There’s just something about being pressed into service that lends itself as a proving ground for up-and-coming athletes, and the Xavier men’s basketball team has learned a lot about freshman guard Quentin Goodin over the last two months.
Forced into a starting role because point guard Edmond Sumner suffered a season-ending knee injury, the 6-foot-4 Goodin has guided the Musketeers to a 7-7 record, including four wins over their last five outings, and three in tournament play.
“He's been force-fed a whole lot,” Xavier coach Chris Mack said. “I couldn't be happier for Q. I think there's nothing greater than actually getting playing experience and being able to play through your mistakes as a college basketball player.”
Since moving into the starting lineup, Goodin has averaged 7.5 points per game, nearly 2.5 points better than his overall season average. Additionally, Goodin is handling out nearly six assists per game over the last seven weeks.
Goodin has handed out five or more assists in nine of his 15 starts.
“At times, when you're coaching, you obviously have to go with more seasoned and experienced players, but we don't have that luxury at the point guard position because Edmond went down,” Mack said. “He's always been a phenomenal defender.
“Even when he was playing 12 minutes a game, I talked about it all the time. Now, he's playing 35 minutes a game. His effort and his intangibles, his quickness, his toughness on the defensive end gives him a chance.”
Goodin’s offensive performances have improved largely after he showed his teammates he was up for the challenge of leading a team.
“Offensively, I think he's grown immensely,” Mack said. “His assist-to-turnover ratio is phenomenal. I know he didn't have a great night (Thursday) in terms of turned the ball over one too many times and did it a couple times when they were sort of unforced turnovers, but he's gotten tons better, and I think our team has developed a confidence in Quentin that they didn't have when he first took over. It's been really fun to watch.”
Goodin added, “My teammates have a lot of confidence in me. I want to fill some of the parts where Ed left off. I'm not the same player as Ed, but I feel I can do some of the things that Ed could do. At this point in the tournament, I'm just trying to play to the best of my ability.”
With the Musketeers one win away from their sixth Sweet 16 appearance in the last 12 years, Goodin knows he must take care of the ball to knock off a Seminoles (26-8) squad that is holding their opponents to 41.2 percent shooting from the field and just 71.5 points per game while forcing 252 steals.
Also, Florida State’s defense has forced 485 turnovers.
“Offensively, I feel like we're all going to have the same mindset,” Goodin said. “We're going to stay aggressive, but we've got to play smarter. They're a denying team. They stay out in their lane, so we've got to take care of the ball better than we did the first game. I feel like our aggression stays the same.”