Sunday, January 4, 2009

big surprise yesterday

No, actually, not really. Dave Leitao and Sylven Landesberg talk about a lack of heart and intensity and defense and stuff, which is fine because hopefully they'll work on fixing that and all, but the bottom line really is this: Last year, Xavier went to the Elite Eight and we went to the CBI. And then we lost an NBA-caliber point guard. We got trounced because they're a way better team. Me, I take one big negative and one big positive out of this.

Starting with the bad: Three players (Landesberg, Zeglinski, and Scott) had 70% of the points - 49 out of 70 total. Surprise surprise, these are the only three that have played the whole season consistently on an ACC level. You expect the scoring to be top-heavy like that - that's why you have scorers and rebounders and such on the team - but not that top-heavy. You look at our wins, even our bad ones against crappy teams like Radford, and the scoring is always more evenly distributed. Yeah, the defense wasn't great - Xavier shot 40% behind the arc. And Leitao harps on it because that's how he rolls. But the offense has revolved around those three guys all year, with the occasional step-up from someone like Baker or Tucker. When a fourth or fifth player plays well, we can at least compete. If it's only three guys, we're going to get beaten every night.

Now, the good, with one huge caveat. Xavier went on a 19-0 run early in the game to make it 23-8. That's not the good, nor is it the caveat. Outside of that roughly four and a half minutes, we outscored 'em by a point. On average, roughly even basketball outside of that stretch. That's the good. The caveat is that there were still long stretches where we didn't score, and half of our points came in the final quarter of the game after Xavier kind of took their foot off the gas.

But here's the thing: Last year there was no such thing. Last year the Musketeers blew us the hell out in the first half and then blew us the hell out in the second half, without even trying that hard. Talk about bad defense - they had seven players score in double figures and shot 64%. The really sobering perspective here is that I'm showing you how to take comfort from not getting blown out quite as bad by a team from a mid-major conference. But the 'Hoos are on the upswing despite losing Sean Singletary and despite having all our best players be underclassmen. Freshmen, mostly. The thing to do now is to go remind Brown why they're an Ivy League team, get a tough win in Blacksburg, and then we can repeat this whole moral- victory-after-a-blowout thing in a couple weeks when UNC rolls into town.

No comments: