Rank: #1 A-10
21-11, 8-8, 7th (t)
It wasn’t long
ago that Xavier made their magical run to the Elite Eight. On
paper the Musketeers only return three starters, but all five
players who engineered the improbable run through the Atlantic
10 tourney return to shoot for an Elite Eight run of their own.
Thornton and Dedrick Finn didn’t compete for the entire season,
but both put up good numbers for Xavier. Thornton averaged a
team high 15.3 points and 6.8 rebounds in 21 contests, while
point guard Finn tacked on 5.0 points and 4.0 assists per
contest. Will Caudle provided some depth under the basket
during his senior campaign and has run out of eligibility.
Forward Boubacar Coly and guard Keena Christiansen will not
return to the squad after seeing limited minutes last season.
Xavier the favorite in the A-10 is the pickup of Drew Lavender.
The transfer from Oklahoma is a lightning quick point guard who
averaged 9.7 points, 3.2 assists and 1.6 steals with the Sooners
in 2004-2005. Lavender will be the first McDonald’s
All-American to suit up for Xavier and expectations are
rightfully high for the 5-7 Columbus, Ohio native. Shooting
guard Adrion Graves has the talent to contribute off the bench
as a freshman. Graves can hit the three-point shot and use his
athleticism to get to the basket. He’ll run into some turnover
problems if he tries to do too much, but filling in some minutes
off the bench shouldn’t be a problem for Graves this season.
Forward Derrick Brown redshirted last season and added some much
needed strength. Jason Love has the potential to develop into a
solid big man. At 6-9 and 255 pounds, the term big man might be
an understatement. Love has some decent post moves and can dish
to the open man when stuck under the basket.
Who to Watch:
frontcourt is deep and talented with Justin Doellman, Justin
Cage, Josh Duncan and Brandon Cole battling for minutes.
Doellman averaged 11.0 points and 6.7 boards last year and is a
threat to step out and hit the long ball. Cage put up similar
numbers, averaging 10.5 points and 5.4 rebounds and that
underappreciated duo will earn some recognition during their
senior season. Duncan started the final 11 games of his
sophomore year and proved that he deserves to start all season
long in 2006-2007. The 6-9 forward may be the most talented
player on the squad and a breakout season this year won’t
surprise anybody in Cincinnati. Cole, the only true center on
the roster, will bring more experience off the bench. After
battling injuries most of the last two years, Cole returned to
help Xavier reach the big dance. With the foul trouble the
frontcourt, especially Duncan, tend to get into, having an
option like Cole will be extremely beneficial.
returns to his starting role at the shooting guard spot after
averaging 14.4 points per game as a sophomore. The 6-3
Indianapolis, Indiana product is a tremendous outside shooter
and should once again at least earn second-team all-conference
honors. Johnny Wolf and B.J. Raymond will provide the depth on
the perimeter. Wolf took over the point guard duties during the
conference tournament run and, while it wasn’t the prettiest of
performances, Wolf did lead the team through their best group of
games of the season. The A-10 could have five teams battling
for one or two spots in the NCAA Tournament. If the Musketeers
aren’t one of those teams, it will be a big surprise.
Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Junior, Guard, 14.4 points per game
Senior, Forward, 10.5 points per game
Senior, Forward, 11.0 points per game
Junior, Forward, 9.1 points per game