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The Creighton fan's (updated) guide to Xavier basketball

Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Hello again, Creighton fans. I want you to know off the top that I'm cheering for you all in like 16 Big East games a year. I think McDermott is a really underrated coach, I love the arena/crowd combination you've got going on there in Omaha, and I even enjoy the gently pedantic nature that led about 300 of you all to repeatedly remind me that there is no space in Bluejays as I was adjusting to typing your team's name on a regular basis.

Now you all are clinging to the bottom of the bubble, in the unenviable position of watching mid-major conference tournaments and cheering for chalk. Trust me, I feel your pain, and I know that leaves precious little time for following your conference's games. Don't worry; I'll get you caught up on Xavier.

Xavier personnel

4 Edmond Sumner Fr. G 6'6" 183 11.3 3.3 3.4 .415 .328 .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 10.9 3.6 4.0 .398 .382 .857 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 6.0 1.4 1.6 .396 .339 .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 .419 .383 .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 9.5 6.5 0.8 .510 .333 .633 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.
0 Larry Austin Jr. So. G 6'2" 179 2.1 1.2 1.2 .404 .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 10.3 8.0 0.6 .546 .143 .772 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 .391 .412 .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 2.5 0.2 .400 .281 .553 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 3.3 1.9 0.3 .618 .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 9.7 2.6 2.0 .477 .337 .813 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

Believe it or not, we do have a strategy on offense beyond shooting bad jumpers as often as possible. As you all got to see, the offense is poor when the ball sticks and guys try to take the defense on solo. What you didn't get to see is that the offense hums when the ball is moving. Coach Mack sets up good actions to get guys open, but often the course of the offense will get the ball to someone in a position to attack. Once the ball gets on the glass, Xavier has some solid offensive rebounders to go get the misses.

Xavier's defense focuses on crowding out the lane and forcing opponents to take long jump shots. The Muskies will do this out of a pack line man or a 1-3-1 zone. The zone extends a little farther and forces more turnovers, but the man is easier for Xavier to rebound out of. Players who can drive the gaps and put the defense into rotation generally give the Muskies trouble, as do reliable shooters in the corners.

Other things to consider

  • Xavier has had seven players lead the team in scoring at least twice this year.
  • The Muskies have the 2 seed in the Big East tournament locked up, but the right set of unlikely results could get Creighton up to the four.
  • Xavier only has one home loss on the year, and it came when Georgetown's Tre Campbell had the game of his dang life against us.
  • It's senior day for Xavier, so expect an especially energetic crowd.