Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Week Ahead

Xavier returns to action Monday night against Rhode Island. Rhode Island enjoys a 20-5 record overall but hasn't played well the last few games. They are still a dangerous team and I believe a lock to make the NCAA tournament. They have a terrific backcourt in Parfait Bitee (former X recruit) and Jimmy Baron who has NBA range on his jumpshot. Baron Jr. is a terrific three point shooter and player overall who will be Stan's assignment. Will Daniels is the leader in the frontcourt and what a leader to have. Xavier's defensive strategies have held frontcourt players in check for the most part but it may be hard to contain him. Kaheim Seawright is another solid frontcourt piece. They are very athletic overall and Lamonte Ulmer, Keith Cothran, and Joe Mbang round out their top 7. Jim Baron is a program builder and Ram fans are fearful he will be in position for the St. John's job should it open in the spring. This will be a tough one to get but I look forward to Burrell rebounding from his last outing and Duncan to continue his high level. Lavender will be up against a good defender in Bitee and his left thumb may be of concern. We need him for the post season to be 100% and along with his thumb he rolled an ankle the last game. If he comes out solid and can push we will be in great shape. They are planning a 'pink out' in support of breast cancer research so by the end of the season we should have the complete rainbow when it comes to these shirt promotions.

Duquesne is coming to town Thursday night and they are enjoying some success for the first time in a loooonnng time. Everhart and company has raised the talent level of the roster remarkably in his first two years. His only holdovers Aaron Jackson and Kieron Achara are key pieces but the most exciting player Shawn James comes off the bench. Achara and James form a nice 6'10" one two punch in the post and both are great defensive players. James recently had a triple double and hit two big three pointers down the stretch against Dayton on their home floor to pull off a victory. He will be Duquesne's first NBA player in a while when the time comes. He also has freshman Damian Saunders on the front line who was denied admission by Marquette or he would be playing for Tom Crean. Bill Clark is a sniper off the bench and Kojo Mensah is one of the most athletic leapers you will find at the guard position and he doesn't start either. They go 8 deep and we will need our 3's to be raining in to be comfortable in this one. Everhart (much like Baron) is a program builder. Our schedule doesn't let up these last 6 outside of GW at home.

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