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The Butler fan's (updated) guide to Xavier basketball

Xavier needs a win to get back on the two line. Butler needs a win to get on any line. Something has to give.

Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Hello again, Butler fans! Can I tell you a secret? We don't like your team. A lot of it stems from the whole clock game incident a few years back, but I'd be lying if some of it wasn't a bit of resentment that you all went to consecutive Final Fours and we didn't. There's a sense in which we also stole Thad Matta from you (briefly), so the sentiment probably flows both ways a bit. Anyway, if you've been too busy following your own team to follow Xavier, too, here's what you've missed.

Xavier personnel

4 Edmond Sumner Fr. G 6'6" 183 10.9 3.3 3.3 .400 .333 .694 A menace in the open court; difficult to stop when attacking to either hand. Only an occasional threat from deep. He had a bit of trouble recovering from a fall at Nova in the Big East opener but has returned to form fairly well.
15 Myles Davis Jr. G 6'2" 188 10.7 3.3 3.8 .394 .364 .866 The team's best shooter and their emotional leader. When big plays need made, his teammates look to Myles. Has improved into a solid driver and distributor. Not dynamic defensively.
10 Remy Abell Sr. G 6'4" 197 5.8 1.4 1.8 .377 .333 .755 Dynamic defensively. He'll guard the opposition's best perimeter player when Xavier goes man. At his best in transition on offense; runs the floor without the ball very well. Struggling to get anything going in the half court. May not start for much longer.
5 Trevon Bluiett So. G/F 6'6" 208 15.2 6.7 2.4 .415 .390 .804 A threat from anywhere on the court thanks to top-notch footwork. Sometimes hurries his release just a hair. Can be relied upon to guard near the bucket better than on the perimeter. Good rebounder for his size.
1 Jalen Reynolds Jr. F 6'10" 238 9.8 6.8 0.8 .503 .333 .622 Jalen has piles of physical tools but struggles to get out of his own way at times. Excels defensively in the middle of the 1-3-1 zone. Insanely athletic. Rounding into form lately.
Larry Austin Jr. So. G 6'2" 179 2.3 1.3 1.3 .429 .000 .643 A very solid backup point. Makes about one ridiculous turnover every time out, but otherwise does well running the team when Sumner is out. A tenacious defender.
2 James Farr Sr. F/C 6'10" 244 10.5 8.2 0.6 .555 .167 .790 The best rebounder in the nation. Farr has grown from getting 42 minutes as a freshman to being a dominant big as a senior. Can score to either hand on the post. Defends the rim well.
13 Makindé London Fr. F 6'10" 220 1.8 1.3 0.5 .368 .429 .500 Whip thin and hyper athletic, but still growing into his game. Can really shoot it when he gets his feet set. If you see him while the game is still in doubt, something strange is happening.
22 Kaiser Gates Fr. F 6'8" 217 2.9 2.4 0.2 .391 .286 .609 Very athletic, very determined perimeter defender. Still gets lost sometimes. Shoots the ball with a ton of confidence.
54 Sean O'Mara So. F/C 6'10" 247 3.4 1.9 0.3 .609 .000 .611 Plays like the former offensive lineman he is. Difficult for opposing big men to move out of the paint. Has good finesse game in the post.
55 J.P. Macura So. G 6'5" 203 9.3 2.8 2.0 .471 .333 .813 Either a flaxen-haired heartthrob or the most annoying player in the Big East, depending on who you cheer for. Pokes, prods, niggles, scrambles, and talks over the entire length and width of the floor. Has some Pistol Pete in his scoring and distributing game. Flies to the offensive glass.

Xavier strategy

The Xavier defense has been struggling lately. The Xavier defense has featured a lot of man-to-man lately. Those two facts are connected in a way that's more than coincidental. Chris Mack seems to have set one eye on making sure Xavier can man up in the tournament, but the results of playing diminished zone since the Providence game have not been encouraging. When things are going well, Xavier can force opponents into long jumpers out of either defense and then clear the possession on the glass. When things are going poorly, Maurice Watson drops 32 on the Muskies.

The offense spit the bit against Creighton thanks largely to a horrifying 1-21 performance from behind the arc. That isn't likely to happen again, as X is generally a solid shooting team. When they start to press, there's a tendency to settle for jumpers that doesn't always pay off. Mostly though, the team shares the ball well and works from well-spaced sets. Look for the occasional high ball screen for Sumner to drive or cross-screen action on the post, but mostly the offense is predicated on a lot of ball and body movement leading to clean looks.

Other things to consider

  • Xavier was on a five-game winning streak before the loss to Creighton, but the team didn't play well it wins over St. John's and Marquette. We need to right the ship against your boys.
  • Slow starts have been plaguing the team lately. X basically gave away the Creighton game in the first eight minutes.
  • I think your gym was great for the 1950s and it probably should have stayed there.