Xavier should not have been anywhere close in this game. The fact that Washington spent most of this game making an active effort to lose it should not in any way take away from the fact that Xavier did not play a game that in any way merited only losing by three. You watched it last night/this morning, so here’s the takeaways that jumped out.
The European Invasion is paying off
We’re going to start positive here, because it goes bad after this. Nemo, Sasa Ciani, and the debutant, Lazar Djokovic, combined to go for 29/10/1 in a total of 54 minutes. None of them seemed cowed by the moment or even mildly concerned with deferring to anyone. They’re here to play.
Quincy Olivari needs to figure it out
A three point specialist shooting 28.6% behind the arc and turning it over 15% of the time he uses it is not a value added proposition. Olivari helps this team as a shooter. He’s not really chipping much elsewhere, so that shot needs to start falling.
Stop throwing the ball to the other team
The Musketeers had a 23.1% turnover rate last night. Throwing it to the other team is obviously bad, but these guys literally dribbled it off their own feet, had it slip through their hands, dropped easy entry passes, and contrived every possible way to give the ball away. When the other team appears to be actively conspiring against themselves, you can’t just keep giving them chances. Eventually even Keion Brooks can make a layup if you keep giving him chance after unearned chance.
Make a couple free throws
58.1% sucks and is inexcusable. The team without Des Claude was 11-23. That’s somehow even worse. Losing this game will sting come Selection Sunday and Xavier has no one but themselves to blame. Olivari was 3-8. Awful.
Play to the referees
The game was called too tight in the second half. I get that. You know who doesn’t get that? Abou Ousmane. Contesting a shot from two feet behind the player is asking for trouble on the best of days. Last night it was essentially a guarantee for Ousmane’s fifth. Just dumb. When everything is getting called, you can’t keep hard contesting everything and reaching for steals. Someone please pass this note down the bench to Des Claude and Dayvion McKnight.
The season is still young
Yes, last night sucked. Yes, this team isn’t within touching distance of a tournament bid right now. It’s fully laughable to even suggest they are March worthy at this point. The good news is that Selection Sunday isn’t tomorrow. It’s actually at least 27 games away. This team of total strangers (Real World: Xavier?) hasn’t gelled yet, but the best coach in the conference is on the case, a key piece just got healthy, and some of the guys playing poorly have track records that let you know this won’t last. It’s no fun to lose a game where the other team is trying to point shave (42% inside the arc and 18% from deep is hilariously bad) and can’t get that right. That it happens before Thanksgiving is the one redeeming quality.
Grab a Q1 win tomorrow, knock off Creighton at some point, and this game is the Colorado loss back in the 2016-17 season: annoying at the time, forgotten by the end.