Breakdown: Musketeers Roll at Marquette

Rick breaks down the top plays from Xavier's key 64-44 road win over Marquette Tuesday night.

Xavier picked up a necessary Big East road win over Marquette Tuesday night, and did so in convincing fashion by beating the Golden Eagles 64-44.

Xavier got the job done with a strong team defensive effort that saw them hold Marquette to just 35 percent shooting from the field and an average of 0.713 points per possession as the Musketeers switched between a man-to-man and a 1-3-1 defense.

Here’s a look at the plays that stood out over the course of the game:

I mentioned in this article about Jalen Reynolds that he is underrated as a passer and could be a guy that Xavier runs its offense through, even if he’s not quite an elite post passer like Matt Stainbrook. Here’s an example of what I mean. This is a great read by Reynolds. He had just checked into the game and was eager to make an impact, but as soon as he sees Marquette selling out on the hard double team he quickly kicks the ball back out from the same place the second defender came. Dee Davis then makes the nice quick pass to Trevon Bluiett for the three.

Bluiett three.

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Dee Davis didn’t have one of his best games in terms of his stat line. He had two points on 1-of-4 shooting to go with five assists, five rebounds and six turnovers. However, in terms of his style of play in this game, I thought he played the way he needs to for the Musketeers to be at their best offensively. He kept the offense in attack mode (even when sometimes committing turnovers) without hunting his own shots. Here he does a good job of attacking off the bounce early in the possession while the defense is still setting up, and as soon as he realizes he has the full attention of shot blocker Luke Fischer he throws a perfect lob pass to Reynolds for the easy two.

Dee lobs to Jalen.

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This is a combination of bad communication and Reynolds not knowing the scouting report. Bluiett is defending Juan Anderson one-on-one on the block and Derrick Wilson (Dee Davis’ man) cuts through the lane. Davis was likely either told in the scouting report to always look to be helping off of Wilson who is a pitiful shooter, or he made a veteran decision because of his knowledge of the scouting report to help out Bluiett and leave Wilson in the corner. Either way, he helps Bluiett and once the ball gets thrown to Wilson, who is alone, Reynolds leaves Fischer under the basket to fly out at him. Wilson then drives right around Reynolds, bounce passes off to Fischer and Marquette gets an easy two. One last thing to look at is Bluiett after he and Davis get Anderson to pass the ball out of the post. He has a tendency to just “die” off the ball as a defender like he does on this play. Instead of being a spectator caught in no man’s land, he could have recognized what was going on in front of him and communicated with Dee Davis so one of them could have slid down to try and take away the passing lane to Fischer.

Fischer scores off the pass from Wilson.

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This is Xavier’s best defensive lineup – Dee Davis, Myles Davis, Remy Abell, Trevon Bluiett and Jalen Reynolds. They do a great job of handling this ball screen situation (it helps that Marquette doesn’t have the threat of multiple shooters lining the perimeter). Reynolds owns the screen well and keeps the ball in front. Abell tries to bump Fischer on the role, but makes sure to get out to his man quickly because he’s only one pass away. Bluiett holds on the backside against Fischer while Reynolds recovers, and then tries to start moving back out to his man (Duane Wilson) on the perimeter as fast as possible. Reynolds gets back to Fischer in a timely fashion and then walls up against him one-on-one, forcing the Golden Eagles to call a timeout.

Reynolds walls up on Fischer.

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This is the type of simple play that has given Xavier’s bigs some troubles this year, but Reynolds shows off his athleticism and makes a nice defensive play on this one. Reynolds’ man (Juan Anderson) makes a quick pass to the Duane Wilson on the wing and then immediately runs to set a screen on Wilson’s defender (Dee Davis) as Wilson is still coming up to meet the pass. Wilson immediately turns the corner, which forces Reynolds to switch off onto him. The big man then proceeds to string the athletic freshman wing out across the lane and tips a tough, forced runner from a few feet off the right block.

Reynolds D.

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Marquette was smart about how they double teamed in the post. They would send the closest player to double, usually the other forward on the opposite block. And then they would send Dee Davis’ man to help take away the easy pass across the blocks. In this case, Duane Wilson leaves Davis alone to take away Stainbrook’s passing lane to Reynolds as Davis cuts through to the corner. Stainbrook makes a great read, though. He dribbles towards the middle of the lane and forces another Marquette defender (Sandy Cohen) to try and help. That leaves Macura open on the perimeter, and everyone recognizes it. Macura spaces a few feet to his left, Stainbrook makes the pass and even Dee Davis is in the corner pointing to instruct the big man to throw it to Macura.

Macura three.

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This was one of the better games Xavier’s had all season when it comes to defending ball screens in man-to-man. Here Stainbrook does a good job of owning the screen, Reynolds bumps Stainbrook’s man (Steve Taylor Jr.) and then Macura comes flying at Cohen with high hands to deflect his throwback pass to Reynolds’ man (Juan Anderson) who was trying to sneak up to the top of the key for a three. We’ll take another look at this set later on in the breakdown where it doesn’t work out so well for the Musketeers, but this time Reynolds gets the steal and makes a play in transition that would make Manu Ginobili proud.

Reynolds steal, euro and finger roll.

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Again, Marquette lacking shooters, especially with Carlino out, certainly made ball screen defense easier, but Xavier really was doing a pretty good job of defending the Golden Eagles’ actions. Here they try to run a ball screen at Stainbrook. He hedges well against Duane Wilson, Myles Davis bumps Stainbrook’s man (Steve Taylor Jr) on the roll and then opens himself up to stay in the passing lane and puts big eyes on the passer while not straying too far from his own man (Derrick Wilson). As the ball is thrown to Derrick Wilson, Myles Davis recovers and Stainbrook gets back to Taylor rather quickly. The Musketeers ended up getting a shot clock possession after Taylor passed this ball back out to the perimeter at the end of the video clip.

X defends ball screen.

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This is good communication by the Musketeers’ two seniors Dee Davis and Matt Stainbrook. The team as a whole hasn’t been talking when defending even simple plays like this recently, and its cost them. However, on this one Davis turns early to alert Stainbrook that a screen is coming and does a good job of helping him while he fights through. This is a play that Xavier runs often and catches other teams off guard with for easy points, because they end up having to switch a guard onto a center or their big man is way too late fighting through the screen.

Stainbrook stops Fischer.

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The entertainment factor is raised significantly for this Xavier team whenever Reynolds or Macura is on the floor. Sometimes I laugh at the obvious things they do, but then sometimes smaller things like this crack me up. Macura loves to mix it up, and on this play you have to give him some credit for playing with toughness on the defensive end. Look at the way he chucks Fischer on this roll to the basket after Fischer sets a ball screen. Of course, not to be outdone, Reynolds comes over and adds his bump to the mix, which drew a whistle from the ref on the baseline.

Macura chucks Fischer.

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This next possession is a two parter, because Xavier was really good defensively for a full possession and I can only record for 15 seconds on Instagram. In the first video, I mentioned on the podcast that Macura looked better defending the ball in the man-to-man defense, and this is one of the plays I was talking about. In the past, after his man (JaJuan Johnson) took a dribble handoff like that and turned the corner on him he would have given up on the play, but this time he stays tough on Johnson’s hip and uses his size by putting his hands straight up to discourage the shot. Then in the second video, O’Mara has to go one-on-one with Fischer. He starts by forcing him to catch the ball 12-14 feet from the basket, and then stays strong while Fischer tries to drive him to the rim off the bounce. Great defense by both of the Musketeers’ freshman.

Macura D.

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O'Mara D.

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Here’s another look at good ball screen defense by X. The interesting part about this play is that O’Mara and Larry Austin are the two defending the ball screen for the Musketeers. O’Mara does a good job owning the screen against Derrick Wilson, and Austin flies back into the play and immediately pressures Wilson when he recovers to the ball. On the backside, Abell gives Fischer a heck of a bump and then Bluiett holds while waiting for O’Mara to recover. Then once again, O’Mara forces Fischer to catch the ball five feet off the block.

Ball screen D.

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This goes back to Reynolds and the whole entertainment factor thing. Here, Reynolds either air-balls a shot, throws a horrendous pass that works out well, or just innovated the game by using an over the rim lob pass as a way to shield longer defenders from getting in the passing lane. You can decide. But either way, the best part of the video is Reynolds explaining to Bluiett after the play that it was indeed a pass.

Reynolds passes to Bluiett.

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These next two plays can be filed in the “why I think Xavier would be alright if Myles Davis is forced into some point guard duty next year” folder. Just tremendous finds.

Macura three to tie it.

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Myles Davis finds Stainbrook for a layup.

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Here’s the first possession of Xavier in its 1-3-1 zone that changed the game starting with 5:30 left in the half tied 19-19. Derrick Wilson looks confused, picks up his dribble early, and then Macura’s length gets to him.

Macura gets a deflection on the first possession of 1-3-1.

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One of the golden rules of Xavier’s defense is not to get beat baseline because there is no help there. Look at this possession by Macura. He starts by being in the gap to support Dee Davis, and then when Jajuan Johnson rejects a ball screen and beats Davis off the dribble he is able to force a kickout into the corner to his own man (Derrick Wilson). Macura recovers to Wilson (a point guard, mind you), puts his foot on the baseline to force him to spin back into the middle, and then keeps himself in the play and uses his length to make it a tough finish. That’s rather impressive possession for a freshman wing that has majorly struggled on the defensive end this year.

Macura D.

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Here’s the final play of the first half. This is the same play from earlier where Macura got a deflection and then Reynolds stole a pass that I said we’d reference again later. This time they run a ball screen at Stainbrook, Bluiett helps against Fischer on the roll, meanwhile his man (Juan Anderson) runs to the top of the key for an open 3-point look and Dee Davis has two shooters to guard but chooses none of them. Macura still recovered with high hands, but Derrick Wilson wisely ball faked and then bounce passed this time.

Marquette 3 to end the half.

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This is a nice little series Xavier ran to start the second half that showed off Bluiett’s knowledge of the game. Out of the horns set, Bluiett sets up like he’s down screening for Myles Davis, but Davis doesn’t use it and instead cuts baseline, so Bluiett’s man (Juan Anderson) jumps towards Davis to take away the passing lane. Stainbrook fires to Bluiett, who by now had popped out to the corner. Bluiett freezes Anderson with the dribble and then knocks down a jumper on the first play. Then on the second play, they show the exact same look to Marquette with Bluiett heading to down screen for Davis. This time Davis’ man (Derrick Wilson) and Anderson are aware of what’s going on and Anderson instead tries to get out and deny the pass to Bluiett. Bluiett immediately cuts back door and Stainbrook hits him on the way to the basket.

Bluiett jumper.

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Bluiett backdoor.

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Here’s another look at how the Musketeers were successful in their 1-3-1 zone. First and foremost, they don’t guard Derrick Wilson at all. They apply no ball pressure and give him plenty of room, daring him to shoot. When the ball gets thrown into Fischer, they crowd him and get a quick pass out to the opposite wing. Even with Macura closing out poorly and getting blown by off the dribble, X is so tight in the zone that Duane Wilson runs into Stainbrook head on with Reynolds and Dee Davis helping to either side on his drive.

X gets a stop in the zone.

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This is a great defensive play by Anderson on the block, but the pass and catch from Macura to O’Mara is a great sign if you’re a Xavier fan.

Macura and O'Mara pick and roll.

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This was a nice underneath out of bounds play against Marquette’s zone. Macura pops out to receive the pass from O’Mara high on the wing. He swings it on the perimeter to Abell. Farr then pops out to the top of the key from the left block, which causes a little bit of a distraction because of his movement through the middle of the zone. Meanwhile, Macura nonchalantly spaces towards the corner and O’Mara creeps up to set a flare screen for him.

Macura three.

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This is good recognition by Dee Davis to see that O’Mara has a mismatch in Anderson on him. O’Mara reads the play right, ducks in at the proper time, and Davis gives him a great entry pass. The big man is going to continue to earn minutes if he plays like this, and his teammates show this much confidence in him.

O'Mara bucket.

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Regardless of his recent struggles, Stainbrook still does this as well as any big man in the country. Great vision.

Bluiett three

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Here’s a possession where I felt X really needed to get some points and make sure that Marquette doesn’t get a notion that it can come back in this game with 4:20 still to play and the Golden Eagles only trailing by 12. This is similar to the O’Mara clip two videos above, but Stainbrook and Dee Davis just create points out of nothing for the Musketeers here by being on the same page and reading each other. Stainbrook is physical and ducks in against Fischer, Davis throws another great entry pass, and Stainbrook makes it a 14-point game at the free-throw line.

Dee to Stainbrook.

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And how about one more impressive play by the freshmen. This is the second of two very nice passes by Bluiett in second half pick-and-roll situations. He finds O’Mara here and the big man finishes with the left hand. The IQ and feel these young guys are showing on the offensive end is definitely a good sign for the future of Xavier basketball.

O'Mara makes it 20.

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Dee Davis didn’t have one of his best games in terms of his stat line. He had two points on 1-of-4 shooting to go with five assists, five rebounds and six turnovers. However, in terms of his style of play in this game, I thought he played the way he needs to for the Musketeers to be at their best offensively. He kept the offense in attack mode (even when sometimes committing turnovers) without hunting his own shots. Here he does a good job of attacking off the bounce early in the possession while the defense is still setting up, and as soon as he realizes he has the full attention of shot blocker Luke Fischer he throws a perfect lob pass to Reynolds for the easy two.

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Dee lobs to Jalen.

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This is a combination of bad communication and Reynolds not knowing the scouting report. Bluiett is defending Juan Anderson one-on-one on the block and Derrick Wilson (Dee Davis’ man) cuts through the lane. Davis was likely either told in the scouting report to always look to be helping off of Wilson who is a pitiful shooter, or he made a veteran decision because of his knowledge of the scouting report to help out Bluiett and leave Wilson in the corner. Either way, he helps Bluiett and once the ball gets thrown to Wilson, who is alone, Reynolds leaves Fischer under the basket to fly out at him. Wilson then drives right around Reynolds, bounce passes off to Fischer and Marquette gets an easy two. One last thing to look at is Bluiett after he and Davis get Anderson to pass the ball out of the post. He has a tendency to just “die” off the ball as a defender like he does on this play. Instead of being a spectator caught in no man’s land, he could have recognized what was going on in front of him and communicated with Dee Davis so one of them could have slid down to try and take away the passing lane to Fischer.

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Fischer scores off the pass from Wilson.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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This is Xavier’s best defensive lineup – Dee Davis, Myles Davis, Remy Abell, Trevon Bluiett and Jalen Reynolds. They do a great job of handling this ball screen situation (it helps that Marquette doesn’t have the threat of multiple shooters lining the perimeter). Reynolds owns the screen well and keeps the ball in front. Abell tries to bump Fischer on the role, but makes sure to get out to his man quickly because he’s only one pass away. Bluiett holds on the backside against Fischer while Reynolds recovers, and then tries to start moving back out to his man (Duane Wilson) on the perimeter as fast as possible. Reynolds gets back to Fischer in a timely fashion and then walls up against him one-on-one, forcing the Golden Eagles to call a timeout.

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Reynolds walls up on Fischer.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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This is the type of simple play that has given Xavier’s bigs some troubles this year, but Reynolds shows off his athleticism and makes a nice defensive play on this one. Reynolds’ man (Juan Anderson) makes a quick pass to the Duane Wilson on the wing and then immediately runs to set a screen on Wilson’s defender (Dee Davis) as Wilson is still coming up to meet the pass. Wilson immediately turns the corner, which forces Reynolds to switch off onto him. The big man then proceeds to string the athletic freshman wing out across the lane and tips a tough, forced runner from a few feet off the right block.

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Reynolds D.

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Marquette was smart about how they double teamed in the post. They would send the closest player to double, usually the other forward on the opposite block. And then they would send Dee Davis’ man to help take away the easy pass across the blocks. In this case, Duane Wilson leaves Davis alone to take away Stainbrook’s passing lane to Reynolds as Davis cuts through to the corner. Stainbrook makes a great read, though. He dribbles towards the middle of the lane and forces another Marquette defender (Sandy Cohen) to try and help. That leaves Macura open on the perimeter, and everyone recognizes it. Macura spaces a few feet to his left, Stainbrook makes the pass and even Dee Davis is in the corner pointing to instruct the big man to throw it to Macura.

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Macura three.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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This was one of the better games Xavier’s had all season when it comes to defending ball screens in man-to-man. Here Stainbrook does a good job of owning the screen, Reynolds bumps Stainbrook’s man (Steve Taylor Jr.) and then Macura comes flying at Cohen with high hands to deflect his throwback pass to Reynolds’ man (Juan Anderson) who was trying to sneak up to the top of the key for a three. We’ll take another look at this set later on in the breakdown where it doesn’t work out so well for the Musketeers, but this time Reynolds gets the steal and makes a play in transition that would make Manu Ginobili proud.

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Reynolds steal, euro and finger roll.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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Again, Marquette lacking shooters, especially with Carlino out, certainly made ball screen defense easier, but Xavier really was doing a pretty good job of defending the Golden Eagles’ actions. Here they try to run a ball screen at Stainbrook. He hedges well against Duane Wilson, Myles Davis bumps Stainbrook’s man (Steve Taylor Jr) on the roll and then opens himself up to stay in the passing lane and puts big eyes on the passer while not straying too far from his own man (Derrick Wilson). As the ball is thrown to Derrick Wilson, Myles Davis recovers and Stainbrook gets back to Taylor rather quickly. The Musketeers ended up getting a shot clock possession after Taylor passed this ball back out to the perimeter at the end of the video clip.

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X defends ball screen.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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This is good communication by the Musketeers’ two seniors Dee Davis and Matt Stainbrook. The team as a whole hasn’t been talking when defending even simple plays like this recently, and its cost them. However, on this one Davis turns early to alert Stainbrook that a screen is coming and does a good job of helping him while he fights through. This is a play that Xavier runs often and catches other teams off guard with for easy points, because they end up having to switch a guard onto a center or their big man is way too late fighting through the screen.

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Stainbrook stops Fischer.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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The entertainment factor is raised significantly for this Xavier team whenever Reynolds or Macura is on the floor. Sometimes I laugh at the obvious things they do, but then sometimes smaller things like this crack me up. Macura loves to mix it up, and on this play you have to give him some credit for playing with toughness on the defensive end. Look at the way he chucks Fischer on this roll to the basket after Fischer sets a ball screen. Of course, not to be outdone, Reynolds comes over and adds his bump to the mix, which drew a whistle from the ref on the baseline.

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Macura chucks Fischer.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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This next possession is a two parter, because Xavier was really good defensively for a full possession and I can only record for 15 seconds on Instagram. In the first video, I mentioned on the podcast that Macura looked better defending the ball in the man-to-man defense, and this is one of the plays I was talking about. In the past, after his man (JaJuan Johnson) took a dribble handoff like that and turned the corner on him he would have given up on the play, but this time he stays tough on Johnson’s hip and uses his size by putting his hands straight up to discourage the shot. Then in the second video, O’Mara has to go one-on-one with Fischer. He starts by forcing him to catch the ball 12-14 feet from the basket, and then stays strong while Fischer tries to drive him to the rim off the bounce. Great defense by both of the Musketeers’ freshman.

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Macura D.

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O'Mara D.

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Here’s another look at good ball screen defense by X. The interesting part about this play is that O’Mara and Larry Austin are the two defending the ball screen for the Musketeers. O’Mara does a good job owning the screen against Derrick Wilson, and Austin flies back into the play and immediately pressures Wilson when he recovers to the ball. On the backside, Abell gives Fischer a heck of a bump and then Bluiett holds while waiting for O’Mara to recover. Then once again, O’Mara forces Fischer to catch the ball five feet off the block.

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Ball screen D.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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This goes back to Reynolds and the whole entertainment factor thing. Here, Reynolds either air-balls a shot, throws a horrendous pass that works out well, or just innovated the game by using an over the rim lob pass as a way to shield longer defenders from getting in the passing lane. You can decide. But either way, the best part of the video is Reynolds explaining to Bluiett after the play that it was indeed a pass.

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Reynolds passes to Bluiett.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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These next two plays can be filed in the “why I think Xavier would be alright if Myles Davis is forced into some point guard duty next year” folder. Just tremendous finds.

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Macura three to tie it.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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Myles Davis finds Stainbrook for a layup.

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Here’s the first possession of Xavier in its 1-3-1 zone that changed the game starting with 5:30 left in the half tied 19-19. Derrick Wilson looks confused, picks up his dribble early, and then Macura’s length gets to him.

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Macura gets a deflection on the first possession of 1-3-1.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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One of the golden rules of Xavier’s defense is not to get beat baseline because there is no help there. Look at this possession by Macura. He starts by being in the gap to support Dee Davis, and then when Jajuan Johnson rejects a ball screen and beats Davis off the dribble he is able to force a kickout into the corner to his own man (Derrick Wilson). Macura recovers to Wilson (a point guard, mind you), puts his foot on the baseline to force him to spin back into the middle, and then keeps himself in the play and uses his length to make it a tough finish. That’s rather impressive possession for a freshman wing that has majorly struggled on the defensive end this year.

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Macura D.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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Here’s the final play of the first half. This is the same play from earlier where Macura got a deflection and then Reynolds stole a pass that I said we’d reference again later. This time they run a ball screen at Stainbrook, Bluiett helps against Fischer on the roll, meanwhile his man (Juan Anderson) runs to the top of the key for an open 3-point look and Dee Davis has two shooters to guard but chooses none of them. Macura still recovered with high hands, but Derrick Wilson wisely ball faked and then bounce passed this time.

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Marquette 3 to end the half.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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This is a nice little series Xavier ran to start the second half that showed off Bluiett’s knowledge of the game. Out of the horns set, Bluiett sets up like he’s down screening for Myles Davis, but Davis doesn’t use it and instead cuts baseline, so Bluiett’s man (Juan Anderson) jumps towards Davis to take away the passing lane. Stainbrook fires to Bluiett, who by now had popped out to the corner. Bluiett freezes Anderson with the dribble and then knocks down a jumper on the first play. Then on the second play, they show the exact same look to Marquette with Bluiett heading to down screen for Davis. This time Davis’ man (Derrick Wilson) and Anderson are aware of what’s going on and Anderson instead tries to get out and deny the pass to Bluiett. Bluiett immediately cuts back door and Stainbrook hits him on the way to the basket.

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Bluiett jumper.

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Bluiett backdoor.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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Here’s another look at how the Musketeers were successful in their 1-3-1 zone. First and foremost, they don’t guard Derrick Wilson at all. They apply no ball pressure and give him plenty of room, daring him to shoot. When the ball gets thrown into Fischer, they crowd him and get a quick pass out to the opposite wing. Even with Macura closing out poorly and getting blown by off the dribble, X is so tight in the zone that Duane Wilson runs into Stainbrook head on with Reynolds and Dee Davis helping to either side on his drive.

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X gets a stop in the zone.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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This is a great defensive play by Anderson on the block, but the pass and catch from Macura to O’Mara is a great sign if you’re a Xavier fan.

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Macura and O'Mara pick and roll.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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This was a nice underneath out of bounds play against Marquette’s zone. Macura pops out to receive the pass from O’Mara high on the wing. He swings it on the perimeter to Abell. Farr then pops out to the top of the key from the left block, which causes a little bit of a distraction because of his movement through the middle of the zone. Meanwhile, Macura nonchalantly spaces towards the corner and O’Mara creeps up to set a flare screen for him.

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Macura three.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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This is good recognition by Dee Davis to see that O’Mara has a mismatch in Anderson on him. O’Mara reads the play right, ducks in at the proper time, and Davis gives him a great entry pass. The big man is going to continue to earn minutes if he plays like this, and his teammates show this much confidence in him.

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O'Mara bucket.

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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Regardless of his recent struggles, Stainbrook still does this as well as any big man in the country. Great vision.

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Bluiett three

A video posted by @rickbroering on

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Here’s a possession where I felt X really needed to get some points and make sure that Marquette doesn’t get a notion that it can come back in this game with 4:20 still to play and the Golden Eagles only trailing by 12. This is similar to the O’Mara clip two videos above, but Stainbrook and Dee Davis just create points out of nothing for the Musketeers here by being on the same page and reading each other. Stainbrook is physical and ducks in against Fischer, Davis throws another great entry pass, and Stainbrook makes it a 14-point game at the free-throw line.

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Dee to Stainbrook.

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And how about one more impressive play by the freshmen. This is the second of two very nice passes by Bluiett in second half pick-and-roll situations. He finds O’Mara here and the big man finishes with the left hand. The IQ and feel these young guys are showing on the offensive end is definitely a good sign for the future of Xavier basketball.

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O'Mara makes it 20.

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Xavier picked up a necessary Big East road win over Marquette Tuesday night, and did so in convincing fashion by beating the Golden Eagles 64-44.

Xavier got the job done with a strong team defensive effort that saw them hold Marquette to just 35 percent shooting from the field and an average of 0.713 points per possession as the Musketeers switched between a man-to-man and a 1-3-1 defense.

Here’s a look at the plays that stood out over the course of the game:

I mentioned in this article about Jalen Reynolds that he is underrated as a passer and could be a guy that Xavier runs its offense through, even if he’s not quite an elite post passer like Matt Stainbrook. Here’s an example of what I mean. This is a great read by Reynolds. He had just checked into the game and was eager to make an impact, but as soon as he sees Marquette selling out on the hard double team he quickly kicks the ball back out from the same place the second defender came. Dee Davis then makes the nice quick pass to Trevon Bluiett for the three.

Dee Davis didn’t have one of his best games in terms of his stat line. He had two points on 1-of-4 shooting to go with five assists, five rebounds and six turnovers. However, in terms of his style of play in this game, I thought he played the way he needs to for the Musketeers to be at their best offensively. He kept the offense in attack mode (even when sometimes committing turnovers) without hunting his own shots. Here he does a good job of attacking off the bounce early in the possession while the defense is still setting up, and as soon as he realizes he has the full attention of shot blocker Luke Fischer he throws a perfect lob pass to Reynolds for the easy two.

This is a combination of bad communication and Reynolds not knowing the scouting report. Bluiett is defending Juan Anderson one-on-one on the block and Derrick Wilson (Dee Davis’ man) cuts through the lane. Davis was likely either told in the scouting report to always look to be helping off of Wilson who is a pitiful shooter, or he made a veteran decision because of his knowledge of the scouting report to help out Bluiett and leave Wilson in the corner. Either way, he helps Bluiett and once the ball gets thrown to Wilson, who is alone, Reynolds leaves Fischer under the basket to fly out at him. Wilson then drives right around Reynolds, bounce passes off to Fischer and Marquette gets an easy two. One last thing to look at is Bluiett after he and Davis get Anderson to pass the ball out of the post. He has a tendency to just “die” off the ball as a defender like he does on this play. Instead of being a spectator caught in no man’s land, he could have recognized what was going on in front of him and communicated with Dee Davis so one of them could have slid down to try and take away the passing lane to Fischer.

This is Xavier’s best defensive lineup – Dee Davis, Myles Davis, Remy Abell, Trevon Bluiett and Jalen Reynolds. They do a great job of handling this ball screen situation (it helps that Marquette doesn’t have the threat of multiple shooters lining the perimeter). Reynolds owns the screen well and keeps the ball in front. Abell tries to bump Fischer on the role, but makes sure to get out to his man quickly because he’s only one pass away. Bluiett holds on the backside against Fischer while Reynolds recovers, and then tries to start moving back out to his man (Duane Wilson) on the perimeter as fast as possible. Reynolds gets back to Fischer in a timely fashion and then walls up against him one-on-one, forcing the Golden Eagles to call a timeout.

This is the type of simple play that has given Xavier’s bigs some troubles this year, but Reynolds shows off his athleticism and makes a nice defensive play on this one. Reynolds’ man (Juan Anderson) makes a quick pass to the Duane Wilson on the wing and then immediately runs to set a screen on Wilson’s defender (Dee Davis) as Wilson is still coming up to meet the pass. Wilson immediately turns the corner, which forces Reynolds to switch off onto him. The big man then proceeds to string the athletic freshman wing out across the lane and tips a tough, forced runner from a few feet off the right block.

Marquette was smart about how they double teamed in the post. They would send the closest player to double, usually the other forward on the opposite block. And then they would send Dee Davis’ man to help take away the easy pass across the blocks. In this case, Duane Wilson leaves Davis alone to take away Stainbrook’s passing lane to Reynolds as Davis cuts through to the corner. Stainbrook makes a great read, though. He dribbles towards the middle of the lane and forces another Marquette defender (Sandy Cohen) to try and help. That leaves Macura open on the perimeter, and everyone recognizes it. Macura spaces a few feet to his left, Stainbrook makes the pass and even Dee Davis is in the corner pointing to instruct the big man to throw it to Macura.

This was one of the better games Xavier’s had all season when it comes to defending ball screens in man-to-man. Here Stainbrook does a good job of owning the screen, Reynolds bumps Stainbrook’s man (Steve Taylor Jr.) and then Macura comes flying at Cohen with high hands to deflect his throwback pass to Reynolds’ man (Juan Anderson) who was trying to sneak up to the top of the key for a three. We’ll take another look at this set later on in the breakdown where it doesn’t work out so well for the Musketeers, but this time Reynolds gets the steal and makes a play in transition that would make Manu Ginobili proud.

Again, Marquette lacking shooters, especially with Carlino out, certainly made ball screen defense easier, but Xavier really was doing a pretty good job of defending the Golden Eagles’ actions. Here they try to run a ball screen at Stainbrook. He hedges well against Duane Wilson, Myles Davis bumps Stainbrook’s man (Steve Taylor Jr) on the roll and then opens himself up to stay in the passing lane and puts big eyes on the passer while not straying too far from his own man (Derrick Wilson). As the ball is thrown to Derrick Wilson, Myles Davis recovers and Stainbrook gets back to Taylor rather quickly. The Musketeers ended up getting a shot clock possession after Taylor passed this ball back out to the perimeter at the end of the video clip.

This is good communication by the Musketeers’ two seniors Dee Davis and Matt Stainbrook. The team as a whole hasn’t been talking when defending even simple plays like this recently, and its cost them. However, on this one Davis turns early to alert Stainbrook that a screen is coming and does a good job of helping him while he fights through. This is a play that Xavier runs often and catches other teams off guard with for easy points, because they end up having to switch a guard onto a center or their big man is way too late fighting through the screen.

The entertainment factor is raised significantly for this Xavier team whenever Reynolds or Macura is on the floor. Sometimes I laugh at the obvious things they do, but then sometimes smaller things like this crack me up. Macura loves to mix it up, and on this play you have to give him some credit for playing with toughness on the defensive end. Look at the way he chucks Fischer on this roll to the basket after Fischer sets a ball screen. Of course, not to be outdone, Reynolds comes over and adds his bump to the mix, which drew a whistle from the ref on the baseline.

This next possession is a two parter, because Xavier was really good defensively for a full possession and I can only record for 15 seconds on Instagram. In the first video, I mentioned on the podcast that Macura looked better defending the ball in the man-to-man defense, and this is one of the plays I was talking about. In the past, after his man (JaJuan Johnson) took a dribble handoff like that and turned the corner on him he would have given up on the play, but this time he stays tough on Johnson’s hip and uses his size by putting his hands straight up to discourage the shot. Then in the second video, O’Mara has to go one-on-one with Fischer. He starts by forcing him to catch the ball 12-14 feet from the basket, and then stays strong while Fischer tries to drive him to the rim off the bounce. Great defense by both of the Musketeers’ freshman.

Here’s another look at good ball screen defense by X. The interesting part about this play is that O’Mara and Larry Austin are the two defending the ball screen for the Musketeers. O’Mara does a good job owning the screen against Derrick Wilson, and Austin flies back into the play and immediately pressures Wilson when he recovers to the ball. On the backside, Abell gives Fischer a heck of a bump and then Bluiett holds while waiting for O’Mara to recover. Then once again, O’Mara forces Fischer to catch the ball five feet off the block.

This goes back to Reynolds and the whole entertainment factor thing. Here, Reynolds either air-balls a shot, throws a horrendous pass that works out well, or just innovated the game by using an over the rim lob pass as a way to shield longer defenders from getting in the passing lane. You can decide. But either way, the best part of the video is Reynolds explaining to Bluiett after the play that it was indeed a pass.

These next two plays can be filed in the “why I think Xavier would be alright if Myles Davis is forced into some point guard duty next year” folder. Just tremendous finds.

Here’s the first possession of Xavier in its 1-3-1 zone that changed the game starting with 5:30 left in the half tied 19-19. Derrick Wilson looks confused, picks up his dribble early, and then Macura’s length gets to him.

One of the golden rules of Xavier’s defense is not to get beat baseline because there is no help there. Look at this possession by Macura. He starts by being in the gap to support Dee Davis, and then when Jajuan Johnson rejects a ball screen and beats Davis off the dribble he is able to force a kickout into the corner to his own man (Derrick Wilson). Macura recovers to Wilson (a point guard, mind you), puts his foot on the baseline to force him to spin back into the middle, and then keeps himself in the play and uses his length to make it a tough finish. That’s rather impressive possession for a freshman wing that has majorly struggled on the defensive end this year.

Here’s the final play of the first half. This is the same play from earlier where Macura got a deflection and then Reynolds stole a pass that I said we’d reference again later. This time they run a ball screen at Stainbrook, Bluiett helps against Fischer on the roll, meanwhile his man (Juan Anderson) runs to the top of the key for an open 3-point look and Dee Davis has two shooters to guard but chooses none of them. Macura still recovered with high hands, but Derrick Wilson wisely ball faked and then bounce passed this time.

This is a nice little series Xavier ran to start the second half that showed off Bluiett’s knowledge of the game. Out of the horns set, Bluiett sets up like he’s down screening for Myles Davis, but Davis doesn’t use it and instead cuts baseline, so Bluiett’s man (Juan Anderson) jumps towards Davis to take away the passing lane. Stainbrook fires to Bluiett, who by now had popped out to the corner. Bluiett freezes Anderson with the dribble and then knocks down a jumper on the first play. Then on the second play, they show the exact same look to Marquette with Bluiett heading to down screen for Davis. This time Davis’ man (Derrick Wilson) and Anderson are aware of what’s going on and Anderson instead tries to get out and deny the pass to Bluiett. Bluiett immediately cuts back door and Stainbrook hits him on the way to the basket.

Here’s another look at how the Musketeers were successful in their 1-3-1 zone. First and foremost, they don’t guard Derrick Wilson at all. They apply no ball pressure and give him plenty of room, daring him to shoot. When the ball gets thrown into Fischer, they crowd him and get a quick pass out to the opposite wing. Even with Macura closing out poorly and getting blown by off the dribble, X is so tight in the zone that Duane Wilson runs into Stainbrook head on with Reynolds and Dee Davis helping to either side on his drive.

This is a great defensive play by Anderson on the block, but the pass and catch from Macura to O’Mara is a great sign if you’re a Xavier fan.

This was a nice underneath out of bounds play against Marquette’s zone. Macura pops out to receive the pass from O’Mara high on the wing. He swings it on the perimeter to Abell. Farr then pops out to the top of the key from the left block, which causes a little bit of a distraction because of his movement through the middle of the zone. Meanwhile, Macura nonchalantly spaces towards the corner and O’Mara creeps up to set a flare screen for him.

This is good recognition by Dee Davis to see that O’Mara has a mismatch in Anderson on him. O’Mara reads the play right, ducks in at the proper time, and Davis gives him a great entry pass. The big man is going to continue to earn minutes if he plays like this, and his teammates show this much confidence in him.

Regardless of his recent struggles, Stainbrook still does this as well as any big man in the country. Great vision.

Here’s a possession where I felt X really needed to get some points and make sure that Marquette doesn’t get a notion that it can come back in this game with 4:20 still to play and the Golden Eagles only trailing by 12. This is similar to the O’Mara clip two videos above, but Stainbrook and Dee Davis just create points out of nothing for the Musketeers here by being on the same page and reading each other. Stainbrook is physical and ducks in against Fischer, Davis throws another great entry pass, and Stainbrook makes it a 14-point game at the free-throw line.

And how about one more impressive play by the freshmen. This is the second of two very nice passes by Bluiett in second half pick-and-roll situations. He finds O’Mara here and the big man finishes with the left hand. The IQ and feel these young guys are showing on the offensive end is definitely a good sign for the future of Xavier basketball.

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