(February 9th) Desmond Claude has struggled over the last few weeks, going 2 for 21 from three. Xavier faced some of its toughest opponents with road games both at UConn and at Creighton, so some mild struggles were to be expected. He has done a good job, even with those struggles, about staying aggressive as a driver – his FTr has dropped a little, but going from the 66th percentile to the 63rd is not a notable difference, especially since most players get fewer free-throw generating foul calls against better defenses. Overall, it’s a good thing that Des Claude can have a down week or two and not have it totally crater his numbers, but it does have to just be a down week and not a down month.
(January 24th) Desmond Claude’s steal rate has started to recover. Claude was always too good a defender for the 10th percentile result he had last period to hold, and right on schedule he’s back up to the 17th percentile. He has also made improvements in points (84th percentile to 87th), rebounds (57th percentile to 69th), blocks (45th percentile to 59th) and turnovers (50th percentile to 62nd). Basically, other than a slight efficiency dip (which, to be clear, may be concerning if it dips any lower) he improved incrementally across the board, and the total product was better as well. Overall, this past month was a good one for Claude, even if there’s no single outlier jump to point to.
(December 14th) It would be very easy to look at this profile compared to last week’s and worry. Claude’s efficiency dropped from the 79th percentile to the 48th percentile, and his three-point percentage now sits at the 4th percentile. That said, all that really happened in this period is that Xavier played the 1st and 30th best defenses in the country. It’s not surprising to struggle against those kinds of elite defenses, especially on days when the jump shot isn’t falling. The total volume production – points and assists especially – remained virtually identical to the prior period, so while it would’ve been better to be more efficient in those games, there’s nothing wrong with struggling against a pair of very good opponents, especially when you come out with a win in the big rivalry game.
(November 30th) In a future week, we’ll definitely want to talk in detail about Desmond Claude’s defensive box score – it’s an interesting case study for how statistics don’t always perfectly capture everything a player’s been doing. For now, though, let’s focus on the large increase in offensive scoring load he’s taken on this season. Claude has taken a clear role, in the aftermath of Souley Boum, Colby Jones, and Jack Nunge, not to mention the absence of Zach Freemantle due to a foot injury, as the top offensive option on Xavier’s team. Claude has unquestionably responded well to the responsibility, improving on not only his scoring – Claude is on pace to have more points scored this season than last before grades post for the fall semester – but also his efficiency (79th percentile true shooting is a large leap from his struggles last year) and passing.