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Thursday, March 13, 2008
Updated: March 14, 3:15 PM ET
Miller defends Burrell's defense of Xavier

By Heather Dinich
ESPN.com

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Xavier coach Sean Miller momentarily ditched the coachspeak. Instead, he opened his news conference after a come-from-behind win over Dayton in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals with a little playerspeak.

Apparently, Xavier senior guard Stanley Burrell needed a little help with the concept.

Earlier this week, Burrell called the Atlantic 10 "pathetic" because no player on the regular-season champs' roster earned first-team all-conference honors.

Unprompted, Miller felt the need to er, uh, clarify.

"I think Stan was quoted before this tournament as having said a couple of things, and I just want to make sure on his behalf -- and just really for me -- that you understand his meaning behind it," Miller said. "If Stan has an ego right now, it's exclusively about our team. … I don't think his remarks were intended to be disparaging towards any athlete in our conference and believe you me, he's guarded enough good players in this conference to know how talented they are. And I don't know if there's been another player who's enjoyed his experience competing in this league [more] than Stanley Burrell.

Stanley Burrell
Xavier's Stanley Burrell said he was just supporting his teammates when he called the A-10 "pathetic" for omitting a Xavier player from the first team.

"I don't want him to become a guy that's known as saying some things. He stuck up for his teammates. He did what he's done every day of his senior year, and I couldn't be more proud. … I certainly don't want any one-moment statement to take away from who they are as people and I think the respect we all have for this great conference we're in and so many of the talented players and coaches that are also in it."

Here's a reminder of what honors No. 12 Xavier did earn from the 14 coaches in the league:

• Sean Miller, A-10 Coach of the Year
Josh Duncan, Sixth Man of the Year
Drew Lavender, all-conference second team
• Burrell, all-conference third team

Here's a reminder of Burrell's heat-of-the-moment reaction, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer:

"This league is pathetic," Burrell said on Monday. "We went 14-2, top 10 in the nation. Forget first team, Josh is probably the player of the year. You've got the best team and nobody on the first-team all-conference team? It's ridiculous. You talk about not having motivation? We got plenty now. I'm really looking forward to Atlantic City now."

On Thursday, Burrell said he made the remark out of frustration, that he just wanted to stick up for his teammates -- namely C.J. Anderson, B.J. Raymond and Derrick Brown.

"I just felt bad about them being excluded," he said. "It's not a three-man team. Those guys are a huge part of this, and I just wanted to stand up for them and be a leader and not call the league out. I'm frustrated that guys that are champions and [are] not getting any awards at all. It was tough."

Instead, they got a 74-65 win over a pesky Dayton team that advanced Xavier to the semifinal round on Friday. They got yet another chance to make yet another statement -- this one on the court -- that yes, indeed, the Musketeers are one of the top teams in the country.

"We want go as far as we can," Duncan said. "We're not satisfied."

Much of Xavier's season has been spent winning, but they've also spent a significant amount of it fighting the mid-major label and talking about respect. When asked Thursday about how Lavender's healthy left ankle -- which he hurt on Feb. 13 against Charlotte -- and its importance for the team's postseason chances, Miller said the team didn't "get enough credit" for its success without him.

"I don't know if our team has gotten enough credit recognizing in the last month we've really played with him either in a limited role or in no role at all as we did against Richmond.

"… The good news for us is Drew is four weeks since his injury. Every day that goes by, as evidenced by the way he played today, he's getting closer and closer to 100 percent. Obviously our goal is to have him at 100 percent now, but clearly a week from now even more so."

Especially if they're going to keep making statements.

Heather Dinich is a college football and basketball writer for ESPN.com. Send your questions and comments to Heather at espn.hd@hotmail.com.