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Xavier can't win on the road; why?

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Every encouraging home win is erased by the next deflating road defeat.

I don't get it either, Matt.
I don't get it either, Matt.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Brad
I won't say one step forward and then two steps back, because Butler has won some big games, but that surely wasn't progress. What is going on with this team? How do you lose this game like that?

Joel
What disgusted me was how predictable it all was. I wrote back in December about our defensive second halves and allowing role players to go off. Check and check. I wrote in the preview that Chrabascz would get healthy against us. Check. This isn't to pat myself on the back; anyone who has watched this team play at all this year knew it was coming. We got absolutely clubbed on the boards, too; that's embarrassing.

All that overshadowed the fact that we put up 76 points in 68 possessions on the road against a very good defensive team. This offense is solid, but I'm not sure it's going to matter if every other phase of the game is consistently terrible on the road.

Joel
Side note: in looking at the differences between the final box and the initial box when the game went final, it's borderline alarming how bad the live stats system at Hinkle is. They couldn't have upgraded that when they renovated? It's like someone's chatty great aunt is kind of statting the game between gossipy conversations about the town tart.

Bryan
I am going to try to be the ray of light here, since you guys are going negative. Last night was a bad game, no doubt, but it showed exactly where this team needs to improve (defensive execution, especially in the second half). It will not have escaped the coaching staff that Butler romped for the last 20 minutes, and I would even wager that there will most likely be an uptick in the emphasis placed on it in practice. The only question is will that be enough to get it right in time for a tournament run? Will how embarrassing yesterday was fuel a better, higher intensity performance against Nova? Looking at it from that perspective, it is almost a blessing in disguise, it is just a really unpalatable disguise.

Brad
If it took that for the coaches to realize that our defense and our second half execution sucked, they haven't been paying attention the last year and a half. We have been talking about the same issues for a long time now. This wasn't anything in disguise, it was another loss for the same reason we've been losing. I'm bringing unmatched negativity right now.

Bryan
It was also much worse than than it had been. Our defensive efficiency on KenPom had improved slightly this year, so maybe now that perceived progress has ceased, there will be reevaluation. What it boils down to, I think, is can the coaching staff fix it or not?

Joel
They have about ten days until we find out. No matter what happens between now and then, I'm betting we get thumped by Villanova at their place Wednesday. Follow that with a weekend home game and we're looking at a reasonable amount of time until our next road test.

What do you do to fix it though? I don't see a strategic switch to flip; we just need to actually execute. It was simple things yesterday: too many poor closeouts, no fundamentals on the glass. How do you change that? I can't imagine they're doing that because the coaches have never mentioned the right way to.

Brad
Bench people would be the normal suggestion, but it's not like anyone was playing great fundamental ball yesterday. Does Isaiah Philmore have an eligibility left?

Bryan
That is probably the really troubling thing. This team can score, but even guys scrapping for playing time don't seem to have much fire defensively. With the exception of Abell, who should only ever be taken out for rest, there was no one who really stood out as trying to prove a point defensively. I have to assume that especially Randolph and Austin have a chance for real minutes if they can shut someone down, but they haven't really shown that. Do we see any road wins in the conference, or will the tournament be our last hope to play in to the tournament this year?

Brad
Randolph can't guard a soul. He's a wasted scholarship at this point. The rebounding is really concerning to me. How does anyone even come close to this group on the glass if it isn't just effort?

Joel
I don't want to be that armchair coaching genius who says the boys just need to play harder, but that's what it looked like on the screen yesterday. Butler flew to the glass and got every 50/50 ball, especially in those last ten minutes. We got caught ball watching way too much instead of putting bodies on bodies. It was frustrating to watch.

Creighton is a tough venue but not a tough team; Marquette is in a rebuilding year. I see those as our last two best chances for road wins, but nothing looks good in the light of losing at DePaul. If we go 8-1 at home, win those two on the road, and grab one win in the conference tournament, I think we're an at-large.

Bryan
I actually think we can win at St. John's again this season, too. Call me crazy, but they are pretty inconsistent as well, and if we catch them when Harrison is off, they become very beatable. Of course, no one is beatable when they get back half of their misses.

Joel
Well, that's kind of been our MO on the road this year. Maybe instead of switching what we work on in practice, we should start not practicing at Cintas. It's shaping up to be a season full of disappointing away games right now.