11-25. Before you blame the officials for two inexcusably bad calls against Naji Marshall, before you blame Travis Steele for whatever it is you will blame him for this time, before you complain about the three point shooting, make some idiotic tweet about Naji, or whatever else you are going to do, blame the players. This loss in this absolute must win game lies solely at the feet of everyone who contributed to 11-25 from the line. There is no recap other than that, nothing else in this game matters. Xavier did everything to get themselves into winning position and then, repeatedly and with a grim precision, proceeded to commit harikari at the free throw line.
11-25. Grab a ball right now and walk into the black abyss of night you are likely staring into until you find a hoop. Stand at the free throw line. If you are an able bodied adult who has ever played basketball at any sort of organized level, you will do better than 11-25. In the dark. On asphalt. On a rim with no net. Whatever else happened in this game that contributed to Xavier losing, none of it played as large a role as five scholarship division one basketball players failing to execute at the most simple part of the game. Season on the line. Lose and stare down the barrel of a truly herculean task just to get back to the brink. Fail. Fail again.
11-25. That’s not the ratio of good calls to calls made tonight, one wonders if it was even that high. If you were this bad your job you would be fired. All of those refs will work tomorrow and likely still be dog dirt. A flagrant call against Sacar Anim that could only be described as stupid, an offensive foul against Naji Marshall that just wasn’t, another call that took Naj out of the game that was somehow even worse, and a missed travel before Sacar Anim’s decisive three still can’t outweigh Xavier’s horrendous free throw shooting.
11-25. If the Musketeers shoot their pathetic season average, they win. If they shoot 50%, they win. If Jason Carter doesn’t miss not one but two while standing alone at the line, they win. Xavier had to win this game just to be able to reasonably say they had a chance to make .500 in the Big East and get in the at-large conversation. They didn’t. They won’t. They aren’t.
11-25. This season is only on life support if you look at it charitably. The Musketeers hopped into the grave tonight and began shoveling the dirt on themselves. It wasn’t just free throw shooting, Xavier was a garbage 43.2% inside the arc and only bailed themselves out with a completely unrepeatable performance behind the arc. They rebounded more poorly than normal on the offensive glass and surrendered big offensive rebounds at terrible times. Still, the Musketeers had their chances to salt a must win game away. They didn’t do it.
11-25. Quentin Goodin was amazing on offense and was a turnstile simply checking Koby McEwen through on defense and then gave Sacar Anim two steps with a second left on the shot clock. Q was back and was a large reason Xavier was in this game and had the misfortune to mess up when it mattered. None of those things would have mattered if a desperate team could make the simplest shot in the game.
11-25. Someone out there will be yelling at the unwashed masses about Travis Steele. He had the beating of Steve Wojciechowski tonight and then watched his team go over seven minutes without a field goal to erase all the good work they had done to start the second half. Xavier’s high low rotation of Freemantle and Jones scored 24 points and the offense was as efficient as they have been since Western Carolina. Excuse your uneducated friend, he may not realize that 11-25 undoes a world of coaching good.
11-25. Xavier did what they had to do tonight, except for the very simplest thing. The air of 3-5 in the Big East would have smelled ever so faintly of March bubbles. Instead, Xavier labors along in a cesspit of their own making. One game to rescue a season. One simple shot to make to do it. 11-25. Xavier is done.