Xavier elected to show up tonight. When that happened, the outcome of this game was in little doubt. Still, they did actually have to play it and, 40 minutes (or about 47 hours of real time) later, the Musketeers were 2-0.
1. Tyrique Jones is still a dog.
Tyrique had the first two and then went on to a line of 19/7/2 with a steal and three blocks. He barked, yelled, appeared to contemplate eating the ref, and generally had his way with any and everyone that Rider threw his direction. The 5-6 from the line he posted may be the most encouraging sign of all. He’s not going to do this every night, but there’s a veneer of polish over his raw violence that will play in high level games.
2. Trevon Bluiett.
I know that isn’t really a takeaway, but we’re going to run with it. Trevon now has 51 points in 50 minutes played this season and has looked almost casual in his domination of Rider and Morehead. 26/9/3 tonight and he did it without ever really seizing the reins of the game. It’s possible we’re watching a player about to have a season to remember.
3. Quentin Goodin needs to step it up.
Q is undoubtedly a solid player with moments of very good in there somewhere. On this team, however, that might not keep him in the starting lineup. Rider very noticeably sagged off him at the arc and dared him to beat them from there. Instead, he went 0-1 and looked very hesitant to find his shot. Against this level of competition that means he could carve his way to six assists and only two turnovers. Against Big East teams, that could mean Coach Mack wants to see a fifth scoring threat out there.
BONUS TAKEAWAY: Fox Sports One should be hiring a color guy.
All I want from a guy describing the action in a basketball game to me is some self-awareness, applicable game knowledge, and an understanding of the teams he or she is watching play. When Jordan Cornette pronounced with 38:23 left in the game that Xavier was letting Rider hang around and gather confidence, I feared the worst. What followed was a tour de force in how not to call a game. Semi-professional obligation and the same reason my great-grandmother watched the soaps (“I just want to see how far they’ll go”) forced me to leave it on, but it was a travshamockery. Bill Raftery would have been better. Seriously.