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The Top 10 Xavier stories of 2021

2021 was another Covid marred year, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t plenty of Xavier news to (sometimes) enjoy.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Xavier Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Despite what you may have heard, it isn’t always the negative that gets traction. The most read Xavier stories of this year were an amalgamation of excitement, good recruiting news, and optimism looking forward. Maybe in the unending miasma of constant Covid and cancellations everywhere, some good news was just what people were looking for. As almost always, Xavier was here to provide it.

It’s all on Travis Steele this year.

Xavier’s coach isn’t quite embattled, but he had a lot to prove coming into this season. So far, he’s proving it. “We’ve argued on this site that Xavier fans should have patience with Travis Steele as he shapes the program. By this time next year, I think we’ll know if we were right.” Maybe, just maybe, things are on the right track.

Team Zip Em Up gets its start

This was a lot of fun. Xavier’s alumni team didn’t go as far as any of us would have liked, but seeing the Mark Lyons, Trevon Bluiett, Jeff Robinson, and JP Macura back on the court again was an absolute blast during the doldrums of summer. Even better, Xavier’s rabid reaction to their team this year means the Cintas will host TBT games this year.

Xavier’s recruiting is off to a great start

Kam Craft and Tyrell Ward highlight a recruiting class that is once again ranked among the best in the nation. Xavier doesn’t rebuild, they reload.

Xavier is projected to have a great season

Projections don’t mean everything, but after a long postseason drought it was good to see Xavier back in amongst the contenders at the start of this season. 13 games (and forever pending) into the year it looks like the rosy outlook was well merited.

CJ Wilcher is gone

With good recruiting comes the problem that playing time can be hard to come by. CJ Wilcher was a part of the rotation near the end of the year, but left to find more time and possibly join his brother. CJ is averaging 7.4/2.9/1.1 with an offensive rating of 99.5 for an absolutely horrible Nebraska team.

“Well, the annual...”

You know the rest of that sentence. It can’t all be good news.

Coaching struggles coincided with team problems

“This season is reaching the pointy end. As it does, Coach Steele needs to figure out what he is doing with his rotations. On the bench he has a player who has been bad at times but seems to be responding to coaching attempts by changing his game. Steele will also add a weapon in Bryan Griffin that he has been reluctant to utilize. He can either put this roster together well to make a run, or he can watch this season end like the last two have.” Unfortunately, we know how that ended.

The Crosstown Shootout

The Shootout always generates traction and this year was particularly good. UC fans ran through the gamut of excuses as their team no showed and got hammered by a high major from a real conference. That sentence, coincidentally, could be recycled for yesterday’s football game.

Xavier needs a miracle

None were forthcoming, but Xavier didn’t help themselves down the stretch last season. A 20 day Covid pause led to a stretch of 2-5 basketball and the request for divine intervention for an NCAA bid. None was forthcoming. That this season seems eerily similar is hopefully just a coincidence.

The best team in Ohio

By the time Paul Scruggs finished mean mugging his way across half court the message had clearly been sent: Xavier owns Ohio. Beating Ohio State just confirmed what nearly everyone already suspected. Xavier’s super senior has struggled this season, but he also delieverd the moment of the year so far.