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Xavier’s offense has more issues than you think

It’s not just three point shooting that is keeping the Musketeers from clicking.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri State at Xavier
Good offense
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

The raw numbers on Xavier’s season right now aren’t pretty. A 4-0 record is undercut by an offense that isn’t clicking. Talk to any member of Xavier Nation, visit any website, engage with anyone on Twitter, or listen to our, or any other, podcast and you’ll hear nothing but talk about Xavier’s three point shooting. 20.9% behind the arc grabs the attention and doesn’t let go. Bryce Moore leads the team with a 33% average, and he’s only attempted 12 shots. It’s not pretty.

But that isn’t the only problem that Xavier is facing on offense this season. There’s an argument that everything else stems from the fact that defenses don’t have to respect anyone more than 20 feet from the bucket, but that may not cover all of it. Right now KenPom has the offense as the 42nd most efficient in the nation and Torvik has it 53rd. Poor shooting, minimal offensive rebounding, and a poor assist to turnover rate have conspired to keep those numbers depressed.

Shooting in general

20.9% behind the arc, 53% inside it, 36% on two point jumpers, 67% from the line, and an EFG of 45.1% paints a grim picture. The two point shooting is the highest of those numbers and it’s only good for 90th in the nation. The two point jumper number is essentially as bad as the three point shooting when factored for the efficiency of the shot. Simply put, Xavier isn’t very good shooting the ball anywhere. Only the fact that Xavier gets to the line on 41% of field goal attempts helps save the offense. The 45.1% effective field goal mark would have been good for 336th over a full season last year and is three percentage points lower than any at large team from the 2018-19 tournament.

Offensive rebounding

Xavier has traditionally been an excellent offensive rebounding team. Last season Tyrique Jones was third in the nation in offensive rebounding rate and Zach Hankins was 91st. Currently the Musketeers are grabbing 28.6% of the rebounds they create. The last time X was that bad at offensive rebounding, there was no such thing as KenPom. That number lands them at 168th in the nation. The last time they were that bad was the brawl year, where some numbers are skewed due to suspensions and the long hangover. These four games are an exceedingly small sample, but they are also a small sample against at least three teams that aren’t very good at basketball. Xavier is going to need to get better at grabbing their own misses if they insist on missing this much.

Turnovers and assists

Xavier’s 18.1% turnover rate isn’t a disaster taken on its own. That’s 113th in the nation right now. Since Tu Holloway left, though, the Musketeers haven’t been great at protecting the ball. The 18.1% mark isn’t terribly worrying and is a marked improvement on last year’s 19.5%. However, the Musketeers are turning the ball over that much without a great deal to show for it. Xavier’s team assist rate is just 48%. The last time Xavier’s number was that low was, once again, before the advanced metrics era. Even the Chris Mack team that completely missed the tournament moved the ball more effectively than this one has so far.

So no, the three point shooting has not been good this year. It has actually been awful. It isn’t just that holding Xavier back though. The overall shooting, offensive rebounding, and lack of effective ball movement have also kept the team mired in serious offensive trouble. Some threes dropping would cover over some of the problems, but there’s a lot more here than just what meets the eye.