Commentary

A new look for Xavier

Updated: September 22, 2009, 4:16 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

There is a lot of excitement and anticipation at Xavier. Fans in Musketeer land should be thrilled with the future of the program.

My friends, Xavier has won at least 25 games in each of the last three seasons. The top three scorers from last year -- B.J. Raymond, Derrick Brown and C.J. Anderson -- are gone. That trio averaged over 37 points per game.

So why is there so much optimism. Let's start with the new coach, Chris Mack. He gained valuable experience over the years under the tutelage of Skip Prosser and Sean Miller, two outstanding head coaches.

Mack showed tremendous leadership as a player, even though he did not see much playing time. He was named captain of Xavier's team twice under coach Pete Gillen! This is Mack's first year as a head coach, and he is ready for the challenge.

Xavier has 6-9 forward/center Jason Love and junior guard Dante' Jackson leading the returning talent. Sophomore guard Terrell Holloway also returns for the Musketeers.

Newcomers are expected to have an immediate impact. Jordan Crawford, the transfer from Indiana, made plenty of noise this summer thanks to a hyped dunk on LeBron James. The 6-4 Crawford will make a difference in that Xavier uniform.

A potential surprise is 6-1 guard Mark Lyons out of Brewster Academy in New Hampshire. Mack feels Lyons will have an impact as a top-flight defender who can also score. He averaged over 20 p.p.g. last season.

Xavier will be one of the favorites in the Atlantic 10, up there with Chris Wright and Dayton. The Musketeers will face a rugged schedule in non-league play. Marquette is the opening-round opponent at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando. Michigan, Creighton, Florida State and Baylor are among other teams in the field.

Then add the likes of Kansas State, Cincinnati, Butler, LSU, Wake Forest and Florida out of conference and Xavier will have a great strength of schedule.

Look for big things from Xavier as the Cintas Center will be rocking and rolling during the 2009-10 campaign.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.