Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The All Decade X-Men

As 2010 approaches and every single aspect of life is getting together an all-decade list, I figure there's no reason Xavier should fall to the wayside. Here is the all-decade team for Xavier, one of the top college basketball programs of the past 10 years with two Elite 8 appearances and making it to at least the second round six times (that's right).


Center: David West (2000-03)

He's the no-brainer. In fact, he was named to the college basketball All-Decade team by Sports Illustrated. He's the school's second all-time leading scorer with 2,132 points and third all-time leading rebounder with 1,308 boards. He was the Associated Press National Player of the Year in 2003. Not much else left to say after that.

Forward: Josh Duncan (2005-08)

Duncan was in a race for the last spot on this squad. The reason I placed him here instead of BJ Raymond or Brian Thornton was because of the intangibles. Duncan was a primary piece of the puzzle each of his four years at XU (averaging at least nine points each season) and in his senior season was the leading scorer and heart of the team that advanced to the Elite 8. He averaged 12.4 points and 4.3 rebounds his final year. He averaged 18.3 points a game in the NCAA Tournament that year, a stat that shows he was a leader in key situations and why he was always a winner at X.

Forward: Justin Cage (2003-2007)

Mr. Consistency for the Musketeers, the 6-6, 225-pound forward averaged in the vicinity of 10.5 points and 5.5 rebounds for the final three seasons of his Xavier career. Cage consistently played inside and out, taking on any challenge that was laid out in front of him, playing over 30 minutes each of his final three seasons. He also had 25 points in a losing effort against Ohio State in his final game, nearly beating them by himself until the refs decided otherwise (a big screw you to Greg Oden and Ron Lewis also).

Guard: Lionel Chalmers (1999-2004)

As one of the three major players in the 2004 season, he assumed much of the scoring responsibility left behind when West bolted for the NBA. Chalmers caught absolute fire in the final 15 games of his senior season, torching No. 1 St. Joseph's in the Atlantic 10 tournament and leading Xavier on a run that would end in the school's first Elite 8 appearance. He led the Muskies in scoring with 16.6 points a game that season and earned himself a spot on the LA Clippers because of his senior heroics. Lionel finished with 1,397 points in three seasons as a Musketeer and will certainly go down as one of the best to ever play PG at X.

Guard: Romain Sato (2000-04)

X became known as "Forward University" over time thanks to the success of Tyrone Hill, Brian Grant, Aaron Williams, James Posey and David West. Guards like Sato and Chalmers sort of changed Xavier into "Guard U" over the course of this decade with their dominant performances and leadership. That's why Sato will take a third guard spot on this squad, he's pretty much a no-brainer as well if the team is going to have 3 guards. With his 16 points and 8 rebounds a game his senior year, while also making it to the Elite 8, Sato was a true force for the Muskies and demanded serious defensive attention every time he was in. He ended up averaging at least 16 points all three seasons he played at X, solidifying him in this spot.


Sixth man: B.J. Raymond (2005-08)

The man who hit one of the biggest shots in XU history in the 2008 Sweet Sixteen victory against West Virginia just misses out on the all-decade starting 5. Raymond was a perfect sixth man for most of his career at Xavier, hitting meaningful 3's in a good amount of games and playing lock-down defense every second he was in. Raymond has to be a part of this team as his heart and senior leadership in his final season propelled Xavier to their second Elite 8 of the decade. More than the tournament that season, he averaged 14 points and 4 rebounds as a senior.

Brian Thornton (2004-06)

The current XU Director of Basketball Operations is the "what could have been" player of the decade for the Muskies. He transferred from Vanderbilt and gained a lot of hype when he chose X, but only had two years of eligibility when he came in. On top of that, he went down with an injury 21 games into his senior season, really ruining his shot at making a deep tourney run (a shame because he definitely could have made one). When he was in a Xavier uniform, however, he was phenomenal at almost every moment. He averaged 15.3 points and 6.8 boards a game during his senior season and had 10.7 and 5.8 as a junior.

Justin Doellman (2003-07)

Doellman did a little bit of everything for X, playing a sort of guard-forward hybrid role because of his excellent 3 point shooting ability. By his senior season in 2007, Doellman led the team in scoring with 13.7 points a game. For his final three years with the Musketeers he averaged double figures and was a contributor to the 2004 Elite 8 team as a freshman. He almost single-handedly carried them to a 79-77 first-round win agaisnt BYU in '07 at Rupp Arena (glad I was there to see it).

Stanley Burrell (2004-08)

Burrell was the picture of consistency at Xavier, though some would argue his performance as a senior was disappointing. Still, he averaged more than 30 minutes a game for four seasons with the Muskies and averaged 12.7, 14.4 and 12.4 points a game his first three years before dropping to 9.7 his senior year. Burrell's dropping PPG came with an increased emphasis on his defense, however, and he consistently shut down the opposition's best guard. I'll never forget his game-winner against George Washington at the buzzer as a freshman (that one's for you Matty).

Drew Lavender (2006-08)

Had he spent all four years at Xavier, he would have been a candidate to start on the team, but instead he transferred from Oklahoma after his sophomore season and immediately made a splash with the Muskies. The little 5-foot-7 point guard dished out at an average of 4.6 assists a game his junior and senior year and hit over 40-percent from 3-point range. X won a lot of big games with Lavender at the point, and personally I never felt more secure at the PG position than when he was handling the ball.

Honorable Mention: Derrick Brown and Jason Love.

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