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The Creighton fan's guide to Xavier basketball

It has been since last season that we've seen you guys. Here's what has gone down.

JP Macura, probably making two dudes mad.
JP Macura, probably making two dudes mad.
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, Creighton fans! There are two things about your team that really scare me: three-point shooting, and your massive venue that is filled with maybe the best fan base Xavier competes against. I recognize we're not looking at the Wragge/McDermott era #LetItFly Bluejays, but those games linger in my mind in a way that I can't dispel when someone says, "Creighton's next up." Anyway, you probably haven't spent your year to this point poring over what we've got going on here at Xavier, so let me throw this out to you to help you get up to speed.

Xavier personnel

NO. NAME YR. POS. HT. WT. PPG RPG APG FG% 3P% FT% NOTES
STARTERS
4 Edmond Sumner Fr. G 6'6" 183 10.9 3.1 3.4 .418 .352 .689 A menace in the open court; difficult to stop when attacking to either hand. Only an occasional threat from deep. His legs appear to be getting a little heavy on him, but he's making good decisions on the ball.
15 Myles Davis Jr. G 6'2" 188 11.2 3.3 3.8 .408 .381 .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.
10 Remy Abell Sr. G 6'4" 197 6.0 1.5 1.9 .384 .340 .755 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.
5 Trevon Bluiett So. G/F 6'6" 208 15.7 6.8 2.4 .423 .407 .804 A good 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 9.5 6.7 0.8 .519 .400 .598 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.
RESERVES
Larry Austin Jr. So. G 6'2" 179 2.3 1.2 1.3 .425 .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 out. A tenacious defender.
2 James Farr Sr. F/C 6'10" 244 10.3 8.3 0.7 .556 .167 .790 The best rebounder in the nation. Farr has grown from getting 42 minutes as a freshman to being a dominant big as a senior. Can score to either hand on the post. Defends the rim well.
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 2.9 2.4 0.2 .378 .286 .667 Very athletic, very determined perimeter defender. Still gets lost sometimes. Shoots the ball with a ton of confidence.
54 Sean O'Mara So. F/C 6'10" 247 3.5 2.0 0.3 .622 .000 .647 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.
55 J.P. Macura So. G 6'5" 203 9.3 2.8 2.0 .473 .343 .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.

Xavier strategy

Coach Mack loves defense, so one can guess that it chaps him that Xavier has gone from a very good defensive team in the non-conference to a kind of middle-of-the-road one in Big East play. Xavier plays mostly a packline man-to-man but mixes in a 1-3-1 zone about a third of the time. Hot shooting teams can crack the zone pretty easily, but it is really effective if forcing long jumpers and created chaos on the perimeter. Both defenses are susceptible to deep shooting; the man rebounds a bit better and challenges shots better, but the zone creates more turnovers. Xavier has to rebound well to defend effectively.

The offense has been the best in the Big East, and that's down in large part to its versatility. The Muskies can score from inside or out. They can set up shots with penetration, ball movement, or working inside out from the post. This team shares the ball well, has half a dozen legitimate scoring threats and three more guys who can go off at any time, and really knows what it's trying to do on the offensive end. They can occasionally get jumper happy and go a bit cold, but they can also occasionally rip off 36 points in nine and a half minutes like they did to close out Marquette over the weekend.

Other things to consider

  • If you have a guy who is kind of angry by nature, there's about a coin toss chance he'll end up having a ref separate him and Macura.
  • James Farr picked up a knee and hamstring injury against DePaul. He has been playing through it, but the guy you'll see isn't the man we call Big Game James.
  • You've got an insane arena/crowd combo. You probably already knew that.
  • Coach Mack has shown he isn't afraid to do something overtly insane with the lineup, so don't be surprised to see Myles Davis, Remy Abell, or Jalen Reynolds coming off the bench.
  • We've shot like garbage from the line the past two games. I'm hoping this is a blip and not the new normal for a team that has executed very well from there all year.