Scouting Xavier at UConn
By Andy Mac Williams, 2/18/2022

Scouting Xavier(17-8, 7-7 BIG EAST-6th, 24NET) at UConn(18-7, 9-5 BE-tied 3rd w/ Creighton, 18 NET). Noon Saturday-TV BIG FOX-WXIX 19 in Cincy. The game is at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs(not XL Center in Hartford). UConn is 6-0 at Gampel on campus w/ BE wins over St Johns(OT) Georgetown and Seton Hall(Wednesday 70-65). XU defeated UConn last Friday at Cintas 74-68 winning all the important stat battles-rebounding-FTs-blocked shots. Muskie BIGS Jack Nunge and Zach Freemantle clearly outplayed UConn BIGS Adama Sanogo and Isaiah Whaley. X also got a big boost from Nate Johnson(12 points). Nate bruised a knee late vs UConn and DNP in loss to St Johns. He is a game time decision Saturday according to Travis Steele.

Adam Kunkel DNP in G#1 vs UConn(illness). He is back. UConn is playing well(3-1 last 4 games-lone loss at XU) w/ wins over Marquette, at St Johns and Seton Hall. Muskies have lost 3 of 4.

Travis Steele on UConn:

"I want our guys to go to UConn w/ a back against the wall mentality playing w/ great desperation and urgency like we did a week ago against them. Do the same things-keep them off the glass-take care of the ball and have a plan for Sanogo. He's an absolute monster(20 points-16 rebounds-3 blocks vs Seton Hall). It starts w/ ball pressure-a fronting mentality and backside help( i.e. swarming "D") "

Steele lamented the St Johns loss:

"We didn't execute our defensive system. We did exactly the opposite-freelancing and gambling. Transition "D" was horrible. I counted 19 dunks and lay-ups we gave up. It's inexplicable after 88 practices. We go over the same stuff every day. I ask three things of my players-play hard-execute our systems on offense and defense and play together. If they do that, I can accept the results. There are going to be missed shots. We didn't shoot it well vs UConn in G#1 and we won w/ execution. Giving up 19 open shots at the rim will always get you beat."

This next 3 game stretch is crucial for Xavier. BIG EAST Standings are packed 3 thru 9. UConn and Creighton 9-5, Marquette 9-6, XU 7-7, SH and St Johns 6-9, Butler 6-9(Butler is at St Johns Friday-5PM-CBSSN). TOP 5 BE teams rate a BET 1st Round BYE at MSG. T

he rest play Wednesday in NYC. X needs 19 or 20 wins going into NYC to be a certain NCAA lock IMHO. 5 games left-3 Road 2 Home. At UConn, at PC, home SHU, at St Johns, home Georgetown. Muskies ideally can play BIG line-up a lot against bully ball more half court teams like UConn, PC and SHU.

Travis wants to play Cesare Edwards more in the post(like at Seton Hall when he scored 8 in 9 minutes and was a +10). Now's the time. Maybe even some Ben Stanley? 5 healthy guards would help(1-3-5-10-11). The winning margin is really narrow in BIG EAST. X has to squeeze through that opening and maybe win slugfests w/ all hands on deck.

UConn melted down at Cintas(two technicals and a late fade). Sanogo got into early foul trouble. X made his life on the low block nasty like swatting away a swarm of bees. More of that is needed in Stoors Saturday plus copious XU FTs.

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