Friday, July 29, 2011

The Big Move

We know this is how you reacted at first, but we're still here
For the last six months you've been able to come here to the Examiner for your daily(ish) Xavier news, presented with a slant we hope you can't find just anywhere in the mainstream. Well, today, that ends. Unlike this March for our Musketeers though, this story has a happy ending. SBNation, the premier name in online sports coverage, has asked us to come on board to cover Xavier for them. We gratefully accepted, and can now be found at Banners on the Parkway. The new platform is excellent for commenting and provides a top of the line experience for all. Please, come join us!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Semaj Christon Commits

Christon will fit right in with Xavier's backcourt
When the first sentence ESPN can come up with on a high school recruit includes the gem "not only a good athlete but is very athletic," you have to wonder if there is anything else worth mentioning. With Semaj Christon, you don't have to wonder long. The 6-2 Winton Woods point committed to Xavier for 2012 late today, and he brings with him something akin to the entire package.

Monday, July 25, 2011

I Love Basketball

On February 19, 2011, this happened. Utah State and St. Mary's were playing a Bracket Buster game on ESPN in the middle of the worst month of the year. It was a relatively ordinary game of basketball, with St. Mary's up at the half before Utah State came back with a 25-7 run to take control of the game. was gracious enough to carry the game, so I was watching it muted as I got ready to call it a night.

Then St. Mary's started to make it a game. They buried back-to-back threes with 2:45 left to cut the game from twelve to six and get the gym bouncing. With the press on and Utah State threatening to decompensate, Jardine trailed the broken press, caught a pass coming through the middle, and flushed it on St. Mary's entire roster and effectively end the possibility of a come back.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Jalen Reynolds moves back

Reynolds in HS last year
2011 commit Jalen Reynolds has apparently pushed his arrival at Xavier back a year, according to Brian Snow of Reynolds, who had bounced around all through high school, appears intent on attending Brewster Academy this year. The 6-9, 210 pound power forward had figured to battle Travis Taylor and Andre Walker for minutes at the four.

While the move to Brewster will undoubtedly further sharpen Reynolds' already impressive game (he was rated a 91 by ESPN) and allow him to bulk up his lanky frame, it will also re-open his recruitment. According to NCAA rules the letter of intent that Reynolds signed for Xavier became moot when he failed to enroll and receive financial aid this year. Reynolds rather famously promised "I'm going to get Xavier to the Final Four." Whether that is still the plan now remains to be seen.

UPDATE: Reynolds can now be contacted by any competing school. For him to sign with a different school he would take a one year loss of eligibility penalty or have Xavier release from his current letter of intent. If he does choose to go elsewhere and XU does not release him, he won't suit up until 2013.

Tu Holloway in a bubble and other news

This would've killed Tu's street cred
Back in June Tu Holloway was invited to tryout for the USA Men's Junior National Team (or World University Games team, depending on which you prefer). At the time I was of two minds about it: one one side, exposure for Xavier is never a bad thing, on the other, Tu Holloway getting hurt is always a bad thing. While a bubble for him seemed unlikely, risking him in pointless games didn't sit well.

Fear no longer though, because Tu has decided to remain in Cincinnati rather than tryout for the chance to go to China. According to Coach Chris Mack, Tu is focused on spending time with his teammates and finishing summer classes. The fact that Tu has already been away for Deron Williams' camp in Chicago and LeBron James' camp in Akron probably factored into the point guard's decision to spend the next month and a half here at home.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I'm Glad I'm Not Sim Bhullar

I fly coach (when I fly at all), and I sometimes feel cramped at 6'3". Sim Bhullar has more than a foot and at least 100 pounds, on me, so I can't imagine how he must feel getting on a plane. Anthony Bennett, a teammate of Sim's, on CIA Bounce, tweeted this photo of Sim on a plane (I think). I envy the fact that he's going to play for X, that he's going to get to go to college for free because he's a good ballplayer, and that he'll probably get paid to play some day. I don't envy the fact that he's going to have to squeeze into everything made for normal-sized people for the rest of his life. If his tenure at X was going to overlap with Big Kenny's, they may have to charter two planes.

NCAA Adds Charge Circle, Slides Toward Death of Good Basketball

You've probably heard by now if you follow college basketball at all during the summer, but the NCAA has voted to follow the NBA's lead and put the little charge half-circle underneath the basket. Most of us who love the college game have a knee-jerk rejection of anything to make it more like the NBA, but that's not the only reason to take a closer look at this. In fact, the NCAA didn't really cite "becoming more like the NBA" as a motivating factor in this rule change.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Xavier Adds Commitment From Myles Davis

Davis has been dropping bombs since he was a little fella.
Word came out late last night that Xavier has added a verbal commitment from 2012 guard Myles Davis. In addition to bringing a tidal wave of jazz references into play for the next three or four years, Davis brings plenty to the table as a player. Davis is well-known among those who care about such things as an incredible shooter. He has the ability to knockdown jump shots from well beyond the three-point arc, and - along with Justin Martin and Brad Redford - will give Xavier at least three sensational shooters as soon as he sets foot on campus.

Davis was originally a 2011 recruit, but he spent a year at Notre Dame Prep to round out his game and allow his body to fill out. Reports say that Davis has really improved his ball management and midrange game in the prep year, which should serve him well during his time at X. The Recruit Scoop reports that Davis felt like X was "a home away from home for me because of the coaching staff and environment." It also probably doesn't hurt that Coach Mack personally followed him throughout the Hoop Group Elite Camp and the Nike Peach Jam.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Happy Dante Jackson Day!

Part of the Dante Jackson Day parade.
In America, you have to rise above the baseline level of accepted social behavior to have your accomplishments immortalized with your own day. Martin Luther King, Jr, for instance led the civil rights movement and ultimately gave his life for it; he is rewarded with his own holiday. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were both US Presidents during war time and were born pretty close to each other; Congress split the difference (roughly) between their birthdays and called it Presidents' Day. Christ rose from the dead of his own volition; he gets Easter. And today, in Greenfield, OH, Dante Jackson Day was celebrated.

Here at XE, we've been pretty unabashed about our love for Dante. Whether it was breaking down his stats when he was struggling, sending him out with a tearful farewell post, or simply never tiring of the process, the influence of and affection for Dante Jackson has never been far from our hearts. Apparently his hometown of Greenfield also feels the same way about him. While attending Greenfield-McClain High School, Jackson labored to earn that affections and adulation of his peers, and did so to great affect.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Jordan Crawford, OSU, and Breaking the Rules

That's gotta be worth, like, thirty tattoos.
Living in Columbus, I'm inundated on a daily basis with news regarding the massive violations committed by Jim Tressel, Terrelle Pryor, and the Ohio State football program. If you've been under a rock for the past six months, just know that pretty much everyone in charge of the whole program was culpable at some level for a lot of violations of the rules, and Tressel, Pryor, and a few others took a beating. The NCAA hasn't handed down their sentence yet, but it's probably not going to be pretty.

Callers to the radio shows continue to debate if it was worth it or not. The argument goes that, despite the upcoming sanctions lingering over the program, that no amount of future punishment removes those moments from the fans' collective memories. Players play to win, fans watch to see the team win, and a retroactive forfeit of a game does not change the fact that you got enjoy, say, a Rose Bowl win while it was happening.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bobinski Named Chair of Tournament Committee

Xavier AD Mike Bobinski has been named chair of the Division I Men's Basketball Committee for the 2012-13 season. Assuming he is approved by the NCAA Division I Championships/Sports Management Cabinet, Bobinski's term as chair will begin in September 2012. Bobinski has been on the Committee since 2008. During that time, X has enjoyed the best run of tournament success in the program's history. That's probably just coincidence though, especially considering the draw Bobinski's peers (Bobinski himself can't be part of any X-related discussion) gave the Muskies last year.

The All Star Game and the waiting game

The face of a man who knows excitement
Tonight baseball played its annual midseason exhibition game. Called the All-Star Game by some, this game was neither All (several players dropped out) nor Star (everyone look, it's Joel Hanrahan!). While I'm sure you are now wondering what the baseball Midseason Not Classic has to do with Xavier, bear with me. You see, this exercise in futility made me wonder how long it will be until Xavier takes the court again. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mega March Madness: Final Thoughts

Mega March Madness Series:
The Tournament

As promised, that's about it for Mega March Madness. The tournament was originally constructed as an exercise in looking ahead to where the continued expansion of the NCAA tournament is taking us. While I believe there is validity is the ideas put forth, I also recognize that the NCAA itself is probably heading in a different direction than the one we examined. I've banged up some final thoughts on MMM and have placed the below. They alternate between strengths and weaknesses inherent in the format, beginning with a strength. I'm sure you've thought of other pros and cons; feel free to point them out.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Know Your Non-conference Opponent: Miami (OH)

More racially sensitive than their last mascot.
One of Xavier's traditions during Chris Mack's young tenure as head coach has been to begin the season 8-5 with at least a couple of completely inexplicable losses thrown in. Last year, X fit the bill by heading to Miami of Ohio to face a mediocre team whose best win to that point was at home against IUPUI. The Muskies somehow contrived to lose that game by eleven. This year, the Red Hawks come to Cintas, and X should be geared up for a measure of revenge.

Charlie Coles seems like he has been at Miami forever, but he's actually "only" been there for fifteen years. He has had some good years - including a Sweet 16 run with Wally Szczerbiak - but times have gotten a little lean for him of late. One thing Cole's teams never are is in a hurry. Last year they averaged around 64 possessions per game, good for 281st in the nation. This stultifying pace is far and away the fastest they've been since Ken Pomeroy started tracking such things back in 2003. Beyond that, Miami has struggled to find a consistent identity as a team. Their offense has lingered between 100th and 150th, and their defense has been anywhere from 48th to 246th in the country. Shooting, assisting, rebounding, and ball security numbers have all experienced similar fluctuations in recent years.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What a Difference a Year Makes

At least they were tall.
Remember last season? What about what your were thinking about the team last year at this time? It's hard to go back that far and not have your view tainted by what you know now, but I recall having lowered expectations. Our best post player and our best perimeter scorer had departed, and it wasn't entirely clear who would be replacing their production. Then Redford and Martin were lost for the year and the question became more about who would play at all rather than who would star. Of course, Tu, Cheek, McLean, and Big Kenny all stepped into larger roles, and Dante and A-Tay spackled in the cracks with a little help from Jeff Robinson.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Xavier adds Walker

I hope this isn't his normal shot
Vanderbilt forward Andre Walker joined this year's Xavier roster via transfer last week. Walker isn't exactly a world-beater at the power forward position, but he adds a great deal of depth. Walker is athletic, a good defender, and can pass very well out of the post. Seen by most of the Vanderbilt press and message boards as a "glue guy," Walker will get a chance to play minutes alongside Frease in the same role Jamel McLean filled. With Justin Martin and Brad Redford spotting up outside, Walker's 2.6 assists per game figure to go up significantly. The 3/3/2.6 line the Andre put up last year seems underwhelming, but his recovery from ACL surgery is progressing and his size and athleticism will slot well into the unsettled four position at Xavier.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

National Xavier Love

These teams need not apply
Xavier is an emerging national power, I think most of us know that. What we have all been waiting for is the national media to take notice. Yes, the Musketeers are always ranked at the end of the year and yes, they always manage a game or two on an ESPN affiliate. What doesn't seem to happen though, is the constant media hype-stream that follows programs like UK, Duke, UNC, Kansas, and so on. 

That's all beginning to change now though. The first sign of the weather change in coverage is this "must see" non-conference schedule from Jeff Goodman at CBS. (Follow Jeff on Twitter @GoodmanCBS to see his constant back and forth with Coach Mack). Listed amongst games such as Duke at. OSU are no less than four Xavier tilts. This really seems like a step in the right direction. So why am I filled with trepidation?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mega March Madness: The Tournament

The Extremely Little Dance.
Quick, how many of last year's Final Four can you name? I can name them all, because I have spent way too much time looking at postseason basketball for the last month or so. Now, how many of the last four teams in the NIT can you name? Can you name four teams that played in the CBI? Do you know what the CIT is, or when it was held? The point is that there's a lot of postseason college basketball out there, but not all of it is relevant. Heck, the only think I know about the NIT is that Dayton gets to go every year. The point is, college basketball is in danger of slipping into an endless morass of Bowl-type Duquesne-v.-Montana matchups that nobody cares about because they have no bearing on the eventual national champion. Until now.

First off, it's everybody in the pool. There are 346 D-1 NCAA teams, and they're all participating. There are several successful tournaments around the world that take this approach, from the Kentucky and Delaware high school basketball tournaments to the FA Cup in English soccer. I see no reason that, properly executed, this couldn't work for the NCAA as well. Obviously, the NIT, CIT, and CBI will all be eliminated. The conference tournaments remain intact, with some scheduling adjustments. I've had to make the start dates on most of the conference tournaments a little earlier, but I took pains to keep the formats intact.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Around the A-10

Harper in his natural habitat.
The NBA Draft - not usually a huge occasion for the conference - has come and gone another year. The most highly rated A-10 player to head for the lockout this year was Justin Harper, Richmond's silky smooth 6'10" forward, who went 32nd to the Cavs before being traded to Orlando. Despite his size and potential as a match-up nightmare, he only ever had one good game in a win against Xavier (20/8 on 6-8/6-6/2-2 as a sophomore), which is probably why I don't remember him with any animosity. That and he was playing next to the loathsome Dan Geriot, the Matt Howard of the A-10.

Harper developed from averaging just over 3 points and 1 rebound per game as a freshman to going for 18/7 in 31.8 MPG as a senior. His shooting touch was on display, with a line of .534/.448/.797. He probably bolstered his draft stock with not only a great senior season but also a Sweet 16 run with Richmond in which he averaged 18 and 6 and went 6 of 6 from behind the arc. Unlike Kevin Anderson - who still hasn't returned Jordan Crawford's A-10 Player of the Year trophy - it's not too difficult to wish Harper all the best in his career as a professional.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Living the Dream Pt. 4

That's still money
The last installment of Living the Dream will be a bit different than the others in that it will focus on the select Xavier players currently playing their trade at the very highest level. No matter what you think of the NBA, and I can't stand it, there is no question that it is the most prestigious and developed basketball league in the world. Even the very best European talent leaves home to come play here, in the United States. Xavier players are scattered the world around, but four remain right here, at the top level.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tu Holloway Tweets his work

Joel's look at the possible upcoming point guard dilemma this morning got me to wondering what Xavier's current point was doing with his summer. Joel mentioned in the Summer Camp series that what Tu needed to work on this summer, if anything, was his jumpshooting. Probably not spurred by our suggestion, Tu has been doing just that. What follows is the summer in workout related Tweets from Tu.

What's in a Point Guard?

Dude looks either bored or angry in every pic I could find.
Word around the scouting world has Xavier in and possibly leading on Brooklyn point guard Kareem Canty. Canty is a former class of 2011 player who reclassified to 2012 so as to accommodate a year at prep school. is impressed with him, rating him a 92 overall, four-star player who is in the top 100 of his class. is similarly flattering to the young man, calling him the 7th best PG in his class. Despite that, I'm not so excited about the idea of Xavier landing him.

Canty has the potential to be a good player; I'm not doubting that. Game reports can be glittering, like this one from the Rumble in the Bronx in June, or this one from the same tournament last year. When things are going well, he is a big-time point who apparently can get the ball to his teammates or score it himself. Kareem also has a body strong enough that it helps him out on the glass and as a defender. He's also reputed not to be afraid of contact in the lane.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mega March Madness: The Approach

There are several hurdles that any tournament expansion plan has to clear before it can be put in place. (It should here be noted that, though I think my plan is amazing, I also recognize that it doesn't stand the slightest hope of being incorporated. Just thought you should know that this was a mental exercise for me, not a proposal that I'm hoping the NCAA will stumble across.) One is of simple logistics. Two teams can't play each other if they are in different gyms. A single team can't play two games at the same time. Playing on consecutive days is eventually going to take a toll on a team and the quality of basketball that they're going to play, and thus should be avoided.

This isn't the answer to anything.
Another is that of the valuation of the regular season. If you've ever talked to someone who is a fan of college football but not of college basketball, you've heard someone go on about how great it is when losing even one game at the very beginning of the year could torpedo the whole thing. While I don't buy into that mindset (get a tournament already, college football), it does bear keeping in mind that a team's accomplishments in the regular slate of games shouldn't just be thrown out once tournament time rolls around.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Know Your Non-conference Opponent: Vanderbilt

Why is this guy not on their logo?
The ties between Xavier and Wake Forest run deep, thanks in large part to the Skip Prosser coaching tree from which Chris Mack and the dear, departed Pat Kelsey sprung. When Coach Prosser passed away, XU and Wake agreed on a 10-year slate of games to honor his memory. This all makes the fact that Wake couldn't find room in its schedule to honor the commitment this season feel a little more like a shiv to the collective kidneys, especially considering that Xavier has been the more successful of the two programs of late. Despite all that, Mario Mercurio and his staff shrugged off the setback and added a road test against Vanderbilt to the non-conference schedule.

From a basketball perspective, this is a serious upgrade. While Wake was dreadful last year, Vandy was rock solid and made the tourny as a five seed. The Commodores have been working under Coach Kevin Stallings since 1999, he has had them in the tourny as a six seed or better in four of the last five years. Stallings does an admirable job changing his style to fit the personnel rather than trying to fit players into his preconceived plan: in the last five years alone his offense has been anywhere from 66th to 163rd in tempo, 26th to 244th in percentage of shots attempted from three, an 11th to 265th in free throw rate. His changes have been effective though; his team hasn't fallen below 88th in adjusted offense or defense in that time period, and his offense is usually in the top 25.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Living the Dream Pt. 3

In the Living the Dream series so far we've had a look at how some Xavier players overseas have adapted and thrived. Last week we caught up with the members of the 2004 Elite Eight run that are still playing ball professionally. That foray left us with only three guys out there playing somewhere. One of them you'll remember quite well, one is a blast from the past, and the other is a testament to never giving up.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mega March Madness: An Introduction

I'm not a guy who spends a lot of time worrying about how popular he is (because that would be depressing), so it's easy for me to not have to sugar coat ugly truths in fear of hurting people's feelings. For instance, you may not think that sentence is an appropriate opener for any Xavier-related article, but I don't care. For another instance, I'm about to tell you that I'm here to combine a couple of things that very few people enjoy: Mondays and the idea of expanding the NCAA basketball tournament.

Artist's rendition of a person who remembers the original format.
I'm not as old as say, some of you (I'm assuming) or my dad (obviously), so the NCAA tournament has always been a 64-team affair to me. Even with the ridiculous "play-in game" brought about in 2001 and the even more ridiculous "first round" instituted last season, you're not in the real tournament (by my high standards) until you hit that Thursday-Sunday stretch of games. Other people probably have other standards; some might have enjoyed the 32-team format, or even the original 8-team set up. Perhaps you are partial to the 53-squad layout of 1984. It hardly matters. The point is that the NCAA tournament is evolving and expanding inexorably, and it probably always will.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Around the A-10

"Why does no one love me?"
With news that Juwan Staten is heading to join Bob Huggins and Aaric Murray in West Virginia, the book is more or less closed on the Brian Gregory era at Dayton. While complaints against Gregory were plentiful, at least from the Dayton side of things, perhaps the biggest knock on his tenure was his inability to develop talented players. Exhibit A is of Course Chris Wright, who went from averaging 10.4/5.7/0.3 on .602/.200/.804 in 20.6 MPG as a freshman to 12.8/8.5/1.7 on .464/.227/.618 in 28 MPG as a senior.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Xavier Fills Coaching Vacancy

Richardson, no doubt planning something amazing.
Xavier filled the spot vacated by Pat Kelsey's departure today, adding former Drake assistant Kareem Richardson to the staff. Richardson, like Coach Mack, was once a point guard at Evansville, though his playing days came after Mack's had ended. More recently, Richardson has been an assistant at the University of Indianapolis, Indiana State, Wright State, Evansville, and Drake. Richardson served as recruiting coordinator at Drake, and put together the top class in the conference for two of his three years there.

Prior to his time at Drake, Richardson also served as the recruiting coordinator at Evansville. In his four years there, he had three players he recruited make the All-Conference Freshman team. In a 2009 interview with College Insider, Richardson said he advocated up-tempo offense, aggressive, man-to-man defense, and relentless effort on the glass. He also said that he believes recruiting is the life-blood of a program and that he'll "get up the earliest, stay up the latest, and work the hardest" to land the right players. Richardson is noted to have a handle on Chicago and the surrounding regions as a recruiter, which may help X with the likes of highly-rated combo guard Kendrick Nunn and others from that area.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Living the Dream Pt. 2

That's a lot of reps at 185.
In Part One of the Living the Dream series, we looked at some of the better known Xavier players who are now playing abroad. Since then Stanley Burrell has returned to Twitter with an explanation of his absence ("To all of you that have been sending me msgs. I really appreciate it. Me not responding was nothing personal. I just had to really lock-in.") and this video of highlights. Justin Doellman has returned to the states, and we're assuming Josh Duncan has continued being a beast. Next comes a look at the alums of the 2004 team that advanced to the Elite Eight.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Know Your Non-conference Opponent: Oral Roberts

It looks like a chicken to me.
Welcome back for another rousing go-round of Know Your Non-conference Opponent. Today's subject is the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles. Like Orel Hersheiser or any Morehead State athletic team, ORU has the ability to draw giggles from the males 18-35 demographic just via mention of their name. That demographic once included Scott Sutton, who now settles for the distinction of being the Golden Eagles' head coach (that was a brilliant segue; take notes, journalism majors). Sutton took over the post in 1999 after serving as an assistant coach at ORU, and has compiled a respectable 204-138 record in his tenure. He is also the son of coaching legend Eddie Sutton and brother of coaching non-legend Sean Sutton. His other brother, Steve, is a banker in Tulsa.

Oral Roberts will be visiting the Cintas Center this year, probably in an effort to enhance their recruiting footprint in southwestern Ohio. Even though they went down in the first round of the less than illustrious CIT last year, there are some signs that point to the Golden Eagles being something other than an early-season patsy for X. KenPom placed them at a not-too-hateful 130th in the country last season, and that was with the nation's 302nd most experienced squad. Of the top seven offensive players on the team in terms of possessions used, five were sophomores or freshman and all seven of those players are coming back for 2011-2012. In fact, of the 7,050 minutes played by the Golden Eagles last year, 6,892 of them are coming back this season. Considering the fact that there are 200 minutes to be divided in a single game, it's safe to say the ORU didn't lose much this summer.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Living the Dream Pt. 1

Playing ball, not arrested
Throughout the summer we'll keep your mind on all things Xavier with a few series about players past and present. From the occasional look back to the lesser lights of Xavier (remember Churchill Odia?), to in depth looks and possibly an interview or two with former players, to a look at our guys still playing abroad, we'll have it covered. Concepts like the Ohio Cup and an NCAA wide tournament will also come and go to keep your mind off the Reds waning playoff hopes.

With the announcement week that CJ Anderson has joined the Dayton Air Strikers of the IBL,it has been confirmed that yet another Xavier Musketeer is now playing his trade as a professional basketball player. While names like James Posey and David West jump immediately to mind when thinking of Musketeers who have gone on to play professionally, the list certainly doesn't end with those in the NBA. Gary Lumpkin, Aaron Williams,and Lenny Brown are among those who continued to play elsewhere.

The recent success of the Xavier program has led to even more of an influx of XU players into leagues around the world. Not all are stars in their respective leagues, not all even play a lot. All of them, though, are still playing basketball for a living. The first part of the series starts with some of the more recognizable names from recent history that didn't make the NBA.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Who Will Play the Five?

We need some size off the bench.
With Xavier bringing in a fresh crop of athletic 3/4 types, the question has started spring up across the internet: who will play the five? It's clear that Big Kenny - perhaps unlike Tu in this regard - is not capable of playing all 40 minutes of every game. Even if he were, that's probably not in his best interests going forward, and completely destroying the big man by mid-January probably isn't in the best interests of the program. Xavier has 7'5" behemoth Sim Bhullar coming in 2012-2013, but he's probably not going to be ready for more minutes as a freshman than Big Kenny is right now, so the question seems to be one of some permanence. We'll outline the options below.

Travis Taylor: 6'7", 214 pounds
Taylor is probably the closest thing Xavier will have on the roster to a traditional inside big man. He has five career three-point attempts, and he's missed them all. Mostly, he hangs around the rim, grabs boards, and has obvious athleticism. It's not ridiculous to hope that Taylor fills the shoes of the recently departed Jamel McLean. He is, however, two inches shorter and thirty pounds lighter than Jamel. That's a very real size limitation that is probably going to limit his ability to play the five as effectively as McLean.

Friday, May 27, 2011

What Does Isaiah Philmore Mean to Jeff Robinson?

With the addition of Isaiah Philmore to the 2012-2013 roster, XU has added another skilled, athletic wing for the future. If you look forward to that year, you see a log jam of similar players at the forward positions. Philmore is 6'7" and has an inside-outside game that served him well at Towson (fun fact: X won more games in conference play last year than Towson has won in Philmore's entire career). Though he's not a great three-point shooter, his .355 career mark would have looked pretty good on this year's team. Also standing 6'7" is Justin Martin, but he's more of a 2/3 guy than a 3/4. It should also be noted that he is reputed to be a pretty good shooter himself.

Cool nickname = picture. Those are the rules.
Farther in towards the bucket "Takeoff" Travis Taylor - also a transfer - is 6'7" and something of a banger. He has grabbed 6.6 RPG on his career and only has five more career D-1 three-point attempts than I do. He's a little undersized, but that's not necessarily a new development at Xavier. Incoming freshman Jalen Reynolds will be a sophmore then and will probably be right around the 6'9" that he stands right now. Though he has a thin frame, recent reports seem to indicate that he's doing well filling it out. His game doesn't stretch to the arc, but he is a scoring threat from the post out to 12 feet or so.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Summer Camp: Jeff Robinson

Summer is filled with many things that aren't basketball. For the writers of the Xavier Examiner, that included a trip to Middle Bass Island last week. For you it might mean Kings Island, an increase in work, a marked decrease in work, something in between, or simply watching our Indians sweep your Reds. What it means for all of us is that there is no Xavier game to settle in and watch for the evening. But, as the heat begins its cruel tyranny over the daylight hours, our basketballing brethren are hitting the gym in an attempt to hone their skills.

More of this, Jeff

22, 15, 12, 11, 8, 7, 6, 4. Those are Jeff Robinson's top eight scoring games, and therein lies the trouble with Jeff Robinson. The name itself immediately conjures up thoughts of one moment of brilliance at home against La Salle, when Kenny Frease picked Robinson out at the top of the key for the sophomore to take his steps and throw the ball down with a nearly unparalleled ferocity. Unfortunately, that's about it. Robinson scored 15 against what turned out to be a bad Iowa squad early in the year, but other than that, he was an enigma.

Philmore joins Musketeers

Philmore in action against Coppin St.
While the deluded of you that think the Reds are a good baseball team (they aren't) struggled through one of the longest games in baseball history, a transfer joined the Xavier Musketeers. Isaiah Philmore, a 6-7, 230lb forward for the Towson Tigers, has, according to several sources, elected to transfer to XU.

Philmore (@ThaProphet31 on Twitter) averaged 15/7/1 last year as a sophomore, and managed a respectable .353 from behind the arc. While they three point number is hardly world beating, it would have looked nice on this year's team. Philmore was something of a stat stuffer, blocking nearly one shot and grabbing nearly one steal per game. His efficiency on the offensive end wasn't great, as he scored 1.34 points per shot, a number more in line with a guard.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Know Your Non-conference Opponent: Morgan State

We're back again for a second dose of Xavier's non-conference foes. As is often the case among schools not in the Big Six conferences, Xavier's postseason resume is often forged in the months before the conference season begins. Xavier's basketball brain trust met with Joe Lunardi in 2005 to revamp Xavier's scheduling process in order to give the Muskies the most favorable resume possible. Presumably, this year's schedule is an outcome of that meeting.

Up next on our travels through Xavier's still unreleased schedule are the Bears of Morgan State. XU will face Morgan State at Cintas this year. The Bears finished 17-14 last year and - and I can't put too fine a point on this - are a dreadful basketball team. The inimitable Ken Pomeroy placed them at 249th in the nation last year. The year before that they were 158th and even snuck into the tournament to get baked by West Virginia. Before that they hovered around the 200 mark in the Pomeroy ratings. Morgan State has historically been the kind of team you play to pad your record, not boost your strength of schedule.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Summer Camp: Mark Lyons

Lyons works out in his uni all summer.
The summer - here defined as the time between Xavier basketball games, not the time between the summer solstice (~June 21) and the vernal equinox (~Sept 21) - drags on, which means it's about time for another installment of our critically acclaimed series on the continued evolution of Xavier's returning players. Today we'll focus on Mark "Cheek(s/z)" Lyons, an explosive rising junior guard out of Schenectady, NY.

While Lyons came in the at the same time as Tu Holloway, he took a redshirt for his first year on campus. After posting 7.8-2.5-2.1 on .398/.344/.680 shooting as a freshman, he stepped up to help Holloway shoulder part of the load left by Jordan Crawford's departure last season. While his 13.6-3.1-3.1 on .408/.336/.728 is superficially superior to his line as a freshman in almost every way, it becomes more interesting - at in some ways more remarkable - as you go deeper into the numbers. While Lyons' A/TO suffered a drop-off between years (1.23 to 1.08), his PPS held steady at 1.23. Anyone who has ever tried to do more work while remaining just as efficient will tell you that that is a difficult task to achieve.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pat Kelsey Departs

Kelsey in action at Wake
Xavier Associate Head Coach Pat Kelsey appeared to be on the fast track to the top. An undergraduate guard, first at Wyoming and later at Xavier, Kelsey came into his own as a coach. Starting at his alma mater, Elder, and later at both Wake Forest and Xavier, Kelsey developed a reputation as a tremendous recruiter (landing Ish Smith, James Johnson, and Al-Farouq Aminu for Wake) and game planner. Kelsey joined Chris Mack at Xavier when Mack was hired and had quickly become a key part of the staff.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Know Your Non-conference Opponent: IPFW


As Xavier's schedule comes together, it has become increasingly clear that Mario Mercurio and his staff are putting together one of the toughest non-conference slates in school history. To get the intrepid Muskies fan ready for the upcoming season - and to keep ourselves busy during the summer - we are going to run a series profiling each of Xavier's non-conference opponents. These will run on Fridays twice a month, generally spaced around our semi-regular feature on the latest news from around the conference.

This edition will focus on the Mastadons of Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW). IPFW owns one of the coolest nicknames in college sports and was - until recenty - coached by former Indiana stand out Dane Fife. Fife has since moved on to the Michigan State staff, and his former assistant Tony Jasick has filled his role. The Mastadons had improved each year under Fife, from 13-18 in 2008 to last year's respectable 18-12 showing. Their history against Xavier is a little less encouraging (to IPFW fans, at least): they lost to X by 6 on 12/28/04, by 28 on 11/14/09, and then by 10 in OT last year. All of these games took place on Xavier's home court.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Summer Camp: Kenny Frease

Pure athleticism
I'm not sure how many of you have noticed this, but Xavier hasn't played any basketball recently. That doesn't mean our boys aren't working on their games though. Tu and Big Kenny have proved that a summer of hard work can really pay dividends over the winter. This season, Xavier essentially brings back four players from last year's team. Here at the Examiner we'd like to humbly submit our suggestions for how the returning Musketeers can make the most of their summer vacations.

In 2008 ESPN scouted Kenny Frease as "an improving big man who is a hard worker with a great attitude." For the big man's first two seasons at X, there was precious little of that hard work on display. A freshman season that showed flashes of promise and the base for a competent career was lost in a sophomore season that showcased a body built by Golden Corral and a disturbing softness inside the paint. Coming into his junior season, Kenny Frease looked to be nothing more than a large person.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Coaching News

"Eliminate Thornton: check."
A couple of quick notes have come out in regards to Xavier's coaching staff. The first of these is that Brian Thornton, who has been Director of Men's Basketball Operations for the past two years at Xavier, has departed to accept an assistant coaching position at Furman. Thornton first joined X as a transfer center from Vanderbilt, and he had an extremely promising senior season cut off by an injury. Thornton was noted for being a great student as well as a great player, and his contribution to the staff will doubtless be missed. He is following the same career path as Coach Mack did, moving from Director of Men's Basketball Operations to an assistant job elsewhere. Who knows if time will bring Brian back to the Xavier fold, but we certainly wish him all the best.

Xavier adds Vandy

Some very nice art from the XU Atheltics Dept
Xavier's already daunting non-conference schedule ticked up yet again today as the Musketeers added the Vanderbilt Commodores to the slate. Non-conference games now include Memphis, Georgia, Gonzaga, Purdue, Butler, Miami (Oh), and UC, as well as the usual smattering of tune-ups after Hawaii. 

Vanderbilt was a #5 seed in this year's tournament and was knocked out by the A10's own Richmond Spiders. Despite that blip, Fran Frischilla of ESPN considers Vanderbilt a top 10 team for next year. Prior to the tournament, the Commodores were 21st in the nation and had played a very solid 9-7 in the SEC. Andy Katz has Vandy #7 in his newly updated pre-season top 25. The addition of a Vanderbilt caliber team to the schedule further cements Xavier's status among the new elite in college basketball.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

He's Back!

How many A10 titles?
When Jordan Crawford left for the NBA last year there was no chance at the last-minute pardon, no hope that he would change his mind, it was clear he was gone. Over the last three weeks, Xavier fans have experienced something else entirely. With Tu Holloway, the decision was not so obviously cut and dried. Opinion and guesswork drifted around the internet until, around 9pm tonight, Coach Mack tweeted that Tu would be making his announcement at midnight via his Twitter account. Then, at 12:01 ET, came this "@ it must feel good to have 3 A10 titles and 2 1st round picks in your 1st 3 years.."

For what that meant, read on.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Ocho de Mayo

Not the face of an extrovert
While not as famous as its reveling, partying, devil may care older brother, it's the eighth of May that Xavier fans are far more concerned about this year. You see, this year it's May 8th that marks the final day for underclassmen to drop out of the NBA draft. While Xavier has lost players early before (Jordan Crawford and Derrick Brown) the prospect never seems any less daunting. Tu Holloway's exploits this year are well chronicled, as it what he needs to improve for next year. What is less clear is exactly what the reclusive guard is thinking.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Around the A-10

Not much for Aaric to smile about this year.
LaSalle lost 6'10" C Aaric Murray to the transfer list this spring. Murray was reportedly on his way to join Bob Huggins in West Virginia, but more recent reports reveal that he is still making up his mind between WVU and Oklahoma State. Murray was a big with good range (51-143 from behind the arc at LaSalle), but he was also an effective rebounder and shot blocker. Murray grabbed boards on 19% of opponents' misses and 11% of his teammates' misses while he was on the court, planting him solidly between Big Kenny and Jamel McLean in those categories. He also swatted 7.6% of opponents' two-point shots when he was on the floor, which put him in the top 100 in the nation in that category.

Murray was a big part of LaSalle's team going forward, and losing him and seniors Jerrell Williams and Ruben Guillandeaux will significantly weaken a LaSalle squad that wasn't that strong last season. Both of LaSalle's incoming bigs for the 2011 season are in need of some serious offensive polish before they are in position to contribute on that end of the floor. Rising sophomore PG Tyreek Durden looked good as a freshman, but he's going to have his work cut out for him this coming season.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Summer Camp: Tu Holloway

Just have to grit your teeth and gut through the summer.
I'm not sure how many of you have noticed this, but Xavier hasn't played any basketball recently. That doesn't mean our boys aren't working on their games though. Tu and Big Kenny have proved that a summer of hard work can really pay dividends over the winter. This season, Xavier essentially brings back four players from last year's team. Here at the Examiner we'd like to humbly submit our suggestions for how the returning Musketeers can make the most of their summer vacations.

Tu Holloway is the banner case for improvement in a guard at X. As a freshman, Tu averaged 5.5-2-2 and posted a poor .350/.327/.782 shooting line. His 1.13 A/TO didn't flatter him, either. Over his three years at Xavier, he has seen improvement in every meaningful statistical category. Last summer, he famously lifted thousands of jumpers in an effort to improve his shooting abilities. Obviously, Xavier - and Holloway - reaped the benefits of Tu's efforts. Now Holloway is facing the final summer of his college career - if he hasn't already - and there are a couple of tweaks we'd like to see him adopt before November.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Why Sim Bhullar is Perfect for X

This has nothing to do with basketball.
Anyone who has either (a) seen the film Miracle, (b) watched any meaningful sporting event brought to you by ABC/ESPN, or (c) watched any Winter Olympics coverage since 1980 while living outside of Russia and the former Soviet republics knows the story of the 1980 US hockey team. The parallels between that team (or at least the Disney-fied version that came out on film) and mid-major basketball schools could be drawn pretty easily; we may even do that here depending on how long/boring the summer turns out to be. My focus right now is a little more narrow.

In the early stages of the movie (again, I was negative five years old in 1980, so my reality is based on grainy footage and a Disney script), Herb Brooks is agonizing over which players are going to be invited to have the opportunity to play for the US team. An assistant - who probably exists only as a plot device - points out to Brooks that he hasn't selected the best American players. Brooks responds, "I'm not looking for the best players; I'm looking for the right ones."

Sim Bhullar to Xavier

Our little big guy
According to Alex Kline of The Recruit Scoop, Sim Bhullar has committed to Xavier for the 2012 season. Rumor had swirled around Xavier and Bhullar for quite some time but this is the first thing that indicates a real commitment, with Brian Snow of also confirming. Bhullar is, literally, a huge catch for Chris Mack and Xavier. Standing 7'4" and weighing nearly 340 pounds, Bhullar is one of a select few humans that make Kenny Frease seem light and agile. There is some tape on Bhullar, and we have a bit of breakdown of it after the jump.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wake Forest Suspends Prosser Classic

Or not
Fresh off the news of the addition of Purdue to the schedule comes a somewhat more disturbing announcement. The ten year series between Wake Forest and Xavier will suffer a one year hiatus this year. While these things always have two sides, it's clear that Coach Mack thinks the majority of the blame lies with Wake. Jeff Bzdelik of Wake said "neither team" could agree on a date for the game this year. From a strictly basketball standpoint, this won't hurt Xavier. Emotionally it is a bit of a disappointment that Coach Prosser won't be getting his due notoriety this year.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Xavier Adds Home-and-Home With Purdue

Xavier announced today that they are beginning a home-and-home series with Purdue. The series will open sometime this December at Cintas, which will be a great game for the Muskies. Purdue has been seeded 6th, 5th, 4th, and 3rd in the last four NCAA tournaments, a trend that statisticians tell me cannot continue for beyond the 2012-2013 season. Purdue has also finished the last four seasons no worse than 23rd in the Pomeroy rankings. Landing such a high-profile and tough opponent is great news for the Xavier basketball program; kudos to Mario Mercurio and his staff for getting this done.

Xavier and Purdue have some regular season history together; most recently in 2002 when X knocked off Purdue at Cintas. Xavier also played - and defeated - Purdue in the 2008 tourney. Thank Kyle for the fact that this is now more clear than it was. Xavier looks like adding one more non-conference game to the slate for next year, but this one may be it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Xavier Adds James Farr

Farr on his way to X.
Multiple sources have alleged that 6'9" forward James Farr has committed to play his college ball at Xavier, but Brian Snow seems to have pulled the scoop first. Farr is a lean lefty who came into high school on the wrong side of six feet tall. As he grew the better part of a foot, he continued to keep the small man skills that have now allowed him to be a big-time D-1 recruit. ESPN describes him as having a good enough jump shot to play pick-and-pop and a good face-up game on the block. Most sources agree that Farr needs to add bulk, but his skills, effort, and upside are universally praised.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Are you getting sucked into Spring? Working out for bathing suit season (it's too late)? Have you quit thinking about college basketball? Are you out shopping with Mike Leake? Don't worry, we've still got all the news and you don't even have to rip the tags off!

What if he had stretched defenses all year?
- Eamon Brennan has a remarkably interesting story in the what if scenarios in college ball this year. For Xavier we have to wonder, what if Brad Redford hadn't gotten injured? We probably would have missed the Rundown, but a shooter to spread defenses would have been massive all year.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Blame Derrick Brown

Derrick Brown, with his head at the rim
With the deadline for declaration to the NBA draft quickly approaching, Tu Holloway's future at Xavier is still up in the air. While it seems obvious to the fan base that Tu should return for his senior year, it's never easy to get into the mind of a player in Holloway's situation. The lure of NBA fame and fortune - or even a six-figure salary for playing ball overseas - is sometimes overwhelming to the sensiblities of a young man. In a situation like this, I am forced to do what any logical person would: blame Derrick Brown.

Brown came onto the scene at Xavier as a super-efficient dunk machine of a freshman. That season he averaged almost two points per shot attempt, due in large part to the fact that most of his shots were attempted from within the cylinder. As he matured, Brown added an effective (if not especially pretty) jump shot to go with his sensational athletic ability. He averaged almost 14 points per game as a junior and connected on 39 of 90 threes. With highly touted Indiana transfer Jordan Crawford eligible to play the next season, Brown appeared set to help lead Xavier deep into the tourney as a senior. Then he left.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Dumbing down the NBA

Real fans
The NBA playoffs have begun and it has become impossible to turn on any sports media outlet without hearing about Andrew Bynum's knee, Amare's big game, or whatever seems to be on Kobe's mind recently. As fans of the sport as it was intended to be played, we don't care all that much about the NBA. The constant media deluge has, however, turned up one interesting nugget.

It has long been the contention of college basketball fans that the product produced by the NCAA is far superior than that of the NBA. Whether it is the four weeks of madness in March, fans that actually care, or the fact that regular season games actually matter, it's not hard to find reasons to agree. Now, however, an unexpected contingent is beginning to see the light.