You can, and we have, debate the finer points of Xavier’s three point clangfest against Villanova. What no one disagrees with, though, is that Xavier needs to make an effort to get effective post players more involved in the game. Against Colorado Rashid Gaston went for 14/11/0 but had to generate three of his eight attempts by grabbing an offensive rebound. Against Villanova Sean O’Mara couldn’t be stopped when he got the ball on the blocks. Unfortunately, he generated every single one of his shot attempts with an offensive rebound. Jacking threes is great fun and isn’t always the problem, but effective post players need the ball. Butler can be beaten inside if Coach Mack can solve this issue.
Start Sean O’Mara:
There’s a chance to be taken here. Butler isn’t great at limiting offensive rebounds, but Sean isn’t great at grabbing them. There is no question here that X is giving up something on the boards if O’Mara plays over Gaston. However, the Musketeers need some scoring on the interior. When they started 2-9 inside in the second half against Nova, they essentially abandoned passing inside and fell out of the game. Throwing the ball into the interior needs to lead to some reward. O’Mara is the most likely to provide that. Or...
James Farr and Jalen Reynolds didn’t play much together last year because of the lack of depth behind them. This year, Coach Mack has Tyrique Jones and Kaiser Gates that he could use inside against a team like Butler if need be. The Bulldogs have no size to speak of. Only Tyler Wideman at 6-8 plays even close to half the team’s minutes, no other player taller than 6-7 gets even 30%. Running Gaston and O’Mara out there together would give Xavier a huge advantage inside while Xavier’s bevy of long armed guards could still contain the Bulldog perimeter players.
Post under JP Macura:
JP is Xavier’s player least likely to turn the ball over other than Kaiser Gates. The difference is that JP tends to use the ball very well when it comes to passing. No player on Xavier outside Edmond Sumner has as large a gap between his assist rate and his turnover rate. Basically, that means JP makes good decisions with the ball. More than Sumner, JP spends his time on the wing and off the ball, meaning more of his passes come from outside in. With O’Mara or Gaston posting while JP has the ball on the outside, Xavier has their best chance to get the ball into the interior. But, there’s another advantage to this set.
Space the lane with Myles or Trevon:
Imagine, if you will, a set with JP holding the ball on the wing, O’Mara posted, and Ed slightly off center to that side and high. This opens the back of the floor up to some opportunities. First, the best three point look is always high opposite. Sean’s 15.9% assist rate in conference play suggests that he’d be comfortable to turn and look to Trevon or Myles set high on the opposite wing. If Malcolm Bernard is in the game, he can slash in from the corner or flash high post. The same thing can be done with Bluiett if Myles is playing. This opens the lane more to get the ball inside and, just maybe, prevent another 32 three pointers from sailing into the abyss.