Friday, July 17, 2009

Vacation - XU Steak Fry

I have been on vacation since this weekend and apologize for lack of updates and other information. I went to Saugatuck, MI with my wife and 22 month old son. Six hours is about all a little guy can handle in the car which made our destination great. This was my first trip to Michigan and seeing the sunset on Oval Beach over Lake Michigan is a pleasant memory I will carry for awhile. Also had the chance to stop by Notre Dame's campus on the way back. South Bend as a city was a little disappointing but the Irish are the main attraction. Beautiful campus the Irish have by the way.

While I was taking it easy, Griffen McKenzie was racking up the offers with Vanderbilt and the Ohio State University being the latest to his list. Many Xavier fans want to compare Griff to Justin Doellman but their games are very different. McKenzie is more of a '5' and has mixed it up down low on the summer circuit. His lower back injury kept him under the radar last season as he did not play until mid January. He is making up for it in a big way. Obviously would love to have this kid and I am hopeful a decision comes soon. IF he wants to leave town look for Wake, Northwestern, or Vandy to have a real shot at him.

If we land Griffen (who will be a four star prospect by the end of July) JD Weatherspoon will be on the outside looking in. X is looking for one more frontcourt player with the 2010 class and a wing. Right now JD projects as an undersized '4'. I would be suprised if it wasn't X or tOSU. Let's hope JD makes a decision soon. I would say the top wing targets for this class include Jamail Jones and Justin Martin.

Speaking of 2010 prospects while I was away my print copy of PrepStars Recruiters Handbook showed up. Their pre July camp rankings had Jordan Latham at #92. After reading their write up on him at the NBA Players Camp he will fall from that spot. Apparently Jordan tried to do many things he is not capable of. However they go on to say with polish on his hook and jump shot he will be a high level player in college basketball. Latham is 6'8" and could help at the center position based on his rebounding prowess and strength. Other sites (including say that he played very, very well at the Peach Jam down in Georgia.

I did return home last night to enjoy my first Alumni Steak Fry on XU's campus. The meal was very, very good to a country boy like me. The highlights of course were hearing the coaches speak. Before I get into the men's basketball highlights let me just say coach Kevin McGuff and his staff have raised the bar very high for our women's program. Ta'shia Phillips brought home gold from the World University Games in Serbia earlier this summer, Amber Harris is returning to form, and the schedule is killer once again. They may reach a final four before the men do.

I was glad I had the opportunity to hear Coach Mack speak. He is direct and to the point, which I appreciate. When asked what the biggest question/surprise for next season will be he deadpanned "My coaching." He gave the updates on the staff and current players which was all expectedly positive. Hearing the opportunities Pat Kelsey passed up to be at X were tremendous. Pat passed on them before he decided to join Chris at X which says even more to me. Kelsey had a firm offer to join Billy Donovan's staff at Florida after Shaka Smart was named the VCU head coach. He also could have been a D1 coach (I am guessing High Point in North Carolina) but passed on that as well.

Of course someone brought up the infamous Jordan Crawford dunk over Lebron. Coach said he hasn't seen it but heard 'a little bit about it'. He went on to say being able to do that on one of the best of the best in the game today would put the rest of the A10 on notice. That is not exactly what Mack said (he asked that stay under the tent) but he left no doubt in my mind he expects to compete at a very high level. He gave some schedule updates: we open at home against Youngstown State, road games at Butler, Wake Forest, Kansas State and Florida. Other home highlights include LSU and Cincinnati. We also will participate in the Old Spice Classic at Disney World around Thanksgiving that will feature Alabama, Creighton, Michigan, and Marquette. Concerning conference play he remarked Richmond will be a contender and that Temple will be tough. He made mention that we get the Owls on the road for our single contest this year and that is always a tough one to win up there. He also feels the team 'up north' will be 'pretty good'. To be honest he had plenty of zingers for the Flyers program; including a line about 'offseason championships'. Sorry Dave he did not bash your beloved Bearcats at all. Overall I am excited that we have two Xavier guys leading our program. Clearly Mack will have some on the job training with the schedule we have set up in the non conference but we all expect (including him) that our strong basketball tradition will carry on.

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