One of the biggest questions to emerge for Xavier University's men's basketball team over the last couple of months is the status of sophomore guard KyKy Tandy.
An all-freshman selection in the Big East Conference last season, Tandy has seen his playing time drastically decrease since the start of conference play. He's averaging just under eight minutes per game in Big East action, and he didn't play at all against Providence or UConn, leaving many to wonder where he stands this season and going forward.
Head coach Travis Steele addressed this on his radio show Monday night, the day after a 63-51 win over Butler in which Tandy scored five points in seven minutes, but did not play in the second half.
"Number one, he had a really good week of practice. That's what got him on the floor and I thought he had three really good days. He didn't win the (practice) gold jersey but he was up near the top for the first time all year," said Steele. "So we're going to reward those guys that are there. I told him, I said, 'Hey, be ready to play, you're going to play.'
"I thought offensively he had the one bad turnover, but again, he scored. He had five points in limited minutes. And I know he can score. He's gotta bring it on the defensive end. I thought he had two other opportunities to get loose balls and he didn't get either of them. Now, he got the one (which led to a fast-break dunk for Daniel Ramsey). He got one out of the three. But I want all three. I want all three of those suckers. And you know what, he is heading in the right direction, though. I'm telling you. He is."
The fact that Tandy has stuck with it and he's working hard in practice to get back on the floor is a great sign.
"I met with him last week," Steele continued. "I said, 'Hey man, I know this year probably hasn't gone as you want it to, as you planned it to or you thought it was going to go ... if you can figure out how to fight and get through some adversity you'll be better because of it.'
"I think how he responded even today in practice, he was really, really good. Hopefully, we can continue to grow those minutes because I do think he can add something to our team. He's got a gift, we know that. He can heat it up and he can score the ball. And we need that on our team. As long as he's bringing that defensive effort and toughness on that end, he'll find his way on the court for us."
Chances are this season is the first time in Tandy's entire playing career that he's spent significant time on the bench, so it's probably been a challenge for him to deal with, but based on these comments from Steele it sounds like he's handling it the right way.
But, it's also hard to understand why Tandy didn't play at all in the second half against Butler if he's near the top of the Xavier Way practice leaderboard. Tandy should be in line to play again on Wednesday at Providence if he has another solid practice on Tuesday. And if he can add consistent defense to his game, then the Musketeers have another dangerous weapon at their disposal in the final weeks of the regular season