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The Providence fan's guide to Xavier basketball

Perhaps you remember Jalen Reynolds...
Perhaps you remember Jalen Reynolds...
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Hello again, Providence fans! I'm sure you don't need to be reminded that Xavier's visit to your place started the 2-4 streak that has seen you drop out of the top 10 in the polls, out of the top 50 in KenPom, and painfully close to the bubble. We've continued plugging along in the meantime, with a loss at Creighton the only blemish since our visit to the Dunk. Here's a complete catch-up on how things have looked for X since we last met.

Xavier personnel

4 Edmond Sumner Fr. G 6'6" 183 10.9 3.3 3.3 .409 .333 .704 A menace in the open court; difficult to stop when attacking to either hand. Only an occasional threat from deep. More capable than he showed in the first meeting, but Dunn is a tough matchup for him.
15 Myles Davis Jr. G 6'2" 188 10.6 3.3 3.6 .401 .380 .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, but is insulated to an extent in the 1-3-1 zone.
55 J.P. Macura So. G 6'5" 203 9.4 2.8 2.0 .479 .351 .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.
5 Trevon Bluiett So. G/F 6'6" 208 15.0 6.6 2.4 .416 .384 .796 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 9.7 6.6 0.8 .508 .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. Officials hate this guy.
0 Larry Austin Jr. So. G 6'2" 179 2.2 1.2 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 resting. A tenacious defender.
2 James Farr Sr. F/C 6'10" 244 10.1 8.4 0.6 .546 .167 .790 The best rebounder in the nation. Once fancied himself a jump shooter, but has rebuilt his game around staying close to the bucket on both ends. Can score to either hand on the post. Defends the rim well.
10 Remy Abell Sr. G 6'4" 197 6.0 1.4 1.8 .393 .333 .760 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.
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 3.1 2.4 0.1 .408 .300 .593 Very athletic, very determined perimeter defender. Still gets lost sometimes. Shoots the ball with a ton of confidence. Has awesome hair.
54 Sean O'Mara So. F/C 6'10" 247 3.4 1.9 0.3 .612 .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. Scores efficiently, but fouls a ton.

Xavier strategy

Xavier's defense had been fairly flaccid in conference play, but last week X played 142 possessions against Creighton and Butler on the road and only gave up 127 points. The Muskies did it mostly with man, but the 1-3-1 Coach Mack implemented specifically for Providence last year has been fairly stout. Teams will get open looks at jumpers against Xavier at the cost of chances to play in the middle; what they do with those jump shots will go a long way toward determining how effectively they break down X's defense.

On offense, it's all about keeping the ball moving for Xavier. The team is usually devoid of ball stoppers, so it usually keeps moving around the perimeter and through the post until someone gets a good look. Trevon Bluiett can create his own jumper and Edmond Sumner can make his own plays going to the hole, but other than that the team generally relies on the offense putting individuals in good positions.

Other things to consider

  • Xavier has seven guys who have started this year and three useful reserves. This team has a ton of meaningful depth.
  • The Muskies love to play fast; only St. John's has a higher tempo on offense in league play.
  • Ben Bentil is an animal; I'm looking forward to watching him take on Jalmes Farrnolds again.