Xavier Basketball Preview: #32
Overall Rank: #32
Conference Rank: #2 Atlantic 10
2007-08: 30-7, 14-2, 1st
2007-08 postseason: NCAA
It seems like every year Xavier has some key players to replace, but every year they continue to be extremely competitive in the Atlantic 10. The 2008-2009 campaign will be no different. The Musketeers lose three of the six players who averaged at least 9.7 points per game last year, but there is plenty of talent ready to step in and fill the void. That is what a few years of quality recruiting classes will do a program.
The backcourt takes the biggest hit with the departures of Drew Lavender, Stanley Burrell and Adrion Graves. Lavender, the starting point guard, dished out 4.5 assists per game and only averaged 1.7 turnovers. Those numbers are going to be nearly impossible to replace. And it is not like Lavender was just a passer; he averaged 10.8 points per game and shot over 40 percent from beyond the arc. Burrell was no slouch in the scoring department either and was one of two players to start all 37 games a year ago. The frontcourt has some guys to replace as well with the graduation of Josh Duncan and Charles Bronson. Duncan, who led Xavier with 12.4 points per game, was a big guy who could stretch out the defense with his outside shooting ability.
The obvious need is in the backcourt, more specifically at the point. Terrell Holloway, Mark Lyons and Brad Redford will battle for minutes and will not have much help from any returning players. Holloway is the guy who should step into the starting role. The 6-0 freshman has the vision and leadership skills to handle the job. Lyons is another quick option, but he is a more explosive scorer than Holloway. Speaking of explosive scorers, Redford averaged 36.7 points per game at Frankenmuth High School and was rewarded with Michigan’s ‘Mr. Basketball’ honors during his senior season. The competition in Frankenmuth is not that great and it will take some time for him to adjust to life in Cincinnati, Ohio, where it is not Christmas every day, but Redford can flat out shoot. Brian Walsh, a versatile 6-4 wing, will give Coach Sean Miller even more options. The solid group of newcomers continues in the frontcourt. In the long run, Kenny Frease should be the best of the bunch. The 7-0 center has a surprising amount of skills for a freshman his size. He can pass, he can shoot and he can play great defense. Jamel McLean is eligible to play this season after transferring from Tulsa. During his one year with the Golden Hurricane in 2006-2007, the 6-8 forward averaged 6.0 points and 4.8 rebounds. Andrew Taylor will also put on the game jersey this year after transferring from Division II Hillsdale College in Michigan.
Who to Watch:
Without Lavender and Burrell, the pressure will fall on C.J. Anderson and B.J. Raymond to be the consistent scorers and leaders on the perimeter. Anderson does a superb job getting to, and finishing around, the basket. The 6-6 senior averaged 10.7 points per game as a junior and should be a consistent double figure scorer this year. So should Raymond. Mostly coming off the bench, Raymond tallied 9.9 points per game as a junior. Raymond is pretty much an outside shooter but, at 6-6, he can shoot over most defenders in the A-10. Sophomore Dante’ Jackson will compete with the newcomers for minutes off the bench on the wing.
Finding a new point is the top priority, but getting some consistent production out of the frontcourt is a close second. Coach Miller knows what he will get from power forward Derrick Brown. The high flying junior led the team in rebounds, tied for the lead in blocked shots and ranked second in scoring. The lefty is already a known commodity in the A-10, but this could be the year he emerges as a superstar on a national level. But the team needs more production out of center Jason Love. He started 21 games last year and had decent numbers, but somebody has to pick up the scoring left behind by Duncan. If Love is not the answer, Frease could be. Either way, there is a nice blend of talent and experience all over the court and Xavier’s mini three year NCAA Tournament streak will not end any time soon.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Terrell Holloway, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
B.J. Raymond, Senior, Guard, 9.9 points per game
C.J. Anderson, Senior, Guard, 10.7 points per game
Derrick Brown, Junior, Forward, 10.9 points per game
Jason Love, Junior, Center, 6.0 points per game