Well, that went about as poorly as we could have imagined. Xavier staggered out of the gate, led only briefly and then succumbed to an absolute barrage from the previously struggling Villanova shooters. Here is what we took away from that one:
This team is still a work in progress
A 12-0 start was always going to be difficult to maintain, but Big East competition is going to expose any weakness a team has, and Nova was brutal in doing so today. A 7-9 start from deep punished every even slightly slow closeout, while the Wildcats jammed the middle and forced Xavier to settle for jump shots extremely well on defense. Not everyone is going to come out of the gate on fire like that, but everyone will be keying on whatever advantage they may have against Xavier.
Ed is incredibly important to this team
When Edmond Sumner went down early in the first half, the immediate concern was for the health of a 19 year old kid who had fallen on his head and wasn't moving. As time wore on and news began trickling in indicating that Sumner was awake, alert, and able to move minds wandered to the implications of a layoff for the point guard. Xavier was shocking for stretches on offense, especially after the result was out of reach, and racked up 19 turnovers to only 13 assists on the game. Sumner can be careless with the ball at times, but we saw today that Xavier doesn't have a viable option at point guard who isn't.
This was only one game
The undefeated run is over, but Xavier has to regroup and turn it around against Butler on Saturday. Today they took their licks and did not have a lot of positives to look back on coming away from their first foray into conference play for the season. Tomorrow, preparation begins for a top 10 team to come to town on Saturday, and Xavier must be ready for them.