By: Isabel Smith ~Staff Writer~
Xavier made its transition from an 18-season tenure in the Atlantic-10 Conference to the newly aligned Big East Conference in 2013. The Big East removed the schools with a focus on football and welcomed Xavier to its new home, becoming a true contender.
The Musketeers’ inaugural Big East season found the team with a 21-13 overall record and a 10-8 record in conference play. Xavier received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament where the Musketeers finalized their season in nearby Dayton, Ohio, with a disappointing loss to North Carolina State.
Xavier got a little more comfortable in the conference during the 2014-15 season. Even though Xavier finished sixth in the conference with a 9-9 conference record (23-14 overall), it reached the Big East finals where they lost to Villanova in an exciting match at Madison Square Garden.
Its Big East performance earned the Musketeers a six seed in the NCAA Tournament, a definite step up from the previous season. Xavier carried momentum in the big dance with wins against Ole Miss and Georgia State, carrying the Musketeers to the Sweet 16. Xavier put forth a valiant effort against the Arizona Wildcats in a matchup that sealed the Musketeers’ season.
With Xavier comfortable in the conference and fully assimilated into Big East play, the Musketeers are prepared to take on the 2015- 16 season. The Sweet 16 appearance proved that Xavier’s basketball program deserves attention.
Xavier fans have already completely sold out of upper baseline season tickets for the new season, as supporters are yearning to see what the Musketeers can do this year. The Musketeers are building off their recent tournament appearance and are fully capable of breaking past program barriers.
Redshirt freshman guard Edmond Sumner is finally healed after a season-ending bout with tendinitis. The guard experienced excruciating knee pain after periods of growth that took him from 5-foot-9 to 6-foot-6. His last appearance was in game four of the previous season. Sumner has spent the recent months putting in work to develop his body in an effort to avert injury and become a stronger player.
Junior forward Jalen Reynolds made the Preseason All-Big East First Team earlier in October. Reynolds was a standout performer long before this recognition. The forward displayed strong athleticism, impressive dunks and improved consistency this past season. Reynolds is a reliable component of the Xavier squad who will help the Musketeers compete in the upcoming season.
With more eyes focused on Xavier and momentum from the tournament, the Musketeers are ready to take the program to the next level. An Elite Eight or Final Four Appearance may be in the cards for Xavier in the near future.