clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Season In Review: Part Two

This is a rejection and, possibly, a foul
We left off part one of the season recap with the team responding to the Crosstown Shootout mauling by playing some of their best ball of the year. With the early season injuries out of the way, the guard play coming together nicely, and Coach Mack doing a brilliant job with seven players, things were looking up.

In part two of the recap we'll cover the end of the season and later today we'll give out some (undoubtedly) coveted awards. More than that, we'll try to put a pretty little bow on a season that defies simple explanation.

Tu Emerges

It would take an uninformed man to argue that Tu Holloway wasn't an important cog in the Xavier machine last year, but as the streak through the A10 started this year, the world got a taste of Tu. An early season game-winner against Seton Hall got things rolling, but it was A10 play when Tu took off. his point totals in the first seven games went 21,19, 24, 22, 21, 22, 33. For a team sorting itself, that was huge. With Xavier struggling at the half against St. Bonaventure Tu took over and poured in 20 second half points. Ten days later Tu scored 14 straight to kill off Richmond in Virginia. That's cold-blooded.

The Triple-Doubles

Tu, pursuing his first triple-double
Tu doesn't just score though. Wake Forest came to town on the 18th of December for the Skip Prosser Classic and got to be witness to a 14-10-14 night from the point guard. The 19th of February it was the equally hapless Fordham Rams getting absolutely torched for 26-11-10. Only a late Kenny Frease rebound three nights later kept La Salle from also falling victim.

The Blip

It was only one game, but it showed what happens when a team becomes too reliant on one player. Riding a seven game winning streak and feeling pretty good about themselves, Xavier went to Charlotte and fell completely flat. Dante was just finishing his run of being really bad, the bench was even worse, and Tu Holloway's attempt to shoulder the full load came off badly. Obviously frustrated, the junior finished the night 3-17 from the floor and just could not get his game going. Encouragingly, Mark Lyons poured in 25 on a very efficient 8-13 but, on the whole, this was a miserable night.

Finishing The Run

Jeff Robinson when properly motivated
Thankfully, the terrible Charlotte game led to another long practice and another long winning streak. On the 8th of February the Muskies went down to Georgia and stole a vital non-conference win. Most major media outlets agreed that the team that started 8-5 and got crushed by UC was now a lock for the tournament. Unwilling to settle for that, X continued pounding their way through the A10. A 74-54 win over St. Joe's in Philly was rather enjoyable and Jamel McLean and Kenny Frease used it to showcase an interior passing game that was developing rapidly. La Salle fell victim to an unusually motivated Jeff Robinson and swooned 100-62 . Robinson's vicious dunk in that game was one of the highlights of the season. As Joel bade farewell to February, things were looking good.

What Just Happened?

Oh no, we've not forgotten
Come March 11th though, things stopped looking good. We knew that beating Dayton three times would be tough, but no one had any idea what would actually transpire. Xavier came out completely flat and, for all the credit we give Coach Mack, it seemed no adjustments could change things. A late run was negated when tough defense turned into a touch foul, and the Musketeers bowed out of the A10 tournament early.

Unfortunately, things didn't improve from there. Marquette was always going to be a tough matchup and they proved to be all that and more. A gutting loss in the first round saw our boys never really get into a game that the Golden Eagles played to perfection. Less than two weeks after winning the A10 championship for the fifth time, the season was over.