It was cold again last night, and that, as all weather patterns do, got me thinking about basketball. Tomorrow Xavier takes on Creighton in a game in which the winner will join Villanova at 4-0 on top of the Big East. It's as big a game as Xavier has played since the 2011-12 season, and it dominated the Conversation.
Brad: The idea of Semaj and Dougie Fresh both going off in the same game [makes me use inappropriate phrases for excitement]. Can you imagine if they both hit 30 or something crazy like that?
Joel: I'm looking forward to the game; I think it's going to be a doozy.
Brad: I'm afraid we get beat by 10+. They are very, very good
Joel: I'll just throw this out there: if Myles has doubles, we win
Brad: Bold. Marquette nearly broke 80 on us because they went off from deep. Creighton has to love that. I hope we have a guy right now who wants nothing more than to eat McDermott. Do you throw Stenger at him?
Joel: That, I'll be honest, didn't cross my mind during the preview. He obviously doesn't have the wind or the offensive ability to be an option for the whole game, but he could give us some minutes. The problem with Reynolds and, to a lesser degree, Farr is that they're foul-prone and McDermott draws a ton of fouls. I'd ordinarily be good with throwing fouls at an opponent's big gun, but he converts really well from the line.
Brad: I do wish Stenger was healthy, because I think he is both tall enough and quick enough to play McDermott. Reynolds probably is too, but he'd foul out in four minutes. I fear Farr isn't laterally quick enough. The other thought would be that you use Philmore there, cede roughly 30 to Dougie and try to clamp elsewhere.
Joel: The flip side is that I don't think they can guard the Stain Train on the post. Just looking at how their numbers are, it's clear they throw bodies from the perimeter to help the post. I think he can move the ball well enough that we can get open looks by throwing it to him and moving around him.
Brad: We just need to make those. It would be nice for Myles to snap out of it. He and Farr, and maybe your boy, are our best chance to stretch them out. They'll have seen the Marquette game, so Semaj may have some pump and go chances.
Joel: So here's a thought that should turn your stomach: JMart may be the answer to all of our problems. He has the quickness to guard McDermott on the outside and the length to at least give him real problems on the post. On the other end, he absolutely can nail catch-and-shoot or one-dribble jumpers. He's averaging something on the order of 14 and 9 in conference play and hitting close to half his threes in that time. Of course, the caveat is that he's JMart. There's a chance he goes for 2/3/0 in 14 minutes.
Brad: I would be willing to try it, but banking on Martin to be completely locked in from the drop is alarming. What about a 1-3-1?
Joel: Have we shown one of those all year? I know we've spent time in a 1-2-2/3-2 thing, which might work, but both of those have weak points at the high post. Everyone knows how to run a 2-3, but everyone also knows how to crack a 2-3, and Creighton's personnel is well-suited to that. I think we might be able to press them effectively at times. They're missing a 6'5" guy who can handle and move the ball; maybe put them under pressure to make good decisions in a hurry and see what happens. The flip side being, of course, that they're a very experienced team. This won't be anyone's first time with his feet to the fire.
Brad: That's about enough x's and o's for me, let's get more visceral. What do you want to see in this game? This is why we moved conferences. It's this game for the Big East lead, then Georgetown. Crazy.
Even if we lose, I think we can do it and still take away positives. For one, it's only a game in a schedule now packed with good ones. This isn't Temple followed by ranking lowering wins. Second, if we defend well and just don't get the breaks I'll feel better about our defense. On the other hand, if we win I'm going to think we're a top 10 level team. That's how good Creighton is.
Joel: I think this is a chance to go on the road against a top-tier team and prove that we can keep our composure and play our game. The number one thing I'm looking for out of this game is continuous effort and execution on the defensive end. Their defense isn't set up to force us into doing something silly, but their offense takes people apart. They play in a 17,000-seat arena and routinely pack it out; if we can go in there and play consistent, solid defense instead of falling apart, I'm going to say that's a good sign for our team going forward.
We were questioning the testicular fortitude of this roster earlier in the season, I'd say going to Creighton and playing our game rather than getting caught up in the proceedings and then coming home and punching Georgetown while they're reeling would be a step in the right direction in that department, right?