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The Seton Hall fan's guide to Xavier basketball

Bounce back game or the beginning of a skid? Your guess is as good as mine!

Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Hello Pirates fans. Do you feel like Kevin Willard is making it up as he goes along? We kind of get that impression from the outside looking in, but maybe that's just an illusion. Anyway, we're not here to talk about that; we're here to pull back the curtain on what Xavier does so you'll have some idea what to expect when the ball goes up. Let's get started, yes?

Xavier personnel

4 Edmond Sumner Fr. G 6'6" 183 11.2 3.1 3.3 .422 .381 .682 Injured against Nova, Ed has been back for a couple of games now. A dynamic guard who can really slice through defenses, he's got as much potential as anyone on the roster. Can shoot if left open. Really clogs passing lanes on defense.
15 Myles Davis Jr. G 6'2" 188 11.1 3.4 3.5 .405 .405 .900 Best shooter on the team and their emotional leader. Not afraid of the big moment on the offensive end. Can slide over and run the point, but at his best when he's off the ball.
10 Remy Abell Sr. G 6'4" 197 6.7 1.7 2.1 .398 .350 .744 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.
5 Trevon Bluiett So. G/F 6'6" 208 15.4 6.9 2.3 .410 .391 .814 Versatile scorer who can get a lot of baskets without forcing his way into the game. Has a really quick release. Can knock down jumpers from anywhere, including the mid-range. Has worked hard to improve defense and rebounding.
1 Jalen Reynolds Jr. F 6'10" 238 9.6 6.6 0.7 .524 .400 .656 Disruptive defensive force in the middle of the 1-3-1 zone. At his best with Farr also on the court. His production has been disappointing to a fanbase that was hoping he'd break out.
Larry Austin Jr. So. G 6'2" 179 1.8 1.1 1.2 .367 .000 .647 Has the tools to be a good 10-12 minute guard off the bench, but tends to press too much and end up making bad decisions with the ball. Will have trouble getting minutes with Ed back.
2 James Farr Sr. F/C 6'10" 244 10.1 8.8 0.4 .541 .000 .778 The best rebounder in college basketball. Has developed scoring moves to both hands on the post. Very effective in protecting the rim. Has been in and out of the starting lineup
13 Makindé London Fr. F 6'10" 220 1.4 1.2 0.5 .294 .333 .500 Athletic but whip thin. Good shot blocker as help defender. Good range on his jumper. Has been in and out with injuries.
22 Kaiser Gates Fr. F 6'8" 217 3.4 2.5 0.2 .382 .304 .700 Stretch four. Streaky shooter, as is often the case with guys who don't get big minutes, but his confidence is growing. Has been a revelation on the defensive end in terms of being able to move his feet and guard the perimeter.
54 Sean O'Mara So. F/C 6'10" 247 3.7 2.2 0.4 .583 .000 .656 Plays below the rim but with exceptional feel. Hasn't been able to show his potential because he's blocked by Farr and Reynolds right now. Bully on the defensive glass.
55 J.P. Macura So. G 6'5" 203 8.6 2.5 2.1 .464 .306 .787 Will be getting YMCA buckets when he's 50. Flies to the offensive glass, scores in weird ways from all over inside the arc. Opponents and opposing fans hate him for what I'm going to call an overabundance of confidence.

Xavier strategy

Xavier's defense is more or less a bellwether for the whole experience. In two Big East losses, the Muskies have allowed 1.31 points per possession. In four Big East wins, they've allowed just .92 PPP. Obviously that's a pretty big difference. Xavier plays mostly man, but they'll mix in a 1-3-1 zone about a third of the time. Both defenses count on good defensive rebounding to make up for the fact that opponents will get clean looks from deep.

Things get a little more predictable at the offensive end, where Xavier goes about 8 deep in terms of guys who are capable of dropping a double-digit scoring night any given time out. The whole thing keys off the explosive penetration of Edmond Sumner and the veteran savvy of Myles Davis and Trevon Bluiett. X will run the ball through the post and around the perimeter, passing up good shots to get better ones. This team shares the ball well, and when it's working it can be beautiful to behold.

Other things to consider

  • We were kind of hoping to knock off Georgetown in the mid-week fixture, but it didn't happen. X is 1-0 this year coming off of a loss.
  • James Farr is one of the few people in the nation who can match Delgado's motor and physicality on the glass; I'm looking forward to watching them go at each other.
  • Coach Mack has not appreciably tightened the rotation in conference play. Expect to see 9 or 10 Muskies get some burn.