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October 5, 2009
Xavier hopes for a smooth transition under new coach Chris Mack, who had been a Musketeers assistant. Mack replaces Sean Miller, who now is the coach at Arizona. There's no reason to expect Mack to change things: The Musketeers have won the past three A-10 regular-season titles and reached the past four NCAA tournaments, including an Elite Eight appearance in 2007-08. Xavier lost B.J. Raymond and C.J. Anderson to graduation and junior Derrick Brown to the NBA draft (he was a second-round pick). But Mack still has plenty of talent and will employ similar coaching principles as Miller, which includes sharing the ball on offense and man-to-man defense.
Jason Love is the top returning scorer and rebounder for the Musketeers.
The losses of Raymond and Anderson were expected, but losing Brown - the 40th pick in the draft - was something of a surprise. Jason Love will be the new leader here. He's also the top returning scorer (6.7 ppg) and rebounder (5.9 rpg), and a solid defender. Seven-foot sophomore Kevin Frease should see increased playing time; he had 43 blocks last season. Junior Jamel McLean is athletic and will benefit from more playing time.
After sitting out last season following his transfer from Indiana, Jordan Crawford should step into the starting lineup and be one of Xavier's go-to players. He averaged 9.7 points in his final season at IU. Crawford generated plenty of buzz during the summer after video of his mildly impressive dunk over LeBron James at a camp was confiscated, then subsequently leaked online. Reserve Brad Redford has big-time range and should get more shots this season. The biggest task for Xavier will be to find a consistent point guard; Terrell Holloway and Dante' Jackson split the job last season, but neither flourished. The Musketeers finished with more turnovers than assists, which shouldn't happen in a program of this stature.
The coaching change and the losses of Raymond, Brown and Anderson - the top three scorers - mean Xavier isn't a lock to win the A-10 or even reach the NCAA tournament. But given the Musketeers' recent track record, would you bet against them?
Preseason rankings were compiled by basketball writers David Fox, Mike Huguenin, Jason King and Steve Megargee.