There’s a couple different ways to look at that rugged loss to DePaul. The pessimist says that Xavier’s flaws were on full display, got found out, and this is gonna be another January/February slump. The optimist says this game was a one off, and a very good team just went cold for one night. Where does that leave us though?
Let’s first look at this X team. To say the DePaul game was an off night would be an understatement, but is it a reason for serious concern? No, not really. Good teams have bad games. Souley Boum has been tasked with closing out multiple games against high-level opponents. He’s also been tasked with being on the court more than any other player in the Big East. Against DePaul it looked like that mileage was starting to catch up to him. That being said, I don’t think he’ll continue to shoot 1-9 from inside the arc the rest of the way.
Colby Jones was also victim of a stone cold night in Chicago. Want to know who has played second most minutes in the Big East? Yep, it’s him. Jones and Boum combining for 4-18 inside the arc and 0-8 behind isn’t a reason to rejoice, but both these guys have been racking up minutes sicne conference play began. Plenty of great players will have off nights, and, if only one of these guys had X walks away with a win.
On a night where two keys to Xavier’s attack couldn’t get anything to fall, their bench didn’t really help. Desmond Claude has started to come into his own, but picked a bad night to have a really freshman game. In 17 minutes he missed 2 shots, chucked a turnover, and his defense wasn’t up to the caliber it had been in recent games. These things happen, he’s a freshman playing on the road in a tough conference. Jerome Hunter was immense, in fact, too immense. Jerome’s presence was so impactful the officials felt he was an unfair advantage, and decided to blow the whistle every time he looked at someone the wrong way. Hard to blame Jerome for some soft calls, but once he went out the tought night got a lot tougher. No wonder every NBA franchise wants to #tankforHunter
One bad night isn’t a reason for panic. What has killed off tourney hopes in recent seasons has been stringing them together. A look at Xavier history shows the last time X lost at DePaul was 2015. No one would call that team bad, but they were a good team who had a bad game, and eventually made the Sweet 16. Yes, I’m pulling a specific stat with no context to prove my point, but it also goes to show that one bad game doesn’t define the season. If we lose to Georgetown then sound the alarm bells, abandon ship, and call it a rebuilding year.