ANDY MAC'S MAUI MEMOS!! PART ONE!!
Andy Mac Williams,
Aloha and Mahalo from the Valley Island of Maui. We arrived Wednesday PM and have been enjoying the amenities of this special place sucking the marrow out of the trip. Now it's time for some basketball. Xavier shared a charter flight out of Indianapolis with Illinois and arrived in Maui late Thursday afternoon. Coach Steele has practiced Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 9:30AM island time to simulate Monday's Game 1 Maui Invitational tip time against Auburn (2:30PM-EST-TV ESPN2). XU is healthy heading into the Auburn game. The Tigers are formidable (3-0) - defending SEC Champs, Top 10 so far this season. Coach Bruce Pearl has a guard heavy deep roster. He wants to play fast and press for 40 minutes like he did with his good teams at Tennessee.
The War Eagles' front line may be a bit of a work in progress with 6-7 Daniel Purifoy still suspended because of the FBI probe and 6-11 Austin Wiley trying to get in shape after losing last season to FBI related penalties. Pearl is still coaching and irrepressibly bullish on his team. 6-8 Chuma Okeke is prospering inside along with veteran 6-8 shot blocker Horace Spencer.
The guards are terrific and prolific. 5-11 Jared Harper is a dynamic PG penetrator with running mate Bryce Brown(6-3 SR) (16PPG) at the two. VCU transfer and Havoc survivor Samir Doughty is thriving in Pearl's balls to the wall feverish tempo. Auburn has a quality blow-out win on the Plains over the Washington Huskies.
Ken Pom has the Tigers beating Xavier 83-74 and gives the Muskies a slim 21% chance of winning. Xavier struggled early in each half at Cintas last Tuesday during that 77-68 loss to a disciplined half court quirky style Wisconsin team. X had the ball for only 13 minutes and took a bunch of bad shots, but showed plenty of grit with two comebacks.
A more up tempo pace should help Xavier. The XU backcourt of Goodin, Scruggs and Castlin should match up decently with the Tigers. This might be time for Xavier to debut BIGs Tyrique Jones and Zach Hankins together on the floor considering Auburn's less than whole BIG situation??
Xavier plays either Duke or San Diego State Tuesday. Time and TV TBA. Jay Bilas gives the Muskies no chance against Auburn but that's just Jay bloviating as usual.