Semaj Christon preparing for his next charge. - Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
That was an unforgivable crap fest, and I'm sorry if you watched it. The things that are plaguing Xavier are both obvious and fixable, but that's an issue for another column. This is just the facts.
What happened: Wake Forest 66 - Xavier 59
My honest thoughts on this game can't be printed. We strive to keep a certain level of discourse here, and we certainly do our best to keep it at a level of moral standing that you would be comfortable having your 12-year-old read. One of our brothers is 12, so we use him as a measuring stick. So if what you read below seems overly measured, that's why. If it still seems vitriolic, well, know my knee-jerk reaction was much, much worse.
First off, all (and I mean all) credit to "Takeoff" Travis Taylor, who did his absolute utmost to win by himself a game the rest of his team seemed dead set on losing. As the only adult in the gymnasium for Xavier, Taylor went for a dominant 18 and 10 on 9-10/0-0/0-0 shooting while also picking up a steal and a block. Taylor played 35 minutes on the game. You'll hear people state that he only had 2 points in the second half, and it's true. However, Taylor on had five touches in the offensive end in the second. That's right, five. Nobody on Wake Forest looked like they were even close to stopping Taylor in the first half, and his only bucket - on his only shot - of the second half came through a double team. Taylor was having the game of his life and could have gone for thirty while carrying Xavier to a win. Instead, they forgot that the most dominant player on the floor was even in the gym, to say nothing of on their team.
Despite his heroic efforts, Trav was seriously let down by his teammates. We'll point fingers at them by name here in a minute, but I want to address them collectively right now. Taking out Taylor's line, Xavier went for 41/26/6 with 19 TO on 12-39/1-8/16-26 shooting. Despite that fairly destitute offensive showing, nobody seemed to find it necessary to feed the post, and no one on the bench apparently took the time to instruct them to get the ball into the middle.
Semaj was all kinds of freshman today. He was 3-11/0-0/8-10 shooting, put up a game line of 14/3/2 and turned the ball over five times. Two of his made buckets were on heavily contested jumpers, which are not the shots you hope to get out of an offensive set. Christon was able to get to the rim with some regularity but really struggled to get the ball to go in. When the game is nip and tuck deep into the second half, each of those misses really looms large. Christon also got called for not one but two charges late in the game, a troubling habit that is on the verge of becoming a trend for him. Semaj has a whole bunch of potential, but he is going to have to figure out how to slow down, work on his finishing with his left hand, and develop a jump shot before he reaches it.
Justin Martin... ugh. He had 1/6/1 with 4 turnovers on 0-6/0-3/1-2 shooting. I love the effort that leads to the performance on the glass, but Martin has to be more than that for Xavier. On the few times he did get the ball in the second half, Taylor did a good job of waiting for the double and then finding the open man. Xavier managed to - well heck, let me break it down for you. First touch: got doubled, turned the ball over on a pass. Second touch: kick out, ball rotation, Davis misses corner three. Third touch: waits for double team, dribbles out of it, powers through for ten-foot hook shot. Fourth touch: waits for double team, kicks out, Martin misses wing three. Fifth touch: turnover. I know two TO in five touches wasn't great, but the second one came out of a scramble. More to the point, Taylor kick outs led to two wide-open threes for Xavier. Neither of them was converted. Anyway, Martin needs to be a scorer, and today he wasn't.
Jeff Robinson had 10/6/0 on 3-7/0-0/4-6 shooting. He had three offensive boards but two turnovers and four fouls and looked lost on the defensive end. Of his three made baskets, two were on long jumpers that he hit nothing but net on. I've repeatedly given up on trying to figure out Jeff Robinson, and I'm giving up on it again. On the flip side, Xavier got exactly what was advertised out of Erik Stenger. He was 2-2 from the floor but 0-2 from the line. He got after it on scrappy things (two offensive boards, two steals, a block) but turned the ball over three times. Erik Stenger is who he is, warts and all, and in that way is a microcosm of the Xavier team right now.
Odds and ends:
-Brad Redford was 1-2 from deep, and the one he hit was about 23 feet out off of the bounce. Very impressive. Or whatever.
-Landen Amos got the trillion in three minutes but played some tough defense while he was out there. I like Landen Amos.
-Xavier had 20 turnovers against a team that forces them at a subpar rate. Wake scored 29 points off of those turnovers.
-Xavier had 24 points in the paint in the first half and ended the game with 32 points in the paint.
-Xavier was 16-26 from the line, and that's including a solid 8-10 from Semaj.
I love my dad too much to let him watch that garbage after he got home from church, so I warned him off of it. Consequently, there will be no Dad's Take tonight. Next game is in eight days. Stay tuned for Brad's recap at 9am tomorrow.