Please everyone catch your breath. I am not even going to touch on the enigma that is March Madness just yet. I am going to let the events that have transpired over the past 4 days set in, and discuss them tomorrow. Today I am going to talk about one team in particular that continues to wow me. There is a small, private, jesuit school off of Victory Parkway in Cincinnati called Xavier. This is a University that has about 4,000 undergraduate students, yet they have gone dancing 9 of the past 10 years!
Not many teams in the country come close to boasting the highly impressive resume that the Xavier Musketeers have put up in March over the past decade. This is a team that is no stranger to big games and has really thrived under the tourney pressure. Well today was no different as they knocked off a very strong Pitt team out of the mighty Big East (or at least mighty before this weekend). Even when Pitt made a furious run in the middle of the 2nd half, the Musketeers kept their cool and made their free throws down the stretch to insure a birth into the Sweet 16 for a 3rd consecutive year.
Coaches such as Pete Gillen, Skip Prosser, Thad Matta, and Sean Miller have all come and gone. They have made pit stops in Cincinnati and departed for so called “bigger and better” jobs. At this point, there are not too many “bigger and better” jobs that you can get in College Basketball.
Xavier, as I mentioned before has been dancing 9 of the last 10 years. They have made the Sweet 16 or better in each of the past three years including 2 Elite Eight appearances. Cintas Center is an outstanding, top of the line facility that sells out every night. Not to mention Xavier has not had a Varsity Football team for years! The basketball team is the biggest and only show in town at this school. There is no competition with another big revenue sport. Men’s basketball is the identity of the University.
Now guys like Pete, Skip, Thad, and Sean all did wonderful jobs while they were at Xavier. I am not calling them bad people by any means. They are actually all great coaches, and even better people. Every basketball player that has played for the Musketeers since 1985 has graduated. Their players take care of business both on and off the court. In addition, Forbes rated Xavier a top 20 most valuable program in College Basketball. Xavier is one of only 2 non BCS schools to make this distinguished list.
So today just really reiterated to me that Xavier should not be a launch pad school. They have become a destination program. The Muskies have developed into a powerhouse and look to be here to stay. So if Chris Mack continues to have the success he is having over the next couple of years, will he depart for a Big 10, ACC, or Big East school that comes knocking? This is something that we will have to wait and find out on.
So my question for you today. Is Xavier a destination job for men’s hoops or will it continue to be just a stopping point for coaches as they continue to want to leave for the power conferences?
Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.