As you probably noticed in the previous post breaking down Xavier’s conference season, the team goes as its big 2 (or 3) go. Jordan Crawford and Jason Love are the core of the team, but they are not the entire team. Three players average in double figures and three more average more than 4.5 rebounds per game. But we’ll start at the top.
Jordan Crawford should be familiar from his lone, scandal tainted season at Indiana. Back in 2008 he came off the bench, he came off the bench but still played over 25 minutes per game while averaging nearly 10 points and 3 rebounds. He, along with all but one Indiana player, headed elsewhere as the Hoosiers slipped into obscurity. Now the 6’4” shooting guard has re-emerged this season as Xavier’s leading scorer at nearly 20 points and five rebounds per game. He can get points in bunches, peaking at 30 in a double overtime loss to Wake Forest. He also really loves to shoot, really, with ten or more field goal attempts in every game. That is good enough for the 16th most shots taken in all of Division 1 basketball. From the outside he is a streaky shooter, and if the Gophers can contain him, they can contain Xavier’s entire offense.
Jason Love doesn’t get as much attention as Crawford, but he just might be a better offensive player. He doesn’t force things and takes only high percentage shots, making 57% of his attempts, all inside the three point line. He ranks 41st in the country in offensive rebounding and will be a load underneath for the Gophers. At 6’9” and 265 pounds, he is most reminiscent of the shorter and thicker Michigan State front court players in recent years. It’ll be important for Ralph Sampson to establish good position on both ends of the floor and for Colton Iverson to continue to play physical. Love averaged 12 points and eight rebounds per game, with highs of 21 and 19 (twice) respectively .
Terrell Holloway is defined by his streakiness. When he is good he is very good. When he is bad, he shoots one of five against a horrible Miami of Ohio team. No one knows which Holloway will show up at a given time, and it certainly will be interesting how the Gophers adjust to defending him based on what kind game he is having. The one consistent part of his game is his ability to get to the free throw line. He has attempted 10 or more free throws five time this season. If he is having a rough shooting day, he tends to focus on getting to the line, which is pretty smart when you think about. At George Washington he managed to score 15 points despite shooting 1-11 for the game. Against Dayton he shot 2-6 but scored 17 in the game.
Jamel McLean is third of the occasionally big three Musketeers. He is another stellar rebounder, ranking 16th in the country on the offensive glass. He also adds eight points per game and scored in double figures 10 times. He is considerably skinnier than his front court counterpart at only 235 pounds. He’ll most likely match-up against Sampson III on both ends of the court, leaving Damian Johnson to chase around Crawford.
Mark Lyons is a 6’1” point guard who isn’t much of an outside shooting threat. He can make three pointers at a 35% clip, but just doesn’t seem to shoot them often enough to worry about, making only 22 the entire season. He is a ball hawk though, collecting a steal per game despite playing only 21 minutes per game.
Dante Jackson is one of two three point specialists the Musketeers have, with 124 of his 167 field goal attempts coming from behind the three point line. Considering that he shoots better from behind the three point line (40% vs 37%) he knows what he is doing. He also shoots better than 82% at the free throw line.
Brad Redford is another three point bomber, having attempted only seven shots inside the three point line and 107 from deep. When he is out there, it is to shoot it from deep. He made four three pointers three times during the season.
Kenny Frease brings the size off the bench. If Xavier is having trouble containing Iverson and Sampson III, expect to see a lot of him. At 7’0” 265 pounds he is by far their biggest player. He averages five points and four rebounds per game.
No other Musketeer averages more than 10 minutes or 2.2 points per game.