This is going to be a good season for true Xavier fans. I know, that's crazy talk, but just hear me out. First, I know all the reasons to think that it won't be, so I can understand why you might be skeptical about my thesis or eager to prove me wrong in the comments section. Go right ahead; I won't be mad at all.
In the meantime, I'm going to not only enjoy this season but also see it as a part of the continuation of Xavier as a successful program. If you want to join me in that, follow these simple steps:
- Set aside the bitterness. I know it's stupid that Dez Wells is not on the roster; a series of questionable at best decisions led to his getting run off of campus. I also know that Jalen Reynolds and Myles Davis both came up on the wrong end of dubious decisions by the NCAA. Wells would have been a proven value on a team full of question marks, and playing this year would have been better for the development of Reynolds and Davis than sitting it out will be. That's all water under the bridge. The first key to enjoying this season for what it is will be letting go of what you wanted it to be.
- Forget recent history. For the past several years, Xavier has been the cream of the A-10 crop. They've also put together a fairly impressive run of NCAA appearances and results. Chances are, both of those are going to crash and burn this season. If you started watching Xavier when they started this run, you're going to find yourself disappointed this year. Focus instead on what's going on in the here and now.
- Embrace the youth movement. Last year's team was a lot of things. Talented was one of them. Dysfunctional, according to some reports, was another. The most experienced players on this team are Brad Redford and Jeff Robinson - neither of whom seem to have the personality to dominate a team - and a handful of transfers. The leadership from this team going forward is going to come from the younger players on this team. That's not necessarily a bad thing.
- See the positives. It's hard as a fan to divorce yourself from the results of the games. I know; I cheer for the Browns and the Indians. Despite that, this team is going to lose more games than Xavier fans are used to seeing. Good things can come out of that, though. A young group that takes its lumps together often develops great chemistry down the road. Guys who may have spent a lot of time on the bench in past teams will find themselves getting game experience. Players who shied away from the big moment will be forced to take the reins. These are all good things, even in a down year.
- Look forward to next year. Incoming players for next season will include a big-bodied post scorer, a long and athletic stretch forward, and a defense-testing three point shooter, and that's before Coach Mack and his staff sign a single recruit. There's a chance this undermanned team can fight through a tough season, add those three and perhaps a couple of talented recruits and suddenly take off next season.
I know this season is shaping up to be less than ideal. But there was clamor last year that Mack had lost control of the team; this season, there should be none of that. The Musketeers have a clean reboot from that group this time around. Starting fresh is never easy; there are always costs associated with it. This year is going to be the price Xavier pays to get back a bit of what made them unique as a program. Only time will tell if that's going to be worth it. In the meantime, there's no point in not being as positive as possible about the upcoming campaign.