|McLean launched himself off a lunch table|
The game started with St. Joseph's playing as if they were sitting on a lead late. With the Hawks content to play anti-basketball, the Musketeers would have to be patient to get the win.And play patiently they did. After St. Joe's "performances" against UMass and Fordham, it was clear Coach Mack anticipated the slow pace. To counter it, Xavier went inside early and often. Kenny Frease handled the heavy lifting early, bemusing the Hawks down low with a variety of spins and feints. The growth of Frease, however, may be more obvious in his passing. Kenny had four assists in the game and consistently made good passes out of double teams to further stymie the St. Joe defense.
The other counter to the trudging pace of St. Joseph's was the Musketeer defense. At first the Muskies sagged and allowed the Hawks to dribble out possessions. Apparently wearying of this, they ratcheted up the intensity to start the second half and forced St. Joe into a 2-16 from the floor stretch that decided the game. The Hawks finished the game a miserable 17-55 from the floor in the face of a withering defense.
This game was also notable for some bizarre officiating. It began early on with Holloway being bulled off the ball on repeated drives and Jamel McLean picking up a technical for slamming the ball to the floor. The technical on McLean was only made odd (it is a tech to spike the ball) in that less than a minute later the circumstance was repeated without a call. Tu Holloway was gifted three free throws at the end of the half as an exhale seemed to get away from an official. Whilst Martellti was still Boeheiming away on the sideline, Carl Jones and Mark Lyons picked up a double technical. Jones got his T for shoving Lyons, and Lyons got his for getting shoved.
Closing thoughts: All in all, it was an unusual game. Xavier played brilliantly against a team that seemed to want to do nothing more than keep the game close. As a soccer fan I kept having to remind myself that the Hawks weren't playing for penalties. It was great to see both Jay Canty and Jordan Latham play a bit, and Jeff Robinson is apparently nearing the start of another of his upswings.
Mark Lyons: Unmentioned to this point are Lyons' 24-6-3 on 10-14 from the floor. Lyons ran at the rim without compunction today and was rewarded for it. With Holloway content to play a supporting role Cheeks carried the offense at times.
Kenny Frease: 17-10-4 for the big man from Perry Twp. Kenny was a man amongst boys in the paint last night. St. Joe had no answer for him, and only his own compulsion to travel really limited him.
Not so much:
No one really. Dante didn't score much, but quit shooting when he realized he was cold and played fantastic defense. McLean only had seven points but was extremely active in a game not at all suited to his playing style. This game was a good team grinding a very bad one into the ground.
Next game: vs. Fordham. Saturday @8pm.
A Twitter recap will be posted tonight.