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Takeaways from the Big East opener: A killer emerges

Souley Boum has spent the last week putting his stamp on the program. This is now his team.

Xavier v Georgetown
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

This was not one for the purists, unless the purists hate defense. Xavier and Georgetown spent two hours doing a variation on the Florida drill. There was more defense played in the pregame layup lines than once the whistle blew. Not often can you give up 89 and win, even less frequently can you give up 89 and win comfortably. Xavier managed that last night, but you have to assume the sledding will get tougher from here.

Souley Boum is a killer

From a long line that stretches from Byron Larkin, to Lenny Brown, to Tu Holloway (the purest form), to Trevon Bluiett comes Souley Boum. Boum went for 28 on a bloodlessly efficient 18 shots. He chipped in seven defensive rebounds when Xavier did bother to get stops, and he dished out seven assists with only a single turnover to his name. The game wasn’t exactly in question when he dribbled down the entire shot clock and then jarred a three with 1:05 left, but that ended any doubt anyone may have had.

Xavier’s perimeter defense is horrible

Don’t get me wrong, the interior defense wasn’t very good either, but the guards got torched all game long. Primo Spears is good, but he looked like the second coming of Allen Iverson last night. The bigs consistently had to face down driving guards all game, which left Jack Nunge, Jerome Hunter, and Zach Freemantle in foul trouble. To Adam Kunkel’s credit he solved that problem, but he did it by fouling before the little guys could get past him. The defense was terrible, the coach was mad, and doing this against a real team will lead to a loss. That’s all there is to it.

The officiating wasn’t good

The problem with having a full time job that isn’t watching basketball (available for that, though, should anyone want to hire me) is that you can’t observe things first hand until you can track down replays. It also means you are stuck relying on other people for their impression. Byron and Joe’s impression of the officiating wasn’t great, but they are professionals. Twitter was less kind. Joel did watch the game and, with thousands of games under his belt, here’s what he thought: “Brutal. Worst crew we’ve had all year. Repeatedly called our guys for fouls when they were walling up, repeatedly let more contact go at the other end. I don’t like to attribute anything to an intentional home whistle, but the other option is that they were absolutely lost from the word go. Miller got a tech and I was glad of it.”

Doesn’t sound positive.

Georgetown is hopeless

I suppose you could say they played with heart or they were in this game, but Xavier coughed up a giant turd of a defensive game, fought against a rough whistle, didn’t get much from the bench, and essentially forgot to offensive rebound... and won by 13. Qudus Wahab and Primo Spears were rolling, but Jay Heath shot 11 times. The Hoyas as a whole somehow, and this defies logic, got five offensive rebounds. That’s a rate of 13.2% against a team that needed that just to crawl in the top 60 in defensive rebounding rate. If ten years ago I had told you that Xavier was opening the Big East with a game against Georgetown and it wasn’t even close to appointment viewing, you’d have laughed in my face. That’s where we are, though.

Xavier has to get better

Sometimes you have to win in whatever way gets the job done. Kudos to Xavier for doing just that last night. Still, they’ll need to be better on the defensive end of the floor to have a chance in the Big East. Marquette and UConn are top 10 offenses in the nation, Villanova is 22nd. Xavier’s offense is 106th with the preseason washed out. Coach Miller was visibly upset with the effort. He has his work cut out for him.