Xavier is 16-2 this season, in the top 10 of both media polls, and in the top 15 of the KenPom rankings. It is, by most objective measures, one of the best 18 game stretches in the program's history. Xavier also lost the last game by nine points at home so, naturally, people are freaking out. Suggestions have ranged from the mildly reasonable (tweak the 1-3-1) to the completely and utterly absurd (fire Coach Mack). Part of being a fan is having a lot of, often extreme, feeling tied up in a team. Even the most rational of us have a hard time watching a team play as badly as the Musketeers did on Tuesday. That said, if you truly must panic, at least do it for some good reasons. Here are a few. (The below does not necessarily reflect the personal views of Banners staff).
1. Trevon Bluiett is in a serious shooting slump
In the month of December, Trevon shot 36.4% inside the arc. That number has taken a slight uptick in January, but since the UC game Bluiett is making exactly 40% of his two point attempts. You probably don't need to be told that is really bad. For the season, only LAJ is worse in the paint than that. This could be ameliorated if Trevon were still a deep shooting threat, but since conference play started he is only making 29% of his three point attempts. Trevon's scorching start against DePaul caused a few uninformed people to laughingly suggest that his slump wasn't real. It very much is, and right now Trevon's ability to get to the line is all that is keeping him effective.
2. Something weird is happening with Jalen Reynolds
Against St. John's Jalen didn't play the first ten minutes, probably for being difficult in practice. His counting numbers were good in that game, but his offensive efficiency in that game and the next four went 82, 77, 86, 130. That 130 came against Georgetown, when Jalen didn't play in the first eight minutes and followed Sean O'Mara and LAJ off the bench. Reynolds then went on to play more than any other big in the second half. Jalen's playing time has been all over the place this year, sometimes based on foul trouble and sometimes not. Maybe he turned a corner against the Hoyas, but more likely he was only in because James Farr was so ineffective. When Jalen is coming off the bench after O'Mara, something is wrong.
3. Jalems Farrnolds is in a bit of a skid.
Big Game James obliterated the non-conference schedule and established himself as the best rebounder in the nation. Since conference play started though, even Farr can't find his traction. In six conference games, Farr's offensive efficiency has been above 100 only twice. His overall conference efficiency number is 97.5. Jalen's unusual use and playing time was covered above, and his offensive efficiency in conference is only 97.2. That's about 40 minutes of time each game where Xavier's previously dominant post men are out there being below average offensively.
4. Dominance on the glass is lessening.
If you listened to the Fox announcers at all on Tuesday you heard them mention that Georgetown was outrebounding Xavier. First off, rebounding margin is a fool's stat, the batting average of basketball. Second, the announcers weren't wrong, they just weren't smart enough to know why. Xavier has posted three of their four worst offensive rebounding rates in their last five games. The exact same rings true on the other end of the floor. Put a bit more simply, Xavier is still rebounding well, but their iron grip on the glass is weakening.