|It was another successful year|
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.
Injuries cripple depth
|The release of someone who knows how to shoot|
Showing character early
The Musketeers didn't let themselves wallow in self-doubt early though. With Coach Mack saying all the right things, Jamel McLean returning far ahead of schedule, and Tu Holloway very evidently hating to lose, things looked ok. A very game Wofford squad took Xavier to the limit in triple overtime but Mark Lyons seemed ready to make the jump and buried them late. It was evident that this Xavier wasn't as talented as other iterations, but they were clearly tough and scrappy. They were also on the edge of the precipice.
Reality sets in
Joel and I spoke after the Wofford game and both of us were excited about the steps it seemed like the team was making. The lone loss to that point was against an excellent ODU team that played smothering zone defense. Unfortunately, it seemed tape of the Monarchs win began to circulate. Miami stymied X next by inviting the guards to fire away to the tune of 2-11 from deep and attacking the ball in the post. X squeaked by a Butler squad also mired in it's worst run of the season, barely beat a terrible Wake Forest team and then came apart on the road at Gonzaga. Tu Holloway poured in 26, but a 4-22 from deep revealed that this Xavier team was in deep trouble. Dante kept shooting, and missing, and another 6-20 from deep saw the home win streak evaporate at the hands of Florida. Improbably though, things were about to get a lot worse.
The Crosstown Shootout this year was anything but. Xavier was playing poorly coming in and went ahead and just kept doing that. UC was undefeated but hadn't played anyone decent to that point. After the steamrolling that took place on Januaray 6th, UC was still unbeaten and still hadn't played anyone decent. The season, started with such promise at 5-1, was in tatters. 8-5 and looking nothing like the team that had started last year with the same record but ended up in the Sweet 16, the Musketeers trudged back across town with a long season looming.
|Looks crazy; saved the season|