And Mac: Scouting Xavier vs. Norfolk State
Andy Mac Williams,
SCOUTING Xavier vs Norfolk State-Sunday Nov. 21st at Cintas(Noon Tip-FS1 for TV) plus other BIG EAST Stuff. Consider Norfolk a potential "TRAP GAME" for Muskies!! First off-Spartans from MEAC are good and experienced and successful under a veteran coach. Second-it's a quick turn around for XU after that excellent 71-65 "W" Thursday over Ohio State. Third-It's a NOON TIP for Fox TV. Sometimes guys don't hear the alarm clock until the 2nd half in those ultra-early games. They are college kids! Norfolk is 5-0(best program start in 40 years). Dismiss their two non-Division 1 wins and they still beat Tenn. Tech, William and Mary and just Friday stopped off at Bowling Green(MAC) just north up I-75 and whacked the Falcons 90-84.
Spartans won NCAA game last March(beat Appalachian State in 1st Four before losing a 1-16 game to Gonzaga). Most players are back plus they've added a strong transfer from Rider College(6-2 guard Christian Ings-31 points vs W and M) and Arkansas Little Rock BIG Kris Bankston(6-8,230-12PPG-7 REBS). Vet guard Jalen Hawkins played for 1st time vs BGSU(injury?) and potted 13 points off the bench.
BEST PLAYER-stocky Sr guard Joe Bryant-MEAC MVP-17PPG-attacking force-draws a ton of fouls(22-23 FTs). Norfolk sports scary numbers-87PPG w/ 5 guys averaging double figures and 2 more almost in double digits. They play 10-shoot 55%FG-40% from "3"-outrebound the opposition by 11/game and shoot a lot of FTs.
Coach Robert Jones has been at Norfolk 9 years and knows what he's doing. An upset win at Xavier would put his program over the moon. Travis Steele is well aware of the Spartans.
"I've known Coach Jones since we got transfer Rasheed Gaston from Norfolk. We've got to move on very very quickly from Ohio State. Can't have any letdown. It's a quick turn to Norfolk. There's a reason we're playing them. They play switching defenses and won't be intimidated here. They are guard dominant w/ Joe Bryant and Ings. Bryant tough and experienced-Alll MEAC-very creative. They spread you out and attack.
"But It's all about us really. We are forming our identity and must continue that process. We play hard-really physical and tough so far-making those extra effort plays(50-50 balls-offensive rebounds-tie ups-second chance hoops etc). Our rebounding has been terrific(+11/game-17 offensive boards/game-#25 NCAA in off. rebounding %).
Colby Jones allows us to play "small" the way he rebounds at the "4". He just has a knack for playing angles off the rim and then he puts his body on the line and gets the ball(8.3 REB/game.12 REBs vs OSU).
Travis on where Xavier needs work:
"We need to clean things up on offense-value the ball and possessions more. We made good strides vs OSU re ball movement w/ some excellent trips, but offense takes time. It's all about timing and rhythm and execution. We're trying to figure Jack Nunge out. We didn't have him over the Summer and into the Fall(knee injury recovery).He's good(14 points-14 rebounds in 31 minutes vs OSU) won New Junkyard Dog chain(hustle player). We can play through him in the post and on the perimeter. He's a good decision maker."
Travis on Zach Freemantle's recovery:
"Excellent progress. Dec 1 is still the target date for his return. When he's ready. he'll play both "4" and "5". It depends on match-ups. We can play two BIGS in some situations. Defensively-that won't work in others. My job is to figure that out and get the best players on the court to put Xavier in position to win."
Steele on Alumni Muskie players:
"Gary Lumpkin and Justin Cage go into the Hall of Fame Saturday. We hope to have them speak to the team. We do that often. Nothing better than to hear from guys who have done things at and for Xavier. We're all connected." Gary Lumpkin is a Top 5 All Time XU PG-#18 scoring(1507 points) almost 500 assists-two NCAAS-1 NIT-key factor in 1996 upset of #1 rated UC in Clifton-now coach at his old HS in Wilmington, Delaware. 4 year Muskie starter.
Justin Cage started 4 years(2004-2007)-#31 w/ 1181 points-3 NCAAs-2004 Elite 8-2007 OT NCAA Loss to Ohio State in OT(career high 25 points). All A-10 Defensive Team 3 years-2004 and 2006 Cage part of team that won 4 games in 4 days in A-10 Tournament to gain NCAA automatic bid.
AROUND BIG EAST:
Great Start for the Conference!! 34-4 composite record thru Friday's action. #4 Conference in KenPom Power ratings and closing fast on #3 SEC-(6-2) in Gaviit Games vs #1 rated Big Ten. Impact wins so far vs #4 Michigan, #10 Illinois, #19 Ohio State, West Virginia, Rutgers, Wisconsin. One bad loss so far-Georgetown to Ivy League Dartmouth. Other losses OK #2 UCLA, Michigan State and Indiana.
HIGH IMPACT BIG EAST Games this weekend.
Saturday-#5 Villanova vs #11 Tennessee1PM-ESPN News Sunday-Marquette(5-0) vs #22 St Bonnies-Charleston Classic Championship Game-7:30 ESPN-Monday-Seton Hall vs Ohio State-6 PM-FS1 in Fort Meyers, Florida.