By Andy Mac Williams, 11/18/2019

Xavier should be well rested for three games in four days at Charleston, South Carolina. Travis Steele gave the troops Saturday and Sunday off after surviving Missouri State Friday night at Cintas(59-56) and sweeping the season opening 4 game homestand(4-0 start). XU practiced Monday afternoon. They go again Tuesday late morning before leaving early afternoon for the low country. Wednesday is a practice, banquet and get-to-know you day in SC. Game #1 of the 8 team tourney is Thursday at 7PM-Xavier vs Towson-on ESPNU. Game #2 is Thursday. If the Muskies win, they play at 9PM on ESPNU. If they lose, It's a 7PM Tip-also on ESPNU. X plays either Buffalo(MAC) or UConn(AAC) w/ game #1 winners and losers matching up. Everybody is off Saturday. Sunday's Championship Gamed is on ESPN at 8:30PM.

Frosh PG Kyky Tandy is making progress recovering from a foot injury. He's been out of full practice for three weeks and has seen no game action. Don't expect him until Lipscomb at home November 30th at the earliest although it sure would be a plus to have a full 9 man rotation for Charleston w/ 3 closely spaced games. Xavier has a great chance to do well in this exempt event.

Last November the Muskies faced a loaded field in Maui w/ no 4 year Seniors and 3 new grad transfers. They played competitively but lost in OT to an Auburn team that made the Final 4 then blew a lead and lost to a veteran San Diego State team and finally pulled out a win against Illinois. The goal this November is to win three against a good not elite bracket.

Xavier must continue and expand on their manic focused physical brand of defense. Opponent turnovers are way up(18/game). Points/game sit at 59. Opponent FG% from "3" is just over 20%(Top 25 nationally). That has to continue. The Muskies have to up their conversion rate on Fastbreaks and also score more off offensive rebounds. The final piece is to make more 3point FGS(maybe 32-43% which is about average for a D-1 team. The Muskies are getting more than their share of great looks from "3". They need 6, 7,8 makes on their 20 to 25 long shots. No miracles! No Marquette's or Creighton's or Villanova's!! Just solid middle of the pack sniping like we see every day in practice. Maybe a change of venue will improve the shooting luck??


The Tigers espouse smash mouth basketball-inside-out w/ an attitude sort of like Xavier but maybe w/o as much athleticism? Towson features two BIG Tough guards who love to drive downhill. Allen Betrand is 6-5 200 and Jakigh Dottin is 6-2 215.

Their best player is 6-5 Sr Brian Fobbs (18PPG-6 REBS last year) 1st team All Colonial Athletic Pre season. 6-9 225 Sr Dennis Tunstall is a rim protector-rebounder. The bench is three deep w/ a jet Frosh PG Gibson and two 6-8 vets San Diego transfer Juwan Gray and Nakye Sanders. Towson is 2-2 w/ a win over A-10 GW and a D-2 team and an OT loss to Kent State and a 66-60 loss at Florida to preseason #6 Gators.

The Tigers like a slow grind-it-out tempo and they would just as leave run over you as run around you. 9 year coach Pat Skerry uses his bench confidently. Towson lost 9 games last season by 6 points or fewer including 2 in double OT. That pattern is continuing w/ the OT defeat by Kent and the late loss to Florida. X makes things much easier by knocking down some threes, but they can grind w/ this team.


UConn might seem a clear favorite over Buffalo if you consider their 62-59 win in Hartford Sunday over then #15 Florida, but the Huskies also lost at home last week to lightly regarded St Joe's(A-10) trying to rebuild after the firing of fixture coach Phil Martelli. It was wild chuck and duck basketball 96-87 Hawks. Buffalo lost coach Nate Oates to Alabama plus 4 Senior starters including 2,000 point scorer C.J. Massinburg. Last year the Bulls owned the MAC at 16-2(32-4 overall) and won an NCAA game. UConn is 2-1. Buffalo is 2-1 w/ a loss to Dartmouth and a win over Harvard and Tommy Ammaker. Could go either way!!


The Florida Gators were the favorite(#6 AP Preseason-top grad transfer 6-10 Kerry Blackshear from Virginia Tech-5 star Frosh Scotty Lewis a Zach Freemantle rival from New Jersey) but Florida ha lost to Florida State and UConn and almost blew a game vs Towson. They're 27th in AP now. The Gators will be very good. They start 2 Frosh and 2 Sophs and Blackshear is the lone upper classman on the roster. By SEC season they will be a force. Hopefully not in Charleston. UF plays St Joe's in Game #1. We know about stubborn Mizzou State. They might upset ACC Miami(Fla) in the other Thursday game.

Go XU!! Best Match-up would be Muskies and Florida in Sunday Night's ESPN Finals.

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