There’s some steel to this team:
Trevon Bluiett managed to lay a complete egg in terms of scoring today, but he chipped in seven boards and three assists. That in some way set the tone in a game in which X didn’t even manage to shoot 40% from the floor but racked up 14 offensive boards and still managed assists on 65% of their made buckets. Look at the shooting numbers and you’d be forgiven for thinking that Xavier lost, but only committing eight turnovers and knocking down 76% of your free throws will games. Xavier dug deep, scored 45 in the second half, and won this one ugly just three days after winning pretty over Providence.
Edmond Sumner has almost completely abandoned the jumper:
Every single shot attempt that Ed had today came from inside 15 feet. He was brilliant in there, hanging, twisting, taking contact, and so completely fooling Jessie Govan once that the 6-10 center headed to the corner to guard someone who wasn’t there. That Xavier’s sophomore guard can have such an excellent game (28/8/6) while having a free throw be his longest make is amazing. Sumner is averaging only 3.6 jumpshot attempts per game. At some point, he’ll have to make a three pointer, but for today simply being quicksilver in human form was enough.
Xavier is starting slowly:
It took Xavier over 10 minutes to get rolling against EWU, when they finally did, they destroyed the Eagles. A long dead spell after a few quick buckets against Providence meant a bit of a stumble out of the gate as well. Once again, though, once the Musketeers hit gear, the blew the Friars away. This game was a bit better, but Xavier again struggled to find their shooting legs early, starting 12-29 overall and 2-8 from deep. Again, the Musketeers found some offense when they needed it, but at some point in time, Xavier is going to need to start fast. There aren’t games off in the Big East (ok, there are two), you can’t just wait to feel your way into each game.
Some hope from the bench:
LJ Peak spent large portions of that game showing Kaiser Gates (6/2/1) exactly how basketball is played. Still, Coach Mack got some time out of Gates, who a couple of times showed some flashes of aggression. He is by no means back to where he was but, as a work in progress, today a shuffle step in the right direction offensively. Sean O’Mara, on the other hand, showed what he can do when he gets the ball in the post. Eight points came on 2-4 from the floor, 4-6 from the line, and four offensive rebounds. When the guards get O’Mara in the deep block, he’s tough to stop. As for Tyrique Jones and Quentin Goodin, well...