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Xavier v. Green Bay: preview, matchups, keys to the game

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Before the Crosstown Shootout on Saturday, Xavier will take one last tuneup in the Kerem Kanter Memorial Classic against Green Bay at Cintas tonight.

NCAA Basketball: Green Bay at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Green Bay, to their credit, has scheduled tough to start the year. Maybe less noteworthy has been their performances in tough games, losing on road trips to Purdue, New Mexico, and Wisconsin as well as at home to Colgate. They’ve got wins against CSU Northridge and Montana State, as well as non-league Wisconsin Stout, to run their record to 3-4. They’re in the upper half of the Horizon League, but I have serious doubts regarding their at-large resume.

Xavier is 7-1, in the upper half of the Big East, and probably has a better chance at an at-large bid at this point. Their only loss is by 5 to Florida, who is either amazing or mediocre depending on when you catch them. Beyond that, X has had to dig deep late a couple of times to pull through, but they’re ultimately unblemished outside of the Charleston Classic title game. They’ll be looking ahead to seeing UC on the weekend, but Green Bay will have their full attention in the meantime.

Team fingerprint

Fast. Nobody in the nation plays quicker on offense, where GB wraps their possessions in under 14 seconds on average. They’re a bit slower on defense but still 9th overall in adjusted tempo. They have excellent ball security and are a good shooting team, but they don’t OReb at all and they shoot very few free throws. They shoot 38.5% from behind the arc as a team but only attempt 35% of their shots from behind the arc. Thanks to playing with a lot of discipline for a team on a dead sprint, their overall AdjO comes in just inside the nation’s top 100.

Their defense is miserable. Teams shoot 43.1% from deep and 57.1% from inside the arc for an EFG% of 60.3%, 348th in the country. That, you don’t need me to tell you, is bad. They’re about average at forcing turnovers and within the top 100 in DReb% and keeping teams off the line. None of that matters, though, because they turn every opponent into Fletcher Magee with the way they contest shots.

Personnel

Starters

Starting matchups
JayQuan McCloud Point Guard Quentin Goodin
Senior Class Senior
6'2", 195 Measurements 6'4", 194
15.1/3.4/4.9 Game line 5.9/2/2.8
41.1/35.3/76.9 Shooting line 31.5/33.3/44.4
McCloud should be a good challenge for Q. He doesn't turn the ball over, initiates the offense and distributes well, and has hit 18 threes already on the season. He is on the ball a lot, easily leading the team's starters in usage rate. He plays fast, doesn't foul, and looks for shots on all three levels.
PJ Pipes Shooting Guard Paul Scruggs
Junior Class Junior
6'2", 190 Measurements 6'4", 196
11.9/2.6/3 Game line 15.3/4.3/3
52.7/46.9/76.9 Shooting line 51.2/31.4/80
A career 35% three-point shooter, Pipes has taken the next step this season. He's also got a decent pull-up game and will get all the way to the rim on occasion. For whatever reason, he is seventh on the team in usage rate despite being 147th in the entire country with an ORtg of 123. He has good ball security and distributes enough that he saw a little bit of PG time last year. Mostly, he's really good at scoring.
Kameron Hankerson Small Forward Naji Marshall
Senior Class Junior
6'5", 200 Measurements 6'7", 222
9.7/2.9/2.3 Game line 14.4/6/3.9
40.3/41.7/0 Shooting line 40.6/20.5/75.8
Hankerson actually didn't start last game, but I think Green Bay will go with the bigger, more experienced player across from Naji. Refund on your subscription fee if I'm wrong. He's a respectable three-point shooter who gets worse the closer to the rim that he gets. He has also somehow not shot a free throw on the year. Like most of his teammates, he's not much of a rebounder, especially on the offensive end.
Josh McNair Power Forward Jason Carter
Senior Class Junior
6'6", 220 Measurements 6'8", 227
7.7/3.6/1.3 Game line 7/6/1.4
64.9/0/35.3 Shooting line 36.2/36.4/94.7
With a block% of 2.9 and a steal% of 4.1, McNair is an incredibly active and capable defender. He doesn't really hunt shots, but he's converting them at a high rate. He is 1-8 on two-point jumpers on the year and hasn't attempted a three yet; he lives at the rim. Like Schwartz, he's not going to give you much on the glass.
Cody Schwartz Center Tyrique Jones
Senior Class Senior
6'9", 220 Measurements 6'9", 239
10/4.6/2 Game line 14.3/8.9/1
53.3/48/83.3 Shooting line 54.3/0/57.8
Schwartz is a center in name only on the offensive end. He has made more threes than any member of Xavier's team and is just 4-8 at the rim. In fact, his 20-37 mark on all jumpers gives him a superior FG% on those than he has on dunks and layups. He's an okay defensive rebounder and not much of a rim protector; his game is dragging big men away from the rim or making them pay for not following him outside.

Reserves

About 32% of Green Bay’s minutes come off the bench, which is a tick above the national average.

Exactly 23 of those minutes per game come from freshman guard Amari Davis, the team’s leading scorer with a 15.9/3.1/1.7 game line. He has attempted one three on the year, instead relentlessly seeking his spots inside the arc. He’s shooting 61% from inside the arc, including 46.7% on two-point jumpers and 83.9% at the rim. He rarely turns it over and has been a fairly solid rebounder for his size, which is 6’3”, 170. If Hankerson doesn’t start, Davis will, but he has come off the bench 6 of his 7 games this year.

Trevian Bell is a 6’7”, 205-pound junior forward who provides 6.3/2.9/0.7 per game. He is a career 34% three-point shooter, but he’s off to a miserable start this year, posting an EFG% of 37% and hitting just 2-11 from beyond the arc. He’s not a good rebounder. Junior forward Manny Patterson is the team’s best rebounder on both ends, but he’s a very limited offensive player. Hunter Crist is a 6’3” junior guard who rounds out the rotation. He was 16-45 (35.6%) from deep as a freshman and is 2-14 since.

Three Questions

-What is the next step for Kyky Tandy, Daniel Ramsey, and Dontarius James? All three guys featured against Lipscomb - two on their debuts - and all three had bright moments. Tandy has an obvious role as a reserve guard on a team that needs one, but I was particularly impressed with James. He was active on the offensive glass, seemed comfortable on the perimeter, and defended well. It's kind of time for the staff to fish or cut bait on him with the conference season approaching, and I'd like to see him find a role, especially if his jumper is wet.

- What is Quentin Goodin’s role? There’s no dispute that this season has been a step back for Goodin. His offensive rating, usage, and assist rate have never been lower. Still, Q is shooting the three ball as well as he ever has right now and he’s still logging a lot of minutes. Even if Kyky Tandy is the future, he’s not ready to be the present. That leaves Q needing to fit in somewhere but, through eight games, it’s not entirely certain where. Be it defensive stopper, shooter, or back to all around point guard, Goodin needs to rediscover a niche.

- How does this effect the Shootout? All respect to Green Bay, this is not the game this week that any Xavier fan has circled on the calendar. Everyone that views this game, perhaps even down to the coaching staff, is going to be doing it through the prism of Saturday’s tilt. A comfortable win that affords the guys logging the majority of Xavier’s minutes some rest and lets the likes of Bishop, Tandy, Ramsey, and James get sharp would be more than welcome.

Three keys:

- Do what needs done: Xavier beat Lipscomb because there was never any reason not to. The Musketeers dominated the game from tip to final whistle because that is what high majors do. The same thing needs to happen here. Unleash the kind of defense Green Bay hasn’t seen since they opened with Purdue, get healthy against a bad defense, and move on.

- Work the rotation: Games like this are for keeping some legs loose and getting others into game shape. As mentioned above, Xavier has a lot of guys that need to get some court time. Going hand in hand with burying the Phoenix is getting the younger guys some chances. With UC looming, there’s no need for Paul Scruggs to be logging 30 minutes in this one.

- Eliminate the dumb mistakes: Xavier beat Lipscomb handily, but they still turned the ball over on 19% of their possessions and allowed a 39% offensive rebounding rate. That will get the job done against Green Bay, but it won’t come Saturday. For as good as Xavier has been at points this year, they still look suspiciously like they may be their own worst enemy. A game of solid play would go some way towards quelling the nerves and showing the contingent still not sold on Travis Steele that he has things in check.