Yesterday we looked at the most clicked on stories of this decade. Because of the way the internet works, though, that’s not a list of the biggest stories of Xavier’s decade. Sometimes clicks and what actually matters don’t track, and sometimes so many things are written about something that one article can’t gain much traction. Here, then, are the stories that defined Xavier since 2010.
If there is one moment that even the most casual college basketball fan knows Xavier for it is this. Xavier dominated the game after a week of particularly nasty prelude. Sean Kilpatrick, now known only as a question, dared question Tu Holloway. Tu answered all game on the court, then answered with a chest thumping yelled proclamation with 18 seconds to play. Nine seconds later, the teams were headed into history with a fight that answered all questions as to which is the most genuine rivalry in college sport.
Mick Cronin came out and pontificated, Xavier took the better of a season to recover, and the Shootout was nearly canceled. The actions of December 10th, 2011 have echoed over the last eight years for Xavier fans. It was the biggest single moment of the decade.
Xavier joins the Big East
In March of 2013, Xavier announced the move that has since defined the program. Too long labeled a mid-major due to conference affiliation, the Musketeers made the jump to perhaps the name conference in college basketball. Joining the Big East has given the school a deal in which all of their conference games are televised and most of their non-conference games have become appointment viewing as well. Xavier had always been a premier program, now the conference reflected that. And UC ended up in a redux of Conference USA.
Xavier and Malcolm Butler sprint into the Elite Eight
When Edmond Sumner collapsed with a terrible knee injury, Xavier’s season looked on the verge of lost. Following the injury, the Musketeers lost nine of the next 14 games and plunged down the polls and the metrics. When Trevon Bluiett rolled an ankle, it looked over for good. With 38 seconds left in the Big East tournament, the Musketeers took it to Butler and guaranteed their NCAA tournament spot. Then, magic.
First it was Maryland, a dark hourse Final Four pick. Xavier’s 11 seeded squad tore them apart in the second half to set up a meeting with a freakishly athletic Florida State squad. Xavier didn’t just beat the Seminoles, they ran them off the floor. Facing a more athletic team and with serious depth questions, the Musketeers put the game away before it could become a contest.
That left Arizona and Sean Miller. The Lexus to Xavier’s alleged Buick. The mentor against protege. The game was a back and forth classic that Xavier won with a late, great, call to get Sean O’Mara open rolling to the basket. Arizona’s last shot went begging and Malcolm Bernard, another great grad transfer and Sweet 16 hero, grabbed the rebound and sprinted for the Elite Eight.
Edmond Sumner changes the Shootout forever
UC had always been the bully in the Crosstown Shootout. The big conference team against the underdogs who often gave better than they got. That ended for good on December 12th of 2015. With the game in the balance and UC’s shot blocking menace looming in the lane, Edmond Sumner caught the ball with a head of steam. His dunk, nay, assassination, changed the game and the rivalry forever. Xavier is noe the big team, UC the program in the mid-major conference that must win the game to demonstrate it can hang. When Sumner baptized Octavious Ellis, the balance of power officially made the change that had been coming.
We also celebrated the decade by naming our Team of the Decade on the podcast. Give a listen here to hear the seven players we chose.