Xavier came into the LaSalle game in desperate need of not only a win but also a good wire-to-wire performance. What they got was the exact opposite of that. Two of the three things that have plauged Xavier all year were once again in play today. The first of these was just sloppy basketball, and the Muskies were as sloppy as ever today. A ratio of 14 turnovers to 12 assists simply doesn't get the job done at any level for the Muskies. Xavier was also rubbish from deep; against a basically average perimeter defense, Xavier shot 28.6% (4-14) from beyond the arc.
The man who carried Xavier on his back for much of the last 14 months was not capable of doing so today. Tu Holloway's 15/5/7 came on a gruesome 2-12/0-6/11-12 shooting line. He was his usual self in getting to the line and converting, but shooting 2-12 from the floor and missing on all 6 three-point attempts isn't exactly carrying the mail for the Muskies. Holloway also had four turnovers. One thing I will say for Tu is that he should have had a dozen assists. The inability of Xavier's bigs to handle easy passes and convert easy buckets hamstrung the team's efforts tonight.
There must be something going on behind the scenes, because Coach Mack is exhibiting absolutely no faith in Brad Redford and Justin Martin. Redford caught a brief cameo in the first half, grabbing a board and dishing out an assist to the wrong team. Justin Martin didn't even get his warmup off. Redford was Xavier's best shooter back before his knee injury, and Justin Martin is the team's current leader in three-point percentage. In a game that was crying out for someone who could score the basketball from beyond the arc, the two players who fit the bill the best for the visiting team spent functionally the entire game rooted to the pine.
It wasn't all bad news for the Xavier Musketeers. Also, I can't believe I'm searching for positives in the LaSalle game. Anyway, Dezmine Wells looked like himself for Xavier again tonight. He put up 15/7/1 on 7-14/0-1/1-2 shooting. Wells was a force on both ends on the floor, getting to the glass and picking up loose balls all over the place. His finishing was good but no great, but he was consistently aggressive on the offensive end. In a performance that was legitimately listless for much of the game, Dez' efforts were a spark that the team didn't follow through on.
I don't have shot charts right now, but Xavier's bigs were simply ineffective at the rim. Big Kenny started off well but finished 4-10. Jeff Robinson and Travis Taylor were each 1-3. Excluding one elbow jumper from Robinson - which he should never be shooting - none of those shots were from more than about six feet, and most of them were layups. Only Andre Walker (3-4) looked like he had any idea of what to do with the basketball inside the charge circle. Xavier has a lot of things to work on, but the ability to make simple layups covers a multitude of ills.
Odds and ends:
-Dee Davis was 2-3 from deep, didn't turn the ball over, and was generally persistent on the defensive end. Xavier is in good hands with that young man on the ball.
-Big Kenny went for 10 and 8, but it took him ten shots to get it. He looked strong early but got more timid after a span in which he didn't get the ball.
-Xavier went 16-20 (80%) from the line, which is acceptable. Taking away Tu's 11-12 leaves the team 5-8 (62.5%), which is significantly less acceptable.
-Andre Walker went for 7/6/1 on 3-4/0-0/1-2 shooting. In a win, that's a great supporting line. Today, it was just a wasted effort.
As always, come back for Brad's full recap tomorrow morning. Xavier next plays at Fordham at noon on Saturday. Drink up, Xavier fans; we might be in trouble.