Well, here we are. This season started with the promise of Myles Davis adding a mid-conference boost to a team that should be a contender for at least the Sweet 16. Now, about three months later, Xavier has one remaining guard, bigs that are being punished by better athletes, and is holding on to what remains of a tournament resume. Suddenly, the rest of Big East play doesn’t so much look rife with opportunity as it does look like a potential minefield.
The first mine is Seton Hall. The Pirates aren’t as good as they were in that blistering run to end the season last year, but they have beaten Marquette, South Carolina, and Cal. Most recently they threw a serious scare into Butler. Khadeen Carrington and Angel Delgado are the big guns, but Desi Rodriguez is proving a more than capable second fiddle.
The offense isn’t good. Actually, for a Big East team, it’s pretty bad. The Pirates aren’t good from deep which they compliment by mediocre inside the arc and downright horrendous (60%) from the line. They absolutely destroy the offensive glass, though, and they’ll eventually get the thing in the bucket if you give them enough chances. The only other team Xavier has seen that hits the offensive boards like this is UC. Do with that information what you will.
The defense, on the other hand, is good. Seton Hall shuts down possessions at one shot as well as anyone in the nation and closes off the arc fairly well. Those two strengths carry a team that isn’t great at forcing turnovers and can be had, at least shooting wise, inside the arc. The Pirates chase shots in an attempt to block, and will leave a shooter open rather than leave someone open on the glass.
|Jones works to set up his more high powered offensive teammates. His steal rate is in the top 120 in the nation, so expect him to be all over Goodin from the off.
|Carrington isn't the most efficient guy on the floor, but he is going to get his. While he's not the classic point gurd, he's going to spend a good amount of time with the ball in his hands.
|Rodriguez had games of 21 and 27 against Xavier last year. His usage rate is up this year and he's a more efficient choice than Carrington. He and Tre going at each other could make for an excellent matchup.
|Sanogo is out there to rebound, which he does very well, and do almost literally nothing else. He's scored in double digits three times in his career, none of them this season.
|Delgado is a junkyard dog of a post man. He dominates the glass on both ends and beats defenders up in the post. If Gaston and O'Mara thought Gary Clark was bad, they're going to hate Delgado.
6-2 guard Myles Powell is first off the bench. He’s a solid shooter, a decent facilitator, and he takes care of the ball well. He is, in short, an ideal backup guard. Michael Nzei is a 6-8 forward who also sees significant time. Nzei is a very good offensive rebounder and shot blocker who never ventures far from the rim. No other Pirate even sees as much time as Tyrique Jones. This is not a deep team.
- Who is the backup point guard? Well, Quentin Goodin is, but now he’s the starter. Who is coming in when he needs a break from handling the ball? Twitter rumors have it as JP and he seems as good a choice as any. Read here for a quick look at all the candidates.
- Can anyone keep Angel Delgado off the glass? Gary Clark and Kyle Washington are great offensive rebounders, but they pale in comparison to Delgado. He may look for calls, but he’s a complete hammer on the glass. Tyrique Jones is a physical match for him, and this may be his coming out party if he can contend with Delgado.
- Who is going to step up? Xavier doesn’t “just” need to replace a point guard, then need to find 15 points, four rebounds, and five assists to equal what Edmond Sumner was doing. Oh, and 33 minutes and an offensive efficiency of 110.7 and the highest usage rate on the team. That’s all.
- One shot: Seton Hall doesn’t shoot well, but they chase their misses voraciously. Xavier cannot let them get multiple bites at the apple. One shot possessions early will be a sign if Xavier is locked in. If Delgado, Sanogo, and Nzei are snaring offensive boards, it’s going to be a long night.
- Protect the ball: On the other end, Xavier has lost some of their scoring punch. Seton Hall isn’t great at forcing turnovers, but you can bet they will be all over Quentin Goodin to see if the freshman rattles easily. For the Musketeers to focus the offensive firepower they have left, they must not waste possessions.
- Get Kaiser involved: Some rebounding last game was a good sign, now Gates has to assert himself even more. He has the tools to impact the game far more than he has been this season. He needs to start doing it soon, or this team is even more thin than it looks.