2007-08 Xavier Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #25
Conference Rank: #1 A-10
2006-07: 25-9, 13-3, 1st (t)
2006-07 postseason: NCAA
Xavier gave Ohio State a heck of a game in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year. They will get another shot at a big program or two in this year’s tournament as well. The top three rebounders are gone, but Coach Sean Miller has plenty of talented options in the frontcourt to help support his dynamic perimeter duo. Anything less than a conference championship would be disappointing, but this is a team that already feels disappointed after letting a win over last year’s national runner-up slip away. The only way to get rid of that is to get to the Sweet Sixteen…and then not lose after being up nine points with a few minutes left.
Justin Doellman, Justin Cage and Brandon Cole were the senior leaders last year and were the top rebounders on the team. Doellman may have led the team with 5.5 boards per contest, but it is his 13.7 points that the Musketeers will miss. Cage was a great defender and turned into a solid scorer as well by the end of his collegiate career. Cole did the dirty work under the basket and earned 14 starts his last year at Xavier. Johnny Wolf had his moments as a Musketeer, most notably at the end of the 2005-2006 season, but he has never seen consistent minutes and has opted to transfer. Little used Adam Simons and Kevin Waymire have wrapped up their time at Xavier.
Some of the losses may sound bad, but the Musketeers could be a better team than last year thanks to a trio of impressive newcomers. Wing Dante Jackson is a great scorer and turned down a plethora of offers from big conference schools. He is most comfortable shooting the ball, but once he gains some more strength Jackson will be able to get to the basket too. Speaking of getting to the basket, C.J. Anderson excels in that regard. The transfer from Manhattan averaged 18.8 points per game two years ago for the Jaspers and should step into the starting position at small forward. Junior college transfer Charles Bronson is a big, back to the basket player who should help out on the glass. He will not be starting, but has the potential to be an impact player off the bench.
Who to Watch:
There are no two better guards in the A-10 then Drew Lavender and Stanley Burrell. Lavender quickly found his spot on the team last year after transferring from Oklahoma. The 5-7 senior averaged 4.8 assists and just 1.7 turnovers per game last year. He will not take too many shots from long range, but he knocked down 45 percent of those he did. With Lavender on the floor, the team has a smart and efficient leader and that leads to success in March. Burrell is an underappreciated shooter. His shooting numbers fell a bit last season, but he is still a terrific scorer. B.J. Raymond is a great sharpshooter off the bench and Adrion Graves will play a bigger role this year after spending most of last season on the bench with an injury.
Everybody knows what they will get out of the backcourt, but it is the frontcourt that may develop into the most exciting piece of Xavier’s game. The excitement begins with 6-8 forward Derrick Brown. The highlight machine was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie team last year and should step into a starting role this year. He will do more than just dunk and should help out on the glass immensely this year. Josh Duncan is the most proven frontcourt player after starting 20 games last year. Even at 6-9, he is not much of a rebounder, but he is a nightmare to guard with his offensive versatility. He can hit the long ball with consistency and, as long as the injury bug manages to stay away, Duncan will earn some conference honors by seasons end. Jason Love will spend some time at the center spot after seeing very limited minutes as a freshman. A couple of injuries did not help his production last season, but Love is a big and tough guy that the team does not have on the floor with Duncan at center.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Drew Lavender, Senior, Guard, 11.2 points per game
Stanley Burrell, Senior, Guard, 12.4 points per game
C.J. Anderson, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Derrick Brown, Sophomore, Forward, 6.3 points per game
Josh Duncan, Senior, Forward, 9.3 points per game