Like a helmet swung by Myles Garrett, Xavier basketball is back on top of us fast. The Musketeers just knocked off Missouri in a hard fought game on Tuesday night and now face the Missouri State Bears in their last Friday night game of the season. Missouri State just beat Cleveland State by 20 (one presumes no headgear was brandished) in their game on Tuesday.
If Musketeers fans know Missouri State at all, it’s because that’s where former Xavier commit Jared Ridder landed. Ridder has played six minutes this year, missed all three threes he’s tried, and picked up an ankle injury that will likely sideline him today as well. Current Xavier player Kyky Tandy will also not suit up with a foot injury that seems likely to keep him off the court for at least another week.
The Bears are a lot closer to Jacksonville and Siena than they are Missouri. The one thing that they do well is choke off the three point line. Teams are shooting 21.4% from deep against the Bears this year, good for 11th in the nation. Those teams are Little Rock, Alabama St., and the Vikings of Cleveland St, so take that number with a grain of salt. That said, the shooting defense that the Bears play isn’t likely to simply evaporate. They’ll also get after the ball to the detriment of getting in good rebounding position.
On offense Missouri State is good at getting on the glass and getting to the line. They are below average at literally everything else. Give them chances for free points and they will take them. Give them open looks and they will likely miss them. The Bears turn the ball over on 22.5% of their possessions. This is not a good offensive team.
|Tyrik Dixon||Point Guard||Quentin Goodin|
|6'1", 173||Measurements||6'4", 194|
|This guy isn't shooting well this season, and he hasn't been a good or even average shooter in his career. His distribution is solid and he's a sticky defender, but he has had severe turnover problems on the young season. He rebounds well for a guard, for whatver that's worth. I don't think he's a very good point guard.|
|Keandre Cook||Shooting Guard||Paul Scruggs|
|6'5", 187||Measurements||6'4", 196|
|After posting guady shooting numbers last year, Cook is off to a blazing start this season. His 75% true shooting percentage is comfortably in the top 100 in the nation, and he can score from just about anywhere on the floor. He has one (1) assist in 99 minutes this year. He's an absolute gunner that is probably going to get a ton of buckets in the MVC.|
|Josh Hall||Small Forward||Naji Marshall|
|6'7", 213||Measurements||6'7", 222|
|Hall is a Nevada transfer who was doing well there before transferring out after two years. He's a really solid defender and a decent outside shooter still looking to find his exact place in the Missouri State lineup.|
|Lamont West||Power Forward||Jason Carter|
|A Cincinnati native and West Virginia transfer, West is a pretty good power forward option. He draws a lot of fouls and is a career 78% shooter from the line. He also played one game as a freshman at WVU before redshirting. He came in very late, blocked the only shot attempted by either team when he was on the floor, and in so doing fractured the reality of his KenPom stats page. That's not pertinent today, but it was interesting to me.|
|Tulio Da Silva||Center||Tyrique Jones|
|6'8", 213||Measurements||6'9", 239|
|A South Florida transfer, Da Silva is off to a slow start on offense but has been a monster on the glass this year and throughout his career. He's a good rim protector on defense and a modern face-up guy with range out to the arc on the other. Mo State has ridden him like Seattle Slew so far this season, getting 102 minutes out of him in three games. To his credit, he stays out of foul trouble really well.|
Not much, to be honest. Kabir Mohammed is a 6’5”, 237-pound senior forward who crushes the offensive glass and draws a decent amount of fouls. He also fouls a lot and is a fairly limited offensive player. Isiaih Mosely is a 6’5” freshman wing who guns unabashedly but doesn’t have much to show for it. He also makes it his business to follow shots in on offense in case they miss.
Ja’Monta Black is a freshman guard who sees about 15 minutes per game and has 4 total points on the year. Former Xavier wing Jared Ridder is a stretch four who shot 39% from behind the arc in conference play last year but has been limited by injuries this season.
-Is Q okay? Xavier's senior point guard is off to a scuffling start to the season, and improved shot selection against Missouri probably didn't counterbalance 6 turnovers to only 1 assist. Whatever this team's ceiling is, it's much higher with a productive Quentin Goodin. The Muskies need him at his best, if not against Missouri State then surely in Charleston and beyond.
-Can the Muskies make some threes? I know Missouri State's schedule so far hasn't exactly been a gauntlet, but they've been in the top 30 or so in the nation in percentage of points surrendered behind the arc. In suppressing both attempts and percentage, they've really choked out threes. I know Xavier's best bet might be to eschew the three altogether, but assuming that doesn't happen, you'd hope to see some go in tonight.
-How deep is the bench? Right now, it appears to consist of Dahmir Bishop, Zach Freemantle, and Bryce Moore. Kyky Tandy and Daniel Ramsey are both out through injuries on the opposite ends of their respective bodies, but Dontarius James got the ol' DNP-CD last time out. If he's going to be a part of this team - and you'd assume someone who can make a jumper has a role - time is running out for him to slot in.
-Protect the ball. The Bears cause a lot of turnovers. Xavier commits their fair share. Some of that is just how it goes in the early season, but it's time to tighten that up. Teams that will kill with extra possessions lie ahead.
-Find a five. It's not necessarily the starters, but Xavier needs to start figuring out who their finishers are. Everybody who has gotten serious minutes so far has a case for being on the floor at closing time; it will be interesting to see if the five guys Steele rode to the end against Missouri - the Core Four and Jason Carter - are the ones.
-Play a crisp 40. Kentucky didn't come ready to play against Evansville earlier this week and it cost them the game. Florida was slow out of the blocks against Towson and needed a late burst to escape. Even Myles Powell and what appeared to be four Seton Hall students selected at random gave Michigan State a run last night. Missouri State isn't Wooden's UCLA in its pomp, but they're no pushover. Xavier needs to be on the gas the whole way.