What is Xavier’s Ceiling Without Myles Davis?

Posted by Mike Knapp on January 29th, 2017

Xavier, loser of four of its last five games, finds itself reeling after its Crosstown Shootout defeat to Cincinnati on Thursday night. The Musketeers now stand at 14-6 (4-3, fifth in the Big East) and have already lost as many games as all of last year. In a lot of ways, Xavier’s shaky play is not surprising. Having lost their two best big men from last season (Jalen Reynolds and James Farr), a certain level of drop-off was reasonable. What Chris Mack did not plan for, however, was the major hit his backcourt took when senior guard Myles Davis announced he would be stepping away from the program. After a two-month suspension to start the season, Davis only played three games before announcing his abrupt departure. It is clear that the Musketeers are still clearly missing their primary playmaker.

Myles Davis (USA Today Images)

As a junior, Davis was one of the more under-appreciated distributors in college basketball. He boasted a solid 24.6 percent assist rate and was great at keeping the ball moving in an offense that relied heavily on precision passing on the perimeter to find open shooters. Davis also led the Musketeers in assists – averaging more than four per game – but he was so valuable because of his ability to see one pass ahead in the hockey-assist style (the pass leading to the assist). Per Hoop Lens, Xavier averaged a robust 1.13 points per possession with Davis on the floor last season, best on the team. When he was off the court, Xavier’s resulting drop of 0.18 points per possession was noticeable. More data: The Musketeers’ effective field goal percentage was almost seven points higher with its top play-maker on the court, as much as a result of his scoring in addition to his passing — Davis ranked second on the team in both three-point percentage and threes made last season.

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The X-Factor: Breaking Down Xavier’s 1-3-1 Zone

Posted by Chris Stone on February 22nd, 2016

After a dominant 88-70 road win over Georgetown in Washington, DC on Saturday, Xavier is now 24-3 on the season (9-3 in the Big East). The Musketeers are currently ranked sixth in the RPI and are projected to be a top-two seed in the NCAA Tournament according to Bracket Matrix, a site that aggregates bracket projections from across the Internet. They are ranked 13th on KenPom, 13th in the Sagarin Ratings, and 17th on Team Rankings. But despite the gaudy win total and solid computer numbers, Xavier has generally flown under the radar nationally all season.

Xavier's hectic 1-3-1 defense helps the Musketeers fluster opponents. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Xavier’s hectic 1-3-1 defense helps the Musketeers fluster opponents. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

The Musketeers have a legitimate top scoring option in sophomore Trevon Bluiett, who averages 15.3 points per game. Freshman Edmond Sumner also has the ability to score in bunches; he did so on Saturday, scoring a career high 22 points against the Hoyas. However, it’s Xavier’s defense, specifically its ability to switch between man-to-man and a 1-3-1 zone, that makes the Musketeers so dangerous. The zone, which has been mentioned in multiple iterations of Luke Winn’s Power Rankings over at Sports Illustrated, is Xavier’s X-factor. While Winn has noted that the Musketeers have gone to the zone a bit less during Big East play, the 1-3-1 has still been an effective way for Xavier to speed up opponents and force them into tough shots or turnovers.

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Three Up, Three Down in the Big East

Posted by George Hershey on November 21st, 2014

The Big East has gotten off to a strong start this season, having lost only one game among all 10 teams and heading into next week with tests which will help determine how it stacks up against some of the nation’s best. Here are three positives and three negatives from the opening week in Big East basketball.

Three Up

Blueitt has produced from the get go for the Musketeers (Frank Victores/USA Today Sports)

Trevon Blueitt has produced from the get go for the Musketeers
(Frank Victores/USA Today Sports)

  1. Xavier Freshmen – Chris Mack brought in a highly-ranked group of freshmen to restock the Musketeers, and they have produced from the get-go. In Tuesday night’s win over Long Beach State, Trevon Bluiett and JP Macura led the team in scoring, with 20 and 17 points, respectively. Both shot the ball well from three, combining to connect five times, and Bluiett especially had a phenomenal game, stuffing the stat sheet with eight rebounds and five assists to boot. With a strong group of experienced players led by Matt Stainbrook and Myles Davis, Mack does not need his freshmen to lead every night, but their demonstrated ability to score in bunches is helpful for any team over the course of a season.
  2. DePaul Transfers – This DePaul team is not your typical DePaul team. That might be said nearly every preseason, but after a couple of games, it appears that this could be the team that finally breaks through. Oliver Purnell returns two sophomore studs in Billy Garrett Jr. and Tommy Hamilton IV, but he also brought in four transfers to turn the program around. Myke HenryAaron Simpson, and the injured Rashaun Stimage have returned home to Chicago, and Darrick Wood arrives by way of junior college in Kansas. In Tuesday’s win over Drake, Henry contributed 13 points, six rebounds and three assists, while Simpson and Wood both contributed five points each. Stimage and Henry are athletic bigs which will pair nicely with big-bodied Hamilton, while Simpson and Wood can handle the ball and provide a spark off the bench when Garrett needs a break. Purnell needs smart players who buy into the system, and all signs point to his group of newbies doing just that. Read the rest of this entry »
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