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Sunday Conversation: 2/16

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In which we discuss coaching problems and Xavier's possible tournament hopes.

The clap/expression combo of a desperate man.
The clap/expression combo of a desperate man.
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Joel
Let's do this, since we must. First order of business: I can't stand Buzz Williams. You don't need to run down the sideline and scream at your team to get a stop every time the opponent has the ball. If they don't know that already, you're a dreadful practice coach.

Speaking of practice and coaching, we looked completely horrible today. The 19 turnovers were appalling, but the complete lack of any meaningful defensive strategy really hurt us. We're awful in defending the arc and have been for some time. That has to be coaching, right? How much of this has to fall on Coach Mack?

Bryan
I would say a large part of it falls on coaching, but not for failure to teach fundamentals. This team has proven it can perform at a high level when their mind is right. However, their minds have only really looked right in home games. Inconsistency on the road is one thing, but the best team we have beaten on the road this year is Alabama, the 12th place team in the SEC. Even in neutral sites (not counting the very pro-X crowd at the Shootout), this has looked like a team without a purpose. That is what falls on the coaching. Failure to properly prepare players to focus, execute, and perform the best they can without the crowd's backing. I hate to be that guy (Lies! I totally love it. I live to be that guy), but I said last week that Butler may be our last chance at a road win. After this can you see us having a shot against anyone other than Seton Hall?

Joel
You mean the Seton Hall that beat us at home because we - and this will blow your mind - let them shoot 22 threes? We've harped all year in Conversations, previews, recaps, tweets, and comments that we have to do something about how easily opponents get up threes against us, and we haven't changed a thing. That's a schematic failure by the coaching staff.

Every year except his very first, Coach Mack has fielded teams that were very easy to shoot threes against. Up until this season, the 3P% defense has stayed acceptable. Could it be that the quality of player is higher in the Big East (no kidding?) and you can't let those guys get clean looks like you could A-10 teams? That may well be it, and Coach Mack needs to adjust for that fact. You let teams play the lottery of chucking from deep and they're eventually going to get hot and beat you with it. Apparently good teams will do that more often. Who knew?

Brad
That was just completely absurd. You are playing against a team that has exactly one guy that can shoot from deep, and he makes it easy on you by, almost literally, only shooting from deep. Somehow though, that guy gets off 10 threes. That's on the coaching. You cannot reasonably expect any sane person to believe that Thomas' man somehow lost him on 10 separate occasions. For some reason, the scouting report and game plan completely failed today. (Again)

Joel
The offense wasn't much better, but I put that on the players. It wasn't great defense by Marquette, it was completely sloppy basketball by Xavier. They were overplaying those passes across the top all game and nobody back cut. You can say that they should have been told to, but they shouldn't need to be told that. Those lazy tosses from high point to high point on the other side lead to 1 on 0 fast breaks. Just awful execution, especially considering how hard we gashed them when we kept the ball.

Brad
So where do we stand on the tournament now? I really think it's in serious doubt.

Joel
By the way we played yesterday, yeah. We've been terribly inconsistent all year, and that was on display again. We're either awesome or brutal; I haven't come away from many games feeling like we played pretty well but got beaten.

By the math, it's a little sticky right now. We have to beat DePaul. We have to beat Seton Hall at their place. Then we have to find at least one more win from road games against St. John's and Georgetown and home games against Villanova and Creighton. Which of those do you see as our best shot?

Brad
It has to be St. John, right? Georgetown proved they can more than hang with us, and Villanova and Creighton are just going to bomb us to death. Beat either of those last two and we walk into the tournament on a huge ratings bump. That's not going to happen though, unless we consider possibly studying opponents tendencies.

Bryan
By process of elimination, I have to go with St. John's as well, although that isn't to say I think we will win. Georgetown is looking really hard to beat right now and I don't see us putting enough hands in faces to hang with either of the top 2. All this to say, I am not confident of our tournament spot at this point. However, the Big East tournament gives us another chance to pick up a win, which may be our final lifeline by then.