Conversation with the Cincinnati Enquirer's Adam Baum

Conversation with the Cincinnati Enquirer's Adam Baum

Xavier has a new coach for the 2018-19 season and three new starters after losing program stalwarts Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura in addition to Kerem Kanter. We got the lowdown on the Musketeers — who the Illini could potentially meet next month at the Maui Invitational — from the Cincinnati Enquirer's Adam Baum:

Xavier seems to have figured out how to pass the baton fairly successfully, but what are the expectations around the team after the coaching change?

This isn't the first time Xavier's had to reinvent itself due to heavy turnover, but that being said, the expectations haven't changed. Travis Steele may be a new head coach, but he's not new to Xavier. He's been on staff as an assistant coach for the last 10 years, so he knows what's expected and required to get the job done. I've heard Steele say many times, "We want to do things better than they've ever been done before." I think this team knows that people outside the program have already short-changed them for the season ahead. I think they've heard that, and they want to prove people wrong.

How different will the Musketeers look without Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura?

They'll look drastically different this season, not just in terms of who's on the floor, but style of play. The last few seasons, Xavier's been a dominant offensive team thanks to guys like Bluiett and Macura, but this season you're going to see a team that really relies on its defense. This team could be a major upgrade on the defensive end of the floor and that will obviously help early in the season while the Musketeers try and figure things out offensively as a unit. They do have some guys that can step up offensively, but the big question is who's going to knock down shots on the perimeter?

What did Paul Scruggs (a one-time Illinois recruiting target) show as a freshman, and where does his game need to go this season?

I've talked to quite a few people within the organization about Scruggs and it's no secret that he's going to be a major part of Xavier's plans this season. He played in 34 games last year as a freshman and averaged 17 minutes. In that span last season, one source told me that no one on the roster proved more last season from start to finish than Scruggs. He's a tough, nasty defender. Maybe one of the better defenders Xavier's had in recent years, so if he can find a way to contribute at the offensive end as well this could be a breakout season for Scruggs.

 

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