Thursday, March 31, 2011

Season In Review: Part One

It was another successful year
The season review is almost a necessity for any outlet that covers a sports team. In one article, or a series, the blog or paper can attempt to parse the events of an entire season so that what seemed chaotic at the time has a coherent flow. Unfortunately, that's not how a basketball season goes. Basketball is, by it's nature, a constantly evolving process. A basketball season often takes on that same form. In order to help with the breakdown of all of that, our season review will come in two parts.

When I previewed the A10 on January 9th, XU was 8-5 and had just been summarily thrashed by crosstown rivals UC. While my prediction of 13-3 in conference proved to be wrong, the Musketeers bounced back and proved to be a contender again this year. Today, we'll look at the season in whole, tomorrow we'll pass out player awards and hit some of the highs and lows.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Thoughts on Darwin Davis

Darwin Davis (11) is Xavier's PG of the future
While the rest of the basketballing world was tuned in to's streaming coverage of the Sweet 16, ESPN3 was offering an opportunity to watch the state basketball championship in Indiana. While I generally choose college hoops over high school in my viewing time, I knew that Xavier commit Darwin "Dee" Davis would be running the point for Bloomington South against Kokomo. Since this would be my last opporunity for live-action Xavier-related ball until next fall, I turned the old internet attenae towards Indiana and hoped for the best.

Davis - for those who don't know and can't read our sidebar - is an undersized but talented point guard. He averaged almost 22 points per game as a senior and shot 70% from the floor. Despite those guady numbers, it was Davis' shooting ability that impressed me the least Saturday night. It should be noted at this juncture that nobody was shooting the ball particularly well on the evening; the teams combined to go 14-56 in the first half and 35-100 from the floor overall. Davis himself was 5-16/1-7/2-2 shooting; his shooting didn't look particularly bad - though he could use more lift on deep jumpers - he just wasn't getting the ball to fall.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Farewell, Dante Jackson!

This is the fourth and final senior profile in our Farewell week. The Three-headed Monster got things started, then Brad profiled Andrew Taylor and Jamel McLean. Running the anchor leg is Examiner favorite Dante Jackson.

Dante Jackson was the first Musketeer whose name I knew well in advance of his showing up on the Xavier campus. My dad was working over near Greenfield while Dante was in high school and - having spent almost his entire adult life involved in high school basketball in one capacity or another - he would regale us with stories he had heard about how good a ball player Dante was. It was all true, too: Dante averaged 28-8-5 as a junior and 26-12-5 as a senior. By the time Dante headed off for X, he had compiled an 85-12 record in at Greenfield McClain and accumulated three First Team All-Ohio selections.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Spending time outdoors in the sun? Catching up on the American Idol that you missed the last two weeks? Getting some exercise? Don't worry, we weren't! Here's the news that is news.

- Rick Reilly and Andy Katz chimed in on Jimmer Fredette today. It seems at least couple people managed to enjoy Jimmer for what he was without trying to spin superlatives about him. 

We see you Jon, and we're laughing
- Joel and I's discussion of Fredette also led to the defense question. Defense in basketball can be hard to quantify. Steals and blocks seem like a good place to start but can really damage the numbers of a player who is a lockdown off the ball defender, or a player who doesn't gamble on defense. Currently the Roland Avg seems the best way of solving that problem. The first two Xavier players that appear may surprise you.

- Jimmer isn't all that is happening in basketball. Last night OSU and Thad Matta went on their merry way and Jared Sullinger vowed to play another year in Columbus. Emotional decisions don't tend to be the best ones, so we'll see how long this lasts. Rob Dauster points out that lucidity after a loss is a lot to expect from an 18 year old.

Farewell Jamel

Don't bring that weak stuff in here
This is the third in our Farewell to the Seniors series. Both Andrew Taylor and the Three Headed Monster have already been covered, and we're moving on to the under-appreciated man, Jamel McLean.

Extremely successful transfers are fast becoming a trademark of the Xavier program. Drew Lavender, CJ Anderson, and Jordan Crawford have all arrived and contributed immensely within the last several years. Being a transfer isn't easy, basketball teams are usually very close knit and the challenge of leaving one psuedo-family is coupled with the challenge of being accepted into a new one. While the pressure eats some players alive (Lloyd Price) some rise to occasion and produce under pressure. This, then, is the story of Jamel McLean.

Friday, March 25, 2011

What is Jimmer Without the Hype?

Careful there, Jimmer.
Maybe you've all heard of a guy named Jimmer Fredette. He's a basketball player for BYU who - from what I've heard - is so good that there's now something called "Jimmer Range" on a basketball court. A Google search of his name brings back no end of plaudits, including his being described as a once-in-a-generation player, a player with once-in-a-lifetime skills, and the prohibitive favorite for National Player of the Year.

I don't think Jimmer is that special. That's not to say he's not a good scorer or a good ball player, but the cresting wave of media fancy that has carried him to first-name status seems somewhat unwarranted. Fredette is a volume scorer on a team that doesn't need him to be. Aside from having a center who could score at will (ha-HA!), this year's BYU team had in Jackson Emery (12.5 PPG, .427/.361/.829 shooting) and Noah Hartsock (8.6 PPG, .498/.433/.828) a couple of efficient scorers who can - in the parlance of my ten year old brother - put the biscuit in the basket. With such talents around him, it seems a little absurd to paint Fredette as a unique, once-in-a-whatever scorer carrying his team to the Sweet 16.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Andrew Taylor: Not just hustle

Not the whole story
This is the second in our four part look at the departing seniors. Previously this week, Joel bade a fond farewell to the walk-ons who have worked so hard for the team during their time here.

Every successful program has players who are willing to do the little things. These guys get their fifteen minutes of fame every March when you can find them flying across the floor in pursuit of a loose ball, battling with someone much larger in the post, or just doing things that announcers like to call "gritty." It would be easy to cast today's reviewee into that mold. After all, he was a tireless worker who seemed to battle through a variety of issues to get the very most out of his skill. Maybe we could put Andrew Taylor in there with the David Ecksteins of the world, but that wouldn't tell the whole story.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


According to Google image search, this is Ken Pomeroy.
-Did you know Ken Pomeroy was a weatherman in real life? I certainly didn't. Turns out the genius behind (one of the most pleasant to say URLs in the world) has no background in basketball at all. His site started one year when he wanted to go a little deeper into the numbers behind Air Force's defense. More information at this link.

-The Wall Street Journal (you may have heard of it) ran an article yesterday about why brothers dominate college basketball. Dominate was their word selection, not mine, but the article is a pretty good read. As a brother combo here, we're looking forward to their article about why brothers dominate college basketball blogging.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Farewell, Three-headed Monster!

How many of these guys will we miss next year, Tu?
The role of the walk-on player in any collegiate athletic program is not for the faint of heart. Think of all the things that make little kids dream of making the team: personal success, accolades, showing up on TV, being recognized by people, and maybe - if things break just right - making that one heroic play that carries your team to victory. Now think of the things that make most of us give up on those dreams long before college: hard work, sacrifice, a coach two inches away from your face questioning the value of your continued existence, heart-breaking defeat, long hours in the gym/weight room/whatever, and the final realization that God just didn't make you as athletic as He made Jordan Crawford. If you're a walk on, you get the second list with almost no realistic - or even fanciful - shot at the first.

As a walk-on, the coach expects you to prepare just as hard as the scholarship guys do in practice without having the carrot of playing big minutes in the game. Despite that - and the entire previous paragraph - Kevin Feeney, Johnny Mazza, and Joe Hughes chose to put forth the effort and sacrifice necessary to make the XU basketball team. It's not their fault that they weren't born with explosive athleticism, ridiculous height, and silky smooth skills. It is to their credit that they put that all aside and played for X anyway, which is why they get to take home all that team-issued practice gear that will make them the envy of open gyms for the rest of their lives.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Still crying into your leftover green beer about Xavier's early exit? Or maybe you took advantage of the extra time off and are already hitting the recruiting trail? We're not Irish, and we certainly don't recruit, so here are some links that we found interesting. We hope you do the same.

-A story that beats up on the Big East and takes pot shots at the Big Apple? Yes please! Seriously though, this is a great story about how - once again - the Big East's own media hype machine built it up into something that, in reality, it isn't.

He'll make it, Coach.
-"Jumpshot Jimmy" Chitwood was hands down the greatest high school basketball player of his or perhaps any era, depending on what you think of Pistol Pete (these guys and their alliterative nicknames). The Harvard College Sports Analysis Collective has analyzed exactly how much Chitwood was worth to Hickory High in this article. Check back later in hopes that they do a follow up article regarding how much Kelvin Sampson would have paid to get Chitwood onto one of his teams.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A former foe

The last shot of Jacob Pullen's KSU career
Tonight I had the chance to sit down and watch some basketball without thinking about how it would effect Xavier. I tuned in, and many thanks to CBS for the choice, to KSU-Wisconsin, partly because I love the Wisconsin Swing and partly to watch Frank Martin lose. During the game though, a different storyline took over.

Jacob Pullen was, to us, the villain last March 25th. As what some people called the greatest Sweet 16 game ever played drew to a close, it was he who put Xavier away with a dagger of a three pointer and a couple of free throws. I found it hard to like him after that and his brief NCAA run-in this year and even listed Kansas St. as one of my teams to hate in this year's bracket.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Response to the Haters

Maybe next year.
To watch Xavier play and lose last night was disheartening and frustrating as a fan. Once there was no longer doubt about the outcome of the game, the focus of the night shifted from cheering to processing what happened. When you're in that state of mind and have access to the internet, you have to be careful about what you put out there. Some of us recognize and ruminate what happened, and then move on. To others, to paraphrase the words of Danny Kaffee, the whole process becomes about assigning blame.

It doesn't take much searching at all on the internet to find the breed of fan who is looking to tear down the people he perceives as responsible for his disappointment. They abound in the comments section on the Enquirer, and sometimes run their own blogs. Frankly, this kind of analysis disgusts me, especially when it masquerades as an attempt to be fair and impartial. It's the lowest denominator of fan that pans their own team rather than actually analyze the game. Since these people are equal parts vitriolic and ignorant, I thought I'd take a moment to address some of their assertions. Dana and Victory was running point for them last night, so it is his (her?) work that comes under the microscope here.

Xavier v. Marquette: Twitter Recap

This would have been nice.
Mario Mercurio got things started on the right foot by posting this picture of the scoreboard before the game even started. You and I and several thousand other Xavier fans wish, Mario. The previous game edged into XU's warmup time, and several fans were tweeting that the new tip would come around 7:45. Rick Broering reported that some fans had come with the XU flag flying high before the game; I'm hoping they left with flag and heads held high after the game, as well.

Rick was back at the tip to report that "Jamel McLean's mom is rockin a sweet Xavier grey alternate jersey." Shannon Russell was impressed with Kenny's early effort: "How about Kenny Frease with XU's first four points and a rebound?" Mark Lyons' second foul was universally hailed as bad news by the Muskie faithful. Mike DeCourcy summed up the officiating thus: "Don't know who these refs are working Marquette-Xavier. I know they are not good."

Xavier v. Marquette: Recap

What happened: Marquette 66 - Xavier 55

Sorry, Tu.
That one is going to take a little while to get over. Like every Xavier team, I had bonded with this group of players, and I don't want them to be gone. They are though; like all good things, this basketball season is over. Last year, X went out like heroes in an epic struggle against Kansas State; people still talk about that game. Today - as was too often the case this season - Xavier had a slow start to the game. They could never really crawl out of the whole into which they dug themselves.

Tu started off slowly and could never really grow into the game. When Cheek picked up his early foul trouble, Xavier's junior guard was asked to carry the bulk of the load. Playing against larger defenders with officials who were comfortable allowing a lot of contact, Holloway was unable to get it going tonight. He ended the game with 5-2-5 on 1-8/1-5/2-2.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Xavier v. Marquette: Preview

The goal, obviously.
We've already spoken at some length about what kind of team Marquette is. For those too forgetful to recall and too lazy to click (or maybe you still have dial-up and don't want to wait; I'm not here to judge), the Golden Eagles are a stout offensive team that led the Big East in scoring this year. Defensively, they play more zone than most teams do, but lack a big man in the middle outside of the offensively anemic Chris Otule.

People - including those in the Marquette camp - have been comparing Tu Holloway to Kemba Walker, so I wouldn't be surprised to see them defend Tu the same way they did Kemba. Marquette split their games with UConn on the year, and Walker shot 15-43 and scored 41 points. Despite playing 82 minutes, Walker only got to the line eleven times, so we can see that Marquette did a good job keeping him away from the bucket.

Even if Marquette is able to keep Tu away from the bucket - which is a questionable proposition - there are reasons to believe X can come away with the win. In the game UConn won, freshman swingman Jeremy Lamb dropped 24 on 9-14/3-4/3-3 shooting. Lamb is UConn's second-leading scorer on the year with 10.4 PPG, but he and Walker are the only double-digit scorers on the team. Xavier boasts four such players, two of whom are forwards.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mid-Major Love Trumps BCS Infatuation

Even when he's right, he's wrong.
Billy Packer was on Mike and Mike this morning, yearning for the good old days when freshman didn't play and bemoaning the lack of talent and continuity in college basketball now that kids can go one-and-done and head for the draft. He believed that teams don't come together like they used to because players are only out to showcase their NBA-ready talent, and the product is worse for fans because they can't have players grow on them like they once did.

Billy Packer needs to open his eyes. I know that there have been some changes since the idyllic days of John Wooden; the national media is persistently focused on star freshman like John Wall and Jared Sullinger. John Calipari is always one step ahead of the NCAA posse, and in the meantime he calls having five players drafted the "greatest day in program history" at Kentucky. That doesn't mean that the style of college ball Billy Packer misses is gone. He's just not paying enough attention to see it.


It's almost time for the best Thursday of the year, so the Shootarounds are coming thick and fast. 

- Looking to visit our fair city? (Yes, the Examiner is semi-Cleveland based). The forecast is unseasonably warm for this time of year and most of the snow has melted. Melt Bar and Grill in the suburb of Lakewood is close to downtown and one of the best restaurants in the city. Edgewater State Park is a nice place for a run and offers a great view of downtown.

- If you have lots of time and lots of ink, the Xavier postseason media guide is worth both. It's a lot to take in but is absolutely crammed with information. Be forewarned, it's 64 pages long.

Downtown Cleveland at night
- ESPN Insider has a very cool tool to help filling out brackets. It basically analyzes trends, stats, and a bunch of other factors to simulate the games. If you are an Insider, and I recommend it, check it out. For the record, it has Xavier as a 59%-41% favorite to beat Marquette.

Love. Hate. Brackets

Don't be this guy
College basketball is not a game for the emotionally un-invested. Simply sitting idly by and watching the drama of a game unfold is not something the average person can do without becoming rooted to the spot. Things chance come March though, dozens of teams from handfuls of conferences that have never graced ESPN are suddenly in the spotlight of your glorious HD. The average fan often wonders "who is it I should love, and who is it I should hate?" Well, wonder no more friend. We're going to break this bracket down a little differently so you know who you can support, or rail against, with a clean conscience.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Cleveland Pod

As soon as the names were drawn Sunday, the Xavier coaching staff scrambled into high gear to prepare the team to face Marquette. The Muskies' goal this weekend - and the goal of every other team in the tournament - is to win two games and make it to next weekend. To do so, they'll have to get through Marquette and the winner of Syracuse and Indiana State. Since it has been a year and a half since X played Marquette and much, much longer since they've played either 'Cuse or Indiana State, Xavier fans probably aren't that familiar with these teams. Don't worry, we've got you covered.

The season:
Battle of the Jesuits.
The Golden Eagles bring a 20-14 record (9-9 Big East) with them into the tourney, which they entered via at-large bid. Their non-conference season is scattered with unimpressive wins (Centenary, Longwood, et c.) and narrow losses. They fell by five to Duke, three to Gonzaga, five to Wisconsin, and one to Vandy. A couple more bounces going their way at Marquette would have a resume full of impressive scalps.  They picked up conference wins against Notre Dame, Syracuse, UConn, and WVa., and lost by one at Louisville, five at Notre Dame, and five at 'Nova. One any given day, Marquette can give any team a run for its money. Their recent 2-3 skid includes the aforementioned victory over West Virginia, but also a loss at Seton Hall by 13 and a 25 point demolition at the hands of Louisville.


-Coach Mack's press conference apparently contained more information than one story could hold, so Shannon Russell threw some more of it up on her blog. He gives a little bit of information on his early impressions of Marquette and talks about the balance between good scouting and giving the team too much information. Interestingly, he also notes that it is entirely in Jordan Latham's hands as to whether or not the freshman forward makes the trip. At this point, it doesn't appear Latham is a part of things.

-Nick Fasulo over at NBC's Beyond the Arc blog has outlined his favorite ten matchups of the first round. On a side note, I don't like the custom of trying to call the First Four the first round and the round of 64 the second round. The First Four are still play-in games, no matter how the thing gets packaged. You win that, then you've made the big dance.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Selection Sunday: Early Thoughts

I don't love the prospect of playing two Big East teams, and I'm worried especially about Syracuse's zone against a Xavier team that has stagnated against zones this year. Of course, X is going to have to get past Marquette before that becomes much of a concern. The Golden Eagles are the 33rd best team in the nation according to Ken Pomeroy. He has Xavier at 37th. The Massey rating have X at 28th and Marquette 33rd. Jeff Sagarin has Marquette 29th and "Xavier-Ohio" 35th. The point is, the two teams are very evenly matched, and it will probably be a tight and nerve-rending game to watch.

Selection Sunday: Twitter Recap

Does your chosen house of worship frown on Twitter use during the service? Or were you just too busy shopping for a gas mask to watch the selection show? Not us! Here's the best the Twitterverse had to offer as Xavier waited to see where, who, and when they would play.

Just missing people and something to talk about.
Brad Redford, Jeff Robinson, and Dante Jackson all tweeted their readiness for the selection show, while Brian Hicks announced that the "media room has been set for tonight's 7:45 pm press conference to discuss Xavier's NCAA opponent." One of the benefits of being well off the bubble is the luxury of being able to set it all up beforehand. Mario Mercurio's final prediction was X as a six facing Villanova, Clint Spaeth had X as a six playing Michigan State, and MuskieBlog agreed. Jordan Latham said, "we got to be a 5-7 seed anything thing lower can fly," and Jamel McLean hoped his "best friend @, watch the selection show, so she know where to get her plane ticket to come watch me play!"

Joel v. the Coin: A-10 Tournament Conclusion

After the first round of Boardwalk Hall games, the coin and I were tied at 2-2, but my champion was already eliminated. With the growing feeling that I was about to lose to a coin toss so lacking in nuance that I hadn't even weighted the favorites, I watched the rest of the A-10 tourney play out.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Joel v. the Coin: A-10 Tournament

(Ed. note: just now realized I wrote this but forgot to post it. So far the coin and I are both 1-2 with the Richmond game ongoing.)
(Ed. note pt. 2: with Richmond's win, the coin and I each move to 2-2, or about what you would expect a tossed coin et c. et c.)

My adversary.
I mentioned in a prior post that 2-2 was, effectively, the record you would expect a tossed coin to achieve when predicting the outcome of a binary event. As I previewed the A-10 tourney bracket, it became obvious to me that, being a thinking entity rather than fiat currency, I should be able to outperform the coin at Boardwalk Hall. The coin picked a win for the higher seeded team by coming up heads, or an upset by coming up tails. The coin and I both made our picks for the weekend's games, as well as a small wager. If I win, I'm spending the coin on gas station coffee. If the coin wins, it gets hot glued to a piece of cardboard and mounted on my desk at work. The selections are below.

Xavier v. Dayton: Recap

What happened: Xavier 67- Dayton 68

The only logical reaction to this call
This is a particularly galling recap to write. As has been well documented, I absolutely loathe Dayton and Brian Gregory. Today did nothing to change that. Xavier, unquestionably, came out flat. Before I had fully tucked into my Subway, the score was 21-3 Flyers. Dayton seemed to be playing with six guys while Xavier seemed to be dozing. A couple of first half runs did nothing to change that.

Xavier v. Dayton: Box Score Breakdown

What happened: Dayton 68 - Xavier 67

There are really only a couple of numbers that define Xavier's game otday against UD. The most important of these is rebounding; Xavier got crushed 30-16 overall and 11-4 on the offensive glass. How much of this was due to Kenny's balky back I can't say, as I wasn't able to actually view the game. I do know that Frease was the only Muskie with more than one board in the first half, and he ended up leading the team with five on the game. Horrible rebounding game for Xavier.

Another painful stat is the eight assists X managed on the game. While X won the turnover battle 14-9, Dayton had 14 assists. When assist numbers are down, that's a sign that the offense is stagnating and players are having/choosing to try to create their own shots. XU has been plagued throughout the season by games where the offense lack ball movement and general flow, and I'm guessing this was another one of them.

Xavier on the S-curve

Some of our favorite constituents have been asking us how the A-10 tournament results could affect Xavier's seeding. To answer that question, we need to address a couple of other things. The first of those is where Xavier sits now. SBN updates their S-curve before each day's games, and they currently have Xavier sitting on the five line. ESPN's Joe Lundari posted his new S-curve today as well - albeit behind the pay wall - and also has X hanging around the five line. As nothing happens in a vacuum, Xavier's potential movement hinges on their results as well as those of the teams around them.

The second factor thing to address is who exactly is hanging around X. The experts online seem to be unanimous in their opinions about the teams directly in front of Xavier. First up is Arizona; they are still active in the Pac-10 tournament, facing off against USC and - if they win - the winner of Washington and Oregon. UConn and Louisville occupy the next two spots on the S-curve. Louisville has a game on the docket tonight against Notre Dame, while UConn faces Pitt. If both the teams win, they'll play each other. Both UConn's and Louisville's opponents are too strong for a loss to be too damaging to them at this point, but it's conceivable and X could sneak past Arizona if the Wildcats slip up against USC.

Xavier v. Dayton: A10 Tournament

Get ready for more of this
As the tournament games come thick and fast teams and their blogs must adjust quickly. In that spirit, enjoy the first of our pared down A10 tournament game previews.

So now, in theory, they mean something. Dayton put the hammer to UMass 78-50 in the campus site games to showcase the tremendous ability that they do have. UMass is a pretty dreadful team, but the Flyers plowed through them with a balanced attack that saw 11 different players score. Xavier, meanwhile, spent the campus site round resting and hoping that Kenny Frease' back wouldn't continue to act up. While it appears the big man will be ready on Friday, the game will actually hinge outside the arc. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Akron V. Miami (Oh)

Roberts, not crying
The Akron Zips played the Miami Redhawks today at the Q in one of the strangest games of basketball I've ever seen. Miami managed only 10 points in the first half. Ten, in the entire half. Undaunted, Charlie Coles and his men managed to follow that up by going down 20 with 17 minutes to play. Then, Akron collapsed. With nine seconds to go, Jon Harris buried a three pointer that capped an incredible and improbable comeback.


Bilas ponders where life went wrong
-According to Joe Lunardi's latest Bracketology, XU and Temple are both locks and Richmond "should be in" if they don't bow out in their first game. That means that - should someone other than those three teams win the tourney - the A-10 could be a four-bid conference. I'll concede that such a scenario seems unlikely, but it would be kind of cool.

-I heard on Mike and Mike this morning that Jay Bilas has 50,000 followers on Twitter and doesn't follow anyone. Golic summed this up as "everyone listen to me, and I'm not going to listen to anyone." Having witnessed Bilas' work on ESPN - especially the horrible job he did on the Crosstown Shootout two years ago - that seems about accurate.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A10 Tournament Breakdown: Part Two

I much the same vein as Brad approached the top half of the bracket, I'm deconstructing the bottom half. If you missed my look at the campus site games, just know that I was equally as accurate as a coin toss when it came time to predict the winners and losers. As I happen to have a coin on me today, I'll go toe-to-toe with it for round two as I work through the bracket. Heads will mean a win for the higher-seeded team, tails a victory for the low seed. I feel like I can put some distance between myself and Mr. Washington this time around. I'll post our picks tomorrow, but without further ado:

A10 Tournament Breakdown: Part One

As the tournament tips off, we'll be taking a quick look at each team and their chances of sneaking into the big tournament selection pool on Sunday. Joel's breakdown of the campus-site games provided a more in depth look at the games themselves if you need to brush up.

I'll be tackling the top half of the bracket today. The top half is notable for two things. One, it contains five time regular season champs and tournament favorites, Xavier. Two, it gives Duquesne a great chance to rescue their once promising season.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Andrew Nicholson Deserved Better

St. Bonaventure's junior forward played his guts out tonight, posting 30-13-2 with 4 blocks on 10-19/1-1/9-11 shooting. His team gave up a two-point lead with less than 30 seconds to go in regulation and a three-point lead with less than 15 seconds to go in overtime. With three 3 seconds left in the second OT, St. Bonaventure had guard Da'Quan Cook - a .710 free throw shooter on the year - on the line for two with the Bonnies down one. Needing only to split them to tie the game, he missed them both, and the game was effectively over.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A-10 Tourney: Campus Site Games

The Xavier part of the Atlantic 10 tournament is held at historic (I'm told) Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, but the tournament kicks off with campus site games tomorrow night. The 5-8 seeds of the tournament host the 9-12 seeds for the right to go on and play the 1-4 seeds on Friday. You may have noticed that, despite the facts that the conference is called the Atlantic 10 and has 14 teams, there are never 10 or 14 teams starting any round of the tournament. If you continue noticing stuff like that, you're going to find that a lot of life doesn't make sense. Just roll with it and concentrate on the hoops.


Things are getting into full March Madness swing around the internet, and we're all over it. You know, on our lunch breaks.

Indiana State is in already
- First off, congratulations to Tu Holloway (A10 Player of the Year), Chris Mack (A10 Coach of the Year), Mark Lyons (A10 Third Team), Jamel McLean (A10 Third Team), and Kenny Frease (A10 Honorable Mention).

- Basketball Prospectus is on top of breaking down the odds on the A10 and a couple other conference tournaments.

- Road games make up half the schedule but seem to make up 75% of the seeding/bubble argument. If you've ever wondered if that makes any sense (it doesn't) Ken Pomeroy does an excellent job of disproving the road myth.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


-The A-10 has announced the seeding for the conference tournament. Xavier has the top seed and will play the winner of UMass v. UD. Duquesne, who led the conference for a portion of the year, did manage to retain the last bye thanks to their February 2 win over George Washington. For visual people, the bracket is here. Swing back by this week for a more detailed analysis (if you can imagine such a thing).

-Boardwalk Hall in beautiful (I'm told) Atlantic City, NJ will host the A-10 tourney. Ticket packages start as low as $75, so we're expecting our Jersey readers with disposable income and Friday afternoons free will be in attendance for Xavier's game(s).  The A-10's contract with Boardwalk Hall expires after next year; rumors abound regarding where it may end up next, but little of substance has been reported at this time.

Xavier v. St. Louis: Recap

Alright, so we love Dante.
What happened: Xavier 66-St. Louis 55

Stop me if you've heard this one before. Xavier takes early lead against completely beatable team, Xavier then takes foot off throttle and begins to get sloppy, beatable team senses they have a chance to win, Tu Holloway buries beatable team late and does it with some swagger.

Yes, yet again, the Musketeers didn't finish off an inferior opponent that they had on the ropes. And yes, yet again, the Musketeers found a way to win the game. Tu Holloway, of course, featured prominently as Xavier clinched sole ownership of the A10 title.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Xavier v. St. Louis: Twitter Recap

Did you spend your Saturday watching Upward basketball? Were you too busy negotiating an extension of bargaining talks between billionaires and millionaires to sift through twenty hours of Twitter? We weren't! Here's the tweetstorm that surrounded the XU-St. Louis game.

Shannon Russell got us started with the news that Jordan Latham didn't make the trip to St. Louis for today's game for the same reasons he wasn't in uniform last game. Mario Mercurio brought better news, announcing that he was awaiting contracts back from Morgan St., Oral Roberts, and IPFW for games at Cintas next season. Dante declared it a good day for a road kill and asked what we thought. We agree Dante, but then, we always do.

Xavier v. St. Louis: Box Score Breakdown

What happened: Xavier 66 - St. Louis 55

Tu did what Tu does.
In a game where Xavier looked out of sorts on the offensive end for much of the day, Tu Holloway took the scorer's role and posted 25-4-1. Xavier's leader posted a 7-13/3-4/8-10 shooting line and came up with every big shot the Muskies needed, from starting the game with a three to burying one from the corner in the second half as St. Louis was threatening to make it more of a game than it needed to be. Tu left his hand up until he got back to half court; by the time he dropped it back to his side, everyone knew the game was over.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Xavier v. St. Louis: Preview

Now we're all feeling the love
When Xavier and St. Louis last met, Xavier was going through their "letting mediocre conference opponents hang with us" phase. Up by seven at the break, Xavier succumbed to an admittedly improbable three-point shooting display from St. Louis forward Rob Loe (5-5/4-4/4-4 on the day) and found themselves on the wrong end of the scoreline with 15 minutes left to play. Tu dropped 20 of his 24 in the second half, Cheek had 15 points and 7 assists, and Dante began emerging from his shooting slump to carry X to a 76-68 victory. The Muskies also dominated the paint, outrebounding the Billikens 33-24 - including 10-1 on the offensive end - and having McLean and Big Kenny combine for 23-16. Coming off the loss to Charlotte, a more convincing display might have helped Muskie fans feel better about the direction the team was going.


The Shooutaround will expand today to include a bit of bubble watching. It's getting to be that time of year, and we can't help but look at how things are shaking out across the nation.

- Unless you live under a rock, you've heard of the dismissal of Brandon Davies from BYU.We don't in any way think that BYU should be mocked for its belief system or honor code, nor do we think they should be praised as some sort of paragon of virtue. 

Yep, that's a billiken
What BYU did was make an example of a young man who couldn't live up to their code. If you are naive enough to think that this kind of thing isn't happening every day at BYU, you haven't been in college in a while. This is nothing more than a publicity stunt masquerading as morals. BYU has taken a chance with its basketball program in order to cast itself as a beacon of light in a world gone awry. It's not about values, it's about money.

- A bit more reaction to winning the A10 title. In this article there is a bit of postgame but also some thoughts from Coach Mack on maintaining focus.

- St. Louis is planning a "Billiken Blizzard" for Saturday's game. What exactly a Billiken is or what they have to do with blizzards is not fully explained in the link.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Twitter Recap: Xavier v. Charlotte

Seriously, don't.
Were you too busy still cleaning up from that epic President's Day party to get on Twitter? Were you too busy watching American Idol and working on your version of "Don't Stop Believing" (don't worry, it hasn't been overdone) to read a tweet or two? Don't worry, we've got them all right here, and we can already hit that high note.

Xavier v. Charlotte: Recap

What happened: Xavier 68-Charlotte 48

Dante being Dante
Tonight the Xavier Musketeers had two things to do. One was beat the Charlotte 49ers, a team that Dante Jackson said we "laid an egg" against a month ago. The second was win a fifth straight A10 regular season title. Both were accomplished, and both in true Xavier fashion.

Charlotte started the game on a 7-0 run and if it is possible for a crowd to sound uneasy, this one did. The Musketeers, however, were not about to let this one slip away. Dante Jackson made it 7-5 with his first of four three pointers, and X slowly played themselves back into it. When Jamel McLean gathered three offensive rebounds in one possession and finally scored to make it 15-13 Xavier, the writing was on the wall.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Xavier v. Charlotte: Box Score Breakdown

What happened: Xavier 68 - Charlotte 48

Dante lit 'em up tonight.
There are really only two keys to beating a zone defense: hitting the long jump shots it leaves you, and rotating the ball quickly to open up gaps. The first of those responsibilities was fulfilled by Dante Jackson tonight. His role in Xavier's only conference loss consistent of missing all four of the three-pointers he attempted. Today he atoned with a massive 18-7-1 line with 4 steals on 6-10/4-7/2-3 shooting. His three first-half threes were measured at 27, 27, and 28 feet by CBS. On a night when Xavier needed him, Jackson was nothing less than Dantastic.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Xavier v. Charlotte: Preview

"How good do I look on the 'tron, fellas?"
Last time Xavier played Charlotte, the Muskies were leading the A-10, rising in bracket predictions, and riding a seven-game winning streak. Charlotte had only won one A-10 game - at home against Fordham - and their most recent showing had been a double-overtime loss to LaSalle. Xavier's momentum ground to a halt that night in Charlotte, as the 49ers dealt X an embarrassing 66-62 loss. Since then, X hasn't lost and Charlotte hasn't won; Xavier has now climbed to 22nd in the RPI while Charlotte languishes in 218th. That game is all that is separating the teams from a 14-game winning streak and an 11-game losing streak, respectively.

Get Thee Behind Me, February

Coach Mack points the way through February

Guess who hates February? If you guessed the guy writing this, you are correct. Sorry, there's not a prize. February is like that. January brings about the new year, the beauty of winter, hope anew for all ventures personal and professional, and a general feeling of goodwill that carries over from Christmas. March carries with it the promise of Spring, green things beginning to show up, my birthday, and a solid month of fever-pitch basketball. Between the two is sandwiched February: approximately 400 days of 39-degree drizzle that single-handedly keeps Zoloft afloat.