With 1:55 left in the game against Marquette last night, I fired off this genius tweet:
Two minutes left. X up 2. Who's your five? I want Q, JP, Naji, Tre, and Tyrique.— Banners on the Parkway of Class (@BannersParkway) December 28, 2017
Apparently Coach Mack didn’t have his phone on him - or maybe I should have tagged him in it - because he instead left Kaiser Gates on the floor. Gates immediately shamed me by hitting probably the biggest single shot of the game, a dagger three ball from the corner that more or less moved the Muskies’ offense to the free throw line for the rest of the game.
My thinking was fairly straightforward: JP and Tre are no-brainers at the end of the game. Q is nails from the line and has been Xavier’s steadiest hand at the point all year. Tyrique had been eating all game and gave my lineup an athletic presence in the paint on both ends.
Naji was my wild card. He had been all over Marquette’s Andrew Rowsey when he had been out there, and Rowsey appeared shy to take it at Marshall. That’s the kind of versatile defensive presence I wanted out there at the end of the game.
Of course, there’s also a case to be made for Kerem Kanter (good rebounder, matchup nightmare as a spot-up shooter), Paul Scruggs (athleticism and length at the point), Sean O’Mara (gets buckets, sneaky good offensive rebounder) and Kaiser Gates (also a matchup nightmare, hit that three basically right in my face last night).
Xavier basically goes eight or nine deep right now, depending on what you think of Paul Scruggs’s viability. You can only have five on the floor at a time; who are you taking when the game is on the line?