Senior Matchup: JP Macura, Trevon Bluiett vs. Gary Clark

This is a breakdown of the Seniors in the Crosstown Shootout, the Cincinnati city rivalry game where Xavier beat Cincinnati 89-76 this past weekend.  Unfortunately the Seniors didn’t really matchup directly very often as Trevon Blueitt didn’t play much small ball 4, instead he was went mainly against junior Jacob Evans (Cincy’s leading scorer).  Although there were a few battles between him and Gary Clark at the 4.  JP Macura matched vs Clark only on switches.  But since this was such an intense game featuring some of the most interesting seniors, it was a worth a breakdown. One thing you can say about most of the players at both schools is they are tough, for college this game was a war.

JP Macura | 2.5 | Xavier

Line: 7 points (1/5 3FG), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals

Style: He’s the ultimate agitator.  Macura is incredibly feisty guard, often playing somewhere between the 1-2-3.  He has good vision, size for a wing, and solid touch on his outside shot. But he’s a limited creator. Defensively is very aggressive. There’s some Kalinic in him.

Game/Matchup:

Offense: Missed multiple deep 3’s, not always sure about his shot selection but his stroke is clean.  Hits the 3 after an offensive rebound, super contested shot.  Was selective with his drives. Pushed a very late transition opportunity, open lane, and makes a pretty mini reverse layup. Goes right by Clark 1v1, misses a under hand middle layup but a nice move, took contact, possible foul. Clark couldn’t guard him 1v1 again. Really has vision for a big guard/wing. Really nice touch loop pass into the post, creative entry.  Extra pass to corner for an open Kerem Kanter 3. Drive off a catch on the move, super behind back pass in lane to wide open big man. There’s swag to his game.

He’s very aggressive and has gotten stronger but still isn’t overpowering physically/frame wise. Got taken out on a box out, pushed out of the way by opposing big man.  Blocked at the rim on a drive. Some limitations.

Defense: Steals the ball off Clark in the middle post from off ball pressure, such a good double team defender, always badgering the ball when it enters the post. Blown by on drive by Cincinnati’s quick little point guard.  More effective off ball defender than locking down 1v1.

Trevon Bluiett | 3.5 | Xavier

Line: 28 points (5/10 3FG, 9/11 FT), 2 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block

Style: Low usage, high efficiency player. Strong, tough wing. Bulky frame. High volume spot-up shooter. Lets it fly. Power driver but rarely attacks 1v1. Just produces, simple game, really shoots it well.

Game/Matchup: 

Shooting Log: Tough quick fire 3.  Deep catch and shoot 3, swish, Cincy not guarding him out far enough. Missed two 3’s but good shots. Never dribbling. Another 3 missed. Hits catch and shoot 3. Hits another 3, so efficient. Misses 3. Wow hits a really tough 3, NO DRIBBLES again.  Every 3 he took was off the catch, amazing how he always creates space for his shot even when he’s hot.

Drives: Bluiett’s driving game is very deliberate. He rarely tries to make a play from a stopped 1v1 position, doesn’t have the speed for that.  Instead he reads the defender, if he has an angle or advantage goes for it. Drives on Jacob Evans, great fake post entry, just takes a step and he’s gone, has a float/layup finish on baseline. Head fakes defender, gets to middle, euro step but gets totally stuffed on underhand middle layup. Evans gets up on him but is defending too upright, Bluiett gets low on drive, right to middle but misses floater. Pro body.  Whenever he could get Evans off balance, he took off, only happened 3-4 times. Blueitt wasn’t much of a factor on the glass, can improve there.

Gary Clark | 4 | Cincinnati

Line: 14 points (2/5 3FG), 7 rebounds (4 off.), 2 steals, 1 block

Style: Inside-out banger 4 man. Loves contact, plays physical. Turns drives into post-ups. Shooting has improved, set shooter. Hammers the offensive glass. Every season he has averaged over a block and a steal a game. Grinder.

Game/Matchup: In non spot-up situations, every time he touches the ball he initiates contact.  Can turn anything into a mid or low post play.  But he’s very active, have tons of notes because of how involved he is on plays, makes his presence felt.  Likes to catch at elbow or right inside 3-point line, needs to extend more, create space.

Offense: Had a post kick on double team to open teammate but they missed. Tough, physical drive, misses shot off spin move. Another physical drive, his elbow is being hit, takes contact but overshoots layup, looks like he was fouled. Has an easy post kick to strong-side corner, miss, but he grabs the big offensive rebound, another kick for a teammate’s 3 and miss. Bad forced post up on Kanter, misses layup. Super tip-in, pushes Kanter out the of the way. Elbow catch, goes left, two defenders go up with him and he misses layup but gets board and finishes.  Relentless, his game.  Nice interior pass off post up. Catches in mid post/near 3 line on left wing, 6 to 7 dribbles just powering his way to a layup. Shooting: Spot up 3, swish, no jump, big shot early to settle team already down 10. He misses a contested 3. Hits another spot up, really is a set shot.

vs Blueitt: Forced a drive/kinda post up and Blueitt steals his emergency pass, bad play. Finally battling Bluiett, a rebound goes off a Cincy players hand and Evans snags it mid lane then spins left, goes up for a layup but Macura is there, pokes the ball out, and Clark grabs it back but he’s too far under his own hoop, had a bad shot angle and Blueitt blocks him.  Posts up Blueitt from a step inside the 3-point line, gets all the way to middle of the lane two feet from the rim but Bluiett finally stands his ground, Clark front rims the shot but gets the foul call. Gets an offensive rebound tip to teammate over Blueitt.  Clark is clearly more of a big man than Bluiett but the battles were good.  But Clark has the sharper elbows, physicality, and just willingness to grind and make the game ugly at times, not everyone wants to compete with that.  Also makes for some ugly Clark plays.

Defense: Clark was definitely more comfortable guarding bigger, being a weak-side shot blocker, and had some trouble guarding in space.  On a switch, Xavier goes into a PnR, Clark is on the big now, teammate who took his guy (strong-side wing) switches to the rolling big, Clark gets lost, late to recover back to his guy, open 3 made. Always guarding big, 4 and 5’s. Can he be a switch defender? Can’t stay in front of Macura twice. Super active hands, tips a layup, steal, Cincy races into transition. Moves over for a block on a guard drive. Big block on drive late in game, easy for him to slide over.  Anything to do with plays inside or in tight space, he makes an impact.