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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

October 5th, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball


Xavier Musketeers


Overall Rank: #35

Conference Rank: #1 A-10


2005-06: 21-11, 8-8, 7th (t)

2005-06 postseason: NCAA


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.


Who’s Out: Brian 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.


Who’s In: What makes 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: The 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. 


Final Projection: Stanley Burrell 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.


Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA


Projected Starting Five:

Drew Lavender, Junior, Guard, DNP last season

Stanley Burrell, Junior, Guard, 14.4 points per game

Justin Cage, Senior, Forward, 10.5 points per game

Justin Doellman, Senior, Forward, 11.0 points per game

Josh Duncan, Junior, Forward, 9.1 points per game

36 Michigan St » Complete List » 34 Virginia

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