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October 20, 2012

Musketeer Madness Shows Glimpse of Future

The '12-'13 Xavier Musketeers made their first public appearance on Saturday night, for Musketeer Madness, at the Cintas Center. After a night which was focused more on fun then basketball, Xavier fans were able to learn a little bit about what to expect from their team this upcoming season.

The men's team was introduced, along with the women's team, in the familiar fashion; complete with the stage, bright lights, music, and even a fog machine. After introductions, players from both teams joined forces with students for a few shooting contests.

Once all the festivities were over, the teams settled in for their live scrimmages. The men's team played two eight minutes halves, separated by a twelve minute women's team scrimmage.

With coach Chris Mack dividing the teams fairly equally, fans got a chance to see Xavier's two point guards square off against each other; although once the season starts they'll likely be sharing the backcourt together.

Freshman Semaj Christon has a lot of hype to live up to after his ascension up the Rivals.com rankings last year; and through one night he has taken care of business.

Christon scored 13 points on the night, showing an ability to get in the paint at will; and size to score over the smaller Brad Redford and Dee Davis. While Christon is still adapting to playing off the ball in the new Xavier offense, which is predominantly based on a pass and cut system (as opposed to last year's heavy ball-screen oriented offense), the 6-foot-3 freshman showed glimpses of being Xavier's best offensive player.

On the wing the Musketeers showcased returning sophomore Justin Martin, newcomer Chris Cantino, and converted post player Jeff Robinson; who will play both inside and outside this season.

Robinson and Martin both displayed an ability to stretch the defense with their shooting ability, and given their size that could create matchup problems for Xavier opponents in the future. Robinson finished with 11 points in the game, while Martin managed 6.

The interior is where Xavier has the most depth this season, and freshman James Farr played very well in the minutes he got. The top post scorer in the game was newcomer Matt Stainbrook, who will sit out this season per NCAA transfer rules. Down over 40 pounds since he first arrived on campus, Stainbrook is in the best shape of his life; and the results show in his play. Stainbrook chipped in 7 points for the blue team, while only playing in the first half.

Travis Taylor was also effective, particularly on the glass, and scored 6 points of his own.

The other two rotational players for Xavier, Isaiah Philmore and Brad Redford, didn't see their names appear much in the stat line but also didn't do anything to stick out as wrong.

Redford plays a key role in Xavier's new offense, and his experience as a fifth-year player allows him to be really good at reading screens and coming off to separate for shots. Even when he isn't open, Redford still stretches the floor by making a defender constantly tail him.

Philmore didn't get in much of a rhythm on Saturday, but the 6-foot-7 combo forward did show off his excellent strength, and tallied 4 points.

The Musketeers will return to practice for a week before their closed scrimmage with West Virginia; and will next play in public in their one and only exhibition game, at home against Kentucky State on November 3rd.


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