’s team on pause due to COVID-19, women’s team improved at 4-4

by joe clark, sports editor
Newswire photo by Desmond Fischer
Paul Scruggs has taken a big step forward for Xavier this season, providing veteran leadership and a legitimate threat on both sides of the ball. Xavier’s men’s basketball team is sitting at 10-2 so far this year.

Xavier men’s basketball is currently on its second in-season pause due to positive COVID-19 tests within the team’s tier one personnel. 

Prior to the most recent pause, the Musketeers were having a strong season and currently sit at 10-2 with a 3-2 record in Big East play. Xavier’s most recent win was a 74-73 win over Providence at home on Jan. 10 that was highlighted by a game-winning three-pointer from Colby Jones. 

Jones was named “Big East Freshman of the Week” following his performance against Providence and in Xavier’s win over St. John’s earlier that week. 

Xavier has had strong performances this year from sophomore Zach Freemantle, who averages 15.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Senior Paul Scruggs has been one of the best passers in the country, averaging 6.3 assists per game and scoring at a high rate with 13.8 points per game.

 Grad transfer Nate Johnson has been a sharpshooter for the Musketeers, shooting over 50% from three point range this season. Xavier’s also had strong performances from senior Jason Carter, who’s been the team’s best interior defender this season. 

Xavier’s biggest strength this season is their depth, as they bring sophomore KyKy Tandy, senior Bryan Griffin, junior Adam Kunkel and either freshmen Dwon Odom or Colby Jones (depending on which one isn’t starting) off the bench. 

They spent the early part of Big East play figuring out which lineup combinations worked best, but they seemed to find a good balance against Providence. 

Going forward, it’ll be important for Xavier to continue to find what lineups are most effective. Cutting down on turnovers and becoming more consistent from three-point range will also be important for Xavier as they look to make a run in the Big East and eventually in the NCAA Tournament. 

Meanwhile, Xavier’s women’s basketball is showing major improvements in Melanie Moore’s second season as head coach. 

They stand at 4-4, with a 1-3 conference record. Xavier has wins over Detroit Mercy, Wofford, Indiana State and Providence. 

The Musketeers have been a tough out in conference play as they only lost to Creighton by three points and Marquette by seven points. Miami (OH) transfer Nia Clark has been Xavier’s leading scorer with 15.2 points per game. 

A’riana Gray is second in scoring with 12.7 points per game and also leads the team in rebounding with seven rebounds per game. 

Kae Satterfield, a transfer from Cincinnati, is a close second with 6.8 rebounds per game, while also contributing 9.8 points per game. 

The Xavier women’s team hasn’t played since Jan. 3 due to COVID-19 concerns impacting other Big East programs. They resume play on Saturday when they travel to South Orange, N.J. to play Seton Hall.