Xavier spent last week beating a top 10 Providence team at home and then dispatching the wounded horse that is DePaul. The Musketeers now stand at sixth in both major polls and are very reasonably in the conversation for a number one seed in the tournament. Halfway through the Big East season is now the time to start putting the finishing touches on that high seed argument. The run in to the tournament isn't easy, but the difficulty doesn't really ratchet up until after Wednesday's matchup with the corpse of St. John's.
1. What to do with LAJ now?
If, like a lot of us, you were prepared to let Larry Austin Jr. linger on the end of the bench until he read the writing on the wall at the end of this year, he probably forced you to rethink that idea with his game on Saturday. Xavier was staggering out of the gate a bit when LAJ and JP grabbed the game and took it to DePaul. By the end, Larry had 17 minutes and a cool 12/5/4 under his belt. That throws a bit of a wrench into the Myles relieves Edmond rotation that had been going at point guard, but maybe now is the time for LAJ to help get Ed's tiring legs into March.
2. Should Sean O'Mara see the court against St. John's?
In the first meeting between these teams Sean used eight minutes to put up a glittering 0/3/1 line. The Red Storm still block more shots than any other team in the nation and Sean is somewhat groundbound in his offensive abilities. Jalen Reynolds missed the first ten minutes of that first meeting and then came out and went for 10/13/0 in a game that was somehow actually still a contest until a ridiculous technical was called. With the way Reynolds has been playing recently, would this be a good time to just shuttle Sean's minutes his way?
3. Audition time!
Let's be honest with one another here, St. John's is an awful basketball team. As things stand now, only Miami (Oh) sits lower in the KenPom rankings amongst Xavier's opponents. Players like to get court time and everyone knows and wants to hit their averages, but this is the kind of game that should feature a lot of Tim Stainbrook and Kevin Coker by the end. Ideally, Coach Mack will be able to use Makinde London, Kaiser Gates, LAJ, and whoever else catches his eye early and often. Sean O'Mara may stay bench bound while this is still a game, but by the end it would be great to see the bench taking miles off the legs of guys who will need to carry this team when April looms on the horizon.