Sleeping With The Enemy: The Xavier Musketeers

The animated and anonymous fellow behind the Musketeer crazed blog Dana and Victory was kind enough to cut some time out of his holiday festivities and shine some light on Xavier’s basketball team. Have some spiked eggnog on us, DAV.

PGN: Going to venture a guess that everything for the Musketeers starts with Tu Holloway, 22 PPG and 39.9 MPG. How does he do his damage and what have teams done to slow him this season?

Tu is by some distance the best player on the team. He’s not big (6-0 is generous), but he’s as strong as a bull and is completely fearless. He loves drawing contact near the rim, and you would too if you shot close to 90% from the line. With that said, he’s not an NBA-caliber scorer like Jordan Crawford last year, so he doesn’t have the same facility to create his shot. Honestly, the best way to slow him down is probably to press like crazy for the whole game, because X has no backcourt depth at all and, accordingly, Tu runs the point for close to the full 40 (and many times beyond this year).

Mark Lyons- he’s a local boy! Born in Albany and played at Schenectady just down the road. How’s his development coming along?

As far as guards go, Tu is the steady, dependable, cerebral type and Lyons is the artistic, mercurial, inconsistent type. He frustrates the fans because he’ll pull off some ludicrous hesitation move one time down the floor for a basket and then throw it into the band the next possession. I think he’s a big time talent, but he really has to improve his outside shooting to be effective this year and next (because Holloway isn’t moving off the point). He’s also got some pretty awesome R&B jams on Youtube.

On paper, it seems like Xavier’s weakness is that it doesn’t take a lot of three and does not make a lot of those which it takes. Any three point threats on the roster?

Dante Jackson, a local kid who is a senior, should be our best sharpshooter but has struggled thus far. If he’s hitting his set shots from the wing we’re tough to defend. The problem is that Xavier lost its two best three-point shooters – junior Brad Redford and top-75 recruit Justin Martin – in an unfathomably disastrous week before the opening game of the season. Redford, who shoots close to 50% from three and is the original zone buster, tore his ACL. Martin, a bigtime scorer out of Indianapolis, was declared a partial qualifier due to his high school’s shitty academic oversight.

We’ve faced a handful top mid-major big men this year, Eli Holman of Detroit, Ryan Rossiter of Siena and Michael Glover of Iona, but not a duo like Xavier has. What should be expect out of Jamel McLean and Kenny Frease? Is 7-footer Frease a big stiff inside or does he have some agility?

Frease has played very well so far this year after losing 25 pounds (and gaining quickness) in the offseason. He’s still prone to foul trouble though. McLean should be the team’s stud. But he had his orbital bone fractured in XU’s exhibition against Northern Kentucky and has disappointed offensively since.

Any other “X” factors that we should be worried about going off?

I’d have to say no. We don’t really have any depth at all. Jay Canty and Jeff Robinson have shown some abilities on the glass from the wing but that’s about it. X lives and dies with its starting five.

What type of defensive style/ pressure does Chris Mack prefer?

Half-court man-to-man with packline principles in the Dick Bennett/Sean Miller mode.

Mid-Majority excludes your from mid-major status because of the amount of money that goes to your hoops program. Do you consider yourself a mid-major? Is Xavier eyeing entrance into a power basketball conference?

I’m not the guy to ask because I reject those labels generally. Xavier has made two elite eights, four sweet sixteens, seven NCAA second rounds and eight NCAA tournaments in the last nine seasons. That’s up there with almost anyone in the country. Our facilities are top-notch, we draw well, and we regularly get home-and-homes with the Floridas, Gonzagas, Wake Forests of the world. I think XU would love to join a major basketball conference, but it’s not a possibility any time soon.

We won the “Albany Cup” as we took down our cross-town Siena in thrilling fashion. How big a deal is your rivalry game with Cincinnati?

Biggest game of the season for people of my vintage. UC was the benchmark in the 1990s and beating Bob Huggins was always awesome. Local rivalries – especially non-conference rivalries – are among the most special aspect of college basketball.

What do kids at Xavier do around the great state of Ohio for fun?

At this time of the year, probably the same thing kids in upstate NY do – drink heavily and try not to freeze to death.

Albany is in perfect trap game position, after Gonzaga and two days before a big home game with Florida. What are the chances for a(n) Xavier letdown? Do you think the fans will show up?

Our fans have been really loud and supportive this year, especially given our team’s challenges with injuries and depth issues. We’ve played a lot of very tough games against unheralded opponents at home – beating Western Michigan by 3, IPFW in overtime, Wofford in three overtimes, etc. The students probably won’t be around. I don’t foresee a letdown from the Muskies. Of our next five games (including tonight’s game at Gonzaga), we’ll be underdogs in four of them. X will definitely need a win over the Great Danes.

And finally, your prediction?

I’m guessing the line will be 10 or 11. I think XU wins but doesn’t cover.

~ by TheMidRangeGame on December 27, 2010.

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