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The Missouri fan’s guide to Xavier basketball

We have four new guys and have lost a few faces you might remember from last season. Here’s what else is new.

NCAA Basketball: Buffalo at Xavier
You’re going to want to double Tyrique Jones on the glass.
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Hi, Missouri fans! We played last year, but you can be forgiven for not recalling the ins and outs of Xavier strategy. Fortunately, we’re here to help you get caught back up to speed. A lot has changed since last year, but what hasn’t is that Xavier is still a top program with big aspirations. Here’s what you need to know before tip time.

Xavier personnel

Player Yr. Pos. Ht. Wt. MPG PPG RPG APG FG% 3P% FT% Notes
Starters
Edmond Sumner So. G 6'6" 186 35 18.5 5.5 4.0 .619 .500 .833 A nightmare of a lead guard to try to defend. Sumner is lethal in the open court and an explosive finisher. He spent the summer working on his jumper; when he's hitting that, he can't be guarded.
J.P. Macura Jr. G 6'5" 203 33.5 15.5 3.5 3.5 .360 .143 1.000 JP goes as hard as he can for as long as he's out there. He will do whatever he can to win, from diving for every loose ball to crashing the offensive boards to getting in opponents' heads. He is a really creative offensive player, and it works more often than not.
Malcolm Bernard Sr. G 6'6" 202 25 6.0 3.5 2.0 .556 .400 .000 I've got one more game of watching Bernard play than you do. He's an athletic and tough defender who was asked to do everything for Florida A&M last year. We're still working out where he fits in with X.
Trevon Bluiett Jr. G/F 6'6" 205 33 19.0 7.0 2.0 .464 .400 .800 The silky scoring soul of the offense. Trevon rarely forces his way into a game, but he has a jumper that plays from anywhere, great footwork, and a quick release. He's strong enough to do work on the glass, but his real value is finding good positions on offense and scoring from them.
Sean O'Mara Jr. F 6'10" 245 20.5 7.0 3.5 2.0 .500 .000 1.000 O'Mara is a crafty and sneaky-athletic post scorer. He's a big body inside who holds his own on the glass and runs the floor surprisingly well. He could use some more touches on offense, honestly.
Reserves
RaShid Gaston Sr. F 6'9" 239 14.5 7.0 4.5 0.0 .833 .000 .667 Gaston is a big body making the transition from Norfolk State to Xavier. He is a strong presence in the middle who should be able to make his presence known on the glass.
Quentin Goodin Fr. G 6'4" 194 20 6.5 1.0 3.0 .571 .333 .500 Diet Edmond Sumner at this point. Goodin is a bit thicker than Ed and a bit less explosive, but the building blocks of a dynamic lead guard are there. The transition to college ball is tough for points, but Goodin is a good defender and can get into the lane to distribute or punch on unwary defenders.
Tyrique Jones Fr. F 6'9" 243 14.5 3.0 6.0 0.5 .333 .000 .500 Built like a brick outhouse, Tyrique has a motor that doesn't quit. His offensive game is a hair unrefined right now, but he's a really athletic forward with a nose for the glass on both ends. He brings great energy off the bench.

Xavier strategy

On offense, Coach Mack is a borderline savant with set plays. Big-to-big cross screens have set up a lot of buckets for Xavier in his tenure, and he’s a dang genius with baseline out of bounds situations. Xavier isn’t afraid to get out and run when the time is right. Xavier generally likes to keep the floor spread and the ball moving, with Coach Mack trusting his players to find the right positions and make good decisions.

Defensively, Mack is a man coach who has installed a 1-3-1 zone over the past couple of years. The weak spot in both defenses has historically been behind the arc, as the team generally seeks to contest the area nearer the basket and is scrambling to recover to shooters. The zone is still a work in progress right now, as Xavier is working to get four new rotation players familiar with it in live action.

Other things to consider

  • We go something on the order of eight players deep right now. If there’s any foul trouble, things can get dicey in a hurry.
  • Myles Davis is out with a case of court problems and Kaiser Gates is recovering from knee surgery. Neither will play today.
  • Malcolm Bernard is left-handed, just FYI.
  • Freshmen Tyrique Jones and Quentin Goodin really played well last time out against Buffalo. This will be their first step into a gym other than Xavier’s home arena of Cintas Center.