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Arena: Cintas Center Seating Capacity: 10,250 Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Nickname: Musketeers Colors: Navy blue, gray, white
School Name: Xavier University
For Xavier coach Sean Miller, the team he will bring onto the court for practice this fall is almost identical to the Xavier team that went 17-12 last season and missed out on the postseason for the first time in nine years. But while that prospect at first sounds more bleak than uplifting, Miller notices critical differences in this season's squad, most notably the transformation from a young team to an experienced squad during the offseason.
"We have a lot of guys back, returning to where they were a year ago," Miller says. "It's a lot different, just as from the standpoint that we have a lot more continuity as a group."
While Xavier was essentially a collection of role players last year, a few of those players are expected to become impact performers in the A-10 this season. Sophomore Stanley Burrell, a 6'3" shooting guard, cornes into the season as the primary offensive option after emerging late last season as the go-to player (12.7 ppg) on a team desperate for leadership.
Burrell will assume increased point guard duties this season, as Miller searches for an answer after Dedrick Finn struggled at die position last season. "The point guard position is wide open," Miller says, acknowledging the difficulty Finn had at the position last season. "It's yet to be determined who is going to play it because we could play a couple different people there. Obviously Stanley is someone who played strictly die 2 a year ago, but he can go back and fordi."
If Xavier is going to regain its perch atop die league, a pair of juniors, Justin Doellman and Justin Cage, need to exhibit a more powerful game. Center Brian Thornton has recovered from a lingering leg injury, and the former transfer from Vanderbilt is capable of putting up a double-double each time on the floor. The staff also expects more from sophomore Josh Duncan this season.
"We have a bigger, stronger team," says Miller, adding that center Will Caudle's return for a fifth season is a bonus.
Xavier won't know until closer to die start of practice whedier backup center Brandon Cole will be able to play this season after suffering a knee injury last year. But forward Boubacar Coly is healthy after sitting out his first two seasons at XU. Incoming freshman Johnny Wolf could challenge Finn and Burrell for the point guard slot, while freshmen BJ. Raymond and Derrick Brown will provide a scoring lift off the bench.
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