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The Villanova fan's guide to Xavier basketball

There are no secrets in conference play, but just in case you haven't been keeping up...

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome, Villanova fans! You lot have always seemed fairly decent, though I suppose it's easy to be gracious when you're always running away with the conference title. We've started a little habit of throwing out a few hundred words just to get opposing fanbases an idea of how we see our team. Let's get right to it.

Xavier personnel

4 Edmond Sumner Fr. G 6'6" 183 11.7 3.4 3.3 .443 .387 .685 Very explosive attacking the basket. Draws fouls like nobody's business. Still growing into his game. Scary fast in transition.
10 Remy Abell Sr. G 6'4" 197 6.9 1.6 2.3 0.37 0.32 0.85 At his most effective when he lets open shots come to him. Doesn't need to score much to help the team. Very good on-ball defender. Loves running out ahead to get easy buckets in transition.
15 Myles Davis Jr. G 6'2" 188 10.9 3.4 3.0 .417 .385 .939 Can bring the ball up under pressure. Best shooter on the team and their emotional leader. Not afraid of the big moment on the offensive end.
5 Trevon Bluiett So. G/F 6'6" 208 14.7 7.7 1.9 .423 .449 .735 Versatile scorer who can get a lot of baskets without forcing his way into the game. Great at using one dribble to set his feet and make space for his jumper. Has worked hard to improve defense and rebounding.
1 Jalen Reynolds Jr. F 6'10" 238 10.3 6.2 0.8 .516 .500 .700 Has the skills to go for 18 and 12 at any point in time, but has trouble getting out of his own way. Disruptive defensive force in the middle of the 1-3-1 zone.
0 Larry Austin Jr. So. G 6'2" 179 1.8 1.1 1.1 .368 .000 .583 Has some turnover issues to work through. The less he tries to score, the more effective he becomes. A good, physical on-ball defender off the bench.
2 James Farr Sr. F/C 6'10" 244 10.3 8.7 0.4 .562 .000 .727 The best rebounder in college basketball. Loves working onto his left hand in the post. Good rim protector.
13 Makindé London Fr. F 6'10" 220 1.4 1.3 0.6 .286 .333 .500 Athletic but whip thin. Good shot blocker as help defender. Good range on his jumper.
22 Kaiser Gates Fr. F 6'8" 217 2.3 2.4 0.1 .286 .222 .727 Stretch four. Not afraid to shoot. Very active on defense. Probably won't see the floor.
54 Sean O'Mara So. F/C 6'10" 247 3.5 2.3 0.3 .565 .000 .591 Plays below the rim but with exceptional feel. Growing into some confidence on the offensive end. Bully on the defensive glass.
55 J.P. Macura So. G 6'5" 203 8.9 2.6 2.2 .446 .294 .775 Always gives huge effort. Not shooting as well from deep as we would expect. Not afraid to tell opponents about the good work he just did. Sneakily maybe the team's best distributor.

Xavier strategy

Let's start out on the offensive end. The early Chris Mack years were dominated by fairly stagnant ball screen action. With Tu Holloway and Semaj Christon working it, it was fairly effective, but it was really boring to watch. The last couple of seasons have seen Xavier transition to a four-around-one style that really emphasizes ball and body movement and takes advantage of floor spacing. X can work through the post and still uses the occasional ball screen, but the Muskies are at their best when they're making extra passes and turning down good shots for great ones.

Defense is still mostly man-to-man with pack line principles, but the party piece is a half-court 1-3-1 zone. They don't really trap the high corners or even the baseline as much as they try to really make ball movement rely on meaningless tosses parallel to the baseline thirty feet out. Very accurate and crisp passes can open up the zone a bit, but it has by and large been fairly effective for X. Open threes can be had against either defense Xavier runs, but they crush the boards pretty much no matter what.

Other things to consider

  • This is our best start ever; how about not ruining it for us?
  • Xavier has played to a perfect 5-0 record away from home, but only two of those were true road games, and the last of those featured X coming out flat and trailing Wake by 15 at the half.
  • Xavier has 6 wins in the KenPom top 100 and 4 in the top 50, but none in the top 25. Nova represents by far our toughest game as yet.
  • Feel free to ask about anything else you want to know in the comments section or hit us at @BannersParkway on Twitter. We love talking about Xavier.