Scouting Georgetown!! Muskies Gotta Stop the Bleeding!!
Andy Mac Williams,
Three game losing streaks have been a rarity in the Modern Era of Xavier Basketball dating back to Bob Staak's arrival in 1979. The current swoon is explainable and understandable on some level. We can rationalize the bad streak away. There were the road defeats at #1 Villanova and #12 Butler followed by the Cintas loss to #7 Creighton. The BU and CU defeats were close and preventable. The Cleveland Cavaliers might have trouble knocking off Villanova at the band box Pavilion along the Philadelphia Mainline.
Xavier has talent and focus and good leadership. The problems are identifiable. Free Throw shooting has been situationally iffy all season. 16 for 29 from the line led to the Creighton loss. Turnovers have been higher than normal exacerbated by a spate of offensive fouls(7 versus Creighton-several at Butler). Late shot clock and late game execution offensively has not been stellar. The defense has struggled in late game possessions to get stops and reduce fouls.The Myles Davis reclamation project continues(hopefully producing results against Georgetown after a full practice week for #15).The clock is ticking though.13 games remain before the Big East Tournament at MSG with 12 Big East dates and the Crosstown Shootout this Thursday on UC's home floor in Clifton. No more shoulda,woulda,couldas!!!
HOME WINS HAVE TO BE BOOKED:
XU has 6 more Big EAST games at Cintas. After the tight Creighton loss,there's little wiggle room left if the Muskies want to finish in the BE upper echelon and avoid NCAA bubble talk heading into NYC and Selection Sunday. XU is 23-7 in Big East home games over four seasons. Let's return to normal domination at home. G-town is awash in talent,but obviously struggling(10-9 overall,1-5 Big East-tied for 9th with DePaul). The Hoyas beat St Johns in DC,but are 0-2 in BE road games(losses at Marquette and Providence).
GU played poorly on MLK Day at home losing badly to PC 74-56. They were never in it(trailing 42-27 at the half). GU shot about 30 percent and turned it over 15 times. They were slow to initiate their offense and let Providence veterans Rodney Bullock,Kyron Cartwright and Jalen Lindsey post great numbers. GU has two dynamic 6-5 wings Rodney Pryor and L.J. Peak.Both seemingly have to drop 20 plus for the Hoyas to prosper. G-town's size is elite with 6-10 Jesse Govan,7 footer Bradley Hayes,6-8 Akoy Agau and 6-7 Marcus Derrickson,but they usually don't dominate the glass.
Some pundits think coach JT 111 is trying to force this group into his pet modified Princeton offense with the high post action,patient passing and back door cuts when a more uptempo run and press style would fit the talent better?? Thompson has brought in a bunch of new parts with the Frosh PG Mosely-grad transfer Pryor-Juco guard Mulmore and U of L transfer Agau. He lost starting forward Issac Copeland to transfer a few weeks ago.
The light could pop on anytime for the Hoyas. They have had non-conference success with wins over Oregon,Syracuse and UConn. GU took out Xavier at Cintas last January convincingly 82-71. JT 111 pushed all the right buttons that day coaxing a career game from guard Tre Campbell(21 points) and leading almost wire-to-wire. GU weaved in a frustrating zone defense and received strong play from their inconsistent BIGS Govan,Hayes and Derrickson. Color Georgetown dangerous
GAME 1 AT VERIZON CENTER:
Xavier won 81-76 in DC on New Year's Eve. It took a second half comeback and a virtuoso Edmond Sumner performance(28 points-6 assists-8 rebounds) plus 23 from J.P. Macura to win it. XU attacked and paraded to the FT line.The Muskies won the rebound numbers and executed well late in the game. Pryor and Peak got their points but also got themselves into foul trouble. The XU support players came through. Trevon Bluiett struggled(0-10FG).*****WHO WINS?? Xavier will be planning on more help from Trevon Bluiett than in DC. GU will have to target Sumner and Macura after that Game 1 loss. Myles Davis could be useful after more practice time. XU 85 GU 76. Bring on the Bearcats!!!
ODDS AND ENDS:
Bill Koch has written a definitive history of the Xavier-UC series entitled "Inside the Crosstown Shootout". Brad Redford and I talk with Bill on stage at Duff's before the Georgetown game Sunday afternoon. The book is available at both All for One Shops at Cintas and University Station.
Thanks to everyone who's taken the time to congratulate me on my Xavier Hall of Fame Induction. The phone calls,e-mails and personal words at Cintas during games are much appreciated. Longevity is my only strength probably. It's good when people respect the past and make you realize you've done something impactful over the years.
Joe Sunderman and I play in a golf league at Neuman on the Westside. League members surprised me at the HOF Dinner Friday January 6th by turning out in force. We were posing for a picture after I advised the group that I had a face for radio when Dick Liming told me I had saved his life. It was inadvertent with no act of bravery on my part,but Dick and his wife had booked a Delta Flight from CVG to Fort Lauderdale for that Friday afternoon arriving at about 1PM. He changed his plans to Saturday to attend the HOF event. He and his wife would have been at Delta baggage claim about the time of the shootings on Jan 6th had he not altered his plans.Strange but true and fortuitous.