With only one of its top five scorers from a season ago returning for the 2023-24 campaign, Xavier is trying to establish a new offensive identity.
Desmond Claude is quickly helping the Musketeers do just that.
Claude erupted for 25 points in his season debut, and he will look to replicate that performance when Xavier hosts Jacksonville on Friday in Cincinnati.
Buoyed by Claude and a 10-point, 12-rebound double-double from Gytis Nemeiksa, the Musketeers (1-0) rolled to a 77-63 victory over Robert Morris on Monday. Xavier shot a scorching 57.1 percent from the field, doing most of its damage down low with 50 points in the paint.
With the Musketeers' new look, Claude admitted there's been a bit of a learning curve, but coach Sean Miller has already found a way to utilize the strengths of his newcomers.
"This team is different than last year's; obviously we're still working through some things," Claude said. "It all depends on personnel, and that's what coach does -- he does it really well, you know, draws up plays for guys."
The Dolphins (1-0) have also made offensive adjustments, as coach Jordan Mincy put an emphasis on ball movement during the offseason. Jacksonville stuck to Mincy's game plan on Monday, piling up 22 assists on 43 made baskets in a 113-46 drubbing of Johnson, a Division II school in Kissimmee, Fla.
"We want our guys to play unselfish," Mincy said. "The one thing that we talked about this offseason was how many assists can we get -- how well can we share the ball to get ourselves opportunities to score."
Robert McCray V supplied a team-high 19 points, six rebounds and three steals in the victory over Johnson. Bryce Workman chipped in 16 points and nine boards.
Friday marks the second all-time meeting between the teams. Xavier beat the Dolphins 76-57 in Cincinnati back on Nov. 5, 2019.
--Field Level Media
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