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The Seton Hall fan's (updated) guide to Xavier basketball

Our favorite thing about New Jersey.
Our favorite thing about New Jersey.
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Hello again, Seton Hall fans! Your team is really coming into its own right now, especially Isaiah Whitehead. Not only is it hard to argue with his work in recent games, but his transformation from a guy who was using a ton of possession to little impact to a really good scoring point guard has been especially dramatic. If you have been too locked in on that to keep up with what Xavier is doing, I'm here to help you out.

Xavier personnel

4 Edmond Sumner Fr. G 6'6" 183 11.7 3.3 3.4 .426 .333 .741 Ed is a slashing combo guard who can attack and finish with either hand. His shooting is set up by his athletic ability; defenders have to respect his first step off the dribble. He's almost impossible to stop with a head of steam. He is growing as a defender, but he remains a work in progress on that end.
15 Myles Davis Jr. G 6'2" 188 10.7 3.6 4.0 .395 .374 .861 The steady counterpoint to Sumner explosive abilities. Consistent outside shooter with range well beyond the arc. Sneakily piles up assists by playing good basketball. He does whatever the team needs on the offensive end. Emotional leader.
10 Remy Abell Sr. G 6'4" 197 5.9 1.4 1.6 .397 .333 .768 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. Will cede a lot of minutes to fan favorite JP Macura when Xavier goes zone.
5 Trevon Bluiett So. G/F 6'6" 208 15.1 6.5 2.3 .418 .384 .784 A threat from anywhere on the court thanks to top-notch footwork. Can be streaky, but not shy about shooting himself through a slump. 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 9.6 6.6 0.8 .512 .333 .629 Should be Xavier's best post player, but has trouble getting out of his own way sometimes. Definitely not a favorite of the officials'. He is super athletic and plays with a fairly overt mean streak. Good rebounder, good defender in the middle.
Larry Austin Jr. So. G 6'2" 179 2.1 1.2 1.3 .417 .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. Very athletic.
2 James Farr Sr. F/C 6'10" 244 10.0 8.0 0.6 .544 .143 .778 The best rebounder in the nation over the course of the season. Once fancied himself a jump shooter, but has rebuilt his game around staying close to the bucket on both ends. Defends the rim well. Can still knock down the occasional jumper, especially from the left baseline.
13 Makindé London Fr. F 6'10" 220 1.8 1.3 0.4 .381 .438 .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 3.0 2.6 0.2 .396 .281 .583 We're really excited about this guy's potential. He's a solid defender already and could be an excellent one in the future. Has a lot of mobility and shoots the ball with a ton of confidence. Is still fairly foul prone right now.
54 Sean O'Mara So. F/C 6'10" 247 3.4 1.8 0.2 .635 .000 .579 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.
55 J.P. Macura So. G 6'5" 203 9.8 2.6 2.1 .489 .341 .822 His overt antagonism hides a truly gifted offensive player. Leads X in ORtg in conference play thanks largely to a dazzling array of floaters and creative finishes around the rim. Flies to the offensive glass. Creates havoc at the top of the 1-3-1. Not afraid of anything or anyone on the basketball court. Opposing fans hate him.

Xavier strategy

Xavier's offense loves to go fast and loves to attack. Xavier leads the Big East in free throw rate, shooting almost a free throw for every two field goals attempted. When they're scoring from live play, the Muskies keep the ball moving around the perimeter and through the post to set up open shots. Xavier will play occasional ball screen action with Sumner or Davis, but most of the team's scoring comes through the flow of the offense or off of one of Coach Mack's myriad of set plays.

You've probably heard about Xavier's 1-3-1 zone a lot, and for good reason: it's really effective. What gets lost in all that excitement is that X is still mostly a man team. The man defense crowds the lane with four players and has the defender on the ball pressure, knowing he has help behind him. The 1-3-1 will stretch a lot farther out, but the principal of forcing long jumpers is the same. Both defenses can be put into rotation by effective drivers, and both can be hurt by players who can knock down jump shots.

Other things to consider

  • Myles Davis is a New Jersey native; he's always keyed up for this trip, but he's not played that well at Seton Hall his first two years.
  • Edmond Sumner is having a fantastic February, averaging 14.9/3.1/4.0 on .492/.357/.841 shooting in 7 games on the month.
  • Well over a third of Xavier's minutes come off the bench, with JP Macura and James Farr in particular effectively getting starter's time from the pine.