I was going to write about the PR nightmare that Xavier University has undergone the past twelve months, and also respond to the letter that Fr. Graham wrote in the Xavier Quarterly Magazine I received last week. However, after writing the entire entry, I realized it was just full of anger and resentment to my Alma Mater and how it has handled these past twelve months. So instead, I have decided to move forward and write about the current crop of Xavier basketball players and what we can expect from them this new school year
However, one point that I would like to make is that in the letter that Fr. Graham wrote, I wish that he would have talked more in depth about the Dez Wells case. I know that that is not possible for him to do so. However, if he would have outlined what rules Dez broke, and the process of what happened, then maybe Xavier as an institution would have earned back my trust. The letter that was written only angered me further, and made me even more confident that the current administration has a long way to go in terms of erasing this PR nightmare of the past year.
Now that that is off my chest, let’s talk about the current state of Xavier basketball. This year is going to be tough. There is just no spin that I can derive from my brain that is going to erase that. Xavier lost all five starting players..three to graduation, one to transferring, and one to being expelled.
Further complicating the problem is that incoming freshmen Myles Davis and Jalen Reynolds were both deemed ineligible by the NCAA. The Myles Davis case I wrote about in a previous entry. So as you can see, Xavier’s cupboard is pretty bare. Not bare in the sense that there isn’t going to be some talent, but bare in experience on the D-1 level. The returnees include Redford, who is a marginal A-10 player with limited athletic ability, Travis Taylor who is an undersized Power forward and Jeff Robinson who flashes athletic ability but can’t put two good halves together let alone two good games. Dee Davis and Justin Martin also return to the lineup this year. However, Martin has not lived up to his recruiting ranking as of yet, and Dee Davis though he did show some improvement in last year’s NCAA tourney, still has a lot to prove.
The person that I believe everyone is excited about, myself included, is Semaj Christon. The kid seems to be a star in the making, a 6’3 point guard who can handle the ball and make his teammates better. However, we all have to remember that the kid will be a freshman and will go thru some growing pains. Finally, Isiah Philmore, a transfer from Towson that becomes eligible this year will man a power forward position. He played pretty well in the CAA, racking up 15 plus points and 7 boards in the 2010-11 campaign against decent competition. So there is some hope that his game will translate to the A-10 level.
So with all of this, what can Xavier expect? If Dee Davis, Justin Martin and Travis Taylor have improved considerably over the course of the summer; If Philmore is a 10-12 and 5-7 guy; and if Christon is as good as advertised, then I believe that Xavier could win 18-20 games this year. That would be a heckuva accomplishment with this group, and Mack should be given the Coach of the Year award in the A-10. It will be fun to watch these kids grow, but there are going to be a lot of games where we moan and groan and collectively scratch our heads. It is still Xavier basketball though, and I still hope and believe that the future will be bright, as long as the administration can get out of their own way.