#30 Xavier: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #30
Conference Rank: #2 Atlantic 10 Conference
2009-10: 26-9, 14-2
2009-10 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Chris Mack (26-9 at Xavier, 26-9 overall)
Coaches come and go at Xavier, but the success of the program continues. If there was any doubt about that, Coach Chris Mack put an end to it after leading the Musketeers to a 26 win season their third straight trip to the Sweet Sixteen. This group has a few pieces to replace, but the talent keeps coming in and Xavier will yet again threaten to make a deep tournament run.
Key Losses: G Jordan Crawford, C Jason Love
This is an impressive list of forwards. Jordan Latham is a versatile power forward who will do a little bit of everything and the frontcourt will find even more depth with Griffin McKenzie. While Latham will stretch out the defense, McKenzie is more of a banger in the paint. Small forwards Jay Canty and Justin Martin could just as easily turn into superstars. Canty’s wingspan will make him a great defender sooner or later and he already has the athleticism to finish above the rim. Martin is a big 6-7 wing who can knock down the long ball with consistency. How much playing time any of the freshmen will actually see this year will depend on the development of some returning players, but they are there and ready to be in the mix.
Replacing Jordan Crawford’s 20.5 points per game will fall to Dante Jackson, Mark Lyons and Brad Redford. Jackson started beside Crawford last season and averaged 6.5 points per game. Jackson can hit the big shot and is a proven outside shooter after knocking down 40.1 percent of his attempts from long range last season. However, Jackson needs to mix up his offensive game and use his 6-5 frame to attack the basket. Lyons could step into a starting role this season after providing a nice offensive spark off the bench last year. After tallying 7.8 points per game during his freshman campaign, there is little reason to believe that he cannot improve on that number this season. The problem is Crawford was a good rebounder. Lyons will attack the basket, but he is only 6-1 and Jackson spends most of his time on the perimeter. This was a great rebounding team last season, but they will not be if Jackson cannot help a little more on the glass. Sharpshooter Brad Redford will not help in that department, but he can be the spark off the bench that Lyons was last year.
Jamel McLean averaged 8.5 points and 7.5 rebounds as quietly as one can. The 6-8, 235 pound senior rarely got the accolades he deserved for being such a consistent and tenacious power forward. McLean needs to improve on his free-throw shooting before he starts consistently putting up double-doubles, but he is a fine interior scorer and should open up plenty of space for the shooters on the perimeter. Kenny Frease has the job of replacing center Jason Love. Frease’s playing time has been limited due to his weight, but he has slimmed down and the seven-footer appears ready to play more than 16.3 minutes per game. During that limited playing time he still managed to average 5.1 points and 4.3 rebounds. Andrew Taylor is a tough player who can fill in plenty of minutes off the bench and Jeff Robinson is oozing with potential after barely playing during his freshman campaign.
Who to Watch:
Tu Holloway, formerly known as Terrell, is the new leader of this team. The 6-0 point guard averaged 12.1 points and 3.9 assists as a sophomore last season. While he has plenty of help, Holloway still needs to help replace some of the scoring load left behind by Crawford, but more importantly he needs to continue to move the Xavier offense quickly up and down the floor while keeping everybody under control.
Holloway is a star and a leader. The rest of the pieces are filling in around him and appear to be filling in quite well. This is a team that has the talent to return to the Sweet Sixteen and, like usual, the tough non-conference schedule will have them ready to take on the big boys in March.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Tu Holloway, Junior, Guard, 12.1 ppg
Mark Lyons, Sophomore, Guard, 7.8 ppg
Dante Jackson, Senior, Guard, 6.5 ppg
Jamel McLean, Senior, Forward, 8.5 ppg
Kenny Frease, Junior, Center, 5.1 ppg
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