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Roster(de)bating Xavier v. Missouri

Big men, wing men, and last men off the bench feature today.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Xavier
I don’t like the buzz cut on JP.
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

With Xavier in Orlando for the Tip-off Classic, the Muskies’ next chance to bring home some silverware is right around the corner. To bring home three wins in four days, Coach Mack and the team are going to have to answer some questions, starting with these tomorrow against Missouri.

How do you balance the big men?

As Brad pointed out in his award-winning (or at least award-deserving) preview, Missouri is going to probably be more effective in guarding the arc than Xavier's two opponents so far. The obvious answer to that is to look for bigs who can score, and lo and behold, Xavier has a pair of them. The one teensy drawback is that both Sean O'Mara and RaShid Gaston foul like it's what they were recruited to do. O'Mara picks up a foul ever 5:52 or so of game action, and Gaston does him one better by averaging just 4:49 between whistles.

Tyrique Jones can also play the post and takes almost 10 minutes between fouls, but he's not an offensive force in the paint. The bottom line is that Coach Mack is going to have to do some juggling unless someone has an uncharacteristically disciplined performance.

Do you feed Malcolm Bernard?

Who has been Xavier's most effective shooter according to EFG this season? It would be really silly in context of the question I just posed for it to be anyone but Malcolm Bernard, and indeed it is. He's shooting a cool 5-9/2-5/0-1 on the year, and Coach Mack has talked about needing him to be more aggressive on offense. If Xavier wants him to grow into Peak Remy Abell, a few more touches on the offensive end might not hurt. On the other hand, that TO% of 37.1% is really, really dragging Mal's efficiency down.

Is it time to ride the Stain Train?

Tim Stainbrook leads the team in 3P% (100%), EFG% (150%), and ORTG (300), but Coach Mack has seen fit to bury him on the bench for most of the young season. Silliness aside, Xavier is about to play three games in four days with a roster that is eight scholarship players deep. Stainbrook isn’t going to make anyone forget about Josh Duncan, but also consider that Coach Mack has been to the Sweet 16 with a team that got meaningful minutes from Andrew Taylor. Maybe it’s time to extend the bench a bit tomorrow.