2008 Xavier Musketeers Basketball Preview
The Xavier Musketeers (30- 7 overall, 14- 2 Atlantic 10) were tops in the Atlantic 10 last season, which got them a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Their appearance at the Big Dance was not a charity invite. The Musketeers not only earned their berth but they made the most of it, clawing their way to the regional finals where they lost to UCLA 76- 57. On the way to the regional game, they beat Georgia 73-61, Purdue 85- 78 and West Virginia 79- 75. What will this team do for an encore?
The frontcourt is experienced and deep. Forwards Derrick Brown (28.1 MPG, 10.9 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 1.7 APG), a junior, and C.J. Anderson (26.1 MPG, 10.7 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.5 APG), a senior, offer balanced scoring and rebounding. Center Jason Love (18.0 MPG, 6.0 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 0.5 APG) provides strong and steady play. Brown can dunk with the best and if he develops a solid jumper, he’ll be twice as dangerous. Forward Josh Duncan, who had 12.4 PPG and 4.7 RPG, is gone. Jamel McLean, a sophomore transfer from Tulsa, will see minutes, and top 50-recruit Kenny Frease, who’s a seven-footer, has immediate potential.
The loss of guards Stanley Burrell and Drew Lavender is worrisome. Burrell contributed 9.7 PPG and Lavender was good for 10.8 PPG and 4.5 APG. Two returning players will be important—senior B.J. Raymond and sophomore Dante’ Jackson. Raymond averaged 9.9 PPG last season but proved to be a streaky shooter. Jackson is a powerful, explosive force on the court. Three skilled freshmen ball handlers, Brad Redford, Mark Lyons and Terrell Holloway, will vie for the point position. Freshman guard Brian Walsh has a fine shot from the outside.
With a thinned backcourt, the Musketeers will have a tough time
putting in the type of season they did last year. Coach Sean Miller
has some fine recruits who know how to handle the ball. He’ll
be looking to the new guys to play like vets quickly. A NCAA berth
looks promising but don’t expect this team to do anything
more than go one-and-done.