Xavier v. Drexel: Preview

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

The compressed scale and our general holiday festivities prevent a full preview of Drexel here, but we'll still have a bit of information on the Dragons to get you out of that tryptophan coma and ready for today's tip off.

Things didn't exactly go to plan for the Musketeers against Pacific last night, but they have barely 24 hours to get over it. The Muskies are back on the horse again, fighting a Drexel squad that just lost to a fairly strong St. Mary's team. The Dragons are without top scorer Chris Fouch through injury, and their team only goes about seven deep right now. Wing Tavon Allen and guard Chris Massenat will lead the way against Xavier as these two teams battle to avoid the seventh-place game.

Three questions:
-How does Xavier bounce back?
Last night's game was Xavier's first outside of the friendly confines of the Cintas Center, and the Musketeers fell to an opponent the probably should have handled. Now, with just over a day to rationalize the loss of the perfect season and (perhaps more pertinently) make the necessary adjustments to avoid the road to 3-28, can this team put the loss behind them and rally to look more like the team that beat Butler?

-Who wants it? Justin Martin hit a three on Xavier's first possession of the game but quickly faded to the periphery. Jeff Robinson once again looked more than content to let the game happen to him. Semaj Christon and Travis Taylor were both fairly assertive on the offensive end, but Xavier needs its role players to become less passive for this team to thrive this season.

-Can Brad Redford escape a face-guard? Redford played eleven minutes yesterday and had 2 points on 0-1 shooting and 1 turnover. Pacific dedicated a man to isolating him, and Redford's off the ball movement was not sufficient for him to even get an attempt from three. If Brad wants to have any sort of impact when he's on the court, he needs to be able to free himself for his trademark launches from three.

Three keys:
-Play some defense.
The Musketeers were a frenzy of effort and aggression on the defensive end of the court against Butler, but they looked nothing like that last night. Pacific was getting the ball to the post and then picking Xavier apart with basket cuts and kick outs. Sixty-seven points should win you games, but it won't win many if Xavier's team defense doesn't improve.

-Move the ball. We illustrated in the mini-recap how stagnant Xavier's offense has become just four games into the season. Individual brilliance is a bailout for bad offense even when you have it. Nobody on this team except for Semaj Christon seems to have the combination of skills and demeanor necessary to be the sole focal point of an offense for long stretches. Xavier is better served to move the ball and themselves in the half court and play as an ensemble rather than wait for a great solo effort.

-Get out and run. The amount of food on my dinner table yesterday afternoon outweighed most of Xavier's forwards, but they are all athletic and long. Semaj Christon has great end-to-end speed, and Brad Redford has just as good a chance of getting lost by the defense in transition as he does off of 100 screens. Xavier was successful by forcing the pace early against Pacific, and they can be the same tonight against a Drexel team that loves to play slowly.

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