Over 56,000 of you visited Banners on the Parkway in the calendar year of 2013. While calendar years are an odd way to break down basketball seasons, what with the doldrums of summer falling right in the middle there, we felt that was a pretty solid number. What did you and 55,999 of your closest friends (and, undoubtedly, a handful of complete freaks you probably don't want to know about) read this year? Well, I'm glad you asked:
Joel broke down the backcourt as one of the end pieces to our 2013-14 season preview. Obviously, there was room for a good deal of optimism and none of of the articles quotes or comments seem quite so prescient as this one about Brandon Randolph "With him and the similarly talented Semaj Christon in the backcourt, Xavier is able to expose defenses to an unrelenting attack both in the full court and off of Coach Mack's ball screen offense." The new man currently sports a nearly 2.5/1 A/TO and has torn apart nearly any press thrown at the Musketeers.
Xavier's move to the Big East was, obviously, huge news and there is no better place to analyze basketball news than the venerated KenPom.com. We rely very heavily on the best stats site on the internet, and then pass that along to you. The breakdown that confirmed what we all already knew was the ninth most read piece of Xavier news this year.
No game attracts quite as much attention as the Crosstown Shootout, especially now that Dayton is no longer on the schedule. This year, Xavier demolished the Bearcats as a neutral crowd became partisan when the UC section decided it had seen enough. Blowout wins are always fun; blowout wins over your neighbor and rival are just that much sweeter.
Xavier fans love their sweet shooting guards (so does pretty much everyone), and Myles Davis arrived on campus trying to fill the shoes of the departed Brad Redford. Davis won fans by staying on campus and paying his own way last year when he was arbitrarily ruled ineligible by the NCAA. "If he shoots like he's capable of, he's a defensive matchup nightmare" is what we said then, and it remains true now.
The Musketeers weren't going to the NCAAs from the moment their very faint hopes were dashed when Isaiah Philmore missed a whirling layup against St. Joe's. Many fans thought the NIT awaited but, when it didn't, the coaching staff elected to turn down invites to the CBI and CIT and bring down the curtain on the 2012-12 season.
Joel is prone to charting and graphing things that the rest of us either don't think about or lack the mental discipline to want a chart of. Last year, that led him to turn the NCAAs into a tournament that invited every single Division 1-A team. That flight of fancy (which it must be said would make for an awesome tournament) led to his column on Mega March Madness, the magnum opus of the expansion genre.
If you don't recognize the name in relation to Xavier basketball, you can be forgiven. Joel's eulogy to a friend killed in the line of duty still resonated. "Memorial Day is about those people who have given everything they had to offer in the defense of our country. Jason Ellis doesn't strictly fit that definition, but he was a friend to me when I desperately needed one, and he deserved better than to go out like that, ambushed on an exit ramp when he had stopped to lend a hand."
This isn't the show that Xavier fans normally watch, and it didn't end how many of us thought it would. The funeral procession that was the 2012-13 season became even more depressing when the NIT selected its 32 teams and took a pass on the Musketeers.
Every college basketball team has walk-ons. They're the guys who work just hard, practice just as many hours, and travel just as many miles as the stars, and they pay for the right to do it. It's hard not to love walk-ons for their devotion to the game and, at least in the case of the Three Headed Monster, their antics on the bench. Joe Hughes earned the rarest of walk on honors by being awarded a scholarship as his career progressed. That's not what lands him on this list though. As a 24 year old accountant, Joe contracted Hodgkin's lymphoma. His response, and the outpouring of support from Xavier Nation, made him the #1 story of 2013.