Is anyone else getting excited for this weekend? First-year head coach, Chris Mack, takes over the reigns for the Muskies who were recently picked to finish second in the A-10 behind Dayton, who is a preseason Top 25 team behind Chris Wright. Xavier and Dayton both advanced past the first round in the NCAA tournament last year and the Muskies are shooting for there 4th straight A-10 regular season championship.
Listed below is a preview of the Muskies by position and a prediction for what may lie ahead for X in 2009-10:
Here me out… this Xavier team is loaded at guard and may play a lineup with four of them in at once during some games. Muskie fans will finally get to see Jordan “I dunked on Lebron” Crawford. Crawford has received great reviews from spectators and the media and will be counted on immediately as the teams go to player. In addition, the team has a solid core of guards back in Dante Jackson, Brad Redford, and Terrell Holloway and have also added redshirt freshmen, Mark Lyons. Jackson is a great defender and may play the three spot to start the year, Redford is a threat from anywhere behind the arc, and Holloway is a good ball-handler with decent court vision. Since they’re so deep at guard, I say Xavier plays a three guard lineup during the course of the season.
The only true forward on Xavier’s team with previous experience this year is Jamel McLean. When you lose three great forwards in Derrick Brown, C.J. Anderson, and B.J. Raymond you have to give the forward slot a significant downgrade. McLean did improve over the course of last year and showed he could be counted on in the post and as a solid rebounder. However, McLean is raw and reminds me of a Derrick Brown during his first year at Xavier, a good rebounder and dunker, but outside of that he doesn’t have much upside.
Jason Love is the lone senior for this young team and will be counted on to provide a presence in the paint and on the glass. Seven-footer, Kenny “You Just Got Frozen” Frease is back and has some experience under his belt. I believe Frease will come off the bench to start the year but will be counted on for major minutes with Love and McLean down low. Frease got better over the course of the year with his back facing the basket in the post but needs to capitalize when he gets to the charity stripe (48% last year) for the Muskies to succeed.
I feel Chris Mack is an above average coach right off the bat just because he takes over a system and team he’s familiar with. Mack will make some adjustments to the play calling and game management, but the majority of what he learned from Miller I believe will be put into place during games. In addition, Mack is very familiar with the conference, team, and also has shown already that he can recruit big names.
Prediction: 24-9, One and done.
Xavier has a very tough non-conference schedule with the likes of games against Wake Forest, Butler, Florida, LSU, Cincinnati, Kansas State, Marquette and other potential good match-ups in the Old Spice Classic. However, Xavier has the benefit of being in the A-10! I think the Musketeers will get there 4th straight regular season championship but they will lose in the conference tournament and will be overpowered by a higher seed in the second round of the NCAA’s. I think this team, like many Xavier teams in the past, is under-rated, however, they are young and will be loaded with a strong class of experienced juniors for the 2010-11 season. Also, I think the A-10 will get three teams in the big dance (Xavier, Dayton, and Richmond).
Projected Starting Lineup:
G - Terrell Holloway
G - Jordan Crawford
G - Dante Jackson
F - Jamel McLean
C - Jason Love
G - Brad Redford
G - Mark Lyons
C - Kenny Frease
G - Brian Walsh
F - Jeff Robinson