Looking back at the Sweet Sixteen run

By: Adam Tortelli ~Staff Writer~

In a season that seemingly started over a year ago with one of the program’s best recruiting classes ever, Xavier men’s basketball turned heads all throughout their 2014-15 campaign. It was late April last year that the team found out they would be losing their top two scorers from 2013-14.

Xavier’s bench celebrates against Georgia State in the NCAA Tournament’s third round

However, with the additions of fearless freshmen and Indiana transfer Remy Abell scoring came in bunches throughout the year. Freshman forward Trevon Blueitt showed scoring promise in all fashions from the very first time he set foot in front of the Musketeer faithful, while freshman guard JP Macura’s sharpshooting and relentless desire to win failed to skip a beat from a dominant high school career.

Guard Larry Austin Jr. and freshman center Sean O’Mara had playing time come and go as they backed up senior standouts, but both shined in these roles when presented with the opportunity, giving fans the excitement of their potential explosiveness to come in the near future. Despite carrying the label of redshirts for the season, much will be expected next year out of guard Edmond Sumner and forward Makinde London.

In just a brief amount of time, Sumner proved he can get to the basket at will (comparable to former standout Semaj Christon) and London appears to have eyepopping skills that he put on full display during Muskie Madness to kick off the season. Sophomore guard Myles Davis and forward Jalen Reynolds proved that they are no longer projects and that they deserve to play significant minutes.

Davis evolved his spot-up shooting game into an off-the dribble threat while Reynolds developed his dazzling dunks into uncontainable moves in the post. Junior forward James Farr did not see the court as consistently as many expected, but the 6-foot- 10 stretch forward proved at the end of the season that he can still shoot from long range and rebound with the nation’s best. Where Farr missed on expectations, classmate Remy Abell picked up the slack when the team needed him most.

Be it by attacking the rim, mak- Xavier celebrates after winning their first home NCAA tournament game. ing a clutch three-pointer or locking down the opposition’s best perimeter player, Abell made a key impact on the team in just his first official season. Lastly, seniors Matt Stainbrook and Dee Davis proved that they will be dearly missed when next season begins. As the stage magnified, both players intensified their leadership on both ends of the court. Davis ends his four years as arguably the most overlooked player in the nation.

Senior Day
Xavier seniors (L-R) Andrew Mitchell, Matt Stainbrook and Dee Davis being honored on Senior Day before their final home game

He placed top-10 in the country for both total assists and assists per game. Furthermore, Stainbrook proved to be much more than the student-athlete-Uber driver, a fact that in-game commentators still fail to comprehend. The big man solidified himself as one of the nation’s best lowpost scorers and arguably best passing center in the country not named Frank Kaminsky. In conclusion, the team went further than expected.

They were predicted to finish in the bottom of the conference, but they didn’t. They were supposed to lose in the first round of the NCAA tournament, but they made the Sweet 16. They were supposed to be run out of the gym by Arizona, but they never let the game get more than 10 points out of reach and led for a very large chunk. Next year, who knows what will happen? But certainly do not count out those Musketeers from Xavier.