WHAT'S UP with Xavier?? SCOUTING Georgetown@ Muskies!!
Andy Mac Williams,
Xavier's had 6 days away from game action to contemplate and recalibrate after that ugly 85-65 thumping at Marquette last Wednesday. Practices have been physical and competitive. Travis Steele declared all starting spots up for grabs after the Milwaukee mauling (XU was out-rebounded by 16 and allowed Markus Howard to score 35 points). The Xavier Way scoring system will be used to determine the rotation. Playing time will be earned w/ practice effort and sweat. The Muskies sit 12-6 overall, 1-4 BIG EAST tied for 8th w/ DePaul and one a 3 game losing streak. They look to flip the script Wednesday at Cintas vs Georgetown (12-7 overall, 2-4 BIG EAST in 7th place). Hoyas are 0-3 in BE road games losing by 16 at Providence, by 16 at Seton Hall and by 14 at Villanova.
XU climbs into 7th at 2-4 w/ a home win. Doesn't sound like much, you say? Consider this! Butler sat at 15-1, 3-0 BIG EAST, rated #5 AP and #3 NCAA NET early last week. The Bulldogs were media darlings w/ the Final 4 tag being bantered about. The BIG EAST is humbling-unforgiving-leveling. Butler just lost their 3rd straight Tuesday 76-61 at Villanova. BU is now 3-3 in the conference and looking for answers.
IF Xavier can hold serve vs Georgetown at Cintas Wednesday (6:30 PM EST-Fox Sports 1), the Muskies improve to 2-4 just one (1) game back of Butler w/ two (2) games against them head to head just ahead.
For more specifics on XU at Marquette last week, I refer you to my January 16th twitter thread @mm_andymac. For more thoughts on what changes you might expect from the Muskies I refer you to my twitter thread on January 17th @mm_andymac.
Xavier's performance so far has been frustrating-inconsistent and maybe unexpectedly underwhelming considering the talent level and experience on the roster but IMHO not fatal to TEAM 98's prime goal (an NCAA Tournament BID while playing their best basketball heading into March). The BIG EAST platform will provide at least 6 NCAA berths to the 10 teams-maybe 7 if wins and losses are distributed just right. BIG EAST is rated #3 Conference behind BIG 10 and BIG 12 and light years safely ahead of #4 ACC, SEC and Pac 12. Virtually all the myriad of bracketologists from Joe Lunardi to Ken Pomeroy to the BIG FAT Balding GUY in Peoria have 6 BE teams in the Field of 68. 9 wins probably gets you dancing. 10 wins is a NCAA Lock.
Xavier at 1-4 has changes to make and work to be done, but it's very doable w/ 13 BE games left plus BET at MSG in NYC. The formula is not that complicated. 5-1 minimum 4-2 over the remaining 6 home games starting w/ Georgetown Wednesday then fill in w/ 3 or 4 or 5 road "Ws" w/ the total adding up to 9 but hopefully 10 victories. Xavier won 4 league road games last season. The students are back to add passion. Tyrique Jones has been dominant this week in practices. Bring on the Hoyas!!
The Hoyas want to play up tempo (19th quickest playing pace in NCAA of 353 teams). They score about 80 PPG and push the ball at every opportunity looking for dunks and lay-ups and open "3s" off scrambled defense. G-town is playing w/ just 7 scholarship players, but 3rd year coach Patrick Ewing still insists on playing fast.
GT opened at 4-3 w/ their best win over Texas and then reality hit like a ton of bricks. 4 players left the team facing suspension and/ or expulsion for some alleged nasty conduct. Sophomore PG James Akinjo ( BE Frosh of Year) 13PPG-gone! 6-8 leader Josh Leblanc(All Frosh Team)-out! LSU transfer Galen Alexander-history! 6-6 Frosh Myron Gardiner-bye bye! Hoya paranoia swept the hoops world. Georgetown was done and buried.
GT responded w/ a 6 game winning streak including road "W's" at Oklahoma State and SMU plus a DC victory over arch rival Syracuse. The offense was clicking at 85 PPG. Soph guard Mac McClung went for about 25 PPG playing like Pistol Pete Maravich-shooting from the hip-driving-dunking and launching from deep. 7 foot NC State transfer Omer Yurtseven from Turkey posted double-double after double-double. Then the BIG EAST schedule began.
McClung missed the opener at Providence after being poked in the eye and GT got pounded. BIG Yurtseven ran into foul trouble and some nasty BIG EAST BIGS. Thus Georgetown is 2-4 w/ 3 double digit road defeats so far. Hoyas have DC wins over St Johns and Creighton. They gave up 42 to Markus Howard (join the club) in a tight 84-80 loss to Marquette last Saturday.
Color G-town dangerous and hungry-now adjusted to their new normal w/o their 4 bad actors. Ewing brought in grad transfer PG Terrell Allen from UCF where he set up Coaches' son Aubrey Dawkins and 7-6 Taco Fall and helped Central Florida to the NCAA. He's allowed McClung to freelance and put up 19 shots/game off the ball. Touch Senior Jagan Moseley ( St Anthony's and Bob Hurley Sr in New Jersey) has been solid playing huge minutes.
Yurtseven has adjusted to BIG EAST pace and contact. He's at 17PPG and 10 rebounds plus he's a rim protector. Jamarko Pickett is a 6-8 lanky Junior who is starting now after losing PT as a sophomore. Jahvon Blair is the top sub at 6-4 w/ a lethal 3 point stroke. 6-11 Frosh Qudus Wahab is the lone inside sub and he's learning on the job.
Xavier can win this by controlling tempo and winning the battle on the glass. X may go BIG w/ Tyrique and Zach Freemantle playing together. PG may be by committee w/ Tandy and Scruggs getting time at the one. Who knows who will start? After the dust settles around 8:30 I expect Xavier to sit 2-4 just one game behind 3-3 Butler.