February 18, 2013
Scouting the Rhode Island Rams
Record: 8-16 Overall (5-7 Home), (3-8 Conference)
Key Wins: Saint Louis, Dayton, Auburn, SMU
Key Losses: Saint Bonaventure, Fordham, George Washington, Charlotte, Richmond
#1 Mike Powell - 5'11 sophomore PG: Leads team in assists and steals while averaging a solid 9.8 points a game.
#5 Xavier Munford - 6'2 junior SG: Leading scorer averages 17.4 points a game, Munford takes a lot of shots and isn't afraid to launch it from three-point land.
#12 Andre Malone - 6'6 senior SF: Third leading scorer averages an even 10 points per game for the Rams.
#23 Nikola Malesevic - 6'7 senior PF: Stretch forward likes to shoot the three and is second on the team at 10.9 points per game, while also leading the team in rebounding at just over 5 boards an outing.
#4 Jordan Hare - 6'10 freshman C: Second leading rebounder on team, while also averaging 5.7 points a night.
#34 Mike Aaman - 6'8 freshman PF: Leading bench contributor averages 3.9 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.
#13 T.J. Buchanan - 6'3 sophomore SG: Three-point shooter provides small offensive spark at 3.4 points per game.
Xavier Defensive Keys
• Limit the three-point shot: The Rams live and die by the three-point shot, making just 6.5 a game but shooting about 20 trey balls per night. For Rhode Island to have a good chance to win against Xavier they'll have to not only shoot a lot of three-pointers, but also make some three-point shots. Xavier has a habit defensively in conference of letting opponents go on streaks, especially early in halves or very late in the game, where they get hot from the three-point line. If the Musketeers want to win this one then they'll have to be wary of Rhode Island shooters, especially in transition.
• Contain Munford: Rhode Island averages a modest 62 points per game this season, with their star player, Xavier Munford, averaging over a quarter of those points at over 17 points per game. By no means gun shy, Munford is going to be hunting shots early and often in this game, especially against a well respected opponent in a late season Rhode Island home game. Expect for Semaj Christon to start out on Munford, although Landon Amos, Dee Davis and Justin Martin all could see possessions matchup up with the potential all-conference guard.
• Double Digit Glass Win: Rhode Island is a terrible rebounding team, getting bested by their opponent by over 5 boards per game. There's no reason to think that a Xavier team that has more interior depth, and size on the wings, shouldn't be able to out-rebound Rhode Island by at least ten. When the Musketeers are dominating the boards they're one of the tougher teams to beat in the league, when they're not then they're average at best; this could be the one major key to the game.
Xavier Offensive Keys
• Second Chance Attack: The Rhode Island defense might allow 66 points per game, but they do have two strong defensive statistics that jump off of the page. First, they do a nice job of creating steals (which is one of the ways that they are able to find points), and second, they hold their opponents to just 42% shooting from the field. What does this all mean for Xavier? It means that the Musketeers, as we've already discussed, will need to be excellent on the glass; but this time we're talking about the offensive glass. If Rhode Island's usual defense comes to play, there will be plenty of misses for Xavier to clean up and score on the offensive glass.
• Keep it Going Semaj: Xavier's best offensive player, freshman point guard Semaj Christon, has been playing well lately, and to win Atlantic 10 conference games on the road he's going to have to keep playing well. Christon is still trying to establish his jump-shot, but his ability to get to the rim is unmatched by almost all in-conference guards. This is another game where Christon will have a mismatch; look for him to be aggressive as both a scorer and a set up man, trying to jumpstart an inconsistent XU offense.
Overall: The Musketeers have really struggled on the road in the Atlantic 10, but here they find themselves with a more than winnable game against an opponent with a very subpar record at this point in the season. In addition, Rhode Island is not known as a place that opponents fear in regards to the crowd. This one will be the Musketeers to lose, let's see how they come out and play in the Northeast.
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