Sporting News magazine ranks Xavier men's basketball team among the top 40 college teams
Atlantic 10 colleagues Saint Joseph's and Temple are also in the rankings
The Sporting News magazine has ranked Xavier 19th best among the top 40 college teams in its preseason magazine based on the successes of the team’s winning 2007-2008 season. They include Xavier tying a school record at the end of last season with a No. 12 ranking in the final AP Poll. And the team broke the school record with a final ranking of No. 8 in the post-tournament USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll.
Xavier made its third straight NCAA Tournament appearance last season and the seventh in the last eight years. Xavier (30-7) set the school record for most wins in an entire season on its way to a second NCAA “Elite Eight” appearance in five years and a second straight Atlantic 10 Conference Regular Season Championship. Xavier has now recorded three straight seasons of 20 wins or more and 11 in the last 12 years.
Also contributing to the ranking was the leadership of seniors Drew Lavender, Stanley Burrell and Josh Duncan, all of whom have graduated. But Xavier has two starters and several key reserves back this year and a highly-touted class of newcomers, said Tom Eiser, associate athletic director for media relations.
Fifth-year head coach Sean Miller, the 2007-2008 Atlantic 10 Conference Coach of the Year, is accustomed to the high expectations.
“At Xavier, the bar is always high,” said Miller. “We challenge ourselves to continue to build on our tradition of winning. Each year our team faces new challenges. However, the best programs in college basketball compete for excellence every season regardless of what happened the year before. There is a difference between having a great team and having a program that can sustain excellence. We want to be that type of program.”
Xavier’s two returning starters from its 2008 NCAA “Elite Eight” team that led the Atlantic 10 in scoring margin (+11.7 ppg.) include last season’s second-leading scorer, Derrick Brown (10.9 ppg.), a junior forward, and C.J. Anderson (10.7 ppg.), a senior forward.
Senior guard/forward B.J. Raymond, the fifth-leading scorer last season at just under double figures (9.9 ppg.), also returns this year. In all, Xavier’s returning players comprise 55.4 percent of its scoring from the 2007-2008 season. Xavier also returns its top three rebounders from a team that led the Atlantic 10 and was 29th in the nation in rebounding margin at +5.2 rpg. Brown (6.5 rpg. as a sophomore), Anderson (5.9 rpg.) and junior Jason Love (5.5 rpg.) are all back for the upcoming season. Xavier returns 72.2 percent of its rebounding from last season. Sophomore Danté Jackson played understudy to last year’s defensive leader, Stanley Burrell, and has high hopes to fill that role this season.
Also cracking the “top 40” rankings in the preseason publication are fellow Atlantic 10 Conference members Saint Joseph’s at No. 32 and 2008 A-10 Tournament Champion Temple at No. 38. Both teams advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season and were among a league-record eight teams to reach the 20-win plateau.
Xavier opens the 2008-2009 season on Friday, Nov. 7, at 7:00 p.m. with an exhibition game against the University of Findlay at the Cintas Center. Read more about Xavier men's basketball at the team's web site.
The Sporting News Top 40:
1. North Carolina
5. Michigan State
12. Notre Dame
14. Miami (Fla.)
15. Arizona State
17. Wake Forest
23. St. Mary’s
28. Ohio State
32. Saint Joseph’s
34. Virginia Tech
35. West Virginia
39. San Diego