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Twitter and Xavier

Twitter has become the means of spreading information in a society with an ever shrinking attention span. Whether you want to see clips of The Avengers being filmed in Cleveland, or find out what is happening in the national debt debate, Twitter is your place. 140 characters may not seem like a lot, but it's just enough to be really cryptic or share way too much. Like most of the social media, it's also dominated by the 18-24 demographic.

In the excellent Mario Mercurio interview, Xavier's Director of Basketball Administration mentioned that he liked how "genuine" the interaction between staff, players, and fans was. (Even I as write this Tu Holloway is retweeting well wishes for an hour). This, then, leads us to the Catch 22 of Twitter: how much is enough?

Genuine is definitely something to strive for when it is Tu Holloway responding to a fan whose mom used to teach him or Cleveland Indians seconds baseman Jason Kipnis answering questions during a road trip. Genuine in the Twitter world can also come with quite a price tag. Just last week, New York Giants VP of Communications Pat Hanlon used Twitter to attack fans who chose to question some of the Giants more interesting offseason moves. Cleveland Indians first baseman Matt Laporta closed his Twitter account after first retweeting some of the more vitriolic comments he received after a particularly poor day at the plate. Twitter is well and truly the two-edged sword of this decade.

Missing from any examples of Twitter malfeasance are the Xavier Musketeers. While being genuine is important to the boys in blue, it's also clear that there is a standard of conduct that applies. Complaints about playing time, practice, travel, or accommodations won't show up on the feed of any of the Musketeers. After tight games all that is seen are remonstrances about playing harder and executing better. Even after the baffling end to the UD game in the A-10 tournament all Mark Lyons offered was that the ref should never have been in position to effect the game.

So it's clear that the Xavier tweet world is, if not stringently, at least somewhat regulated. Genuine is an admirable goal, but not always the best for young men in the heart of competition. What is remarkable about the Xavier program is not only the amount of players involved (nearly the whole team) but the amount of restraint exercised. With controversy always 140 keystrokes away, the XU Twitter scene still provides access without all the excess.

The question then becomes whether that is enough for everyone. As we become closer and closer to pro athletes, the obsession with voyeurism begins to slip down to the collegiate ranks. This can go bad very, very quickly. Professional athletes have systems in place to keep them safe, secure, and mostly out of the public eye. When Jeff Robinson goes to class though, he does it just like you and I did. The University of Arizona requested that all of its athletes keep private Twitter and Facebook accounts, and other institutions have followed suit. While Coach Mack does his own Tweeting and does it very entertainingly, many big name coaches keep theirs bland and generic. While that can be annoying, it's hard to blame them when 250,000 people are scrutinizing their every word.

For my money, Xavier finds a nice balance between complete transparency and milquetoast. While it would be fun to hear what Mark Lyons thinks about every call or what Brad Redford thinks of his playing time, it would also lead to trouble. 19 year old kids aren't always known for being circumspect in the heat of battle, and anyone who has been there can tell you there is a reason some things stay in the locker room.

During the season we'll compile the best in Xavier tweets for you weekly but, if you can't wait that long, here's a good list to get you plugged in with the team now.

Mark Lyons (@) Tu Holloway (@ Kenny Frease (@) Dez Wells (@) Justin Martin (@), Brad Redford (@) Dee Davis (@) Travis Taylor (@), Jeff Robinson (@) Semaj Christon (@Semaj2332) Mario Mercurio (@) Coach Chris Mack (@), and, of course, Griffin McKenzie (@).