God bless him. - Mike Lawrie
What Happened: St. Joe's 58 - Xavier 57
My goodness, that was painful. If you want the visceral reaction to the game, read the reaction that Brad - himself in many ways the viscera of our operation here - wrote last night.
Here it's nuts and bolts, and the fact is that Semaj was not quite as good as Xavier needed him to be last night. Certain stat lines will always jump off the page at you, and Christon's shooting line of 3-14/0-1/4-4 certainly catches the eye. In the good news department, Christon is 24-29 (82.7%) from the line in the team's last four games, which is a marked improvement over his performance in that regard for much of the season. He ended the game with 10/2/4; that we would be pointing out that line as a negative from a freshman point guard is illustrative of how much Semaj is expected to do and how well he has met those expectations throughout the year.
Travis Taylor has grown into everything X fans hoped he would be this year, to the point that his 16/9/1 on 6-9/0-0/4-6 shooting seems like business as usual for the young man. Taylor also contributed a block to the cause and was generally Xavier's steadiest performer on the night.
Which is to take nothing away from the effervescent Brad Redford. Red went for 14/1/0 on 5-9/4-7/0-0 shooting, including a huge three with 4:54 left when the momentum had shifted and it looked like Xavier was in danger of falling out of touching distance. He also put the ball on the deck, beat his man, and scooped home a layup over an onrushing shotblocker. All in all, a good game for Redford.
It was that run that ended at 4:54 that ultimately doomed the Muskies last night. After Semaj scored a fastbreak laup to put Xavier up 41-33, St. Joe's used their next eight possessions to go 7-8/3-4/2-2 shooting for 19-5 run in which Xavier got no stops. The Hawks averaged 2.375 points per possession during that run; they averaged .88 PPP during the rest of the game. For a defense-oriented coach like Chris Mack, it must be maddening to lose the game in one seven-minute stretch of poor defending.
It's impossible to know what to make of Justin Martin. Just when you think he hates basketball and possibly everything around it, he puts up 7/5/2 (including 2 offensive boards) on 2-4/1-2/2-2 shooting like he did last night. Jeff Robinson's inconsistency comes in the form of anonymity followed by bursts of illogical production; when JMart shows up, he gets his in a manner than you honestly feel is fairly repeatable. If this were baseball, whether or not to renew his contract would be an agonizing decision. In college hoops, though, you take the good with the bad and hope he continues to show up like he did last night.
Isaiah Philmore played his guts out and grabbed 6 rebounds. It's hard not to have high hopes for his contribution next year.
Odds and ends:
-Dee struggled with foul trouble all game and went for 1/0/1 on 0-2/0-1/1-2 shooting in just 19 minutes.
-Jeff Robinson had 4/2/0. Whatever.
-X went for 9 assists on 19 made buckets, which is a pretty poor ratio.
When you lose a game like this, it's agonizing to look over the boxscore and see a million different ways X could have gotten or prevented one more measly basket over the course of 40 minutes. Now the A-10 tournament will continue without the Muskies, and we'll watch the Selection Show on Sunday for the names of 68 teams that Xavier will not be facing. For the players themselves, it will be a weekend to regroup and refocus before finding out which of the lesser tournaments will be their destination. We'll have coverage as things shake down and the occasional little blurb about the A-10 tournament as it progresses before ramping back into high gear as we find out who Xavier will be playing and when and where. Stick with us as we stick with the team right on through.