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Xavier drops a tight game to Seton Hall and Tony Chiazza

Some stupidity, some bad officiating, and some bad luck cost Xavier a close one.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Basketball-Xavier at Seton Hall
Jack Nunge commits a truly heinous foul. Please, think of the children
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

No intro this time, let’s jump right into the takeaways, shall we?

Cesare Edwards (or someone) deserves Zach Freemantle’s time

I don’t know what special kind of stupid you have to be to stare down your prone opponent on a dead ball and then try to step over him. The only reason to do that (and stop reading here if mildly crude language offends you) is if you are an utter dickhead. Maybe Zach Freemantle’s (4/1/1) antics are fun when he’s playing well, but when he’s spent most of the first half costing his guards turnovers and missing absurdly easy shots, they come across as childish. The step he took over Richmond was probably the fastest his feet moved all night. That infantile display keyed a 12-5 Seton Hall run that killed a 7-2 run of Xavier’s. That was inexcusable. He should lose time because of it.

And Cesare Edwards (8/1/0) should gain it. Perhaps it’s to be expected of someone so willing to stand out in a hirsute manner, but Edwards was absolutely fearless tonight. He didn’t look as if his feet were lumps of lead and he attacked Ike Obiagu and Tyrese Samuel with an obvious relish. If that doesn’t earn him playing time, nothing will. Even an airballed three pointer didn’t slow his roll. Get the young man back out there.

Officiating finally got Xavier

The world around has harped on how bad the officials have been this year, but Xavier’s own shortcomings have always been the most harmful event in their losses. Not so tonight. Seton Hall gained four points on two fouls on Colby Jones (8/3/1), one which was the textbook definition of a charge (Cale at 5:24) and then a great defensive play to knock the ball out of Jared Rhoden’s hands with 24 seconds to play in which Jones never touched his man. Throw in a clean pick by Dwon Odom with no one in front of him and there is an easy six point swing.

All of that pales in comparison to the worst two of them all. At 22 seconds Colby Jones blew past his man and got fouled at the rim as he converted the layup. That drew Xavier within two with Jones going to the line. Only, suddenly, he wasn’t. Despite two of the officials signaling that the layup had counted immediately after the finish, including the one to whom the play was coming, Jones had to go to the line for two instead. It would have been laughably bad if it weren’t so infuriating.

But wait, there’s more! With three seconds left Paul Scruggs (21/7/7) jumped the inbound and knocked the ball free. Jared Rhoden, understandably, reached to collect the ball. The camera was positioned perfectly to show the ball coming off the taped hand of Rhoden. The refs watched, watched, watched, and watched while the life drained out of the arena, then made the exact wrong call. Somehow, despite actual video evidence to the contrary, they gave the ball to the Pirates.

Go to work tomorrow. Do something that is both stupid and completely wrong. Do that the next day, and the next, and the next. See how long you have a job. If you are a college basketball official, congrats, you probably get to do the Final Four.

Little things let down Xavier

Jack Nunge (22/5/0) came into the game shooting 78% from the line and went 1-4. Two other Musketeers missed the front end of one and ones. Paul Scruggs played a whale of a game through cramps but also threw an inexplicable pass toward Colby Jones that Kardary Richmond snagged like a free safety who couldn’t believe his luck. X also went 4-14 behind the arc and no one not already named in this paragraph made one. There was also the obligatory first half stretch in which the Musketeers scored a paltry four points. In that stretch Zach Freemantle was 0-3 with a turnover.

Nate Johnson (1/3/1) isn’t a little thing, but his game has inexplicably deserted him. X desperately needs him to knock just a couple of shots at some point in the game. Dwon Odom (3/2/1) is relentless and didn’t turn the ball over yet again. He’s eating into Nate’s playing time, and fast.

Xavier will not quit

Moronic play from formerly good players, bad officiating, free throw shooting, and three point struggles aside, Xavier fought their way back into this game. This was not the lifeless second half of the second half effort against DePaul, this was a team playing like they did in November and December. It is 100% on Travis Steele to get that effort to last 40 minutes and also all credit to him that this team always fights back into games. If the Musketeers get that sorted, they are tough.

And bench Zach Freemantle.