From Tuesday to Saturday seems like an eternity, but we're finally on the brink of game day once again for Xavier. Next up is Baylor, a 7-0 team ranked in the top ten of rankings both silly (the polls) and consequential (the KenPom). The Bears already boast four wins over teams ranked 35th or higher in the Pomeroy rankings, and three of those wins came away from home. Xavier is heading into hostile territory to take on a really, really good team. If you're at the reins this weekend for the Muskies, you've got some difficult questions to answer. I'll highlight three of them.
How do you counter Baylor's size?
The Bears spend nearly half the game with 7'0" C Jo Lual-Acuil and 6'10" PF Johnathan Motley on the floor at the same time. When one of those guys is out, the other is almost always paired with 6'8", 230-pound PF Terry Maston. In a world gone little, Baylor is beating back against the tide. Can you counter than kind of size by playing two of Gaston, O'Mara, and Jones at almost all times? Or do you run Trevon at the four for most of the game and hope he pulls their big men out of their comfort zones with his outside shooting? If you do that, you have to somehow account for Baylor's 34.3% OReb%. Can we get a mulligan on those 42 minutes of James Farr as a freshman?
How much do you use Quentin Goodin?
Diet Edmond Sumner is doing quite well for himself as a backup PG and sometimes running mate with Ed so far this year, but... Baylor loves to play slowly and they don't really force a lot of turnovers. Maybe this is the time to give Q some extended run alongside Edmond, giving Xavier a couple of lightning-quick, super athletic guards to get out in transition. Running them together almost forces you to sacrifice JP's offense or Malcolm's defense, but maybe it's worth it to shoot a few uncontested right-handed layups.
Is this the time to unleash Tim Stainbrook?
How much do you use Kaiser Gates?
Gone are the days when this would be the lone chance for a signature win on Xavier's schedule. The Muskies have six conference games against teams currently ranked in the top ten, so the opportunities will be there all year. With that in mind, how much run would you give Kaiser Gates? Even if he's fully healthy, do you send him out there for 25 minutes on the road against a big and physical team while he's still getting up to game speed? Kaiser has the combination of size and skill that could potentially rattle Baylor's post men; maybe this is the day to take the training wheels off and let him roll.