Drew Lavender knocking out the Grantland in The Basketball Tournament continued a Xavier tradition of knocking bloated media darlings out of major basketball. Since the beginning of basketball time, Xavier has been beating teams that they "shouldn't" and somehow not becoming the new Gonzaga or Wichita State, instead staying somewhat under the radar despite joining the Big East. That little rant aside, what Lavender's shot did was get me thinking about who I would take for a Xavier team for The Basketball Tournament.
If you don't know what The Basketball Tournament is, here's a quick primer. 96 teams, plus last year's champion, are playing for a chance to win $1,000,000 by winning the final. Most of those teams are in the tournament based solely on votes they received, meaning the tournament is quite literally open to anyone who can drum up the support. Players are paid only if they win it all. Oh, and the competition level is as high as you can get without bringing in current NBA players. That said, an mostly women's team comprised of actresses, comedians, and lawyers got enough votes to play. They got destroyed by nearly 100, but they served to show that anyone can get in.
Secondly, Xavier did have a team, but they didn't survive the fan vote. Matt Stainbrook, Dante Jackson, Joe Sullivan, Eric Stenger, and Brad Redford will have to wait another year for their chance. To select my team I am limiting myself to a starter at each position for now. I'm also going to limit it to only KenPom era (2002) players, mostly for the fact that these guys actually have to be ready to play. Without any further ado, here's the team I would take to The Basketball Tournament.
Center- David West
With all respect to Matt Stainbrook, Brian Thornton, and Anthony Myles, this was not a tough decision. David West is probably the best player in Xavier history, is still active, has played 815 career games in the NBA, appeared in two NBA All-Star games, and was the 2003 AP National Player of the Year. His career line in the NBA is 15.5/7.2/2.3 on 48.9% shooting. His numbers at Xavier are a mind boggling 16.9/10.4/2.1. His senior season he averaged a double with 20.1 points and 11.8 rebounds while shooting 52% from the floor and 81% from the line. I want that guy on my team.
Forward- Travis Taylor
There are a lot of guys on this team who are going to want the ball in their hands at all times, Travis is not one of those guys. Every team needs someone who eats rebounds and recirculates the ball, and that someone for this team is Takeoff Trav. Taylor averaged 11.9/9.0/1.2 on 54.3% shooting his senior season and grabbed defensive rebounds better than all but 41 other players in the nation and secured almost 10% of offensive boards as well. Trav also rejected 3.1% of opponent's shot attempts. He'll do the grind work and he'll be content to score off stickbacks, that makes him an easy choice at one forward spot.
Forward- Justin Doellman
Doellman has carved out a nice career for himself in Europe, most recently playing for FC Barcelona in the Euroleague. Justin went for 11.5/4.6/1.4 on .557/.425/.863 for Barcelona at the highest level in Europe last year. That kind of shooting is reminiscent to what Doellman did in his four years at Xavier, where he and Josh Duncan frequently served to stretch the floor from the forward positions. With West and Taylor down low, Doellman will be free to linger outside and do damage as an oversized three.
Shooting Guard- Jordan Crawford
Currently Jordan Crawford is trying to break into the NBA in the summer league. His lone season at Xavier, though, guarantees him a spot on this team even if he ends up plying his trade in China again. Lost in the sheer volume of shots (16 per game, 34.1% of the attempts when he was on the floor) that Crawford took is the fact that he shot 50% from the floor and 39% from deep on his way to 20.5/4.7/2.9 per game. Fond of saying that he has 99 problems but getting buckets ain't one, Crawford is on this team to do just that. And because of this (skip to 1:23):
Point Guard- Tu Holloway
There was really only one choice for point guard for this team. The 5'11" fireplug out of Hempstead was possessed of a drive that not many Xavier players could match. The Musketeers were never out of a game when Tu was on the court. Crawford and West will score and Taylor and Doellman will fill the gaps, but Tu will provide the nails. In Tu's best season at Xavier he went for 19.7/5.0/5.4 despite playing an unholy 94.5% of the minutes on offer. In his senior season Tu recognized the team had other options, so he only stepped to the fore when the team needed him. Like against Notre Dame, or to gut Dayton, or to cap The Comeback, or to kill off an excellent Vanderbilt team. Even in the Jordan Crawford clip, it's Tu that buries two bloodless overtime threes. Every team wants The Closer, our team has him.
Those are the starters I would take for a Xavier based The Basketball Tournament team. There are some very good names that have missed the list. Do you agree with what I have, or would you make some changes?