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New Year’s Eve conversation is ready for Xavier to put it together

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The DePaul win was better than a DePaul loss would have been, but where does that leave the Muskies on the eve of 2019?

NCAA Basketball Tournament - First Round - Nashville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Bryan

That performance, while not easy on the eye at times, was encouraging to me in the fact that we finally responded positively to getting punched in the mouth on the road. Jones, Scruggs, Goodin, and Marshall all made they plays we were hoping they would make down the stretch when we really needed them. This team still shoots too many threes, gives up too many second chances, and turns the ball over too much, but today they rose to the occasion, which is what the Xavier program is about.

Mary

Agreed that it was mostly positive.. still really can’t wrap myself around a possession that is three dribbles and pull up jumper though.

Joel

Same. Do we not like shooting easy shots? Are individual guys still pressing 14 games after Tre and JP, et al., left? Something to consider, though: we got 26 points off of 24 two-point shots and 30 points off of 26 three-point shots. I know there are other benefits to shooting twos, like foul trouble and what not, but... I don’t know what to do with that math.

Are we a bad three-point shooting team, or do we just take bad three-point shots? When we step into unguarded threes off the catch, we seem to be okay. The fact that we decide to dribble into them in traffic so often is troubling.

Bryan

I think it is a combination of both. Our two beat three point shooters (Welly and Scruggernuts) are both guys who primarily catch and shoot when they are beyond the arc. The two guys who tend to dribble into them the most (Q and Naj) are not particularly good jump shooters anyway. We have our better shooters take better shots, while our worse shooters take shots they have less of a chance of making anyway.

I don’t know if that made sense when I wrote it, but I assure you it was brilliant in my head.

Brad

A lot of it seems to come down to correctable errors. Stop dribbling into threes, pass the ball more, actually play defense. That can be corrected with coaching. If it is, this isn’t a bad team. It’s not a good one, but it is better than what we habe seen so far.

Also, Q and Scruggs played a combined 78 minutes tonight. That’s not good. Those are Tu/Cheeks numbers from a guy battling injury and a guy who didn’t play 20 minutes a game last season.

Joel

I loved what I saw today in those last five minutes. My concern is that DePaul sucks at shooting threes. As nice as it was to get a road win in conference, the real test for me will be if we can outscore a team that can shoot. If you’re feeling optimistic now, hit me back after we go to Marquette. That will be a huge test for us.

Brad

That’s a frightening thought. Did anyone see enough last night to make them change what they think of this team? I didn’t. It was a better performance against a mediocre team, but all the same issues were still there. A baby step, maybe?

Joel

I want to be encouraged; does that count? The problem with this team doesn’t seem to be where it peaks so much as how often it peaks (not very) and how long it stays at or near the peak (not long). DePaul is a top-100ish team that Xavier outscored 32-7 in the first five and last five minutes of the game. In the half hour between those two stretches, X was outscored by 16. Until we stop spending so much time playing so far below our potential, it’s hard to be too excited about what that potential is.

Bryan

I think looking through a macro lens winning by 9 at DePaul is not something that would get the pulse pounding, but I can’t deny I was excited when we closed on a 19-4 run. I get that this win did not cure our ills or even indicate that we can overcome them in the future, but it was exciting to watch us close a game that well.