Muskies Struggle in Milwaukee!! Will Seton Hall Be Any Different??
Andy Mac Williams,
Xavier(18-9,8-6 in the Big East-fouth place) lost the first four minute war in a rout 19-2 and could never recover-losing their third straight game 83-61 to Marquette(16-10,6-7 Big East-5th) Saturday night at the Bradley Center. MU came out throwing daggers-fueled by a sell-out National Marquette Basketball Day crowd-a full week of preparation following a mid-week scheduling bye and a new look line-up featuring their pint sized guards Markus Howard and Andrew Rowsey. XU was hamstrung again by Trevon Bluiett's unavailability and a short bench.
Muskie BIG Rashid Gaston was tagged with an early foul for setting an allegedly illegal screen then slapped with a technical for complaining to the official. Replays clearly showed Gaston was shoved by a Marquette player. No matter to the rabbitt eared Zebra who tacked on another tech to Coach Mack. MU's Rowsey made all four FTs.
Gaston had to sit the bench most of the first half. Rashid was hit with another tech and ejected in the second half after being baited into an innocuos pushing exchange with MU's Duane Wilson. Despite the reduced minutes,Gaston still posted strong numbers(12 points-10 rebounds).
The wretched officiating was not the reason for the Xavier loss. It just rubbed salt into the gaping wound. XU was badly outplayed in the back court. Marquette could play their midget guards huge minutes because shorthanded XU had to play mostly zone.
Howard and Rowsey took full advantage totalling 52 points(34 by Howard who tied a Marquette record with 9 made threes). Rowsey hit 9 of 10 FTs and flopped frequently to draw the fouls. Xavier guards Quentin Gooden and J.P. Macura were "irrelevant" in Chris Mack's words making just 3 of 21 shots. Xavier lost the three point battle 2 makes to 13 makes for MU. That's a huge 33 point hole all the dunks and lay-ups couldn't come close to evening up.
Marquette comes to Cintas a week from Wednesday(March 1st). I suggest we get Cincinnati City Council to declare it "XAVIER NATIONAL GUARANTEED WIN NIGHT" and give Coach Wojo and his light cavalry group a dose of their own medicine.
WHERE DOES XAVIER STAND???
The NCAA RPI has eroded to #20(still pretty lofty) in the wake of the three game losing streak. If and when Bluiett plays,the equation shifts considerably to the positive. Trevon is a gifted scorer and rebounder and defender who may still be headed for First Team All Big East. When he plays, J.P. gets more room as the #2 scoring option and attracts the enemies' second best perimeter defender.
Gooden has another viable option to feed. X can play more packline defense with another healthy body. The BIGS get better low looks as defenses stretch to guard Bluiett.
Four regular season games remain starting Wednesday at Seton Hall(7PM-Fox Sports 1).There are back to back home games against Butler and Marquette followed by a road finale at DePaul. IMHO XU can go 2 and 2 and be NCAA Bid bullett proof heading into the Big East Tournament in NYC. That would leave four teams Seton Hall,Georgetown,Providence and Marquette mucking around for a possible 5th NCAA berth in the NCAAs. Anything short of 2-2 leaves things unresolved headed to MSG.
SCOUTING SETON HALL:
Xavier edged SHU 72-70 at Cintas Feb. 1st on a last second Bluiett floater. Trevon scored 24. X outrebounded the beefy Pirates 40 to 36. Four Muskies hit double figures with strong bench contributions from Gates and Gaston and O'Mara. The Muskies had low tunovers and won the FT numbers. Sston Hall 6th man Myles Powell dropped 26 points off the bench making 6 threes. His quick trigger offense kept SHU competitive. Powell is the type of player Xavier is having trouble controlling.
The Hall has a decent RPI(#46)-5th best in the Big East. The Pirates are 16-10 overall and 6-8 in the BE tied for 6th with Providence and St Johns. They need 9 conference wins to make their NCAA at large case. SHU beat Creighton in Newark last Wednesday 87-81 with lefty guard Khadeen Carrington bombing in 41 points including 18 of 22 FTs. Powell is potent in the back court. PG Madison Jones(Wake Forest transfer) is a lanky feeder not a scorer.
Bulky Angel Delgado is the league's best rebounder and an automatic double-double guy. His BIG Partner Ishmael Sanogo is playing again after a right ankle sprain. Soph Michael Nzei has been starting recently. 6-6 Desi Rodriquez is a versatile scorer who's had frequent run-ins with Head Coach Kevin Willard.
If Trevon can play and be effective,XU should be very competitive. Xavier is 0-3 at the Rock in Newark but this SHU team has a thin bench. If the XU BIGS can battle evenly against Delgado,Sanogo and Rodriquez and the Muskie guards with Bluiett in the mix show up,I like the Muskies' chances.