At the start of every college basketball season, a million different preview articles come out. If you spent the entire summer pretending basketball didn't exist, you could still reach the saturation point on just a week's worth of ESPN predictions, estimates, if/then scenarios, and a myriad of other ways to fill space before the games actually tip. Afraid of being left out of the loop, we spent a good deal of time breaking down Xavier and the Atlantic 10 this year. How we did depends a lot on your definition of success.
Preview quote: Robinson may grab the other starting spot on familiarity alone, though it would be unfair to him not to mention his tantalizing athletic ability and the five game run of good numbers it will produce this year.
Reality: We start with a gimme to get the confidence up. Robinson ended up starting 26 games this year and putting up a line of 6.8/4.8/.4. He started the season by looking so much like he had it all together that one ESPN article touted him as an NBA prospect. Of course, he didn't.
Prediction Verdict: Correct.
Preview Quote: The frontcourt will only be as good as Travis Taylor is. If he returns to form and remembers how to make a layup it isn't a stretch to imagine him getting 10-12 points a game...Taylor will get things together and become the player a lot of us were expecting last year.
Reality: Taylor was an absolute monster this year. His willowy frame didn't keep him from ranking 43rd in the nation in defensive rebounding percentage. His 12/9/1.2 line hardly tells how much of a key he was for the Musketeers this year.
Prediction Verdict: Nailed it.
Preview Quote: When Xavier loses, it will partially be because their relatively slender big men get dominated on the glass.
Reality: Not really. Xavier was 63rd in offensive rebounding percentage, and 86th in defensive rebounding percentage. In other words, they didn't get dominated on the glass and were in fact quite capable of dominating other teams.
Prediction Verdict: Not even close.
Preview Quote: Christon is going to get his points regardless of the number of shots he has to take to get them.
Reality: That. Christon shot .444/.250/.672 despite having a couple games where he couldn't have thrown the ball in the ocean. A two game stretch against Tennessee and Wake Forest saw him go 4-20, and his hero ball 5-18 at Dayton was another low point. Still, he averaged 15.2 points as a freshman.
Prediction Verdict: Spot on.
Preview Quote: Davis is going to add a bit on offense but mostly be there to keep things running smoothly and keep the ball moving.
Reality: Dee Davis did not take the step forward that a lot of people were hoping for this year. Tasked with running the offense while Semaj did his thing, Dee managed on ORtg of 96.8 and shot only 42% from inside the arc. Worse yet, his turnover rate led the team. Keeping the ball moving proved to be quite a challenge.
Prediction Verdict: Just flat wrong.
Those were a few of the things that we looked at as we previewed the team this year. Not willing to stop there though, we also attempted to predict the outcome of every non-conference game.
Preview Quote (Butler): Brad's pick: Loss. The Bulldogs have the top end talent we don't right now. Joel's pick: Loss. I just don't see X as having the horses to restrain Butler this year.
Reality: Yes, those are our picks for the Butler game. Instead, Xavier beat the Bulldogs so handily that the game didn't seem as close as the 62-47 final score.
Prediction Verdict: Elatedly wrong.
Preview Quote (RMU): Brad's pick: Win, but very close. If Xavier's backcourt isn't working well, this is a loss.
Reality: The reality is that I am patting myself on the back here. However, this game can also be seen as the time warning bells should have started going off in the minds of most of us. Christon and Davis combined for 10 turnovers against a team that wasn't half as good as some they would see.
Prediction Verdict: Clairvoyant prognosticating.
Preview Quote (first half of non-con): 91% of Banners readers thought that Xavier would win four or five of their first seven non-conference games.
Reality: The Musketeers came out on fire and went 6-1 in that stretch. Xavier rolled in to December looking excellent.
Prediction Verdict: What were you guys thinking?
Preview Quote (Wofford): Win. The day Xavier can't beat Wofford at the Cintas Center is the day we need to take a serious look at the direction of the program.
Reality: Well, that happened. Thanks to one of the most unintelligent plays in program history, Xavier lost to the Terriers at home. While the mechanics of how are still fresh in my mind, the existential "how can that happen?" is a question that may go forever unanswered.
Prediction Verdict: Heartbreakingly wrong. I picked Joel's quote here, but no one could have seen that loss coming.
Preview Quote (Memphis): Brad's pick: Loss. Barely a contest for the Tigers, who don't get the RPI bump they were hoping for when this game was scheduled. Joel's pick: Loss, and likely the worst one of the year.
Reality: In a year in which losing to Wofford and then beating Saint Louis on the same floor happened, this game may have been the biggest shock of all. Xavier withstood a late run and their own offensive struggles and somehow beat the #19 team in the nation.
Prediction Verdict: Wrong, but really happy about being wrong.
That was the non-conference slate. We also took a shot at predicting the final standings in the Atlantic 10. Xavier's crazy year seemed to carry over to the entire conference, because things didn't turn out quite how we thought they would.
|1. Saint Louis 13-3
2. VCU 12-4
3. Butler 11-5
4. La Salle 11-5
5. Temple 11-5
6. Massachusetts 9-7
7. Xavier 9-7
8. Charlotte 8-8
9. Saint Joseph's 8-8
10. Richmond 8-8
11. Dayton 7-9
12. St. Bonaventure 7-9
13. George Wash. 7-9
14. Rhode Island 3-13
15. Fordham 3-13
16. Duquesne 1-15
2. St. Joe's
3. Saint Louis
5. La Salle
11. George Washington
13. St. Bonaventure
16. Rhode Island
3. Saint Louis
5. St. Joseph's
6. La Salle
11. St. Bonaventure
12. George Washington
16. Rhode Island
- Xavier's leading two point shooter was not Travis Taylor, Jeff Robinson, or Isaiah Philmore. No, the Musketeer who was most deadly from inside the arc was Justin Martin, at 54.8%. Martin was also second on the team in free throw percentage.
- Brad Redford led the team by shooting 45% from deep. He was also dead last on the team in shooting 29% inside the arc.
- Xavier as a team finished 59th in the nation by making 45.6% of their shots.
- Xavier's turnover percentage of 20.4% was their worst since the 2008-09 season, Tu Holloway's freshman year.
- Xavier's tempo this year was the slowest for the team since Ken Pomeroy started tracking the stat.
- Semaj Christon used 30.2% of the possessions available to him, good for 40th in the nation.
- Christon started the year 26-32 (81.2%) from the line, he finished with a 24-29 (82.7%) stretch. In between came a protracted run of 72-125 (57.6%).
- Brad Redford led the team with an ORtg of 121.3. He was second on the team with a TORate of 15%, good for 403rd in the nation. The safest ball handler on the team? Isaiah Philmore, with a TORate of 13.9 268th nationally.
- Only 83 players in the nation drew fouls at a higher rate than Semaj Christon.