Greeting Eastern Washingtonians! Also, sorry about your football team. Awaiting you in a glorious slice of another Ohio city nearly as crappy as Youngstown is the #17 team in the nation who is RED HOT coming off a pair of scorching perform... actually scratch that. After dropping a pair to BIG12 and PAC12 opposition on the road, Xavier has been somewhere between unconvincing and downright sloppy in doing enough to send Utah and Wake Forest away from Cintas Center with losses. Certain issues, such as turnovers and free throw shooting, continue to linger and Eastern Washington is the last chance to set them right before Big East play begins.
|Edmond Sumner||So.||G||6'6"||186||34.6||14.5||4.3||4.1||0.474||0.208||0.719||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. His length and athleticism help him make up for the occasional lapse on the defensive end. Has struggled to get his jumper to fall this year, but is finishing well enough at the rim to be a threat.|
|J.P. Macura||Jr.||G||6'5"||203||34.5||14.6||4.2||3||0.405||0.333||0.895||JP is a lot like Pistol Pete with better hair, right down to the fact that he's not going to stop shooting just because he's missing. Had a really bad stretch in Xavier's losses, but bounced back a bit against Utah. When he's not trying to expand his YouTube reel, he flies to the offensive glass, patrols passing lanes, and generally makes a nuisance of himself.|
|Malcolm Bernard||Sr.||G||6'6"||202||28.6||4.8||4.6||1.3||0.352||0.367||0.364||Malcolm transferred in from FAMU and we're still trying to figure out exactly what he is at this level. He defends really well and puts in a shift on the glass. His offensive performances have been all over the place so far, but I guess there's the potential he gets hot and makes someone look silly.|
|Trevon Bluiett||Jr.||G/F||6'6"||205||34.3||19.3||5.7||2.2||0.433||0.354||0.8||Tre is more or less a jump shooter masquerading as a scorer, but dang if his jumper isn't the stuff people used to write poems about. He can hit from all over, and he has great footwork and a quick release that help him score even when the opponent knows what he's about to do. He's strong enough to defend most fours, and he does good work on the defensive glass. Has been a steady force in the past few weeks without becoming a ball stopper.|
|RaShid Gaston||Sr.||F||6'9"||239||19.6||7.9||7.2||0.7||0.565||0||0.531||A transfer from Norfolk State, Gaston looked vulnerable offensively against the early stages of Xavier's schedule. He's always been good on the boards and woke up with 14 and 11 against Colorado before flip flopping those numbers against Utah. Put up 14 more against Wake and helped gold John Collins to a below standard performance. Has really come alive in the last 3 games.|
|Sean O'Mara||Jr.||F||6'10"||245||13.8||6||2.9||0.5||0.549||0||0.714||O'Mara isn't going to put anyone on a poster, but he has solid footwork in the post and can score to either hand. Only managed 4 minutes last game after beginning the season as a starter. Needs to find his finishing touch again to find his way back onto the court.|
|Quentin Goodin||Fr.||G||6'4"||194||15.9||3.4||1.4||1.8||0.5||0.333||0.462||A freshman guard that I really like, probably even more than Coach Mack does. He's still learning game speed against elite teams, but he picks his shots well and provides good length and athleticism in the back court off the bench. A really solid defender.|
|Tyrique Jones||Fr.||F||6'9"||243||10.7||2.5||3.7||0.3||0.464||0||0.25||Tyrique is a junkyard dog on the court right now. He goes after the ball like he can only secure more playing time by securing more rebounds, and it's not clear that he's wrong. His offensive game lacks nuance at this point, but he's a beast on the glass and the best shot blocker on the team. Also, he would foul out in about 16 minutes if Coach Mack left him out there.|
|Kaiser Gates||So.||F||6'8"||228||15||2.8||3.2||0.5||0.286||0.235||0.25||Kaiser is coming back off of off-season knee surgery and plainly doesn't have his legs back under him right now. He is capable of defending 1-4 and scoring from all three levels, when he is healthy. He is still not close to the player he was last season, showing timidity and rustiness that frustrated Coach Mack last game.|
The Musketeers are a really good offense with a couple of fairly meaningful limitations. Let's discuss what kind of props the offense up first: Xavier is an incredible offensive rebounding team. They grab just over 35% of their own misses. That helps them to be the #28 team in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency despite being right around average in EFG% and TO rate and just a hair above average in free throw rate. Xavier is probably a better shooting team than they've shown so far, but the numbers reflect the season at hand. As far as strategy goes, Xavier usually plays four around one and keeps the ball moving to get scorers into spots where they have an edge on their defenders. Coach Mack is a magician with set plays.
On the other end of the floor, Xavier does everything well within about 20 feet of the bucket. They are an exceptional defensive rebounding team, contest shots well, and force a reasonable amount of turnovers. The Achilles heel of this team is three-point defense; they’ll concede the arc to the extent that teams take almost 40% of their shots from deep. If you can make it rain, you’ll have the chance to do so.
Other Things to Note
- This is rumored to be the final game of the post/pre-Myles Davis era with the Senior guard reportedly on his way to reinstatement prior to conference play.
- Xavier got essentially no production from their bench last game, prompting Coach Mack to express his displeasure with them in the post game presser.
- Xavier will have 8 days off after this one before heading to Providence to kick off conference play, so there will be no need to rest anyone.