Scouting Seton Hall at Xavier
Andy Mac Williams,
SCOUTING Seton Hall(17-9, 8-8 BIG EAST-solo 6th pace) at Xavier(17-10, 7-9 BE-tied for 7th w/ St Johns) Saturday Feb.26th(3:30PM-BIG FOX-Channel 19 in Cincy). Muskies strive to snap a 3 game losing streak(home-ST Johns, at UConn, at PC) while playing without Super Senior guard Nate Johnson(sore knee). Nate worked out Friday morning and might be available vs SHU?(game time decision). Despite losing 5 of 6, XU is still tracking for an NCAA bid(#25 NET Friday-5 NET Quad 1 wins). Muskies appear in all 134 NCAA brackets followed by http://bracketmatrix.com w/ a consensus 7 Seed. Most pundits have 7 BIG EAST teams in NCAA Field of 68. Seton Hall is included(#38 NET-8 Seed consensus in bracketmatrix.
The internet tone regarding XU has been negative recently so Travis Steele took an interesting approach w/ his players.
"There's so much negativity on social media, We showed the guys several blind team resumes' including ours and let them compare. We look pretty good. There's a lot of work to do, but we wanted to be transparent with our players re our status. We have a great opportunity. I want them to play loose, but play w/ urgency."
Travis was asked if on line criticism bothers him:
"It doesn't affect me at all, I don't seek their advice so I really don't care about their opinion."
Xavier lost at Seton Hall back on Feb. 9th 73-71. Muskies were down 10 at the half w/ 10 turnovers and a large rebounding deficit. They flipped the switch in 2nd half and trailed just 41-40 when Zach Freemantle fouled out due to a questionable technical.
X went small vs a HUGE SHU team-fell behind by 10 then Travis subbed in Frosh BIG Cesare Edwards. He scored 8 points in 9 minutes with strong inside play posting a +9. X lost late in Newark despite 21 points from Paul Scruggs and 22 from Jack Nunge. Jared Rhoden starred for SHU (25 points-7 boards). Alexis Yetna(S. Florida transfer) potted 12 off the bench.
Seton Hall snared 17 offensive rebounds. Pirates are HUGE-bigger across the line-up than PC and UConn. They punk people on the glass-cop a ton of offensive rebounds-shoot a ton of FTs-block and alter a lot of shots inside and usually manage to hold teams under 70 points. SHU is 14-0 when allowing less than 70 PPG. PG Bryce Aiken remains out w/ injuries. Pirates have adjusted well(5-2 last 5 games) by locking down defensively and slowing the tempo. 6-6 Syracuse transfer Kadary Richmond is a post-up PG w/ strong defensive skills. He is spelled by micro-wave scoring PG Jamire Harris(41 made "3s"). 6-6 Rhoden and 6-6
Myles Cale anchor the wings(both SRs and 3 year regulars). 4 BIGS rotate in at PF and Center. 7-2 Ike Obiagu is #3 NCAA in blocked shot %. 6-10 Tray Jackson(Mizzou transfer) can score inside and out. Yetna has 7 double-doubles. 6-10 Canadian Tyrese Samuels scored 15 in their mid-week 66-60 win over Butler. Expect XU to match SHU size w/ Zach and Jack plus a strong helping of Cesare Edwards.
To get over 70 points Xavier will need some better 3 point shooting. Seton Hall likes to pack it in and make paint looks tough so open "3s" will be available, but X can't just settle for jumpers. They need to outscore SHU at the FT line by attacking the rim and kicking for "3s". The 3 point FG has not been Xavier's friend over this 1-5 stretch( X-28 makes at 27%-opponents 48 makes at 37%). That's a short fall of 10PPG from outside the arc. That's a bunch of scoring to be made up from "2" and in FTs. But please give me 7 or 8 made "3s" instead of 4 or 5.
Those numbers give Muskies wins over PC, Seton Hall and DePaul in this recent swoon. XU and SHU and St Johns are scrapping for 6-8 seeds in BET at MSG. Seton Hall is 8-8 w 3 left(at XU, Georgetown, at Creighton). Xavier is 7-9 w/ 3 left( SH, at St Johns, Georgetown). St Johns is 7-9 w/ 3 left(at DePaul Sunday, XU and at Marquette).
The prize for 6th look like a BET 1st Round game vs G-town. 7th likely gets DePaul. 8th most likely plays Butler. It is what it is!!
IMHO, if Xavier beats Seton Hall and Georgetown next Saturday at Cintas and heads to NYC at 19-11, they are an NCAA lock. That takes the pressure off for that Wednesday MSG game.