Saturday, January 5, 2008

Xavier vs. Virginia

Stanley Burrell- He is a capable player from all ends of the floor. He is one of the top perimeter defenders in the country who can lock down virtually any player- including, in this game, Sean Singletary. He gave Sean some serious problems and ultimately shut down the Virginia offense. Although UVA simply could not shoot from the offensive end, Burrell contributions were noted because he never allowed them to get into any rhythm. On the offensive end, Burrell demonstrated his three point shooting ability by knocking down several shots. His passing ability has also developed over his four years. Initially, he was primarily a scorer who looked for his shot. But, he has developed into a second point guard for his Xavier squad- dishing to his teammates for dunks or easy layups. Because of this newfound pass-first mentality, Burrell has the potential to become a backup point guard in the NBA.

Andrew Lavender- Lavender is the heart and soul of his Xavier team. Although the entire team is selfless, Lavender is the epitome of this team spirit. He has become a pass first type of player that only looks for his offense when he is open or has exercised every other possible option. He is one of the best decision makers in the college game and utilizes this strength to help his team thrive. In this contest, this aspect of his game was particularly evident. He kicked the ball out to his teammates for open three point shots and was one of the reasons why Xavier shot such a high percentage from beyond the arc. Lavender is one of the quickest ball handlers in the game as well. He is able to drive past his defender and either score or pass to a teammate for an open shot. Despite his basketball ability, he may have some trouble playing at a higher level of basketball because of his lack of size (5’6). This is evident in his defensive ability, where, regardless of his quick hands, he has trouble guarding bigger players. Oftentimes, the opposition can shoot over the top of him. And, he does not possess the same athleticism of other historical small NBA guards such as Mugsy Bogues or Earl Boykins. Thereby, Lavender will probably have a successful career overseas.

Jason Love- Love has shown tremendous improvement over the course of the season. With Josh Duncan’s injury, Love received more game time experience and capitalized off of this experience by become a viable weapon. Love is the only true post player that Xavier has and his improvement has really added to the Xavier attack. He is able to employ a jump hook and oftentimes is on the finishing end of passes inside. Love’s post moves have shown marketed improvement over the course of the season. He is now able to maneuver around his defender and score inside. Also, he is capable of grabbing offensive rebounds by banging inside. Love could receive some looks as his inside game progresses later in his career.

Dante Jackson- Jackson was one of the most surprising options in this contest. He made several open three point shots and proved to be a capable ball handler. Jackson has an excellent stroke off the bench and should be a serious weapon in the next coming years. On the defensive end, Jackson is long enough to contain opposing teams and has the potential to be a stopper down the road.

Charles Bronson- Another surprising weapon displayed his post presence in garbage time. With a considerable lead, Xavier played reserves like Bronson. Yet, Charles showed an uncanny ability to muscle his way inside. Although he did not play in the critical periods of play, he was able to employ some nice turnaround moves and score close to the basket. He should receive some more playing time a year from now.

Sean Singletary- Sean was the only bright spot in the UVA offense. Despite tough team defense by Xavier, Singletary was able to penetrate virtually at will early in the game. He often drove and kicked it out to his teammates for open looks. However, Xavier was able to rotate and contest these nearly open shots. Therein, these complimentary players failed to capitalize off of Singletary’s slashing ability. Singletary was a bit cold from the perimeter, but he still made some key drives to the basket. On the defensive end, Singletary matched Lavender’s quickness and stopped his penetration towards the hole. All in all, this was not an impressive contest for Singletary, who was the only real threat for UVA. Xavier was able to concentrate on Sean and force him out to the perimeter.

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