SCOUTING CREIGHTON!! WHO ARE THE BLUE JAYS??
Andy Mac Williams,
Xavier made a star crossed trip to Omaha a week ago Sunday and got blasted 76-54 by Creighton. No excuses!! But the travel was horrific. The Muskies spent 12 hours in transit due to Nebraska fog for a junket that usually takes 2 and a half hours from wheels up in Cincy to the lobby of downtown Omaha Hilton right across from the Arena. The game tipped at noon Central time. That meant a 7AM wake-up to wedge in a Shoot Around and digest breakfast.
Creighton was wearing those LET IT FLY warm-up shirts, but wily coach Greg Mc Dermott pulled a silk maybe desperation switcheroo(after a nasty home loss to St Johns 83-67) and the Blue Jays scrapped their fast break three pointer heavy style and ground it out half court featuring 6-9 RS Junior Martin Krampelj inside(23 points) plus sticky trapping half court zone defense.
X trailed the entire game. They staged a decent run after half time-cutting the CU lead down from 19 to 8. Andy Mac saw hope. X was close to early bonus FTs-Krampelj was in foul trouble-Frosh PG Marcus Zegarowski hurt his hand and was limited to just shooting lay-ups. X hit the wall and faded late.
Xavier needs stuff to go their way. The losing streak is 6 games. 5 of those losses were winnable with leads evaporating and final 4 minute wars lost lopsidedly. 8 of 10 BIG EAST teams sit below .500. IMHO 2 of those 8 will be in line for NCAA bids with top dogs Villanova and Marquette virtual NCAA locks right now based on overall records(19-5 and 20-4 respectively). NCAA NETS(#19 and #21), National Poll Ranks(#13 and #10) and good non-conference performance.
Xavier at 3-8 in the BIG EAST may be 10th at the moment, but they're just 2 games out of 3rd with 7 to play. It's possible to put something streaky good together, but it's got to start against Creighton at Cintas(8:30PM-CBS SN) Wednesday.
Pete Gillen is on the TV announce team. He has to stay neutral, but maybe he'll bring some Joe Bag 'O Doughnuts mojo to the proceedings.
CU has now played 3 straight controlled tempo inside-out games-beating XU then losing close ones on the road at Villanova 66-59 in OT and 63-58 at Seton Hall. Krampelj has scored 61 points very efficiently in those games. X needs to make his low block life miserable and force Creighton back into chucking and ducking contested FG tries.
Good Frosh PG Marcus Zegarowski hurt that hand vs Xavier and DNP vs VU and SHU. Damian Mintz slides to PG if Marcus is a scratch again, but CU is much better with both on the floor. McDermott has gotten good guard sub minutes from transfers Kaleb Joseph(Syracuse) and Connor Cashaw(Rice) recently, but Zegarowski is a difference maker.
Wing Ty-shom Alexander(17PPG) DNP at Villanova with a sore knee. He returned at Seton Hall(11 points in 33 minutes) so he apparently is OK.
My favorite Blue Jay is 6-5 Soph Mitch Ballock who just does everything well and plays unselfishly. He's from Lawrence, Kansas. Bill Self offered him at KU, but Mitch figured he'd get more PT at Creighton and probably upset a bunch of his neighbors.
CU is no road juggernaut at 2-6 away. X has to win inside-crush the Jays on the glass-bounce Krampelj around on box outs and cover that three point line.
The game should be winnable. The Muskie effort will be there. Hopefully, the execution will be better offensively and some shots will fall.