It’s that time of year again. The courts have been waxed and the arenas will soon be filled with screaming fans. NCAAM’s regular season basketball is back. The Xavier University team is set to kick off their regular season of intercollegiate basketball play on Friday night at home in the Cintas Center. The Musketeers will be starting the season with a match up against the Fairleigh Dickinson University Knights at 7:00 pm.
Xavier has been on the winning side of their past regular season openers, winning 22 straight and all of their openers at home. The Musketeers will be aiming to continue that streak on Friday night against the Knights. Friday night’s match up will also be the first in a three game home stand to kick off the season for the Musketeers.
The team faced a lot of turmoil in the off season that may translate in to a rocky road as the season progresses. The team lost their top scorer, Dezmine Wells, in August when he was expelled from the university for what was called a “serious violation of the Code of Student Conduct.” Wells was named to the 2012 Atlantic Conference All-Rookie team and started 32 games last season. After winning a transfer appeal, Dez is now set to start for Maryland this year.
If the loss of the sophomore was not bad enough, two of the team’s top recruits were declared ineligible for the 2012-13 season. Standout power forward Jalen Reynolds and shooting guard Myles Davis, were both declared ineligible for academic reasons by the NCAA. Both men are attending the university without scholarships waiting to be re-instated next season.
The loss of these three players further thin out an already light roster. Tu Holloway, Kenny Frease, and Andre Walker graduated last year and Mark Lyons transferred. The losses force Xavier head coach, Chris Mack, to start the season with only eight scholarship players, none of which started last season.
The Musketeers will be returning three seniors this year and will look to them to lead the inexperienced players on the court. Senior forward Travis Taylor will enter the season as XU’s leading scorer with just a 4.5 point average. They will also get immediate use out of their other senior forward Jeff Robinson who picked up 12 points in the school’s exhibition game against Kentucky State. The team will have to wait to get production from their third senior, guard Brad Redford, though. He is another roster casualty, as he is starting the season sidelined with a hamstring injury.
The Musketeers did look good in the only exhibition game of the season against Kentucky State. Robinson, junior Stenger, and freshman Semaj Christon all posted double figures at 12 points each. Stenger also added nine rebounds to his stats, earning himself a scholarship for the season. XU went on to beat Kentucky State 74-53.
The season will be an uphill battle for Xavier, who had high hopes to repeat the Sweet Sixteen appearance of last year before the roster issues occurred. Mack has stated that his team is not dwelling in the past, though, and is just worried about improving. The team knows what they are up against and everyone on the squad is ready to fight through the adversity. It may be a slower season than Xavier fans are used to, but the team will be back and better than ever next season. You can never count these guys out.
Here is how the team’s final roster shakes out:
|#22 Landen Amos||Junior||Guard|
|#24 Chris Cantino||Junior||Forward – Eligibility Limbo|
|#0 Semaj Christon||Freshman||Guard|
|#32 Kevin Coker||Freshman||Forward|
|#11 Dee Davis||Sophomore||Guard|
|#2 James Farr||Freshman||Forward|
|#20 Justin Martin||Sophomore||Forward|
|#31 Isaiah Pilmore||Junior||Forward – Out 3 Games|
|#12 Brad Redford||Senior||Guard – Out with Injury|
|#21 Jeff Robinson||Senior||Forward|
|#3 Joe Schuessler||Freshman||Guard|
|#40 Matt Stainbrook||Junior||Center|
|#35 Erik Stenger||Junior||Forward|
|#4 Travis Taylor||Senior||Forward|
|#14 Tim Whelan||Junior||Guard|
|#15 Myles Davis||Freshman||Guard – Out for Season|
|#1 Jalen Reynolds||Freshman||Forward – Out for Season|
Topics: Brad Redford, Chris Mack, Cincinnati, Cintas Center, Dezmine Wells, Erik Stenger, Fairleigh Dickinson University Knights, Jalen Reynolds, Jeff Robinson, Musketeers, Myles Davis, NCAA Basketball, NCAAM, Semaj Christon, Travis Taylor, Xavier, Xavier Basketball, Xavier Musketeers, XU