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Roster(de)bating: Handling Marquette inside

Marquette is really tall, but kind of soft inside. Xavier is also tall, but is comprised of some serious hard men. Can the Musketeers dominate in the paint again?

Pretty much.
Pretty much.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

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If there is one team in the Big East that can match Xavier size for size, it's the Golden Eagles of Marquette. Marquette features 6-11 Henry Ellenson and 6-11 Luke Fischer as part of a monstrous double post that they, unlike the Musketeers, prefer to utilize in tandem. In the first game, Xavier dominated on the glass with a 34.3% offensive rebounding rate and a 71.2% defensive rebounding rate. That's mostly down to the efforts of James Farr, who grabbed five offensive boards and 14 defensive boards in that first meeting. The Golden Eagles are large, but they don't rebound well when met with a challenge on the glass. Here's how Xavier can exploit that advantage.

1. Unleash Jalen!

The big man was a monster in 14 minutes against St. John's on Wednesday. Yes, he went 1-8 from the line, but that's an incredibly small sample and recency bias is going to make it seem like more of a concern than it is. Jalen also grabbed seven rebounds in only 14 minutes in the first meeting against Marquette. He may foul out, but that's not ultimately important. What is important is getting all the time possible out of a big man who seems to have a renewed sense of purpose.

2. Should Coach Mack use Kaiser Gates or Sean O'Mara to protect James Farr?

Big Game James has spent most of the season making an argument to be the team's MVP and making us all regret 42 minutes back in 2012-13. That said, he's a bit dinged up right now and, despite still managing to put up good numbers, looked a little less mobile against SJU. In the first meeting of these two teams, Kaiser Gates used his athletic ability to his advantage and managed six rebounds. Marquette's bigs are tall, but they aren't thick, so Kaiser can run and jump right with them.

Sean O'Mara, on the other hand, managed only five minutes in the first game. Since then, he's added a lot to his game at least in the terms of confidence and effectiveness. Sean has an offensive efficiency of 113 in conference play and tends to rebound well (22% DR) against top tier teams. Perhaps O'Mara's big body is the way to go to clear space inside when Xavier's main post man needs a rest.

3. Should LAJ start?

I'm kidding, but Larry has been amazing in Xavier's last two games. Marquette could not get the offense going last time these teams met because their guards didn't initiate offense well. Outside of the 1-3-1, Xavier's best chance of keeping guards off balance is using LAJ against them. Marquette pressures the ball well on defense though, so Xavier's understudy at the point will need to curb his still-remaining tendency to throw the ball away. February is the most important month of the season for Larry, because he has to be excellent to keep Coach Mack from running up the miles on Edmond's legs. From now until the conference tournament starts, LAJ is vital part of this team's enduring success.