Xavier is back in action tomorrow against a Utah team that’s maybe not quite as good as we thought it would be back in November. Then again, Xavier hasn’t exactly been on a straight line from opening day to the national title so far, so glass houses and all that. This is Utah’s first road game of the year (!) and X’s first home game in almost two weeks. Somebody is going to gain some much-needed momentum from this one; here are a couple of challenges to Xavier’s bid to be the team to do so.
Can you #FeedTheShid?
RaShid Gaston had a breakout performance in the mid-week fixture, dropping 14 and 11 on 7-8 shooting (and 0-3 from the line) in the loss to Colorado, and he may have had 20 if Xavier had kept feeding him. Colorado’s front line lacked a single player larger than 6’9”, while Utah has 6’10” Tyler Rawson in the middle and 7’ freshman Jayce Johnson coming off the pine. Was Gaston’s big game a confluence of favorable circumstances, or has he become a well that the Muskies can go to more often?
Do you go double post?
Hey, how do you defend Xavier? A zone, if the last two games are any indication. To break down a zone defense, you need to get the ball to the high post or the short corner, a feat that has eluded X of late. If you get RaShid pinning a defender to the block and Sean working the middle, suddenly a lot more things are going to open up. This takes a shooter off the floor, but the shooters weren’t exactly lighting the world on fire anyway.
How do you get Ed a break?
Quentin Goodin got 14 minutes against Colorado and turned in an ORtg of 11. That’s obviously not good. He’s not the kind of guard who is going to excel against a zone, but he has to be able effectively initiate the offense enough to get Sumner a few minutes on the bench. If he can’t, it’s not entirely clear that Xavier has another option.