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Sunday Conversation 1/18

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Is Brandon Randolph on his way out the door? Will Xavier win a conference road game this year?

Flattering shot of Matt here.
Flattering shot of Matt here.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Joel
So... how about that Remy Abell? I hope Coach Mack counts that as "message received," because he was the key to dragging us back in that second half.

Bryan
He and Myles carried us down the stretch. I am not sure how 1-3-1 and 2-3 took so long for us to solve, but those dudes hit big shots when we needed them.

Brad
We've not been any good against a zone in recent years. What was odd is that the shooting, which should keep us in zone games, was dreadful for most of the game.

Joel
What really bothered me was how confused we looked against it. It's one thing to let a zone force bad shots, it's another to somehow let it force live-ball turnovers, which they killed us with in the first half. The numbers aren't going to show it because of how many fast break points we handed them, but I thought our defense really answered the bell today. It was basically have Matt Carlino do something ridiculous or nothing for them. Other than Carlino - who kind of ruined his own line with those five turnovers - they didn't have anyone who had more than a mediocre offensive game.

Brad
A lot of those first half weren't really even forced. That was as bad as we've looked all year. I was really impressed we came back at all, frankly. The team fed off Abell, who looked supremely confident.

Joel
Obviously nothing we did in the first half merits praise except for not falling farther behind. Surely this puts to bed the experiment of not starting your best players, right?

Bryan
I certainly hope so. I think JP felt more free to do his thing at Villanova because that game had less expectation on it than this one, but he did show he can at least contribute in conference play. Starting Reynolds today didn't seem to pan out too badly, and at least he showed some ability to log decent minutes in the first half without putting himself in foul trouble. I think Remy showed his value to this team today, and I think he will probably be back in the lineup going forward.

Brad
I think we do go back to the starting lineup, but I'd like to JP first off the bench. He's shown a fearlessness and a willingness to crank up the effort level. Go with the best players to start and JP to try to punch a team in the mouth. We've not separated well from anyone early recently.

Bryan
We separated from Nova really quickly. Or does that one not count? Are we any closer to a solution at PG? Dee was streaky against Marquette, but who can we see filling in when he goes cold/fouls out? Remy? Myles?

Brad
Larry Austin Jr., obviously. I think we did solve that issue. We clearly don't have a backup point guard, there's no doubt of that now.

Joel
Austin's recruitment has to be a concession that Randolph is out the door, right? If Randolph were the guy Mack wanted to hand the reins to next year, there's no way he (a) brings in two point guards in the very next class and (b) exiles Randolph to the bench this year. What worries me about the point guard position is not just riding out Dee's rough spells - and make no mistake, he was not good on the whole this week - so much as the idea that next year we're counting on either Larry Austin to be good or Ed Sumner to be healthy as plan A.

Brad
Or a new freshman. We've recruited well on the whole, it's possible we snag someone who can at least help Sumner. It's surprising to me how out of favor Randolph is. I always thought he had Robert Morris level talent, but the coaches apparently saw more than that last year. They don't anymore.

Joel
I don't see us as really in hard on any PG in the 2015 class. In fact, it's not clear to me that we're going after anyone to add to the Kaiser Gates signing. I suppose there is always the potential of a graduate transfer to run the point, but it's hard to know right now who might even be out there. Of course, this is all contingent on someone leaving, because I think we're full up right now, though we could always take the scholly back from Tim Stainbrook.

I think this Providence game on Thursday is huge for us. It's the middle game in a stretch of 5 road games in 7 games. We dropped the first two roadies and won the first home game. If we can get Providence and then win against DePaul at home on Saturday, that gives us a decent position heading into games at Georgetown and Seton Hall. It's a brutal stretch, but then four of five conference games are at home and the road trip is to Marquette. We need to keep ourselves in it now so we can make hay in early-to-mid February. Obviously, the one hole in this otherwise bulletproof plan is that we can't win on the road.