Well, that wasn’t awesome, was it? It has been pointed out by just about everyone that blowing a 17 point second half lead constitutes a complete collapse. Instead of dwelling on that, let’s find some reasons for optimism.
Why I’m not worried
- Xavier isn’t shooting 36.8% from the floor and 22.7% from behind the arc again any time soon. The last time the Musketeers were worse than their 43.5% inside the arc was all the way back against ETSU. At no other point this year were they even within four percentage points of being that bad. In short, it’s generally safe to assume X will make layups going forward.
- The moment isn’t too big for the freshman. Naji Marshall had a bad shooting night (2-9), so he compensated by grabbing twice as many rebounds as anyone else on the team. Paul Scruggs missed one shot on his way to 15/2/1. Both were aggressive all night long.
- The shapeshifter that stole Trevon’s body should be gone soon. If you had Trevon going a cool 2-14 from the floor in some sort of perverse office pool, go collect your winnings. Even more out of character for a very smart player was the bizarre decision to attempt, and somehow miss, a layup with a two point lead and 18 seconds to play. That violation of Basketball 101 won’t happen again.
- The defense wasn’t awful. Xavier held the Friars to a point per possession and posted a defensive efficiency of 100.6. That really should win a game.
Why I am worried
- Xavier had no answer to going cold. When the Musketeers couldn’t buy a bucket, they never found an effective second option. No one was effective in the post (Kanter was good with an array of mid range moves until Providence doubled with a guard), and Quentin Goodin was strangely unable to get his man off the dribble. Once the jumpers didn’t go, X crumbled.
- Kaiser Gates looked bad. Thursday and Friday are the point/counterpoint to what Gates offers. Unfortunately, he tends to disappear when his shot isn’t going. While Tre will shoot himself into a game, or at least try, Kaiser won’t. He missed three threes and then packed it in. His defense is borderline elite at four positions, but offense from him is what makes Xavier a Final Four contender.
- The defense in the second half was abhorrent. Xavier allowed Providence to shoot 55% from the floor and only forced two turnovers in the second half. That won’t beat much of anyone, let alone the caliber of team Xavier will see in the NCAA tournament.
There are still more reasons to be hopeful than not. X has lost five times in five months, which is hardly a crisis. The extra day of rest will help Tyrique’s arm, everyone’s legs, and any damaged psyches. This is still the team that won the Big East and is in contention for a one seed. The time for panic is not now.