Staff predictions: Xavier men’s basketball

By: Newswire Staff

Newswire file photo | Xavier will need to rely on the production of their backcourt this season to find success.

Luke Feliciano: Xavier uses last year’s heartbreaking loss to Wisconsin as a motivator for this year and a mix of NBA caliber players, seasoned veterans and talented newcomers will collectively help them make a run at the Big East title and then deep into the March Madness tournament.

Josh Bozzick: A thin bench will challenge Xavier in the beginning of the season and there are issues on the defensive side of the ball with no elite defenders. However, this team should be an offensive force and score in bunches. If Xavier is not playing in the second weekend come March, this season will have been a disappointment.

Donnie Menke: I think Tyrique Jones steps up huge, along with RaShid Gaston, to help fill the holes James Farr and Jalen Reynolds left. Even though I don’t think they can fill it completely, I think the improved back-court helps offset the difference and Xavier makes a Final Four run this season. As long as this team can stay healthy and potentially get Myles Davis back, they have arguably the most talented, and deepest, back-courts in the nation and overall teams.

Brendan Burris: Obviously, the #1 concern with the team this year is the depth. If this team struggles with foul trouble, they might find themselves challenged in games that they probably shouldn’t be. Another thing I am concerned with is how the frontcourt will look with such high turnover this year. The loss of James Farr and Jalen Reynolds and who steps up will definitely be the biggest thing I look at during the first few games of the season. Sean O’Mara will need to take a big step up this year, everyone should be interested to see how consistent Gaston will play, and the power forward slot will absolutely be something to watch to see who takes up the most minutes there. This is obviously still one of the best teams Xavier has ever had, and I believe that they will be a consistent top-15 team in the country for most, if not all, of the season.

Paul Fritschner: The overall depth of the team is the main concern I have. I don’t think there’s one particular area we will be significantly weak in, but only having 10 scholarship players does not leave much margin for error. There may be some rough patches to begin the year, but as long as the team is clicking by the end of February, we should be good to go.

Kyle Tooley: The Musketeers will need to play with a “next man up” mentality for the first few weeks of the season due to Kaiser Gates’s injury and Myles Davis’s suspension. If they can get production out of their eight core guys out of the gate as well as possibly Tim Stainbrook early on, this team will be tough to beat. Showcasing their depth will be vital during their non-conference slate, as this is by far the toughest stretch of games they’ve seen in my four years. If they can expand their bench, get good production from their newcomers and big men and take care of lesser opponents on a consistent basis, there is no reason to believe that this team can’t win the Big East and make a deep March Madness run.

Lydia Reagan: Sumner will definitely be the player to watch this season, as he is bound for the NBA Lottery and should improve upon a strong 2015. I worry about his health just because of the lack of depth at the point guard position and any missed time could be detrimental to the success of the season.

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