The Xavier Sweet 16* features all 19 Xavier teams from the KenPom era in one bracket where Twitter polls will decide the winners. Here’s your 12 seed, the 2011 Xavier Musketeers!
Hot of the heels of a Sweet 16 appearance in year one, Chris Mack moved into his second season in charge with a good group of players returning. While he had a strong core coming back, there basically no new faces in the squad and Mack really only used seven players for a majority of the year. Three players were in the top 100 for min% with Tu (formerly Terrel) Holloway playing a startling 94.5% of the minutes.
Not much really changed with Mack from his first to his second year. His in game management was still lacking at times, Kenny Frease was still hedging ball screens and X got another 6 seed.
After Jordan Crawford left in the offseason, there was a void in the role of “go-to guy” for Xavier, Tu Holloway was all too happy to fill it. Holloway (19.7/5/5.4) played the most minutes, had the highest usage, the highest offensive rating and the highest shooting percentages from the line and from three. Partnered with Holloway was one of the classiest guys to ever play the game, Mark Lyons (13.6/3.1/3.1). While Lyons struggled with his efficiency, he was the perfect partner to Holloway to make one of the toughest backcourt partnerships we’ve ever seen.
Down low, Kenny “Big Kenny” Frease (11.7/7.1/1.2) and Jamel McLean (10.6/8.4/.8) both shot around 55% inside the arc and cleaned the defensive glass. Dante Jackson (7.9/3.1/2) was still the leader on the court and the glue that held the team together. His 3-point shooting was the worst of his college career but he seldom turned the ball over and was a constant on defense. The bench depth consisted of Andrew Taylor (2.8/1.6/.4) and Jeff Robinson (4.4/3.1/.2)
The non-con schedule started in less than thrilling fashion, with two home buy games that were made needlessly complicated. It took three overtimes to finally beat Wofford before and embarrassing loss to Miami (OH). A win over Butler was about the only good thing from the non-con as X dropped their chances at good wins before getting dusted in the Shootout to sit at 8-5 going into the A-10 regular season.
The non-conference was less than stellar and X was ranked only 84th in the Kenpom. The team pulled it together and then some, going 15-1 in the A-10 with the lone loss being on the road to Charlotte in which the team shot 15% from 3. On the way, Xavier brushed aside Temple (34th) and Richmond (39th) on the way to yet another conference title. Xavier ended 24-6 and looked primed for another trip to the second weekend.
Things quickly turned sour for the Muskies though. In the second round of the A-10 Tournament X was matched up against NIT bound Dayton, a team X had beaten twice already. The Musketeers erased a 17-point second half deficit, capped of with a Tu Holloway and-1 to give Xavier the one-point lead with 20 seconds to play. It didn’t last though and X surrendered late FTs to lose 68-67. Only a week later, X got run off the court by a criminally underseeded Marquette team.
The end of this season was abrupt for Xavier Nation. We thought we’d at least get out of the first game of the conference tourney and probably be back in the Sweet 16, but it wasn’t to be. We still got to see Holloway become the A-10 POTY, he and Lyons run other guards ragged, and the last ride for McLean, Dante and the Three-Headed Monster.
Side note: 2011 was the first year for this blog which started as the Xavier Examiner. 9 years on, Brad and Joel have added me and Bryan into the mix and we genuinely enjoy writing and talking about Xavier basketball. Thank you to everyone who has been reading this blog for any amount of time, we really appreciate it.