Xavier now sits at 2-2 in the Big East after the first two weeks of play. The Musketeers have defeated two ranked teams at home and lost to two decidedly less impressive teams on the road. There's almost an infinite number things that could be discussed regarding this team right now, but here are the three top thoughts I have about Xavier right now.
1. The guard situation is dire
You expect the rotation to shorten as the conference season starts, but Xavier's has done so dramatically. At this point, Coach Mack is essentially playing only three guards. Dee Davis and Remy Abell start, and Myles Davis comes off the bench. Myles played just under 20 minutes a contest last week, the rest of the non starting guards on the team combined for a total of 32 minutes over that time span. In that time those other guards, JP Macura, Larry Austin Jr, and Brandon Randolph, scored a total of seven points, grabbed two rebounds, and chipped in two assists. Until someone else is inclined to step up and do something, Xavier is going to have to deal with Myles' less than stellar defense and ball handling as essentially the only backup option. Of the three options, only Macura is even mildly useful at this point.
2. Someone needs to call Gene Hackman
Everyone knows the famous scene in Hoosiers where Hackman calls the team together and measures the rims (in Hinkle, ironically enough) and reminds his team that the game is no different on the road than it is at home. If Mr. Hackman is available for speaking engagements, someone from Xavier might look into calling him before the next road trip. The Musketeers are now 2-5 away from the friendly confines of the Cintas Center, where they are yet to lose this year. The committee is going to look for some sort good road win in order to give Xavier a decent seed come March. That will require actually beating someone somewhere other than in Cincinnati.
3. Getting out worked that significantly is not acceptable
It's one thing to lose a game because the other team outplays you, makes some lucky shots, or has the refs blow a call when Dez Bryant obviously catches the ball. It's quite another to lose a game because it appears as the though playing a second 20 minutes was a bridge too far for you. It's truly the least intelligent fan that sits in the seats and bellows that the boys just need to try harder to win, but there is some legitimacy to the argument that Xavier looked as if they couldn't be bothered on Saturday. That simply cannot happen again.
4. There is still a really good team in there somewhere
Remember Wednesday? That's when Xavier took apart a Seton Hall team that had just beaten Villanova and remained hot again this weekend. In that game Remy Abell shut down Sterling Gibbs, who promptly destroyed Creighton in their own gym. Dee Davis ran the offense like he was born to do it, Trevon Bluiett snapped out of his slump, and even James Farr looked like an offensive threat. That game was a week after Xavier beat Georgetown by 17. The Alabama squad that Xavier put 97 points on? Now in the top 40 of the KenPom. The Musketeers are frustrating, but they aren't bad.
5. This team is better when the bigs post deep
Coach Mack has mentioned this in passing a couple times, but the emphasis has been obvious. When Matt Stainbrook and Jalen Reynolds can establish position deep in the post, the entire offense is better. For one, both players are more adept at scoring off of a single move. Stainbrook especially is proficient at taking a couple of deliberate actions and then putting the ball in the hoop. Neither player looks terribly comfortable facing up or having to put the ball on the floor a significant number of times. When either of them is able to get the ball deep, it also opens up cutting lanes for Bluiett and Dee Davis. It's worth noting that the deep post was established early against Seton Hall and Davis and Bluiett were much more effective than they were at Butler, where both bigs were forced to initiate farther from the basket.