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 6 seed, the 2009 Xavier Musketeers!
Sean Miller was in his fifth and final season at Xavier and was rebuilding a roster that had seen 47% of its scoring walk out the door with Josh Duncan, Stanley Burrell, and Drew Lavender (and to a lesser extent Adrion Graves). While the offense took a step back due to point guard issues, this team was the best defensive team Xavier has had in the past two decades. They used their length, athleticism, and the fact that they were just mean dudes to lock opponents up all season and let them know about it in the process.
On offense, the team was slowed by turnovers, but still shot the ball extremely well from beyond the arc, got to the line a lot, and flew to the offensive glass.
Much like the 2008 team, this squad did not have a ball dominant go to player on offense, in fact only two players averaged double figures. Senior BJ Raymond (14.1/4.1/1.4) led the way and was once again an absurdly consistent threat from deep, connecting on 41% of his three point attempts. Derrick Brown (13.7/6.1/1.9) was just behind him and added a three point stroke (43%) and better distribution to his ability to dunk the basketball seemingly every time the whim struck him. CJ Anderson (9.9/5.5/2.5) was once again the all energy, gravity defiant menace that Xavier fans had taken to the season before and saved a special performance for the UC Bearcats. Jason Love (6.7/5.9/0.5) was in his first season as a starter and was not by any means the focal point of the offense, but he was irrepressible on the glass at both ends and blocked shots at a high level, securing the paint for Xavier on defense. The final starter for most of the season was Dante Jackson (6.6/3.5/2.7), who faced the Paul Scruggsian dilemma of having to play point guard, despite not being a natural point guard.
Off the bench, and sometimes in the starting lineup, this team featured a freshman Terrell Holloway (5.5/2.0/2.2), who would grow into the role of point guard over the season, but have ice water in his veins at the free throw line from day one. Fellow freshman Kenny Frease (5.4/3.7/0.8) also logged a lot of time off the bench in spelling Love and Tulsa transfer Jamel McLean (4.4/4.4/0.7) would also pitch in on the boards to great effect. Brad Redford (5.1/0.6/0.6) would enjoy a fantastic freshman campaign, setting his career high with a 46.5% mark from deep.
Xavier came into this season unranked after making the Elite Eight and clearly took that to heart, as they began the season with intent of sending a message. The did so in Puerto Rico, where they battled back from 7 down with 7 to play against Elite Eight bound Missouri behind a clutch 10 for 10 from the line by Holloway, 6 of which came in the final minute and a half. After avoiding a banana peel in Virginia Tech by way of a half court Dante Jackson buzzer beater, Xavier took down #13 Memphis by being the only regular season opponent to hold Tyreke Evans and the Tigers under 60 points. Two weeks later, it was time for one of the more ill tempered Crosstown Shootouts in history. Xavier led for the final 38 minutes of the game, at times by as many as 17, but there were 6 technical fouls dished out, including Brown’s second which he received with 1:20 left for taunting the beaten Bearcats bench and fake tough guy Mick Cronin. From there pair of setbacks to Duke and Butler were followed by an 11 game winning streak and Xavier would romp to another A-10 title and a 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Portland State was in the game for a while but double digit performances by Jackson, Brown, Raymond, and Anderson coupled with a second half clampdown saw Xavier through comfortably. Next were Bo Ryan’s finely tuned Wisconsin Badgers, but the wing swing would prove fruitless against Xavier’s length and Wisconsin would shoot just 28% from the floor as X overturned a halftime deficit and won 60-49. The bid for back to back Elite Eights would fall just short against 1 seed Pitt as an 8 point halftime lead evaporated and Levance Fields and Sam Young would hit enough big shots to carry the day for the Panthers.