Xavier's Most Important Players for Success This Season
The Xavier University basketball team has been one of the most successful programs in the nation in recent memory. Xavier is just one of two programs who have advanced to the Sweet 16 or farther in each of the last three NCAA Tournaments. Xavier was eliminated in the 2010 Sweet 16 in a 2 OT game for the ages against Kansas St.
After having such a memorable season last year, the Musketeers look to build on their success. With the loss of two major players, Jordan Crawford and Jason Love, the Xavier basketball team will need a few players to step up their roles and help carry more of the load.
The 6-0 Junior point guard has started each of the last two years for Xavier, and is one of the most experienced players on the team. Holloway is known for being a great passer with a knack for getting to the basket. He has a much improved perimeter shot, and also plays stellar defense by using his 6-6 winspan to lock down the opposing point guard and getting in to passing lanes.
With the loss of top scoring option Jordan Crawford, the Musketeers will be looking for a go to option in crunch time. Holloway has shown the ability to do this, most notably in games vs Cincinnati (26 points, 4 assists) and Kansas St. (26 points, 6 assists). Holloway's clutch free throw shooting will mean that when the game is on the line there is no doubt that the ball will be in his hands.
The 7-0, 265 pound Junior center was a highly touted recruit who has yet to live up to his potential. With the departure of the steady Jason Love from the starting center position, Xavier needs someone to step up and be a force on the inside.
Frease has shown flashes of the tremendous talent that he possesses but has yet to be able to put it all together. The sheer size of Frease should allow him to have his way with opponents in the paint, but during his first two years at Xavier this size has made him seem more out of shape than strong.
Kenny Frease has been putting in a lot of work this offseason, reportedly losing a significant amount of weight and gaining over 4 inches on his vertical. Improving his athleticism will help Frease to become a strong rebounder and low post scorer that Xavier will desperately need this season.
Justin Martin is the top recruit in head coach Chris Mack's first recruiting class. He was ranked as a top 100 prospect by both Rivals and ESPN. The 6-7 200 pound small forward is known for his smooth shooting stroke from the perimeter and has the size that can create some matchup problems.
The Musketeers will be looking for Martin to provide quality minutes right away, and may even be in the starting lineup from day one. He will need to help fill the scoring gap that is available with the departure of Jordan Crawford. If Martin can be a reliable shooter, he will help to spread the defense and give the rest of the Musketeers some extra space.
Lyons is an explosive athlete who can turn on the jets and excels in the open floor. During the redshirt sophomores first season in a Xavier uniform he showcased some of the athleticism and potential that he has, but he also showed that he can easily get out of control and make bad decisions on the court.
Xavier will most likely bring Lyons off the bench, to provide some spark, playing either the one or the two position. If Lyons can stay under control on the court and use his athleticism to his advantage then he would be a great complement to Holloway in the backcourt.
The Musketeers need a legitimate player to come off the bench and give the team some fire. He uses his quickness to play stifling defense on opponents and his scoring ability will be a huge plus for the Xavier team.