Bearcat Insider: How have the Musketeers been able to improve even after the losses (graduation) of Dee Davis and Matt Stainbrook?
Rick Broering: The biggest difference from last year is that they are playing 4 out 1 in. When they lost Stainbrook who was a great offensive player and everybody knew that, they naturally got more athletic because he was such a liability on defense. In addition to that they went from playing two post players to now playing one. They have Jalen Reynolds and have Trevon Bluiett playing the 4 when he’s really a wing player his toughness and strength this year compared to last year has been a huge key for them because last year when they tried to go small he was a liability, there whole team was a liability where as this year he’s been tough inside, tough on the glass and giving them the ability to play small. On the other end of the court he makes them really hard to guard.
Bearcat Insider: How do you think Xavier is going to do in the Big East this year?
Rick Broering: Coming into the season I had them third. I had them behind Villanova and Butler with Georgetown behind us. After seeing anyone play for a little bit I can see Xavier being second in the Big East, they are every bit as good as Butler and Georgetown and honestly I don’t think them losing to Villanova is a foregone conclusion anymore. Coming into the year after watching what Villanova did to them last year it seemed like we had a long way to get to that point, but after watching the two teams multiple times this year I think Villanova is the team to beat because of what they have done, but I don’t think Xavier’s talent level is too far behind.
Bearcat Insider: What makes the Crosstown Shootout rivalry so good to you?
Rick Broering: I think the biggest thing is the people don’t get away from each other. With the fan bases will always make the rivalry bigger deal than the players. In a lot of cases in college rivalries if a kid didn’t get recruited by the other school or doesn’t live in that area they don’t usually care that much. A lot kids on Xavier didn’t grow up wanting to beat UC per se so a lot of rivalries the fans make a bigger deal about it. In the Shootout I think it is that big because these kids don’t get away from each other they see each other they are flirting with the same girls. (I laugh) No seriously like the Yancy Gates and Kenny Frease situation was over a girl Yancy said something about Kenny’s girl. It’s those small things, running into each other at Kenwood Mall, playing at open gyms during the summer at Xavier. Those types of things build this rivalry. I think the fact that they never get away from each other, they live in the same city it’s not like they are 10 or 15 miles apart (only 5 miles) it’s the fact that they always have to be around each other.
Bearcat Insider: Who do you think will be Xavier’s X-Factor Saturday?
Rick Broering: I’d start off with Miles Davis he was a big factor in last year’s game and the big reason I think that because of the match-up zone. UC is going to play that match-up zone and it’s tough to guard all the shooters in that match-up zone. When you are trying to match-up with Xavier got find Trevon Bluiett because he’s their best scorer. You probably are going to find Edmond Sumner just because of how the offensive works he’s the point guard he’s going to have the ball in his hands so you have to stop him at some point. So the guy I think that will get free is Davis because he’s the floating shooter. So he would be the number one guy I look at.
The second guy I’d pay special attention to is James Farr and the reason I say that is in addition to he’s had a really good season seniors always have this weird ability to have a huge game in the Shootout. It’s one side or the other it happens to one guy each year it’s not always the same guy or the guy you expect it to be. Like last year Dee Davis wasn’t much of a scoring threat at all, all season for Xavier and in the Shootout he hits all those threes. That game seems to bring out the best in the kids who know it’s their last chance to play in the rivalry and have been through it the last three or four and understand the rivalry.
Bearcat Insider: What is your scoring prediction for Saturday’s game?
Rick Broering: I have Xavier 68 UC 61. I think the most likely scenario is that it’s a close game and Xavier wins. The next most likely scenario is that Xavier blows them out. I don’t see UC winning in a blow out simply because I don’t see this team trying to outscore Xavier that would be the worst game plan in the history of college basketball game plans. I can’t see Mick trying have his team score 80, so if UC wins I think it will be very low scoring. If Xavier wins more handedly I could see the score being up in the 70’s.