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The St. John's fan's (updated) guide to Xavier basketball

The Red Storm are having kind of a rocky season, so I'll do their fans a solid and spare them the research on Xavier.

LAJ flashing some serious range.
LAJ flashing some serious range.
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back, New Yorkers and fans of New York basketball! I remember when having a New York point guard was a thing in college hoops, and I'm guessing Chris Mullin does as well. He's working to get St. John's back on the map after the team was gutted by the departure of 99% of its production and its coach. In the meantime, you guys have to suffer through a pretty rough season. To take your mind off of things, I'll reintroduce you to a 19-2 Xavier Musketeers squad.

Xavier personnel

4 Edmond Sumner Fr. G 6'6" 183 10.4 3.3 3.3 .396 .327 .695 Might be hitting the freshman wall a bit, but is still insanely quick and shifty. His length causes problems on both ends. A very athletic finisher.
15 Myles Davis Jr. G 6'2" 188 11.0 3.3 3.7 .406 .375 .891 Best shooter on the team and their emotional leader. Can slide over and run the point, but at his best when he's off the ball. Does whatever the team needs him to.
10 Remy Abell Sr. G 6'4" 197 6.2 1.5 1.9 .394 .356 .733 Very good on-ball defender. Tends to go through stretches where you forget he's out there, but a reliable player. Will run ahead of everyone on a fast break.
5 Trevon Bluiett So. G/F 6'6" 208 15.4 6.6 2.2 .427 .387 .823 Versatile scorer who can get a lot of baskets without forcing his way into the game. Has a really quick release. Can knock down jumpers from anywhere, including the mid-range. Has developed a tendency to come on strong after halftime.
1 Jalen Reynolds Jr. F 6'10" 238 9.7 6.7 0.7 .524 .400 .662 Disruptive defensive force in the middle of the 1-3-1 zone. Certainly capable of taking over a game, but it's not clear he can get out of his own way. May be waking up a bit down the stretch.
Larry Austin Jr. So. G 6'2" 179 2.2 1.2 1.3 .421 .000 .625 Can be a good reserve point guard if he doesn't force the issue too much. Will be an important part of keeping miles off of Sumner's odometer. Has very limited shooting range.
2 James Farr Sr. F/C 6'10" 244 10.6 8.8 0.6 .553 .167 .793 The best rebounder in college basketball. Has developed scoring moves to both hands on the post. Very effective in protecting the rim. Has been in and out of the starting lineup.
13 Makindé London Fr. F 6'10" 220 1.8 1.3 0.5 .368 .429 .500 Has shown good range when left alone. Can rebound if given the space and is an athletic help defender. Doesn't get many minutes before garbage time.
22 Kaiser Gates Fr. F 6'8" 217 2.9 2.5 0.2 .368 .304 .667 Stretch four. Streaky shooter, as is often the case with guys who don't get big minutes, but his confidence is growing. Has been a revelation on the defensive end in terms of being able to move his feet and guard the perimeter. Gets more minutes when Xavier is playing man defense.
54 Sean O'Mara So. F/C 6'10" 247 3.8 2.0 0.3 .628 .000 .647 Growing into his offensive game right now; so deft around the rim. Has very good footwork and occasional bounce. Hard worker on the boards, but not a guy who is going to rebound out of his area. Blocked by two similar but better players in Farr and Reynolds.
55 J.P. Macura So. G 6'5" 203 8.7 2.5 2.1 .451 .310 .804 Flies to the offensive glass, scores in weird ways from all over inside the arc. Opponents and opposing fans hate him for what I'm going to call an overabundance of confidence. Very active on top of the 1-3-1. Not afraid of the big moment.

Xavier strategy

It can come from just about anywhere on any given night for Xavier. The Musketeers lead the conference in offensive efficiency; other than a little problem with turnovers, they do everything pretty well. The only offensive category (other than overall efficiency) they lead the Big East in is assist rate, which speaks to just how balanced and unselfish this team is. Larry Austin, Jr. went for a dozen Xavier's last time out in a win over DePaul, making him the ninth Muskie to crack double digits this season.

On defense, Coach Mack continues to call the 1-3-1 zone a curveball, but it's becoming the defense for which Xavier is known. One of the most effective zones in the nation, it concedes the odd long jumper in favor of congesting the passing lanes and packing the middle. Xavier's man defense does much the same thing, but with a slightly higher focus on clogging the paint at the expense of pressuring the perimeter. The more Xavier plays zone, the less effectively they rebound on the defensive end.

Other things to consider

  • Xavier rarely loses at home, but Georgetown did knock off the Muskies at Cintas thanks to a huge game from Tre Campbell.
  • I really like Eli Manning at the point for you guys; I think he's going to be a big time player.
  • Xavier gets big minutes off the bench, most notably from James Farr and JP Macura, who are basically the 6th and 7th starters.
  • We're just a hair more experienced than you guys, according to KenPom. Make of that what you will.