At 1-3 in Big East Play, How Does Xavier Right The Ship?


Coming off of another close, hard-fought battle, Xavier Men's team is looking to figure out how to take that next step and turn these strong efforts into victory.


After a close loss to the defending National Champion UCONN Huskies, the AlsoMusketeers now sit at 7-8 overall and 1-3 in Big East play. There have been a lot of difficult games through the season, and also the obvious roster transition from last year's Sweet 16 team but now that January is here, it's time to start finding a way to string wins together.


The big question is, can they? While Quincy Olivari said last night that there are no moral victories, and he is correct in saying so, Xavier has now gone toe to toe with three teams who have the possibility of being #1 seeds in the 2024 NCAA tournament (Houston, Purdue, UCONN). Yes they lost all three of those games but they fought hard and gave those teams everything they had. They've also had wins this season where many believed they'd struggle to overcome like the Crosstown Shootout vs Cincinnati, and their matchup with Saint Mary's in Las Vegas.


There are things this Musketeer roster does well, last night for example they out-rebounded the Huskies by 12 including a fourteen rebound advantage on the offensive glass. They have also shown a consistent capability to play strong defense and keep themselves in games by getting multiple stops in a row. You are also starting to see individual players strong performances shine through. Olivari has obviously had a lot of great moments this season, coming off of a 24 point performance last night. Abou Ousmane has also shown the ability to battle with a lot of the conferences best big men, last night he was just one point away from a double-double and had eight offensive rebounds.


Dayvion McKnight and Desmond Claude have had very good performances through the season as well, McKnight showing a great playmaking ability and Claude's overall athleticism giving him the ability to blow past defenders most games, and also stuff stat sheets with rebounds and assists. 


But as the season has gone on, this Xavier team still struggles often with turnovers, and goes through lengthy scoring droughts that at times cost them games.


Of course the obvious glare of this team is shooting. In 3 of their last four games the Musketeers have shot less than 40% as a team from the floor and have had five games this season where they shot less than 30% from the perimeter. Obviously when players like Souley Boum and Adam Kunkel move on, you are to expect a drop off in their shooting, but other than Olivari, the shooting consistency hasn't been there through the year.


The next three games are all winnable games for the Musketeers. Saturday a trip to Providence to face the Friars, then back to Cintas for games vs Butler and Georgetown. Xavier has a chance to build some momentum here before big games against Creighton and rematches vs St. John's and Georgetown.


Now the big question is, can they take advantage?

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