On the young season, Xavier has played 143 possessions of basketball stretched over 80 minutes of game time. During that time, Xavier has tallied 159 points and racked up an adjusted offensive efficiency of 109.2, good for 30th in the country. Those are fairly solid offensive numbers; throw in three guys averaging 14+ and three more guys who have been in double figures at least once on the season and you're looking at a team that can really score the ball.
So why are Xavier fans worried about the offense? Twice in two games the Musketeers have endured 7+ minute stretches in which they have not made a field goal.
Against Miami (OH), X went from Edmond Sumner's three at the 16:10 mark of the second half to his assist to James Farr for a dunk at 9:02 without scoring a single point. Miami score 11 straight during that time, while Xavier's eight possessions went: James Farr offensive foul, Remy Abell missed jumper, Ed Sumner missed dunk, Kaiser Gates missed three, Myles Davis missed jumper, Remy Abell missed three, Jalen Reynolds missed three (!), Jalen Reynolds turnover. Xavier went from dominant to deflated, then righted the ship to outscore the RedHawks 24-18 the rest of the way.
It got even worse against Missouri. From JP Macura's jumper with 11:34 to go in the first half to LAJ's twisting fadeaway at 4:11 (which still wasn't the epitome of good offense), Xavier had 15 consecutive possessions without a single made field goal. FIFTEEN POSSESSIONS! Do you have any idea how painful that is to watch? If you're reading this, I suspect you do. Only a James Farr going 3-4 from the line and grabbing 4 offensive boards even remotely redeemed the otherwise deplorable 7:23 of basketball.
So... 23 possessions, 14:31 of game time, and three points. Here's what that looks like as an offensive (in more than one sense) box score:
|Larry Austin, Jr||0-2||0-0||0-0|
Obviously nobody is bathing himself in glory there, and I'm not going to look for positives in that chart. It all stinks, and that's the kind of drought that buries you against opponents more stout than Miami (OH) and Missouri. I also think it's the kind of drought that Xavier isn't going to be seeing as much of going forward. Don't worry, I'll tell you why.
If you got a chance to watch the Missouri game, you recall that Xavier gave up a three (obviously) to open the scoring, then embarked on a 19-9 to take control of the game. During that stretch, the Muskies moved the ball and moved themselves around off of it, resulting in good looks - even when they didn't fall - and easy baskets. When the team apparently collectively decided that doing it that way was too easy, the ball stagnated. During their drought, it took Xavier an average of 11 seconds between taking possession and either shooting or turning the ball over.
Ball rotation was minimal, and shots often came before the ball even switched sides of the floor. Players took turns trying to be heroes while their teammates watched, and it obviously didn't go well. It didn't even look like Missouri necessarily got Xavier out of what they wanted to do so much as Xavier decided that now was the time to revert to the offense they learned in open gyms.
Coach Mack as much as pointed this out during the press conference. Point guard was a position of concern heading into the season, and this kind of play was one of the reasons why. Larry and Edmond are both extremely talented players, but they're both also fairly inexperienced and prone to the occasional rush of blood to the head. Last night will serve as a learning experience for those guys, and I'm sure the coaching staff and their teammates will point out on film how much better the offense works when the ball moves.
One final thought: Myles Davis is just 1-7 from deep on the year, but he leads the team in assist rate and has the lowest turnover percentage of any regular. After Larry hit that jumper to snap the drought and Xavier started to turn the offense back on, Myles scored or assisted three of the team's next four buckets. Commentor Obi Harris pointed out on here that the box score didn't validate how big Myles was last night, and I think he's correct. Full credit to him (Myles, not Obi) for being able to turn facilitator on offense when Xavier needs him to.
Someone needs to tell him to shave that beard though. Dearie me.