Xavier won this one at something of a trot. Butler is a really bad basketball team. They have one good win this year, a home win over Xavier that required some horrendous officiating at the end to get. Xavier came out, struggled to get things going, let Butler back into it, woke up, put Butler away, and then eased to a victory. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t incredibly efficient, it was just a good team beating a bad one. The ones that matter are up next.
Xavier is back to single elimination basketball
The Musketeers are healthy and back to the games that lead to Banners. The last time Xavier won a game in the Big East Tournament was March 14, 2019. Zach Hankins had 22/9/2 in that game and Kyle Castlin hit a huge shot. That’s how long ago it was. Now, the Musketeers won’t play until Thursday when they will get the winner of DePaul and Seton Hall. Now is the time to break that MSG in March duck.
Colby Jones is kicking into gear
In Colby’s last three games he is 23 of 31 from the floor, 5-10 behind the arc, 16-21 from the line, and has scored 68 points. In his true fashion, he never really seemed to take over the game tonight, he just went for 20/8/4 on 8-10 shooting. The commentators mentioned during the game that Coach Miller has wanted to see Colby be more aggressive on offense. He has been that recently.
Butler is kind of a bunch of babies
Joel said during the game that Simas Lukosius looks like he wears a diaper for sexual gratification. That fits in with an entire team that wasn’t good enough to play with Xavier, so they decided to foul them dirtily instead. Lukosius started it by needlessly running into Jack Nunge at midcourt, Chuck Harris threw Adam Kunkel down, and the entire team touched Souley Boum like the girl in the crowd touched Jesus. Will this team eventually be good? Maybe. Will they always have some weird annoying little cousin complex? Absolutely.
Adam Kunkel came out to play for his last game
I, personally, have loved watching this guy play at Xavier. He’ll be one of my favorite all time Musketeers. Tonight, when the rest of the team was pondering the Big East photo shoot on Tuesday, Kunk kept the team afloat. He had 11 in the first half and finished with 18/4/4. Kunkel doesn’t have rebounding rates and his assist rate is in line with what you’d expect from a guard, but he seems to deliver his boards and assists at key moments. His feel for the game will be vital in the rest of March.
You can beat Xavier by uglying the game up
When Butler succeeded in dragging the game into the mud and really slowing things down, they got back into the game. Xavier is like the Enzo Ferrari. At high speed, they are a dream of fluid motion. They look like a machine doing what it was built to do. At slow speed Xavier stutters, double clutches, and constantly looks like they are about to spin out. Butler isn’t good enough to make that matter. Someone in the NCAA tournament will note this, though, and try to turn a game into a grind.
Spare a thought for Kyky Tandy (and Manny Bates)
Kyky would finally be reaping the time that his persistence has earned, except he is injured again. Tandy was in a walking boot right next to Zach Freemantle tonight. It has to hurt him to be watching the team finally be good when he can’t participate. Manny Bates got injured one minute into the first game for NC State last year. He has battled that shoulder injury to get back this year, but it went when he fouled Colby Jones in the first half. It was hard watching the young man cry on the bench with the knowledge that his season is likely over.
It’s time to get excited
Selection Sunday is just eight days away. Xavier’s name is going to be there. It may well be a Xavier with an eight man rotation. The Musketeers are back. They may well take the Big East tournament title. This is what everything since that win over Morgan St on November 7th has been building to. It’s time to ratchet up the tension, stress eat, and endure stomach twisting pain. We’re back!