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COLLEGE HEAD COACH: PREVIEW Q&A's

College Preview | Top 144 Previews | More Interviews

By Shawn Siegel

shawn@collegehoops.net

September 18th, 2006

 

Xavier Head Coach: Sean Miller

 

Sean Miller's 17-win first season as a head coach in 2004-05 was solid.  His second season went even better as Xavier won 21 games and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.  But with the top 7 players back from last year's team, 2006-07 could make those seasons look simply mediocre.

 

Shawn Siegel (CHN): How does this year's schedule compare to recent seasons in terms of difficulty?

Sean MillerSean Miller (SM): Our schedule is very difficult and it will challenge our team immensely in the months of November and December with games, including games in the Paradise Jam against teams like VCU, Villanova, College of Charleston, Iowa, Alabama, Toledo and Middle Tennessee. Our other non-conference games include Illinois, Kansas State, Bucknell, Arizona State, Detroit, Cincinnati, Miami (Ohio) and at Creighton and I could keep going. This will help us as we enter conference play.  Our conference will be competitive as well and certainly our team wants to be consistent in conference play and be playing our best basketball of the season as we enter March.

 

CHN: How will you deal with the losses of your graduating seniors?

 

SM: We lost a dominant post player and rebounder in Brian Thornton, a guy
who made the A-10 First Team and could have been player of the year before he got hurt late last season. We will play a lot of combinations but one guy who will be counted on to fill some of that void is Brandon Cole. Coleís play was invaluable to our A-10 tournament run a year ago.  He was a big part of our 2004 Elite Eight run as well. It took about four months into our season before his knee injury was completely behind him.  To his credit, he kept working when he wasnít playing a lot and when the opportunity presented itself late in our season, he took advantage of it. As a fifth year senior, Brandon is one of our teamís leaders and is our best overall rebounder.  We are counting on him to
provide both of these important qualities in his final season at Xavier.

 

 

CHN: What will the strengths and weaknesses of this yearís team to be?


SM: We certainly have the ability to have an excellent basketball team.  Our finish a year ago has given our returning players tremendous momentum throughout the summer.  I believe we have had an excellent off-season, all thirteen players stayed on campus and worked hard together.  I like our junior and senior classes, they have experience and have been productive during their respective careers.  We have a number of players that know what it takes to win at this level. This is important considering the challenges that this year's schedule brings us.

 

 

CHN: Talk about one or two of your guys that stands out as being an unheralded leader and contributor?

 

SM: One of the most exciting ingredients we have on this year's team is experience.  So much of college basketball is about your seniors.  Our senior class has three players that have seen it all - Justin Doellman, Justin Cage, and Brandon Cole.  These three will be our leaders and they are special people and very good players.  They are the only players in the history of college basketball that have won four games in four days, two times, in a conference tournament.  Having said that, our team will benefit greatly from their perspective on what it takes to win.

 

CHN: What should we expect out of the incoming players. Who will make the biggest impact?

SC:
 (Oklahoma transfer) Drew Lavender has all of the tools to be an exceptional point guard in our program.  He has already won a
championship in the Big 12 Conference at Oklahoma as their starting point guard.  He has the total respect of our team because he has the ability to make them better - which is the ultimate compliment to a point guard. Drew has a toughness that is contagious as well.  He is that player that wants to play in big games.

 

 

CHN: Are you pretty well settled with your starting lineup? If not, what should be the biggest battle for a starting spot?

SM: We certainly have the ability to have an excellent basketball team.   Our finish a year ago has given our returning players tremendous
momentum throughout the summer.  I believe we have had an excellent off-season, all thirteen players stayed on campus and worked hard together.  I like our junior and senior classes, they have experience and have been productive during their respective careers.  We have a number of players that know what it takes to win at this level. This is important considering the challenges that this year's schedule brings us...Stanley Burrell is one guy who is coming off of two very good seasons for us.  He was on the A-10 All-Rookie team two seasons ago, after leading us in scoring.  Last year, he earned a berth on the All-Conference Second Team after once again leading our team in scoring.  This year we look to him to provide leadership for the first time.  We also are counting on him to be a consistent defender and an offensive player that gets to the foul line more often.  Stanley has a chance to be one of the premier guards in our conference.

 

CHN: Thanks Sean.  Good luck.

 

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