Monday, March 31, 2008

Muskies 08-09

I thought it would be nice to take a quick look to next year and see how the roster shapes up. I have a little personal insight for each one of the guys. We all know this is very fluid and players could transfer but I don't think that will really happen. Sean recruited them all and they are coming off an E8 appearance. But anyway here goes:

#11 BJ Raymond: BJ will get a crack at a starting job. He needs to work on taking people off the dribble this off season and diversify his scoring arsenal. I think he will and he already possesses tools to do so. He is limited atheletically (his first step isn't quite 'explosive') but his confidence in scoring is not the issue. He also needs to continue to improve on the defensive end. He will average between 12-14 next year if his health stays good.

#20 CJ Anderson: CJ will be our leading scorer next year. He will be the 'go to guy' when we need a bucket and he will respond. We know his game and I am not going to sit here and tell you he needs to work on his jump shot because he doesn't. Just keep smashing them in the mouth and doing what you do.

#4 Charles Bronson: 'Death Wish' may find even less minutes next year but he certainly flashed offensive potential when he got his chances. This was puzzling to me because his reputation was that of a defensive guy, and he is a good shot blocker. His lack of understanding team defensive concepts cost him minutes. We often see juco guys get 'it' in their second year in the program, will Charles do the same?

#5 Derrick Brown: Although he is still listed at 6'7" he is actually closer to 6'8.5" and certainly plays like he is 6'10" sometimes on the glass. DBrown needs to continue to work on his perimeter game and working on his dribble drives. He will be asked to matchup with the other teams best frontcourt player defensively so if he continues to add strength that would be a positive. He is a superstar waiting to happen at the collegiate level.

#31 Jason Love: He was our most improved player this season. He has a real nose for the ball. 'Big Lovely' will compete and possibly earn the starting center position in 08-09. A front line rotation of Love, Anderson, Brown, McLean, and Frease will be nice. Love is a terrific defensive rebounder. A few more moves (maybe a face up jumper from the elbow) would be nice to see from Love. If he can continue on his improvement arc though I think we would all be very happy.

#2 Adrion Graves: Everybody is writing AD off but me. I am thinking this kid is going to take a step up much like BJ did between his sophomore and junior years. And if coach likes bringing #11 off the bench AD could push for a starting role. He just needs extended minutes to relax and get in the flow. He was constantly looking over his shoulder this year to get yanked and he needs to get that out of his mind. I hope him all the best and I would be very happy to see him continue to grow in an X uniform.

#25 Dante' Jackson: This guy is one of my favorites. He will be our defensive stopper and could start the year as our primary ball handler. He will be on the floor alot either way. Jackson is a 'high level' player who the extended minutes at the end of the season is going to benefit big time next season.

#22 Jamel McLean: If you like DBrown your going to like McLean. Another 6-8 athletic guy? Yep we are stockpiling. He will fit right in and giving he has had a year in the system will be one step ahead of the frosh on getting minutes. He gives us another true frontcourt piece and depth in case of any unseen circumstances.

#15 Andy Taylor: This sophomore is a project and will most likely see limited minutes in my opinion. That is not to mean he is not a good player. He just needs weight and strength. He goes about 6-8 205 right now but he has a 'good skill set' and his number is not the only similarities he has with Justin Doellman.

FR. Mark 'Cheeky' Lyons: This 6-1 freshman has unbelievable athleticism and scoring tools. He is more of a '2' than a '1' right now. I have read he tends to play out of control at times which leads me to believe he will not be handed the ball as our point guard from day #1. He will play many minutes there next year though and I am excited to see him in summer ball.

FR. Brad Redford: The reigning 'Mr. Basketball' in Michigan is going to suprise many in the Xavier Nation. Most have him ticketed for a redshirt and that very well could happen. But if he shows up and can guard some people on our team I think he plays and plays quite a bit. His jumpshot to go along with Raymond's will be deadly.

FR. Kenny Frease: The 6'11" 275 pound post is the low block beast we have been waiting for. He is heavy footed and isn't going to impress you with his end to end game. He does understand how big he is and how size should be used on the basketball floor. I see this guy playing 18-20 minutes a game unless he clearly steps up and earns more which could happen. There is no guarantee this guys starts from day one though, 'Big Lovely' will compete with 'Mr. Frease' all fall to be the X '5' man.

FR. Brian Walsh: The Pennsylvania native may be the best recruit out of the bunch if you go by who else offered schollies. I don't think we will see Brian in summer ball due to a knee strain. The staff will not want him taking any chances at Woodward HS. He is the 'wild card' to me because the injury may force the staff to consider redshirting him. Although his versatility to play anywhere from the '1' to the '3' makes him an interesting recruit. He also has the reputation of a dead eye shooter.

This team will need to foster and create their own identity but I think it will be one of superior frontcourt strength. Pound it down inside and if that's not there kick out to one of the open shooters. I do not like to rely on freshman and at least one of the new guys will be deemed a disappointment by the negative rubes all fan bases have. I don't think Frease will ever live up to his hype though I certainly hope he does. Redford all of sudden is much more ballyhooed too. What I do know though is we have some great pieces left (Anderson and Brown) to build a ball team around. The questions will be the lead guard and I think that will be answered fairly quickly next season. We have a very tough non conference schedule in front of us again and I don't expect 30 wins. I do expect 20, an NCAA tournament berth, and anything after that is gravy. Yes the future does look very bright on Victory Parkway. And to the 'haters' out there who are praying for Coach Miller to take another job you better pray Jamie Dixon leaves Pitt or Sidney Lowe falls out of favor at NC State. When ESPN tells you IU officials have said the buyout at XU is too high that means they have already inquired about him. I bet a steak dinner he has a new agreement from the Muskies before the Final Four.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

#1 seeds all make the final four

All the dust has settled and the number 1 seeds all made it to the final four. 60 teams went home crushed in the last week to set up what seems almost a forgone conclusion. All the dreamers are home or on the way there and will dream of something else tonight. Keggers and college chicks maybe? All the Cinderella' s came to the Ball and are leaving empty handed. Or are they?

The dream of making it to the final four is over but many of the teams and players have much to be proud of. Who would have thought Western kentucky would make it to the sweet sixteen. I remember discussions in the weeks prior to to the tourney in which the national talking heads were discussing whether or not Davidson should even get in if they didn't win their conference tournament. 

Careers were defined in this tournament. Josh Duncan may have sold himself as an NBA prospect. Joe Alexander completed his transformation into one of the most dominant and versatile players in all of college basketball. Stephan Curry showed the world that sometimes guts and determination mean as much as skill. Don't get me wrong he's skilled but it was his Jordan like WILL that got them as far as they made it. 

As a fan am I disappointed it came down to the 1's? A little. Would it have been nice for Cinderella to make it to the Final Four? definitely. Would I trade all the game winning baskets, Drama, and excitement for any other sporting event? Not a chance. I love college basketball. 

The Morning After

To all you tequila drinkers out there eating a grape or two right after a shot isn't that bad. It adds a little extra (something the guys just didn't have last night) to the overall experience. But hey as usual the sun did rise and we have plenty to be proud of. As I headed out to the local Kroger for morning breakfast I saw plenty of folks Xavier proud with sweat shirts and hats. Here's hoping to the third time is the charm the next time we get to the Elite 8. The open look misses in the first half came back to haunt us in a big way. This is the first time all year we saw the caliber of two guys like Collison and Love on the floor at the same time. Looking back on 07-08 these seniors and team will have a hard argument that they truly are the best Xavier team of all time despite the season coming to end unceremoniously. To merit:

  1. 30-7 overall record. The most wins in any season.
  2. 2nd Elite 8 overall for the program and third Sweet 16.
  3. An Atlantic 10 Championship.
  4. More than likely a final top 10 ranking when the final polls come out after F4.
  5. 3-0 record back to back seasons against the Dayton Flyers.
  6. 8-3 against squads from the so called 'power conferences'. BTW- The PAC 10 is the best overall conference this season from where I am sitting.
  7. A chance to put another stick in Bob Huggins' eye. BJ Raymond you now join Lenny Brown as Chuggy Bear's two favorite X players. This one in my estimation had just a little extra on the line than any Crosstown Victory.
  8. Speaking of which another Crosstown Shootout victory as a cherry on top of it all.

And to boot all three seniors will graduate and join the likes of Walker, Hill, Chalmers, Sato, and Myles among X nation all time favorites. Thanks again guys. I really love being a die hard X fan right about now. And again there is just 8 great facts (no coincidence) listed above to remind you of what you mean to the program forever.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Thank You Seniors

Thanks to Drew, Josh, and Stan for the great memories. I know all in the Xavier Nation are hurting a bit right now but this 'Run' will always be remembered fondly. In a couple days will recap the great season and all we had to enjoy this year watching you guys do your thing. I am going to do one shot of Patron' for each of you guys tonight. Yeah I plan on getting my head kicked in to tonight too but it will truly be a celebration of a great season. And hats off to Ben Howland and the UCLA Bruins. They surely brought the 'A' game tonight and Kevin Love is everything you heard he was. Collison is a ball breaker too. Good luck guys the rest of the way, sincerely.

I guess now that we are in off season mode will use this blog to cover player updates, recruits, play for pay speculation, summer league basketball, and so on. Who knows what else will show up considering me and the Dastardly one are huge NFL guys. But anyway this has been a terrific season and before I get funked up I just wanted to say I appreciate what the guys did for us. We will truly miss you. Peace out.

Another Positive Sign?

It has been established that I am a huge 'karma' guy. I just finished reading a blurb on fox sports reported by Jeff Goodman that IU will offer Tony Bennett their head coaching position. He is citing two sources. I also double backed to to see their take and they are reporting that the buyout at XU is too high for IU to offer coach Miller. This is certainly positive news if true and I also read that the Hoosiers want to have a man in place by the Final Four. If Bennett decides to stay at Wazzu then the next man on the infamous 'list' is Mike Montgomery.

BTW- I am very calm today for some strange reason. Usually the anxiety before ball games kills me all day long. Hanging out with my little man, having a good time and really looking forward to this game tonight and no nervousness as of yet. Once the tip gets here though I could probably crawl out of my skin like that guy on the 'Guitar Hero' commercial.


Friday, March 28, 2008

UCLA Scouting Report

A true blue blood in college basketball. Many, many would say UCLA has better legacy overall than Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke and Indiana. They do not hang Final Four Banners at Pauley Pavillion, only national titles. They have 11 of them. Sure they appreciate playing on the final weekend but they expect to win it all. Ben Howland is an excellent coach and has guided the Bruins to the last two final fours and one national championship game. He had the misfortune of facing the Florida Gators is all. Please note UCLA has only been playing 8 outside of the Mississippi Valley State game in the tournament. We will only profile those players all though a fab frosh like Chace Stanback may get some minutes if the situation is right. Now to the primaries:

Starting 5:

#2 Darren Collison 6-0 160 Jr. 14.7 PPG: Collison is the straw that stirs the drink. He averages 3.7 APG and shoots the trey at an incredible 52%. Burrell meet Mr. Collison. Hang all over the guy as soon as he steps on the floor. That is no easy task. This guy may be the fastest point guard in the country. Collison has been clocked running the 40 yard dash faster than Yamon Figurs of the Baltimore Ravens who ran the fastest 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine last April. You play him tight, he blows by you. Lay off too much and he drops a bomb on you. He is slight of frame but Muskie fans knows that doesn't always tell the story. He could have been a lottery selection if he entered the draft last year. He returned for two reasons: to get stronger and win a national championship.

#0 Russell Westbrook 6-3 189 So. 12.4 PPG: He is a redshirt sophomore and he will play the point in the very rare occassions Collison is not on the floor. He is a very talented player with all the tools you look for in a scorer. He has decent (32%) three point capability. Westbrook also scrapes on the boards very well and when he is not at the '2' Josh Shipp slides over. Lavender will draw this matchup and I think you will see the typical attempt at post up moves on #24. The problem with that unless you do that as part of your offense regularly (ala LaSalle) your guards usually aren't used to it.

#3 Josh Shipp 6-5 220 Jr. 12.5 PPG: Josh is equally comfortable at forward as he is at wing guard. He is an average three point marksman and was in a slump the first two tournament games. He picked it up against the Hilltoppers. Shipp has battled injuries throughout his career and comes from a family of ballers. His two brothers also have played at PAC 10 schools with Jerren currently being at Arizona State. He will hurt Anderson on the perimeter so I wouldn't be too suprised to see DBrown draw this assignment.

#23 Luc Ricard Mbah a Moute 6-8 232 Jr. 8.5 PPG: He is a prince of his village in Cameroon but this guy plays like a warrior. He is good at rebounding, blocking shots, and making steals. If UCLA had a 'glue guy' this would be Luc. He is not a good three point shooter at all. He uses his considerable athleticism to garner stickbacks, dunk emphatically, and he is a great finisher on the break. He can make slick back hand passes from the high post too. Anderson checks him IMO.

#42 Kevin Love 6-10 271 Fr. 17.6 PPG 10.7 RPG: When a school will take a jersey down from the rafters (the Bruins had retired #42 for Walt Hazzard) and give it to a freshman you know he is very, very special. Big Kev backed it up with a double double and a 35% mark from three range. He is a top three player in this wonderful freshman class and he shoots, passes, rebounds and outlets the ball extremely well. Lute Olson said he is the best outlet passer he has seen since Wes Unseld. Most of you young guys have no clue about big Wes. Combining 270 pounds of power, aggressiveness, fundamentals and skills (including outstanding spin moves and fakes) he wears down opponents and physically takes over games. Love hits nice contested jump hooks using the glass, muscles to post up slams, has legitimate three point range and tosses in an occassional turnaround or fade away jump shot. A tough finisher in the paint, he is accustomed to facing double teams. He also hits free throws who generally hits them in the clutch. The only ding in the armor is he is not a straight up explosive leaper but gosh if that's all that's tremendous. We are not going to stop this guy. We just can't let him be 'lottery like' and bury us. I know the team has confidence giving success against other fresh phenoms this year and that is great but this guy is a load to say the least. Guys whose dads were in the league (ala Stephen Curry) learn how to play this wonderful game the right way at a young age. Here locally many of us easily remember Wally Szcirbieak (sp?) and what he was capable of. I am simply comparing basketball IQ here folks but you get the point.


#13 James Keefe 6-8 228 So. 2.8 PPG: James is coming off a career high against WKU and was named player of the game by CBS. I guess people expect 29 and 14 from Kevin Love these days. He is very capable but there is obvious talent in front of him. He is a fine interior passer, he can block off efficiently and bangs boards at both ends. He will nail any wide open shot you give him. He has ability to put the ball on the floor and go get a good shot or he can strip the nets from distance. He also has a running sky hook. In short if there were more shots to go around Keefe would average a lot more points per. Right now he is content to set screens, do what is asked of him, and score when the opportunity presents itself.

#12 Alfred Aboya 6-9 245 Jr. 3.0 PPG: He is another athletic banger from the Cameroon. He typically saves his best for the biggest games. He willingly takes charges, dives for loose balls, and in short will do all the 'dirty' things including fouling freely and often if directed to do so. Aboya's goal is to wear down starting big men and clog the lane in relief. His footwork isn't great on the offensive end but they are not looking for that out of Alfred and he knows his role.

#4 Lorenzo Mata-Real 6-9 237 Sr. 3.2 PPG: He was the guy most impacted by Love showing up on campus. He is still a mean shot blocker and will provide minutes of relief for big #42. He is not an adept passer out of the post if were looking for weaknesses. He is not a great free throw shooter either which may also explain the decline in minutes. On the positive side he is an excellent low post defender. He has quick hands and natural instincts on ball fakes. Mata-Real also is an above average rebounder.

As mentioned earlier UCLA has other players: Chace Stanback was rated #65 overall by Rivals in one of the deepest freshman classes ever. Nikola Dragovic is a Serb who was one time mentioned as a first round NBA draft pick but chose to play college basketball. But those guys are more along front line players too. UCLA has the perfect defense for our two man game out top as they aggressively switch everything and will be in our shirt. We should take advantage of those overplays and look for the slip or backdoors early and often. Again take it right to the big guys, stay aggressive, and keep the hot shooting touch from the outside. I don't think it is fair to expect to shoot over 50% again from three land but we are going to have knock down some contested ones to keep it real. Duncan and Brown have the combination of size and speed that could present matchups favorable to us at times. Anderson will continue to be a bull and loves the big games. CJ really hasn't received enough accolades for all that he does. When the coaching staff senses were being bullied they usually run plays for CJ because he doesn't back down. I think X can win because of superior depth on the perimeter. Notice I didn't say superior talent because I think Collison is the best point we have faced all year and would be a likely lottery pick if not for all the freshman talent. That being said I feel us making it to the promise land my friends. Yes I am a 'homer' an now is not the time to waiver in our faith. We will make our run to the Alamo and enjoy all the fruits that such lofty accomplishments bring.

Elite-Pictures Say A Thousand Words

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Three Down

What a great game! I am emotionally drained off that one. First credit to the Mountaineers. What a way to come back and take us to the limit. They were a Joe Alexander free throw from having victory in hand. To quote Sean 'he is an impossible matchup'. The switch to a matchup zone was brilliant strategy by WVU as it took Drew away. This is a game that actually lived up to the hype. Here are my immediate thoughts after drinking a couple in celebration:

  • Josh Duncan is taking the Lionel Chalmers approach to increasing his draft status: saving the best for the biggest stage. Career high in the Sweet 16? Are you frickin' kidding me? Also playing with four fouls for 17 minutes plus was tremendous. There will be more JDunc pictures very, very soon on this here blog.
  • CJ Anderson had a double double. 'Nuff said.
  • BJ Raymond is a living legend. What a time to recover your three point stroke. You will be BMOC for a long time and will have your chance to lead next year #11.
  • Stan Burrell I was ready to forget all those nice things I have been saying about you. You were reverting to junior year Stan with the off balance crap. And then you had that feathery move in the lane with the perfect switch to the left hand. And then what will be known as 'the pass' for a long, long time to BJ.
  • Drew Lavender hit a very timely three to pull us even in OT. And he would be perfect for those Nike Sparq commercials; you know the one where they say 'My quickness is so good I am already watching the next commercial'. Keep bringing it Danger Mouse.
  • Derrick Brown continues to flash. He should have been matched on Alexander at the end of regulation and my wife wouldn't have worried about the purple hue on my face.
  • Dante' Jackson has no idea what this tournament is doing for his future. I thought he was much better on Ruoff tonight than Stan. I hope your loving every moment of it because I know I am.
  • Jason Love did all the dirty stuff as usual and is a natural born rebounder. It's looking like you will get a chance at another 'Love' as I type this with the Bruins being up 28-15 with a little under 7:00 to go in the first half.
  • And last but not least a huge tip of the hat to coach Miller and staff. You have know idea how much we appreciate what you are doing. Let's take that next step!!

Positive Sign?

I NEVER watch the NBA but last night I tuned into ESPN to watch the High School McDonald's All-American game and the Boston-Phoenix game was moving past the 9:30 PM scheduled start. The Celtics were handling the Suns pretty good so we got a little bonus coverage from the Cavs and Hornets. The game was back and forth with Lebron putting the Cavs up one with about 7.7 seconds left. On the ensuing possession Chris Paul drives the lane, kicks it to David 'Freakin' West and he hits a jumper from inside the free throw line to win the game. So on a night I wasn't planning nothing but watching the best high schoolers in the nation I get to see two X alums in the league (Posey being the other) doing their thing. I take the game winning shot as positive Karma heading into tonight's matchup is my overall point. Doesn't mean $#^% I know but still when your a superstitious cat. . . . .

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Josh Duncan is the Man

Just ask the Boilers!

How Sweet It Is

How Sweet It Is:

  • To have your pep band have a two page write up in the USA Today Sports Section. When Father Graham talks about 'investment' and 'returns' this is an example of 'returns'.
  • To have national media and magazines profile Stan Burrell and his transformation from offensive gun to defensive stalwart. The Muskie Nation loves you 'Hammer'.
  • To have television announcers gush over Josh Duncan's 'skill set' over and over. My man will be in an NBA camp next summer.
  • To play longer and farther than any other local team. (NIT doesn't count Flyer fans)
  • To avoid the SI curse.
  • To know that the administration will do everything they can to keep Sean in tow. One more win and he is in the 1.5 million range if you ask me. And we are ready to pay. Also I firmly believe we will lose Mike Bobinski before Sean. The A10 commissioner's seat is open.
  • To purchase a new car to celebrate your team's accomplishment. You should know I wrangled over this decision for a year and a half. This Muskies run gave me reason to do it.
  • To get this far twice in the last five seasons. I think it shows how much we have grown as a program.
  • To hear Bob Huggins on 'Sportstalk' comment to Paul Daugherty how great a program Xavier is. He also had a few shots for Mrs. Zimpher (one of my favorites) when talking about 'support' from the administration Sean receives.
  • To hear all these band wagoners talk about 'well I guess I'll root for X'. Hey pallies you need to be all in or don't even bring it. There is way too much 'fair weather' in this town for my liking. See Homer Bailey as example #1 of that my friends.
  • To have your favorite team make a run in March. And to have to hear local sports talk show celebrities make up ground like they have been with us the whole time.
  • To hear Mike DeCoursey talk over and over ad nauseaum that nobody on Xavier can make plays in a one on one situation other than Lavender. Yeah Mike that really has held us back and I completely disagree. Ask the Purdue front line if CJ could take somebody 'one on one'.
  • To have the seniors rewarded for all their hard work and sacrifice. Those three have been leaders in words and actions and all will be missed when our time is finished.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

X vs Huggs

I've heard a lot of talk the last few days at work and on the radio that "Xavier doesn't have its own city behind them".

 I am a HUGE Bearcats fan and a fan of Bob Huggins. I was devastated when Nazi Z ran him out of town and even considered boycotting UC. After a few weeks I cam e back to my senses and realized that I love my Cats more than I did Huggs. I also would like to point out that the only week of the year that I don't particularly like to talk to my Shoutout colleague is(of course) Crosstown Shootout week. For that week I despise Xavier and hope to watch them get crushed under the weight of UC's wrath. 

All that being said. I am 100% behind the XAVIER MUSKETEERS in this matchup. How could you not be? X is as much a part of this cities rich basketball history as UC. I for one think its awesome to have two of the best college basketball programs in the country right here in the city of Cincinnati. And with the exception of one week a year I route for both to do well. 

If you are routing for West Virginia because of Bob Huggins your living in the past. If you are routing against X because your a UC fan that's just silly. Think of ot this way. If they win the whole damned thing It will be that much sweeter when UC takes the Shootout next year(couldn't resist Deck). You are also may I remind you, pulling for one of our Big East rivals Who by the way got that ass beat by UC!!!!

Anyway in closing I just want to wish Sean Miller and the boys much luck and hope that they win it all. 


West Virginia Scouting Report

Here is a look at the West Virginia roster. We all know who the coach is. I will leave the pleasantries to Sean and his staff. The team had a nice sendoff from Cintas today and I am really looking forward to this matchup. I am very confident we will pull out the victory on Thursday for our second elite 8 trip in five years.

Starting 5:

#14 Darris Nichols 6-3 200 Sr. 10.8 PPG: I would term Darris as a 'scoring point guard'. He shoots the three at a 39% clip and if you crowd him he will take you to the hole. On top of that he has a great mid range pull up jump shot. His playmaking is adequate but not especially creative, and he possesses the quickness and strength to be an effective defender.

#22 Alex Ruoff 6-6 215 Jr. 13.8 PPG: Alex is a splendid three point shooter at 41%. He's a tad slow, not real strong, nor especially athletic. He also doesn't drive to the hole that often. On the other hand he plays smart (moves very well without the ball) and of course has a good three point stroke. He passes cleverly and does a good job of taking advantage of your mistakes. I think Stan will draw this assignment and not giving him any open looks will be crucial to victory.

#43 Jamie Smalligan 7-0 265 Sr. 2.2 PPG: He may or may not start. He will not play over 15 minutes unless he get's really hot from three land. I think Brad Lohaus when I see Jamie and I have been following him since his Butler Bulldog days. His reputation is that of a three point shooter and he is only hitting 18%. Let him shoot and take your chances. If he is on the floor for long stretches that will be advantage X.

#11 Joe Alexander 6-8 230 Jr. 16.8 PPG: He is the star of the team and had some tremendous scoring games late in the Big East season. Brown, Duncan, and Anderson could all match up with Joe. I heard former UCLA player Marques Johnson gushing about a dunk Alexander had over wunderkid Greg Oden in a summer contest out in LA. Joe has hops to say the least and can score in a variety of ways. I am sure the staff will treat him much like Mike Beasley in our K State game. That means the defensive strategy will be built on keeping him limited and on the offensive end our bigs will take the game to him looking for fouls. I like our advantage in the frontcourt. Also if Alexander wants to continue to shoot 3's at a 27% clip we'll let him. The key to us winning is maintaining this guy. Nichols, Ruoff and Mazzulla can hurt you but this guy can beat you if you let him.

#1 Da'Sean Butler 6-7 225 So. 12.9 PPG: He is a transition player who runs well to finish the break, has an above average three point stroke, moves well without the ball, and catches tough passes. On the other hand his passing could be better, he relies heavily on inside moves that can be predictable, and he is not great on the defensive end.


#3 Joe Mazzulla 6-2 210 So. 5.7 PPG: He is their 6th man and the reason they won the game against Duke. He shoots three at a phenomenal 47%. He is a lefty with a smooth stroke which he will show over and over if you let him. When open (even mid range) he will knock it down. He is also a good passer and their backup point guard but just as easily can play the 2. He plays best in an organized team setting where he finds the open man, uses screens to shake free for shots, and defends reasonably well.

#35 Wellington Smith 6-7 215 So. 5.1 PPG: He may be in the starting lineup depending on Huggs over Smalligan. He has a nice build and plenty of athletic ability. I like his scrappy rebounding, strong baseline drives, but his jump shot lacks consistency. He's also prone to miss free throws.

#41 John Flowers 6-7 195 Fr. 4.6 PPG: His minutes have not been great lately. The freshman is from Waldorf, MD where he was a first team all -MET performer according to the Washington Post. He shoots threes at 28% and I don't see him playing major minutes in this matchup.

#2 Cam Thoroughman 6-7 215 Fr. 0.5 PPG: This redshirt made plenty of 'hustle' plays in the Duke game and saw extended minutes. He typically likes to play on the wing and can pass, shoot and handle the ball.

#4 Jonnie West 6-3 175 Fr. 1.0 PPG: Plays very limited minutes and is the son of Jerry West which is why he is on the team.

Again I feel very confident about this matchup. We have better size, guards, and athleticism. Great defense can frustrate the Mountaineers (see UC game) and I think we take control of this one early and cruise into the elite 8.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Two Down

As I recover from my hangover this morning I am now able to talk coherently about the team's accomplishment. SWEETNESS! This roster now joins the '90 and '04 teams as the only X squads to make it this far in the NCAA tournament. Experience does matter after all. The Boilers second half run would have done in plenty of teams but X responded with three great baskets in a row. Raymond and 1, Lavender on a dribble drive, and Anderson on a desperation shot clock buzzer beater to push X back up 67-61. Purdue was far from finished (and didn't it take forever to play the last minute and a half) but they had to realize how much more they would have to dig in and that point and they just didn't have it. Everybody contributed. Lavender 18 points and 9 assists and back to his old self. Burrell finally made some baskets in the NCAA tournament and finished with 11 to go along with a decent job on Moore. E'Twaun took 25 shots. Anderson was a beast and a true man among boys yesterday. Great job and he knows how to play within the constraints of his game and excel. Duncan only played 17 minutes and ended up with 16. The announcers again with the praise of his game and I didn't think he played overly well but he was giving it his all. Brown focused on Hummel and scrapped on the boards. Jackson had a key steal in the second half. Raymond made some timely buckets. And how about some 'love' for Jason Love? The kid continues to do great things and show great upside. Did I miss anybody? Oh yeah the coaching staff. Great job all year long and we sure do appreciate it. Father Graham is ready to open the coffers Sean.

What a great day to be associated with Xavier. First in the morning the Zumbiel packaging plant comes tumbling down and we get the third Sweet 16 trip in program history. I shared alot of great conversation with my Xavier amigos last night. Look forward to seeing the game Thursday night. The drama is thick with Chuggy Bear on the opposing sideline. Great sports television my friends. Beezelbob is 7-9 lifetime against the X men and this one will be on the grandest of stages with a big prize on the line. I will have an in depth scouting report on the Mountaineers but I like our chances against these guys. They essentially play 6 guys and they have been Jekyl and Hyde at times.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Purdue Scouting Report

The Boilermakers are an exciting young team. They have 7 freshmen or sophomores in their 9 man rotation. Coached by Matt Painter they have a 25-8 overall record. Purdue plays tough defense only allowing opponents on average 61.2 per game. They boast the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in Chris Kramer and they will play us tough from opening tip to final buzzer. Even though they are young they are extremely talented with all four of their freshmen (all from Indiana consequently) being consensus top 100 recruits. Winners of 15 of their last 18 they will be looking to get past the second round this season much like X will be. A berth for the Sweet 16 is on the line and tip is at 4:40 PM Saturday.

Starting 5:

#3 Chris Kramer: 6-3 210 So. 6.8 PPG - Deemed the top defensive player in the Big Ten and is only a sophomore. I believe he will draw the assignment of guarding Drew Lavender with the edict to stop him from getting out in transition. He's not an extra quick athlete by any means, but he's very steady, a solid ball handler, and can also score from the perimeter on occassion. He can distribute the ball wisely and he possesses the versatility to play either guard position.

#4 Robbie Hummel: 6-8 208 Fr. 11.6 PPG- Listed as a guard and a forward. Sean got him to take a tour of Cintas but he passed for the opportunity to play in the Big 10. He is a lanky and skilled player. A fine dribbler and passer in the open court he possesses adequate quickness and plenty of 'attitude'. His deep jump push shot has a low release point but good touch and he can shoot accurately off the dribble or catch. He is an unselfish player. He penetrates and dishes confidently and crisply to the open man. Hummel also moves wisely without the ball, blocks out and helps on the boards, slam dunks and blocks shots with suprising athleticism and anticipation. Gravy on top is that he makes all kinds of 'hustle' plays. Miller and the staff have done a good job taking somebody away from the other team all year. For us to win I think Hummel will need to be that guy for the Boilers even though he is only a freshman. I would start out with D Brown on him and his long arms. Duncan could also match this kid and his physicality could help wear Hummel down.

#5 Keaton Grant: 6-4 207 So. 10.9 PPG- He is explosive and physically strong. He is more wing guard than point. His primary weapon is a smooth arching high release jump shot that is virtually automatic from mid range and has improved from behind the arc. He is shooting from three around 43%. He utilizes his leaping ability to extend and finish at the rim. Keaton can get out on the fastbreak and loves to drive (usually to his right) in the halfcourt set. You have to admire his hustle for loose balls and his committment to defense. He is very, very good on that end also. I think CJ draws this matchup and it will be a difficult one for him on the defensive end of things.

#21 Nemanja Calasan: 6-9 243 Jr. 6.5 PPG- Big strong European player. He must think he is playing outside with those leg warmers he wears on the court. He originally signed with Utah but gained his release after Ray Giacoletti was let go by the Utes. Nemanja re-opened his recruitment and was highly sought after as a juco big man last spring. He eventually signed with the Boilers over Kentucky for playing time opportunities. The Boilers lacked a low post brute and Calasan is satisfactory in that role.

#33 E'Twaun Moore: 6-3 180 Fr. 12.8 PPG- Stan Burrell will get the call to stop Mr. Moore. He is a combo guard with no major weaknesses. Very fast and strong driver who specializes in big time moves, hanging finishes and making plays off the dribble, he's more of a scorer than a shooter. His jump shot has a bit of a funky release. It can be flat and inconsistent moreso when he's stationary than on the move. He has a knack for using his quickness and good strength to get past defenders. E'Twaun also has shown he can run the show effectively as a playmaker. He is quick and hustling on the defensive end where his long arms can play havoc in the passing lanes.


#14 Scott Martin: 6-8 200 Fr. 8.6 PPG- Also listed as a guard and a forward. He went to the same high school as Hummel and stated X was too far away from home for him to even visit. I really like the left hander and he can make plays and shots from all over the court. He is very skilled on the perimeter where his quick dribbling, skilled passing on the move, accurate shooting (fading away, stepping in, mid range or behind the arc) and suprisingly bouncy athleticism are all strengths. He can dunk over big men and has nice body control on drives to the basket. He blocks out for rebounds and gets lots of tip ins for a wing. At the defensive end he is also solid blocking shots, getting steals or providing help to his team mates. A solid team player he probably only needs more physical strength to really sky rocket.

#12 Tarrance Crump: 6-1 176 Sr. 4.3 PPG- He gives Coach Painter a perfect change of pace guard off the bench. He also fits in well with their aggressive defensive philosophies. He is a horrible three point shooter but has hit game winning shots for Purdue. We need to take advantage when he is in the game.

#25 JaJuan Johnson: 6-10 210 Fr. 5.4 PPG- Supremely long and athletic this freshman is. He has great mobility when running the open court but needs more weight and strength. With good coordination, quick reactions in the post, big hands and array of nice moves including a nice drop step this Indianapolis native has solid scoring tools. At times he has trouble finishing plays in traffic due to his physical strength. His jump shot is solid from mid range and he has a nice jump hook. He can block shots on the defensive end and maintains a calm demeanor.

#20 Marcus Green: 6-4 229 Jr. 4.6 PPG- He will slide between forward and guard. His three point shot is inconsistent, and he is not always as alert as he needs to be. He is a good (not great) athlete that is a very capable mid range scorer. Solid ball handler he can fill the lane on the break, helps on the boards, and is a decent defensive player.

This game will be tight throughout in my opinion. For the Muskies to win we must take away either Hummel or Moore if not both. Baylor got into a track meet with them and that didn't work out to well for the Bears. This game will be more of a grinder which the Boilers face every night in the half court oriented Big Ten. I am very nervous about this one. My stated goals for the team when the season began were an A10 championship, twenty wins, and a Sweet 16 berth. Anything after that for me would be the cherry on top. Expect a game in the 60's that may come down to a last second shot? I like our experience over them but again this Purdue team has a great coach and have accomplished an awful lot this season. It should be a 'dog fight'.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

One Down

X marches on with a 73-61 win. The game was much closer than the final score would indicate. We won this one from the line (obviously) and I heard the announcers say we were 18th in the country as a team in that regard. Derrick Brown had another great first round game and Josh Duncan is a big reason we won. I heard numerous times how he has 'guard skill set' and 'a matchup nightmare'. Lavender looked like his old self, aside from getting his pocket picked by Gaines, and that bodes well for the next game. I let out a Ric Flair 'wooooo' when Jackson hit the three to put us up 52-49. It's great to see him contribute. Sean shortened up the rotation for this one and I can't wait to see who we play next. My preference would be Baylor but the staff would be very familiar with the Boilermaker personnel as we lost a lot of recruiting battles to them. I love the poise the guys displayed in the second half. Duncan made some great plays (saving the ball from going out of bounds at the end is classic) and Burrell did a nice job playing defense.

We Are Getting Punched In The Mouth

Down 35-26 at the half. We are not matching the energy Georgia is bringing. We are fighting tough on the boards but we are giving up too many easy baskets. We need more D Brown on the offensive end. Duncan needs to get in rhythm here in the second half. No excuse for not getting a shot off at the end of the half. Burrell needs to stick to being the defensive stopper and setting up his team mates. Our season could soon be over if we don't bring it up a notch. We need to get some transition baskets. The first five minutes will be so crucial if we are going to win. I will keep the faith that the second half will see us prevail. Go X!

Bearcats lose to Bradley UUUUGGGHHHH.....

Bradley 70 Cincinnati 67

It was like putting down a lame horse. You love the horse but the end was the best thing for it.

There's always next year!

Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble in Kenwood sucks! I went looking for my Lav SI yesterday and was treated very poorly by the staff at that location. I am pretty good at helping myself but when I didn't see it I thought I would ask the lady at the checkout line. She directed me to 'Customer Service' where rudeness began. Apparently the magazine comes out on Tuesday but it will be up to a week before the 'bookstore' receives it. The 'lady' who was at that post is nothing but 'customer service' oriented. If you know me you know I have alot of patience for people working retail but this woman bit my head off when I asked a simple question. It was almost like if I wasn't asking for some obscure author I had no business bothering her. I am heading to Waldenbooks this morning at the mall and see if they have this collector's item for X fans. I won't be returning to B&N anytime in the near future.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Final Four Predictions part Deux

Okay Deck since you called me out here are my picks and some extras

My Final Four
North Carolina

I know you think I should go out on a limb and pick at least one team outside the 1 & 2 seeds. I just couldn't do it this year.  Don't get me wrong a few teams could do it. Louiville, Wisconsin, Pittburgh, Clemson(more on this later), and your beloved Xavier Muskies come to mind. But after some careful thought, a six pack, and a few coin flips this is what I came up with. 

If I were going to really put myself out there I would say Clemson is my Dark Horse pick to make the FF. They Have a solid team lead by the seniors from your old pal Oliver Purnells 1st recruiting class and have several impressive wins including one over Duke. Not to mention that they gave the Tar Heels a couple of really tough games. 

A few other observations. 
Tennessee/Louisville would be a heck of a game.
Butler got hosed with a 7 seed IN Alabama against South Alabama.
Harangody/Hansborough could be fun to watch
Mayo/Walker  - represent North College Hill!!!
Siena over Vandy is my Upset special. Vandy has been bad more often than good recently.
Temple over  Michigan St. is my other major upset pick. Good guards win tourney games.
Is Memphis getting 1 seed respect? Not in my view.
Can anyone match up with Kevin Love?
Drake could make it to the sweet sixteen depending on which UConn team shows up.
The fact that Baylor is here is a wonderful story. 
Xavier/Duke WILL be a hell of a game
Huggy bear 1 and done. what a surprise. 

No matter what happens its my favorite time of the year. I can smell the pizza and taste the beer already. 

Final Four Predictions

I am putting it out there for the world to see. Maybe Dave will do the same if he has the courage. Here goes:

East: North Carolina

Midwest: Wisconsin

South: Texas

West: Xavier

I really liked Notre Dame to make a run and the Harangody vs Hansbrough matchup will be intersting if it comes to be. The Tar Heels are my favorite to win it all and they are simply too deep and skilled at each position. I like Bo Ryan in March and his teams tough defense will be key to a run. Georgetown against the Badgers would be great. Bill Self can't seem to make the deep run in the NCAA's either. Coming from the South the Longhorns will prevail. I see the most upsets in that bracket heading in. St. Mary's, Kentucky, and Temple all have good shots at winning their first round games and I sense an upset of Memphis in the second round. Of course out West I went with my heart and I am hoping UCONN will knock off UCLA. Something tells me if we get in the second round and play Purdue and move on to the Sweet 16 people in Bloomington will notice. Something tells me a matchup against Baylor will have people's attention in Hoosierland too as Scott Drew is a native son.

Here we go. A day away. Off to the bookstore to get my Drew Lavender Sports Illustrated. Also need to make a stop at the grocery for the beer and food for the long weekend. Better than Christmas my friends better than Christmas my friends.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Round 1: Georgia Bulldogs

The Xavier Musketeers (27-6) were awarded with a three seed and will head to Washington DC to play the Bulldogs from Georgia (17-16). The tip is at 12:20 on Thursday. The Bulldogs just completed their first four game winning streak of the year and saved Dennis Felton's job by winning the SEC tournament. Before that the 'Dawgs were losers of 11 of 13 and nobody was mentioning 'NCAA' or 'NIT' for that matter with them. I was watching basketball all weekend and must admit they are the story of the conference tournament season. Two games in one day? Are you kidding? Great accomplishment for them and a great story. But for anybody who thinks X got 'screwed' by playing a team from a 'power' conference just stop. When you look at their roster at first glance you will see they have tremendous size. X even tried to recruit a little of that size in Albert Jackson a couple years back. Researching the team a little closer you will see they are without two important pieces they expected to have at season's start in Takais Brown or Mike Mercer. Dial it in a little closer and you will see they use three freshmen off the bench. This game will be close but I see X winning it from the line. Miller mentioned the reference point of us being a 14 seed two years ago and playing Gonzaga as a three. That experience will help the Muskies as they will not be taking the Bulldogs lightly. Georgia has played against quality competition all year long and will not fold easily. Or could this be another Virginia-Kansas State-Auburn type blow out for Xavier?

Here's the matchups as I see them:


#2 Sundiata Gaines 6-1 205 Sr. #24 Drew Lavender 5-7 153 Sr.
#31 Billy Humphrey 6-2 185 Jr. #34 Stan Burrell 6-3 210 Sr.
#30 Terrance Woodbury 6-7 210 Jr. #20 CJ Anderson 6-5 220 Jr.
#34 Albert Jackson 6-10 250 So. #5 Derrick Brown 6-8 220 So.
#44 Dave Bliss 6-10 255 Sr. #31 Jason Love 6-9 245 So.

#23 Corey Butler 6-3 190 Jr. #1 Josh Duncan 6-9 240 Sr.
#50 Jeremy Price 6-9 270 Fr. #11 BJ Raymond 6-6 212 Jr.
#5 Zac Swansey 6-1 165 Fr. #25 Dante Jackson 6-5 195 Fr.
#20 Troy Brewer 6-5 170 Fr. #2 Adrion Graves 6-4 185 So.

Gaines is their leading scorer at 14.8 so I see Burrell taking him on the defensive end. Humphrey is no slouch either at 12.2 and is a good three point shooter. Woodbury is at 10.8 and after that the scoring levels off among the other guys. Bliss is a glue guy and again they boast good size along the front. However X essentially has 7 starters and I do not think they have an answer for #1 on the white team. He is a mismatch waiting to be taken advantage of by the Muskies and Duncan is due for a big game. Raymond has been in a little shooting slump lately as well. Lavender looking good in the A10 tournament (he set his team mates up constantly in the St. Joes games they just couldn't hit the outside jumper) and getting more confident with his ankle is key this week. Coach Miller can spend as much time as he wants with the players this week as they are on spring break. Do not overlook that. Also I think when it comes to the matchup coaching wise advantage goes to X. I feel really, really confident about this first game. If I were calling the shots I would play uptempo with them and focus alot on backdoor type plays to take advantage of their slower footed big men. The 'pack line' scheme D used by X should limit Gaines' drives in the lane. For us if we take away any of their three perimeter threats we will be in great shape. They take away anything from us we got two or three guys ready to fill that void. I LOVE BEING IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT!!!

The Cats are dancin'(with the ugly girl @ the end of the bar)

The Bearcats Will play in the newly created CBI tournament this week. The CBI picks names randomly out of a hat that never contained any of the nations good basketball programs.

In all seriousness this is good for the seniors in a one last hooray sort of way.

Coach Cronin had this to say -
"Obviously we are excited to be playing in the postseason" says second-year head coach Mick Cronin. "This is a tribute to the tough schedule that we played over the course of the season and to the strength of the BIG EAST. More than 40 percent of our games this season were played against NCAA Tournament teams. Our kids are excited for the opportunity to represent UC again on the floor and will make the most ofthis experience."

Wednesday, March 19Cincinnati at Bradley - 7 p.m. on Fox College Sports

Sunday, March 16, 2008

5 things Bearcat fans can do during the NCAA selection show.

1. Host a tupperware party - It'll keep your mind off the crappy end to the season AND you'll get some nice free gifts from the sales lady!

2. Play a video game that involves killing people in a violent manner - You can pretend your victims are prick coaches you hate like Jim Calhoun, Pete Gillen,  and the quitter Bob Knight. 

3. Begin spring cleaning - It'll make your wife/girlfriend happy and maybe you'll actually get laid in March for the first time since you became obsessed with college basketball oh so many years ago. 

4. Go outside - I know this is foreign to all of us on days that involve college basketball games,news, and analysis but maybe you'll like it. Maybe. 

5. Drink Heavily - no explanation needed. But I saved this one for last hoping you(read: ME) could find something constructive to do instead of sulking and eventually getting so hammered you become "remember the good ol' Huggins days?" guy. 

If all else fails swallow your pride, don't be a hater, and wish a good friend luck and a long Xavier run in the tournament. 

Good luck Deck. 

Honey, I'm home!

You must be thinking that I have been absent for the last few weeks because the Bearcats have been so dismal. While this wouldn't be a bad guess since it might have been the case had the actual reason not happened. 

 I had been without a pc at home for a while(almost a year) mostly because I'm a cheap bastard and I had been waiting for a good deal. Trolling craigslist, ebay, circuit city's outlet, you name a place to get a cheap pc I was there. During this time I had been using my pc at work for all surfing and other computery(word?) needs. Well apparently so had a lot of people and it was becoming an issue with our server and our productivity so they put the kibosh on all personal use of our pc's(short for personal computers ironically). 

Well that put one hell of an obstacle between me and the shoutout so I sped up my search and settled on a used mac(wife's preference). It's not perfect but it'll work. Now if I can only figure out how to work this damned thing....

Friday, March 14, 2008

Your Welcome A10

St. Joseph's played great defense tonight and furthered their chances of making the dance. Horrible from outside the arc is an understatement by X and the Hawks had plenty to do with it. They took a lot away from us to say the least. The good news is we won't play them again until next season. I won't miss Pat Calathes at all. Martelli is one hell of a coach and I wish them luck tomorrow night. The league will get two bids now, possibly three, maybe even four when all is said and done. With school being on spring break next week the team will have all kinds of time to spend together and I am glad we got that horrible shooting night out of the way. Seeing Lavender cutting and darting makes me feel confident about our chances. We need Duncan and Raymond to get back on track shooting wise but their weren't many open looks to be had tonight. Can't wait to see who we draw and I think we are in the 3-4 territory when it comes to seeding. Should be fun.

I notice our 'dedicated' Bearcat reporter has seem to disappeared for a bit. No worries he will be back soon enough.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Miller owns Gregory

What more can be said? I had serious doubts we would be able to beat a rival 6 times in a row. Add the fact that UD was playing for their NCAA tournament lives and I thought this one could be an 'L'. Good thing the team doesn't turn to me for inspiration. 5 guys in double figures is a sure sign for X success. More importantly we killed the Flyers on the boards and hit our free throws a little better. The boys up north should stop their sqawking for a bit and who knows they may still get in the tournament with a high rpi and decent SOS but the almost complete collapse at the end of the season is pulling them down. Wright didn't play today so the committee would say without him who can they beat in the field?

This cowboy would rather face the Spiders again tomorrow but a chance to avenge the loss to St. Joes tomorrow makes me feel confident either way. Lavender was taking some deep three's in the first half and looked better than he has in quite some time. The outcome is sad in a way because Brian Roberts will not get the chance to play on the biggest stage and he will be playing in his first NIT tournament also. I wonder if he ever wonders what it would be like to have played for Miller? He probably would have improved to the point of being a worthy NBA draft pick given his talent. Oh well. I am glad we never have to hear how much better he is than our guy Stan when truthfully basketball is a team sport. It is about banners and championships not double digit scoring.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

UD 3x

UD will be the opponent for the Muskies at noon tomorrow. It is hard to beat any team (let alone a rival) three times in a season. We did it as recently as last year against the Flyers but they are searching for that elusive NCAA tournament bid. They will be hungry. Roberts was held to 5 points today (he must be sick again, sorry I couldn't resist) and he rarely plays poor back to back games. I am sure Burrell's comments after our last game will be utilized in the locker room by Gregory and staff. IF WE LOSE we will be looking at a 4 seed in the tournament. I will be most interested in watching #24 for the good guys tomorrow. If he plays well I could almost stomach a loss. Nah. I want to beat those ass clowns 6 times in a row leaving no doubt who the dominant team in Southwest Ohio is. Go Muskies. The run starts now.

Read Between The Lines

If you had a chance to read Dustin Dow's article today in the Cincinnati Enquirer concerning coach Miller it should be quite clear X is going to pony up more cash for him at the end of the season. He is currently in the base salary range of 800K to 900K. I would expect next season he will be in the 1.2 million range. X will be proactive in keeping him and it would not suprise me if a new deal is offered within weeks of the finished season whenever that may be. His openness and candor with the high dollar alumni, friends to the program, and senior administration makes this a no brainer and I am very excited about the future possibilities of the program. Xavier is a business school. They pull 20 million a year off Cintas Center, they are willing and able to invest further into the program than most outside of the school realize, and we desire to be great on Victory Parkway. It is clear we are getting a return on the Coach Miller investment and I think he understands what he has here.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

X Women

Congrats and well wishes are in order for the Xavier women's team and coach Kevin McGuff for punching their dance card yesterday with a 47-42 win over Temple. Giving the team has no senior leadership this was a great accomplishment. Harris and Phillips will enjoy quite a bit of success together the next couple of seasons in my estimation. Again congrats to the women's team. Good luck the rest of the way.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Redford = Mr. Basketball

Congrats to Brad for winning Mr. Basketball in the state of Michigan. Great Lakes Hoops is reporting he will be announced as the winner formally this afternoon in Detroit. This is absolutely outstanding and I can't wait to hear the 'Flyer Spin' on this one. Averaging over 38 points a game when teams are designing defenses to stop you only will get you noticed.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Win Win

Drew Lavender decided not to play and the Muskies pull off a 25 point victory against Richmond on Senior Night. Lav's decision was his own as Coach and the team trainer were okay with him playing. A little disappointing he couldn't go considering it was Senior Night but getting some more rest couldn't hurt either. Jackson started in his place and we were a little disjointed on 'O' for the first 7 minutes. Dante' played well and we are certainly a bigger team without Drew in the lineup. Duncan started and Graves even contributed a three point play in the first half. CJ was big also with 8 points on drives and a couple of defensive rips to coincide with a Spider 7 minute scoring drought to give X command.

The story of the second half was the horrible officiating in the A10. Certainly it benefitted the good guys but come on? 43 freebies? We were in the bonus at the 16:49 mark. We were aggressive in taking it to the basket however and it was a good adjustment to do so by Miller at the half. It took Richmond 4 minutes to score. Our great defense will do more to move us forward in March than anything else. X runs away with it on a 20-3 run to start the half.

Lavender was on the floor for the net cutting and his omission in Miller's post game comments was by design I am sure, I expect he will be on the floor at noon on Thursday. He might not start but he will play. We get the winner of Dayton and St. Louis which either will not be easy.

Friday, March 7, 2008

St. Joes

No disrespect in losing to that team and I tip my hat to them. They brought the intensity and we didn't. On the positive side DBrown is now shooting threes with confidence and accuracy, Dante Jackson is contributing real minutes, and this team absolutely refuses to lose. They could have folded at about the 8 minute mark but never gave up. Also it is a good thing the A10 tournament is not being played in Philadelphia. We haven't done real well in that city this year and this one could have been as ugly as the Temple game. But again they refuse to lose. My hope is this will humble us to the point of being on our 'A' game the rest of the way out. Also Lavender isn't the reason we lost. He contributed in all phases of the game but is not yet 100%. IF he was we would see more dribble drives to the basket. If you turned off the picture and listened to Hubert and Joe only last night on ESPN you would have swore he was dragging one leg behind him. He didn't look that bad to me and again he is enhancing our chances to win by being out there. Stan created off the dribble and set up his teammates and so did Lav last night. We had plenty of open shots, they just weren't falling. IF Duncan had his typical shooting game last night we might be talking about how we pulled this off. The Hawks winning at Dayton on Saturday afternoon will give us three at large selections for sure from the conference. Us, UMASS, and the Hawks will all get in if St. Joes can finish at 10-6 in the A10. I think a suprise team will win the tournament in the AC so we could wind up with 4.

My personal All A10 team not including X players looks like this: Kevin Lisch, Leemire Goldwire, Dionte Christmas, Pat Calathes, and Ahmad Nivins. Those are the guys who have perfomed well against the Musketeers in conference play. Christmas should be player of the year overall. I think the final all A10 team will look like this: Brian Roberts, Stanley Burrell, Dionte Christmas, Will Daniels, and Pat Calathes. You could easily interchange Nivins, Daniels, and Calathes for the final spot.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A few random thoughts

Here are some random thoughts on my mind today as we head towards the end of the college basketball season:

  • Why does it seem 75% of the time X and UC play on the same day around the same time? Some people would actually like to watch both teams play their entire game respectively.
  • 5/3 Arena needs to be a sellout tonight in honor of the 'Cats seniors. Yes they have disappointed with their inconsistent performance from time to time but they came to UC in one of the programs darkest hours and were committed to keeping the winning tradition alive, it just didn't happen, but it wasn't because of their effort or intensity.
  • Everybody is looking for the chink in the X men's armor and they think they have found it in Lavender's ankle. People he played 33 minutes against Dayton and contributed to the win in a hostile environment. He didn't practice fully all week leading up to the GW game and it showed. Miller called him out and Drew will produce the rest of the season. Paul Daughtery cite your sources when you say another 'local doctor' says there is no way he will heal by playing. Your proctologist doesn't count "Doc".
  • 'Championship Week' starts in earnest next Monday night and the next two weeks are some of the most compelling in all of sports. That is why I love this game.
  • Here is to hoping everything is okay with Charlie Coles. We miss you on the sidelines Charlie and hope you can return in time for the post season. This is a good audition for Jermaine Henderson though and I think he is the logical replacement for Charlie when the time comes.
  • Speaking of opportunity; Detroit Mercy should be a job Chris Mack expresses interest in. It would be great if he could prove himself as a head coach. Convincing his wife to leave Cincinnati could be the issue or UD Mercy may already have a guy in mind.
  • It also appears that Sean Miller is falling down on the rung a bit for the IU job. That is a great thing if you are an X fan. IF he leaves there is no way Kenny Frease sets foot on campus in the fall. I think if we have a deep run in the tournament it will only increase his chances of staying on campus though. He firmly believes a National Championship can be won at Xavier and he is the first to really act like it could happen. My pick (if he's asked) is Tony Bennett from Washington State. IU may shoot for the stars with this search though (Bill Self anyone?)
  • Put me on the list of people who don't like Jim Calhoun. I recently read some insider recruiting information that said he tried like hell to get Mark 'Cheeky' Lyons to change his mind on his verbal to X. Nice coach. Speaking of 'Cheeky' check out Brewster Academy in New Hampshire and look at all their high level D1 talent and tell me who the star of the team is? You already know the answer.
  • Dion Dixon the next Dwyane Wade? I don't think so UC fans though Marquette was interested. He could very well be the next Fennis Dembo then too because according to Wyoming was the only other school to offer. His you tube highlights show his athleticism and potential and he is another piece to the puzzle.
  • My final four today (using Lunardi's bracketology updated 3/3) would be Duke, UCLA, Notre Dame and X.

Withrow/St. X

I enjoyed the Division I basketball playoffs very much last night at Cintas. The St. X/Princeton game was closer than the final would indicate. If you have never been to a St. X game watching and listening to their student section is one of the highlights and they are some very creative young men. I really like the players coming over at the end of the game and singing the alma mater with all their supporters. Gibler will do well at the Horizon League level. Orlando Williams a junior guard from Princeton is one to keep your eyes on for the future. The second game featuring the Tigers of Withrow versus the Warriors of Wayne was not quite as entertaining. The five starters from Withrow all have Division 1 futures. Gates is surely the main attraction and if he gets the ball down low on the right block it is over. He is a great finisher. He will need to hustle and run the floor all the time though to see major minutes his first year in college for the Bearcats. Mick won't tolerate the jogging back. Also Chris Grimes (about 6-5 270) is a good low block mate for Yancy. However I don't think the word 'sportsmanship' is in his vocabulary. I was also a little disappointed in Anthony McBride. This kid could play at the MAC level or above but all the back talking and negative body language towards your coach is surely noted. Also if we ever wonder why so many 'students' in our public schools are not passing proficiency tests the Withrow pullovers are a good testatment. On the back of their shirts they do a take off Rick Ross' song 'Every Game We Hustlin'' which is a good motto just poor English. Anyway I digress. This Saturday at 11 AM at Cintas there will be a great rematch between St. X and Withrow for the opportunity to represent Cincinnati in Columbus. Giving the results of last year's game this should be a war. The St. X kids are disciplined team players that are fundamentally sound whereas Withrow seems to focus on the sheer talent of their senior starting 5.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Brett Favre was a great QB.

OK, Its been said. Everybody can stop verbally blowing him now.

I know thats not the popular thing to say. I know He's "Americas QB". I know this is a basketball blog but because of this crap I cant hear or see anything about bball without a reference to Favre(Dukie V- "Brett Favre was great Baby!! If he played basketball I'd blow him right after my one true love coach K".)

I also know that its been 24 hours of nonstop #4 everywhere you look in the sports media.

Does anybody really care what Phil Simms thinks about Favre retiring? Would Phil Simms give a shit if he wasn't being paid to talk about it? I dont think so.

Another thing, why is it that Favre "Heroically overcame drug addiction" but Lindsey Lohan is just trashy or a rock star who does drugs is considered the scum of the earth?

Its BS thats why.

I want to point out that I enjoyed watching him play. I think he was one of the best ever blah blah blah. Im just reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaalllllllyyyy freaking tired of hearing about it.

So please sports talk radio,internet, and ESPN can we knock the 24 hour Bavre watch back to a couple hours a day so I can get back to enjoying my beloved college basketball?

OHSAA Playoffs at Cintas

Great Division 1 basketball playoff games scheduled for tonight at Cintas Center. Princeton versus St. Xavier at 6:15 and Withrow versus Huber Heights Wayne to follow. I try and catch high school tournament action when I can and tonight I will be able to attend. Of course we all know about Yancy Gates and I look forward to seeing him in person again. But there will be plenty of other D1 talent on the floor tonight with Gibler and Loesing from St. X already being committed to Loyola (IL) and Wofford respectively. Chris Grimes, Anthony McBride, and Troy Long from Withrow may all have legitimate D1 dreams too. I am not sure of the talent at Huber Heights Wayne but given their record I am sure there will be some head turners. Princeton has some great athletes too and I will be pulling for them and their departed coach Bill Brewer to win tonight.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Most Wonderful Time of Year

For me the most wonderful time of the year is March. You can keep Christmas, you can keep opening day for the Reds, you can keep Monday night football, you can keep the first day of spring, give me March in all her glory. Cornell is the first official entrant to the Madness and tradition always tells us the Ivy League will give us the first because they award the regular season champion with a ticket to the 'Big Dance'. All the rest of the conferences are money driven and therefore have their own postseason tournaments which I am so very grateful for. Now through Selection Sunday we will have all the basketball we can stand. I would watch every game if I could of all the tournaments but alas I need to go to work and the family deserves some of my attention. I look forward to the announcing of the NCAA brackets like a young child looks forward to Christmas Eve. It is great knowing your team is in, but the suspense of being on the bubble and getting in is great too. What is more fun is analyzing your team's matchup and trying to figure out who the Final Four will be. I am not a big bracket filler out guy. I am always away from the office so I do miss that aspect of March Madness. But I generally do a few with friends and family and usually I don't do well. I let my heart get in the way too much. The first four days of the tournament, nothing matches it in sports. I bunker down in front of my selected television with coolers of beverages and mountains of salty snacks. I take extended vacation (no crap) every year to watch the tournament. I use the first few days of the week for the 'honey do's' around the house and I warm up with the NIT in the evening. Noon on that Thursday of opening round though is what college basketball is all about. You can throw rankings out the window, the talking heads can finally prove how little they do know, and just pull like hell for all the Cinderella's out there unless your team is playing against Cinderella. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

Monday, March 3, 2008

the good thing about this weekend for Bearcats fans

I cant embed the video. they have it disabled but here he is folks. The Newest recruit for next season.

Welcome to UC Dion.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

11 Straight

Eleven straight victories for the Musketeers, A10 title in hand, the most regular season victories ever (25), and nobody on the team is very happy. After the ten point win against George Washington the coaching staff decided to hold off on the net cutting ceremony for the regular season title because they were not happy with the effort of the team. It is obvious Coach Miller is not letting this team settle and they were surely on 'cruise control' against GW. The lack of concentration and focus can be clearly seen in the free throw shooting stats for the night. A bright spot for me was the play by Jason Love and his effort was rewarded with his first double double. The team effort will need to be much better Thursday night against a good St Joes squad looking for a signature victory. I also think Drew returning to practice full time this week will be just what the doctor ordered. His ankle is near 100% and upper respitory illness moreso limited his effectiveness Saturday night.

Recruiting updates: Brad Redford and Kenny Frease teams continue to play in their respective state tournaments. A state championship for Brad will most likely result in him winning the coveted Mr. Basketball award, but if he wins and Draymond Green's Saginaw team wins the title too in their division I see it going to the Michigan State recruit. Dominique Buckley (Iowa State commit) and Paul Williams (UD recruit) are the other candidates. Buckley (a point guard) was all but a Muskie commit. Insider information you have to pay for on Rivals revealed that he was coming to Victory Parkway until a last minute visit (as a courtesy) to the Cyclones. That same article detailed how wacky recruiting can be. The staff worked their ass off landing Frease, Redford, and Walsh but Mark Lyons commit was a complete shock. They hadn't been recruiting him that hard and on his first visit to campus he made it clear if offered he was coming. He is from the same area as Lionel Chalmers so he knew all about the Musketeers. Recruiting and scouting surely remain an inexact science.