Sunday Conversation: 2/17

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Xavier won their midweek fixture against Fordham, but it was in such an unconvincing fashion that we were all a little concerned about what might happen at Dayton. Sure enough, X came out and got it fed to them on the road against UD. With at-large hopes gone and the shot at an A-10 tournament bye on life support, we discuss want went wrong and where the team goes from here.

Joel: We totally just tweeted on top of each other. Whoever she responds to can follow up. Our offense was once again bad, but our defense really troubled me. We managed to avoid cutting off access to the bucket and give their best three point shooter four clean looks from deep. You can't win without imposing your will on the offense, and we didn't do that last night. That's a strategic change that needs to be made in game. If you're getting roasted everywhere, at least decide to eliminate one area and make them beat you elsewhere. How can you let a guard go 5-18 when your posts are making hay like Trav and Philmore were? Is there something I'm missing here?

Brad: I hate having this same discussion all the time. It's amazingly frustrating to watch the same issues do us in, game in and game out. After the Fordham game I was afraid of something like this happening. We just look undisciplined and lazy right now. That's really what it is. You don't play defense because you are too lazy, you settle for bad shots because you are lazy, you let a team you destroyed on the glass just four games ago hang with you on the glass because you are lazy.

Joel: We're definitely missing a guy who will get up in his teammates' faces and let them know they need to wake the heck up. Our seniors definitely aren't the vocal types and, with the exception of Trav, are somewhat peripheral to the attack. Semaj isn't much of a talker by all accounts, so the combination of that and being a freshman probably make him reluctant to get after someone. Philmore has shown it a little bit, but even he has said that's an uncomfortable role for him to try to fill. Dee has some of it in him, but he seems almost sheepish when he's playing like garbage, which he was last night.

That's one of the things I miss about Dante; he wasn't going to let a little thing like being 1-7 from deep stop him from circling the wagons and going after someone he thought was slacking. I think that's an overlooked negative from the talent exodus over the summer. X has always had upperclassmen to pass it along to the next wave. Semaj is the best player on the team - if not right now, then certainly by the time it's all over - and he has nobody with real game experience to show him the ropes and keep him in line. Some of that falls on the coaches, but having a peer to do it is massive.

Brad: Of course, when we had someone like that the fans hated him and still revolt on Twitter when I mention him. (Mark Lyons, everyone). Yesterday was a collapse in all facets of the game: coaching, leadership, execution, gameplan, you name it, we sucked at it. Dayton did just what they did at our place and we looked shocked by it. The teams of the last two years have had balls, you could argue that they had too much, this team is the exact opposite. When the going gets tough, they turtle up.

Joel: Not sure Moog is the answer here; he came across as closer to an a-hole than an encourager. I don't think he would have let a team just shrivel like we did yesterday, though. To his credit (kind of) Semaj kept trying to get himself going. I'd rather he had fed the post and then doled out chest bumps and high fives though.

These are the kinds of seasons where that edge develops for the future. Next year, we'll be a little tougher than we are now. Who knows, maybe Stainbrook is secretly buck nasty, or Cantino has a set you could bowl with. In the meantime, we definitely miss having the kind of guy who would slap the ball out of Rob Lowery's hands when he's trying to call timeout. I don't see Semaj or Dee ever growing into that, so we're going to need to cultivate a collective nastiness we currently lack.

Brad: I think that Stainbrook has some attitude based on his discipline problems and the way he tweets. I am, of course, in favor of anyone who has a bit of an edge. I think Cantino may have that as well. As much as I love Trav (and I think he is the best player on this team right now), he isn't ever going to be chest bumping and exhorting his teammates. In the incoming class it seems like Brandon Randolph might have that nastiness, but I could just projecting since he is from Compton.

Look at the adjectives we are using for this team: soft, lazy, weak, etc. That's not Xavier ball. Where did "zip 'em up" go? Also, can we talk about how stupid Dayton fans are? Near the end of the game yesterday they were chanting "over-rated." At whom was that directed? The team fifth in the Atlantic 10? Their own 4-7 team? Archie Miller? Was it finally an appropriate reaction to Jimmy Binnie (seriously Jimmy, no one loves you)? Talk about ignorant.

Joel: That's why UD sucks. The only group overrating us, frankly, was them. Even though we're down ( and how sweet is it that our down years are still better than their average ones?), they still see us as their oppressive bullies to the south. We know we're not good, but they still know we're better. What an inferiority complex.

I want "zip 'em up" back, or at least that attitude. We've struggled to establish swagger, and it doesn't help that Semaj is, by all accounts, corteously deferential off the court, including the locker room. We don't have a guy who will drag us to victory, and we don't seem to be set up to do it as a collective.

Despite all the doom and gloom that comes with a game like that one, we still have a shot to grab a bye and catch lightning in a bottle in Brooklyn. I just wish we were showing any signs of being that. We're not offensively explosive; we need to be smothering on defense.

Brad: When was the last time we were smothering defensively? Not any of the last three games, certainly. Most of what we say seems to come down to attitude. We were tough, we aren't now.

Joel: In years past, we always had at least one guy who had everyone believing we were the best team in the gym, no matter what. Dante, Stan Burrell, Tu, whoever. This year, we haven't had that player emerge. Semaj has shown a little of it in his game, Dee has shown it in the way his whole countenance explodes when he's playing well, but we're lacking that one guy who gets everyone on board every time. If he doesn't emerge soon, this team is going to miss the tournament. Five tough conference games left, plus the game against Memphis. It's do or die time for this season.

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