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Roster(de)bating: Providence

Here’s a stunner, Xavier may need to adjust things to shoot well against these guys.

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Xavier
Point guard?
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

It seems like forever since Xavier played a game. I love Christmas as much as the next guy, but Christmas with some college basketball sprinkled in would surely be better, wouldn’t it? That aside...aside, Xavier is back and this game feels like it matters a whole lot more than the ones before it. The Big East is underway after this, and it won’t be time to take a breath until the DePaul game March Madness has come and gone. If this game sets the tone for the conference, how should Chris Mack set things?

Emphasize shooters:

The Friars are great at running teams off the arc and Xavier isn’t great at shooting. Right now, Malcolm Bernard and Trevon Bluiett are the teams best shooters from behind the arc. Bernard’s sample size is small, Trevon’s definitely is not. If X wants to make sure that they get good looks from deep, a lineup featuring those two, Kaiser Gates, and JP Macura would be the way to go. Providence can be had on the glass, so going that small may not be an issue if Coach Mack wants to try to shoot the Friars to death.

Emphasize the post:

Or, chuck that. Providence isn’t good on the defensive glass and can occasionally be hurt inside. If you aren’t going to make shots from the outside, and there’s a chance Xavier won’t, you might as well beat someone up in the paint and win ugly. Tyrique Jones, Sean O’Mara, and RaShid Gaston all will be a lot for the host of mediocre rebounders to handle. Throw in the never ending attentions of JP Macura and leave Edmond Sumner to run the show and you’ve got a really unorthodox lineup that could, for short periods of time, destroy the Friars.

Bench Edmond:

Stay with me here, because I know that looks weird. Obviously, Xavier isn’t sitting Edmond for a lot of this game, but there are times where moving him off the ball, or even off the court, might benefit them. Providence attacks ballhandlers and steals the ball on more than 10% of opponent’s possessions. Edmond isn’t the best in the world at keep the thing secure. A lineup, if only for a few minutes, that featured JP and Trevon initiating the offense and Kaiser Gates at the three could prove effective in keeping that from happening to Xavier.